Title: A Whitelighter's Priority
Author: rachelAbendstern aka abendstern1601
Spoilers: Charmed Season 6, Buffy the Vampire Slayer up to 'The Gift'
Disclaimer: Honestly, if they were mine, I wouldn't be playing in those fandoms like this. My stories would have been aired on TV instead!
Summary: Chris isn't coping too well with Bianca's death...
Author's Notes: I know. I've disappeared for ages, literally (ducks behind the desk at the onslaught of accusations of impatient readers.) And I'm sorry to have kept you waiting for over two f years! Things happened, real life interfered, and I just couldn't get the words on paper, even if I had the plot in my head. But I haven't forgotten about this story. In fact, it's under revision now, and I hope my new beta will send me the first chapters soon. I'm not sure how often I will update, but hopefully, it won't take years again --; I didn't want to post any chapters until I've finished the story completely, but that can take a looong while, and some of you were very, very persistent naggers ;) so, here's something to string you along (lol)

THANK YOU FOR ALL THE REVIEWS YOU GUYS SENT ME! And excuse me for not answering.

To clear a few things up:

I know I don't always follow the Charmed timeline, but that's completely intentional. This wouldn't be fanfiction, if I weren't allowed to take a few liberties!

Buffy is dead! Whatever cameos she may have in this story, it's her spirit that appears whenever Willow summons her.

Any more question? Ask and I'll clear them up.

666

16. Sounds of Silence

Leave me alone
Isolation bears hope
There's something else waiting
A promised destiny
Freezing me
I feel restless and low
These days full of sadness
How joyfully changed
Into fear

(Blind Guardians, Bright Eyes)

Spike stood leaning against the door frame just outside the bedroom, watching and listening as Chris put his daughter to sleep, a small frown creasing the demon's forehead.

They had Lily set up in Buffy's old room for several reasons. The first and foremost in some ways being that the little girl couldn't keep her mouth shut if her life depended on it once she warmed up to people. Spike smirked fondly.

It had been almost four weeks since the whole disaster had taken place and although Lily still asked for her mother sometimes, she was beginning to accept that Mommy wouldn't come back no matter how much she wanted her to. Children were resilient that way.

No, Spike's frown wasn't directed at Lily. It was directed at Chris. His lover's death had hit the young man hard. He tried to play it down, and he didn't much talk about it, but he couldn't fool his little makeshift family. The boy was still grieving. Which was normal and would have been alright if not for the fact that Chris tried to deal with his grief by getting into fights with any demons he could get a hand on and generally taking unnecessary risks in his quest for redemption or vengeance or a new chance or whatever it was that he was looking for. And that was bloody well not acceptable! He hadn't put his life on the line only so the brat could off himself now in a misguided bout of violence.

The vampire didn't know if the San Francisco witches had noticed Chris's drastic change in behaviour as well, although the red one orbed in now and again.

The creaking of the floor and a familiar scent invading his nostrils made him turn around to look at the Slayer's White Knight, when Xander unsuccessfully tried to sneak over to him.

"How are they?" the boy quietly asked once he was near enough to look over Spike's shoulder into the room. At least here, in Sunnydale, Spike wasn't the only one worrying.

-

Seeing as the vampire only shrugged his shoulders in response to Xander's question, Xander looked on as Chris attempted to put his daughter to bed. They had all agreed to let the kid have Buffy's old room despite all the arguments coming from the San Francisco witches, Chris's other charges.

A wry smile made its way onto Xander's face, while watching Lily charm her father into reading her 'just one more story'. The little girl was definitely something else. Part Phoenix (a name that translated into a coven of assassin witches, as far as he had gathered), part witch (descended of the most powerful witches known in entire human history, no less) and part whitelighter (and wasn't that...well, something else? Angels were real!) Not to mention that she could out-babble the best of them once she got started.

Maybe Xander wasn't the brightest crayon in the box, but he understood exactly why the Halliwells insisted that the whole Sunnydale bunch (including Lily's own father) were too young to care for a child. They kept arguing that, since Piper was soon to be mother twice over, she was the perfect nanny.

Yeah, he understood that perfectly. Because, while it was almost impossible to get a straight answer out of Chris where the future was concerned (or anything else, for that matter,) Lily was an open book full of information once she decided she liked you. Only that way had Xander learned about what had happened all those weeks ago, when Spike had carried a shivering, almost catatonic Chris up the hall and put him into Buffy's old bed. And although he understood Piper's need to know what would happen to her son (not that Xander had ever met the witch and her child), he also understood why Chris didn't want to tell her.

