Months passed. The days moved slowly and that majority of the world survived only by living one short day after the next. But no matter what power Wyatt held, he couldn't keep time from moving always forward. When the Day had first arrived, people had assumed it was the end of the world. But the world was still there, and humans and demons still both lived on it, and the sun still rose and set every morning. The sky remained unchanged. But the Earth was an entirely different place. And on it, several months passed.
It felt like an eternity had passed since Piper's death. Not even a year had gone by yet, but Chris couldn't remember what life had been like before. It seemed like this had always been the way things were, like this was the way things were supposed to be when things were normal.
P3 had become like a home to Chris and Victor. It was where they lived now. Though demons ruled the streets, Wyatt had managed to keep them under his control, and had managed to bring some semblance of order to the world. Work had resumed. People still had to make a living. Food was imported and exported to and from every city and every town on the globe, as well as clothing and other necessities. No one was allowed to leave or enter any city, and things that brought people entertainment – such as sports and movies – were strictly restricted to whoever won Wyatt's favor. He was in charge. He ruled firmly and unchallenged. The world had fallen under his dictatorship. And though there was order now, there was also complete and utter misery.
Chris's fifteenth birthday had come and gone. Though Victor had tried to get him to acknowledge it, Chris had despised the entire day. It was his first birthday without his mom, and he hated it. He hated everything. Everything but his grandfather.
Despite everything that had happened, Victor had managed to live one day after the next with solid acceptance and a determination to make it through as easily as he could with as little pain as possible. He had adjusted to the change better than anyone else in the world could possibly have, and to Chris, he had been the anchor that kept him from falling into complete insanity – something that actually had happened to hundreds of people around the world. Victor kept Chris alive, and yet the boy had no way of knowing that the only thing that kept the old man alive was the boy himself. They had found themselves bound together, surviving only because of the other, and living only because of the strength they drew from each other.
Presently, Victor strode purposefully into the old nightclub with two bags of groceries. Chris was sitting cross-legged on a table carefully studying a set of tarot cards he had been told once belonged to his aunt Paige. He picked one card up off the top of the deck and turned it over. It was a card symbolizing strength. Chris rolled his eyes and dropped it onto the table before sliding onto the floor and hurrying over to help Victor with the groceries.
Silently, they put away their food and water in the old storage closet. They worked easily and well together, having had weeks of practice at getting the routine down. It all came naturally to them now.
"Okay, then, it's time," Victor said after they had finished their task. Chris glanced up at him curiously as his grandfather motioned for him to join him in the middle of the club's dance floor. Victor gave Chris a large grin. "I never thought I'd say this, but it's time for me to teach you to use your powers!"
"Are you kidding me?" Chris demanded, staring at his grandfather in disbelief. "I haven't-"
"Orbed once since this all began," Victor finished for him, crossing his arms. "Yep. I know that, Chris, and it's time for it to change."
"Uh, why?" Chris demanded, apprehension building inside of him. Even then, he still felt guilty at his failure to orb the last time his grandfather had asked him to. And even then, the thought of orbing reminded him of his first time doing so, and old wounds slowly reopened at the memories of that one fateful night so long ago.
Victor shrugged. "Because I say it's time you learned. You can't live your entire life fearing who you are. Your mom wouldn't want you to. Besides, it's like there are demons on every street out there, and no matter what you say, Wyatt's your brother and he's out there. You can't forget that."
"I'm not forgetting it, grandpa," Chris assured him. "But he's left us alone for this long and-"
"He's not going to forever," Victor broke in. Chris opened his mouth, but no sound came out. He felt panic build up inside of him and he wanted nothing more but to run somewhere and hide.
Victor sighed. "Your mom would want you to do this, Chris. She would want you to use your powers. If for nothing else, then just so that you can acknowledge your heritage and accept who you are. She wouldn't want you to pretend to be someone you're not. So if you can orb for me just once, Chris, I'll never ask you to do it again."
Chris took a deep breath and sighed, looking down at the floor as he considered it. Finally he nodded. "Okay. I'll try." And he closed his eyes and did just that. Tried. Nothing happened. He frowned and looked back up at his grandpa. "You think it's one of those things you just lose if you don't learn to use it right away?"
Victor smiled and shook his head. "Sorry, Chris. You aren't getting out of it that easily. Just because you don't develop your powers doesn't mean they go away. You're part Whitelighter. I remember Phoebe telling me that Paige orbed even before she knew she was a witch. More than once, too. But it took her some time to figure out how to control it. In the beginning, it was more of a reaction to something that scared her."
Chris slouched slightly. "What, so I can't orb unless I'm afraid?" Victor shrugged and Chris rolled his eyes. "Okay. So how're you gonna scare me enough to get me to orb?"
Victor brightened considerably. "Oh that's easy! I'm gonna call for your dad." Chris started in surprise and alarm, and the next thing he knew, he was consumed by the white blue light of orbs. Victor grinned as his grandson vanished. "I had a feeling that might work."
When Chris regained solid form, he cried out in shock. He had actually done it! And then his body filled with resent. His grandfather had used a threat to get him to orb! Chris couldn't believe it!
Looking around, he realized he was outside and in a strange place he had never been to before. It looked like a small fractional part of some park. The grass was brown and whatever bushes and flowers that had grown there before were now dying shrubs. White pillars and a few white statues, some of which were falling apart, enclosed the tiny area, making it look to Chris like some old fashioned European ruin. There was an almost magical quality to it… a quality that reminded him of the Manor when his mom had still been alive. Having a sudden sense of déjà vu from that feeling, homesickness struck at him, and he choked back a sob.
There was a sound behind him, and Chris realized he wasn't alone. Spinning around, he immediately took in a beautiful girl sitting on a white marble bench. He immediately recognized her as the girl Wyatt had introduced him to. Bianca. The girl who had saved his life. She was staring at him in shocked surprise, and Chris could tell by her eyes that before he had orbed there, she had been crying. Suddenly he guiltily felt like an intruder.
"I'm sorry," he told her, taking a step backwards. "I'm still trying… to get… this orbing thing under control. I didn't mean to intrude." He turned around again and took a deep breath, suddenly embarrassed beyond measure, and made to leave. He didn't think he could orb again, and didn't want to look like an idiot trying to in front of this gorgeous girl sitting behind him.
"Wait, Chris…" It was the first time he had heard her speak. Her voice was soft and smooth and sweet. Confident, but full of uncertainty. It was almost like honey, and Chris instantly loved the sound of it. He slowly turned back towards her, and saw that she was now standing.
"I just wanted to apologize," she told him, looking down for a moment. She looked back up at him and he could clearly see tears in her eyes. "I feel like everything that happened is my fault. I didn't get to the Manor in time to save your mother. I barely got there in time to save you. If I had been a few seconds quicker, Wyatt never would have gone berserk and it would never have come to this. I'm so sorry."
Chris looked away from her as pain burned through his heart. He never would have expected this from her the first time he met her. But then… he remembered how well she had hid her anger from Wyatt that day at the school. Perhaps she had hid things from him that day as well. He shrugged and looked back at her, tears forming in his eyes as memories came to haunt both of them. "It wasn't your fault Bianca. You shouldn't regret not getting there in time. If anything, you should regret getting there too soon."
Bianca's eyes narrowed slightly in surprise, and Chris gazed at her with surprising solemnity. He explained: "I would have rather died that day."
Bianca shook her head. "You're too young to say something like that. You shouldn't want to have died because you haven't even lived yet."
"Wyatt's my brother," he reminded her softly. "I think you'd be surprised by how much I've lived and how much I've hurt. I never wanted to live to see Wyatt become this."
Biting her lip, she closed her eyes and looked down. There was a flash of blue white light, and when she looked up, Chris was gone, having orbed back to wherever he had come from.
Alone again, Bianca collapsed to the ground and buried her face into her arms which she rested on the surface of the marble bench. She had thought she had had it rough over the last few months. She had forgotten all about Chris and how he must have been taking all of this. And he was right. While she was Wyatt's assassin, Chris was Wyatt's brother! Not even for the world would she trade places with him. That really would be too much for her to bear.