Having to tell your own mother that, a) you were indeed her child, the one she had apparently ranted about not wanting in the first place, and b) your older brother, twice-blessed and the most powerful being ever, had turned against everything your family stood and fought for, had a hand in killing his own father and grandfather...that well and truly sucked. Especially after all that had gone down between Chris and his family since he had come from the future, all the mistrust, all the lies...

No one ever accused Xander of being very insightful, but with a little help from Willow and Lily, he had a pretty good picture about what motivated his best friend's brand new guardian angel.

And even without Willow's help, he would have understood what it was that drove Chris to go on patrol every single night since that day, not waiting for the baddies to accidentally cross his path, but actively looking for a fight.

As much as it weirded Xander out, Spike had done the very same thing after Buffy's death. Only his promise to the dead Slayer to protect her little sister, Dawn, had kept the vampire from taking on too great a risk.

His own feelings on the matter notwithstanding, Xander actually believed that Spike had been in love with Buffy (or thought he was,) as was his sire before him. The vampire's affection for the youngest of their bunch certainly seemed genuine. Or at least, Xander liked to think so. He would never admit it, least of all to the demon himself, but the young man had kind of, sort of grown fond of the bleached menace.

Sudden movement in the bedroom brought Xander's attention back to their dark-haired, nowadays slightly psychotic half-angel. Chris had just finished tucking the covers around his little girl and was now walking towards the door, towards them, without so much as blinking his eyes in surprise at their presence. It was disturbingly uncanny, the way Chris knew when someone was near, when someone was watching him. Not even Spike had that sensitively honed senses, as he had begrudgingly admitted some time ago.

"Hey!" Xander started by way of a greeting as Chris closed the door to his daughter's room. "The guys and I were wondering if you'd join us in the Bronze tonight." Truthfully, they just wanted to keep an eye on him. The way the young whitelighter was going, they'd be lucky if he just collapsed from exhaustion one of these days instead of getting himself killed on one of his 'patrols.'

"Thanks," Chris replied emotionlessly, pushing his way past them and going down the stairs, "but I already have plans." Hunting down demons, no doubt.

Before Xander even opened his mouth to comment, however, the vampire next to him, who had been curiously silent until now, snarled scathingly after Chris's retreating back, "What plans? Hunting demons again?" He quickly moved to follow the young whitelighter.

Hurrying along beside the demon, Xander caught a glimpse of glimmering yellow eyes. Spike hadn't quite lost hold of his human guise just yet, but hell! Xander hadn't seen the demon so pissed off since the time he had 'accidentally' spiked one of the demon's blood bags with cod-liver oil.

"That's none of your business!" Chris retorted icily.

They had made it to the staircase by now, and even Xander could tell that the other young man couldn't have said anything more effective to set Spike off.

He heard an angry growl beside him, and the next thing he knew, the vampire was at Chris's throat. Literally. The demon had jumped down the few steps separating him from their companion and pinned the younger man forcefully against the wall, with his left arm across Chris's neck and Chris having to stand on tiptoes. The whitelighter might know how to fight like a slayer, but in sheer physical strength Spike still had the upper hand.

"The hell it's none of my business!" hissed Spike, the bony ridges of his true face mere inches away from the half-angel's nose, fangs to the fore, livid amber eyes staring down angry, defiant green ones.

"Let go off me, Spike!" Chris spit out between clenched teeth, but the vampire only pushed harder against the man's throat.

"You listen to me, boy! Carefully! Don't think for one second that I don't know what you're doing!"

"Right," the halfbreed scoffed scathingly, "because you know so much about human emotions!"

Now that was a low blow, that even Xander couldn't help but wincing at. Because if there was one thing about Spike that had always creeped him out even more than the demon's...deadness, it was how much human emotions William the Bloody had managed to preserve over the century and a bit that he had walked the night. And Xander saw the realization of what words he had spoken dawn in Chris's eyes, but it was too late to take them back, and so the whitelighter continued to stare at the vampire like a petulant child.

Spike snarled, growled, gave Chris's throat one last push and stalked away from the young man. "Fine," he hissed, golden eyes filled with anger and contempt and something as close to hurt as the vampire would ever let anyone see, "go and get yourself killed. But if you drag my family into your quest for vengeance, I will make you regret the day you ever stepped foot into this house!"

With that, the demon turned around and stomped down the stairs in angry silence. Focusing his attention on the other man, Xander saw a fleeting look of misery wash over Chris's face, before the whitelighter orbed out of the house.

He really, really hoped that Chris would get his act together soon. Being in pain himself just didn't give anyone the right to make every person around him miserable as well.

After he had been left alone, it took a few moments for Spike's words to take hold in his mind. But when Xander finally realized that he and his friends had just been officially dubbed 'family' by a master vampire, he didn't know whether to laugh or freak out. He decided to take his usual approach to situations like these; pretend it didn't happen and go to raid the fridge in happy obliviousness.