Bianca refused to cry even as she hid her face from the world. Shame and guilt coursed through her, along with self-loathing. She thought about her mother and hate built inside her. She remembered back to when she was a little girl, not even five years old. She had asked her mother what it felt like to kill someone – for her mother had been an assassin as well. Even after all this time, she still remembered her mother's exact words. "You don't feel a thing." Well, that was the biggest load of crap Bianca had ever heard. Because at that moment, Bianca agreed with Chris. She would rather be dead than living this life in hell.
And so the years passed, still one day after another. There was no hope in sight. Gradually, people began to accept the changes, accept that there was magic and demons. Humans were by nature able to adjust – well, they were at least for the most part. Besides, it wasn't as if there was anything else they could do but adjust. There was no escape for it. There was no place for them to run and hide. And so they lived as best they could, and time went on. Six years passed. And Chris was twenty-one.
The school was for the most part unchanged. Sure, doors had been knocked down and windows smashed open, but the brick walls were the same as they had been before this all started. The basketball court was made from the same cement. Time and destruction couldn't change the materials that made a building a building.
Chris stood standing beside the school wall. His hand rested on the brick, feeling the hard, rough surface of it. It was twilight and the sun had set and the sky was growing dark. Chris glanced over his shoulder and looked towards the old basketball court. He could almost see phantoms of the children playing there as he had so long ago. Looking at the wall again, he closed his eyes and for a moment, he could almost believe time had reversed and he was a boy again and his mom was alive. There was magic in moments like those. Magic that had nothing to do with being part witch.
He sensed a presence, and opened his eyes, looking over his shoulder. There she was. Dressed in a white pants and a blue blouse. She was even more beautiful than he remembered her being the last time he had seen her so many years ago.
As he looked her up and down, she returned the gaze. Obviously she was impressed by what she saw. Chris had grown into a handsome man with a stunning face and body. Dressed in jeans and a white t-shirt under a black jacket, he looked powerful and confident and intelligent. Bianca smiled slightly. "You've grown up."
"Yeah," Chris nodded. "I get that a lot. If Wyatt sent you, tell him if he wants to talk to me, he'll have to come see me himself."
"Believe me, I'm not here because of him," she assured him, walking up to stand beside him. He was taller than she was now, and there was none of the fear in his eyes she had seen in him as a child. It was like he was a completely different person. But then, he was. Technically if one still followed American law, he was legal now.
"Then why are you here?" Chris asked.
"Why are you?" Bianca shot back. Without waiting for an answer, she turned and looked over at the court, letting out a sigh. "Honestly, I came here to remember what Wyatt told me to forget."
Chris frowned. "Forget what? He's still the same person he was back then, and as far as I can tell, so are you."
"He wants me to forget that there are things in this world that matter," she replied with a shrug. "He thinks I should be colder. More heartless. So when I come to places like this school, I remember how I felt back then." She turned to look at him with emotion filling in her eyes. "It keeps me from feeling heartless."
Chris returned her gaze. "You don't want to feel heartless? You're a Phoenix, Bianca. Wyatt's personal assassin. How can you not be heartless?"
"How can I not not be?" She demanded. And then she rolled her eyes. "That's a question we can shoot back and forth for hours, now isn't it?"
"Whatever," Chris turned, ready to orb out, but Bianca caught his hand. When he glared at her, she let him go.
"Listen, please," she asked him. "I need to get this off my chest, and you're the only one I can think of talking to."
"I am?" he sounded sarcastically surprised. "And why's that? Because my brother's your boss?"
"Because he's your brother," she replied. "Because when I see you, I don't see him. I see someone else. Someone better." She stared at him for a moment, then looked away in frustration. "God, this is all your fault, mom." Though that last statement was murmured under her breath, Chris heard it nevertheless.
He raised an eyebrow. "Your mom?"
She glared at him. "My mom's dead, Chris, just like yours. But in my case, I'm glad. She did this to me."
"You don't like being an assassin?" he sounded slightly surprised, and Bianca nodded.
"No more than you like being who you are," she told him. "We're not as different as you think, Chris. We both think our lives suck, we both hate Wyatt, and while you hate your dad, I hate my mom. That's why I came to you. You're the only one who knows what it's like. You probably know what it's like better than I do."
"So what do you want from me?" Chris demanded. "Advice? I'm sorry, I'm not exactly my Aunt Phoebe." She gave him a disgusted look and he sighed. "Fine. Advice. Tell Wyatt to go to hell and quit."
"And then he'll kill me," she shot back. "You know, you're right. You aren't your aunt."
"Sorry to disappoint you," he crossed his arms. "So what now?"
"I don't know," she replied softly. "You tell me." She looked down and hair fell into her face.
"Do what your heart tells you," he told her after a moment of silence. Bianca glanced back up at him in confusion and he shrugged. "It's what my grandpa always tells me to do. Somehow, it generally works."
"I thought you said I was heartless," she reminded him softly, and Chris reddened slightly.
"Yeah," he looked away from her, embarrassed. When he looked back at her he shook his head slightly. "Well. I didn't mean it." The sudden compassion in his voice caught Bianca completely off guard, and she couldn't keep the smile from forming on her lips.
She turned away from him, not used to smiling that way and feeling extremely awkward by it. But before she could flee, Chris caught her wrist and she looked back up at him.
"I'm sorry," he told her gently. "I mean… When I saw you in the park that day and told you to regret not leaving me there to die… I didn't mean that either. I… I appreciated you walking headfirst into danger just to protect me."
"I did it because Wyatt told me to do it," she whispered softly, looking away from him. "He told me to protect you."
"But you didn't have to obey him," Chris explained gently. "You aren't an evil person, Bianca. Not if you're able to regret. Your heart's there, you just gotta show it off some more. And listen to it every once in awhile."
"Well, you certainly changed your mind, didn't you?" Bianca looked up at him with hope in her eyes. Chris nodded slightly.
"Sometimes people say things they don't mean when they're angry," he pointed out. "Don't hold it against me."
"Don't worry about that," Bianca said, the smile failing to fade from her face. "I think we were both wrong. I think there's more of Phoebe inside you than either of us realize, Chris Halliwell." Without another word, she shimmered from the school. Chris smiled slightly himself, and orbed out as well.
The next day, Bianca found Chris sitting on that marble bench in that same abandoned, dying park. She frowned, slightly, and walked over to him. When he sensed her presence, he looked up at her expressionless. Bianca sat on the bench beside him. "What are you doing here?"
Chris shrugged. "The first time I came to this park, it reminded me of the Manor. Or of the Manor before all this started. When mom was alive. I don't know what it is, but this place just brings back these feelings I used to have as a boy. They're comforting."
"When my dad was alive, he brought me here to play," Bianca told Chris. "I come here all the time to think. But this is the second time I've ever seen you here."
"That's because I've only been here twice," Chris shrugged. "When I saw you yesterday, I thought about this park, and I just wanted to come here again."
"Does it still feel like the Manor?" she asked, surprising herself by actually being interested. Chris glanced at her and smiled slightly, nodding. And Bianca surprised herself again by feeling happy for him. "Good."
For awhile, they sat together silently, not speaking. Neither one of them could explain this place. To Bianca, it had always brought comfort, but that comfort escalated now that she had companionship as well. It brought them both a peace they felt no where else in the world.
Another day passed, and when Bianca walked into the park, she was delighted to find Chris there once again. She couldn't quite tell why she was so delighted, but she eagerly made her way over to him. "I couldn't stop thinking about you!"
Chris glanced over at her in surprise. Her face was alight with joy that he didn't recognize. "What?"
She approached him, and he noted the bounce in her step. She sat down beside him and smiled. "I mean I just couldn't. I don't know, Chris, but you were on my mind all last night."
Chris frowned. "I was?"
"Don't look so surprised," she rolled her eyes at him. "You're the first person in the world who's ever been kind to me, and I really appreciate it. I couldn't stop thinking about you, and I'm just glad that you're here."
"I've never heard that from a girl who wasn't related to me in my life," Chris told her, staring at her awkwardly.