666

The halls of the school were shrouded in darkness and silence. It was night once again, and the rooms and chambers that were bustling with activity during the daylight were now empty and deserted. No soul was left inside the ancient walls. No light brightened the darkness. Except one. The unsteady, flickering shadows that only candlelight cast were licking through the crack of a door. The door led to the headmaster's office, and inside said headmaster was pacing the length of the room. Turning around every now and again to cast a glance at the circle of candles on the floor and the open book on his table. Unsure, uncomfortable still with the decision he had come to during the last month, the last week as a matter of fact.

Straightening his shoulders, Gideon finally snatched the book from his desk, took his place at the bottom of the pentagram that was drawn within the refines of the circle and intoned the incantation written on the open page. Wind sprang up, candles flickered, and a cloud of dark light appeared in the centre of the circle to the deep murmuring of Gideon's voice. He repeated the incantation thrice before the haze thickened, transforming into flesh and blood, cruel eyes and cruel smile and a face that was as familiar as it was loathed.

"Barbas," the Elder greeted the resurrected demon of fear, closing the book with a resounding thud. "I have a proposition to make."

Cold, calculating eyes seized him up and a mocking, cruel smile played around the corners of Barbas' mouth. "I'm listening."

Gideon hastily quelled any remaining scruples and doubts about his actions, before explaining his plans.

666

Meanwhile, in a house not as old but just as dark and silent as the magic school, there was a column of bright blue light flooding into a windowless, untidy room, casting away the dark shadows for a few unaccounted seconds. Then, the darkness descended again, even blacker than before.

Chris collapsed onto the hard concrete floor of the basement of his childhood home. He was hurting all over, and not just in the literal sense. He could feel blood slowly oozing from a few cuts on his face and his back, and his ribs hurt when he moved, but he wasn't complaining. He had asked for it. Fighting took the pain away for at least a little while. Until the physical pain set in, that was, and by the time that happened, he usually remembered why he had gone into a rage like that in the first place, and he just wanted to curl up into himself and not see or hear anything for the next lifetime or two.

His brother had killed his wife! The man he had looked up to, had adored for so long had killed the woman Chris wanted to grow old with, to raise their child with.

Choking of a sob, he did just that now, curling up into a ball of misery, on the cold floor, in the basement. Remembering happier times. Reminded of how this was the place that he and Bianca had said their goodbyes, when he left for the past the first time around. That memory was what had drawn him here, to this place instead of the attic. While the memory was still as painful as ever, it was better than what the attic reminded him of at the moment. He needed some place to be alone. And he couldn't go to Sunnydale just now.

Chris knew that he couldn't go on like he had been for the past month. Ever since he returned from the future. Ever since...

Lily already lost her mother, it wouldn't be fair to her if she lost her father as well. Especially if it was because of his own stupidity. He knew that. And he knew that he probably ought to apologize to Spike, if it wasn't already too late for that. He had no idea why he said what he did. He hadn't been thinking clearly.

Actually, he hadn't been thinking clearly for too long a time. It was time to get over the past and move on, as hard as it was. He had a daughter to take care of. In the depths of his soul, Chris realized that, had it not been for his little girl, he could have very well lost himself in his anger and grief. It was Lily that kept him from going over the edge once again, and the thought of leaving her alone in a world that she didn't know, with people that she had barely come to see as friends was unbearable.

That and Spike's failed attempt to beat some sense into him earlier was what made him vow now that this night had been the last time that he went out looking for a fight. Looking to get himself killed, essentially.

Letting go of his anger and grief would be hard, but he had to try. Focusing them on the mission he had come here for, would be more efficient in any case. He had been slacking in gathering information too long already. In a moment of sudden clarity Chris realized that, if he continued to let history run its course, and Wyatt turned evil in this timeline as well, Bianca's death would have been for nothing. And that was unacceptable.

For now, though, he just wanted to sleep.

666

The earthquake was barely enough to raise the citizens of San Francisco out of their sleep, much less get up in a panic. Some of the newer residents, who weren't as used to the frequent peril that Mother Nature held over their city, sat up in their beds, waiting for another tremble to follow, but lay back down when, after five minutes, nothing happened. Others just turned around in their sleep, not even fully waking.

It was enough, however, to open a small crack in the concrete floor of the basement of 1328, Prescott Street. Black smoke and shadows oozed out of the gap, hovered over the figure lying still on the floor nearby and finally entered the sleeping body of one Christopher Perry Halliwell.

Tbc...

Hope you enjoyed despite the long time that I haven't updated...