"Well," she smiled at him, and with her smile, her face blossomed into beauty that made her look pure and innocent and simply amazing. He couldn't resist not smiling back, and her eyes sparkled. Her words were spoken seriously. "It's time that someone told you."
Time continued pushing forward, and with it, Chris and Bianca were pushed forward as well, and pushed together. Days moved on and weeks went by. It is often said that the best moments pass the quickest, and in this case, they did. Six months came and went, and Chris and Bianca spent each day together in the park. They had turned to each other to find comfort, for they both had needed it desperately. And as those months passed, they found in each other something much more than just comfort. They found a stability that very few other people found in a world that had been overrun by demonic creatures of evil led by a man whose power outshone that of even the Elders'. They built a relationship that they hadn't truly meant to, and could never walk away from.
They kissed softly in the evening light. The moon shown down on the park, turning the marble bench, marble pillars, and statues all a soft shade of lavender. Everything else was washed up in a silvery light, and the stars were brighter than they had ever been before.
Chris broke the kiss off first, and looked down into Bianca's eyes. They were sitting on the bench, hands held tightly, and the atmosphere around them was of pure ecstasy. Chris smiled, feeling happy as he always did in her presence.
"I told my grandpa about us," he whispered to her. Bianca grinned, having wanted Chris to tell Victor for a long time.
"What'd he say?" she demanded eagerly, and Chris rolled his eyes.
"Exactly what we thought he'd say," he told her. "He said we're both completely out of our minds, and that it'll never work out. You're too old for me and you still work for Wyatt and the Elders aren't gonna like it one bit, and if Leo were here, he'd probably not approve, either."
Bianca chuckled softly. "Okay, and what'd you say?" Chris smiled.
"I reminded him Leo has absolutely no right to talk," he told her. "He's practically half a century older than mom was, and their love was completely and utterly forbidden. And as for everyone else… Their opinions don't matter because it's none of their business."
Bianca was beaming by then. "And then what?"
Chris shrugged. "Well. He laughed. My grandpa laughed at me and said it was all right with him as long as we didn't do anything stupid before we get married."
Bianca threw her arms around Chris happily. "I love your grandpa, Chris! He's the absolute best!"
Chris had no way of expressing how much he agreed with her. Instead, he whispered, "I've lived my entire life in a nightmare, Bianca. But here, you've woken me up, and I can see the beauty of the daytime."
He took her in his arms, and they held each other for what seemed like an eternity, but what later felt like only a moment.
The lights in the club were turned on dimly as Victor reclined in an old booth and watched the small, portable television. Chris had told him not to wait up, but it was approaching midnight, and as the old man had missed out on being the nervous parent the first three times around, he told himself he wouldn't miss it with Chris. Instead, he waited patiently as he watched a demon version of Jerry Springer. Considering demons were beings of terrible evil, Victor was slightly surprised at how amusing it actually was, and besides. The TV only had three channels, and there wasn't anything else on and nothing else to do. So instead of panicking over Chris's new relationship with Wyatt's personal assassin, he chose to distract himself with demons and their domestic issues.
A moment later, however, he was distracted from even that as a brilliant flood of blue white lights appeared a few yards away. Victor glanced up, hoping Chris was back, only to feel concern and alarm course through his entire being when he recognized who it actually was. Jumping to his feet, he quickly turned the television off and faced his new visitor.
"Hello, Wyatt," Victor forced his voice to remain calm, though he could literally feel his speeding heart.
"It's been a long time, Grandpa," Wyatt replied with a smirk on his handsome but cruel face. And it had been a long time. Victor hadn't talked with Wyatt since the night of Piper's death.
"Care to sit?" he asked, gesturing towards the booth, somehow managing to sound like a halfway decent host.
"Well," Wyatt stared at Victor in amusement. "Not the grandfatherly welcome I was hoping for, but it'll do." They both sat facing each other in the booth.
"You know," Victor said, as he felt his apprehension slip away with the shock at seeing Wyatt for the first time in so long while the cool collected composure he felt the last time he faced Wyatt took its place. "I used to think I was just an average old man. When you think about the world and how big it is, and how many people control it, I always felt comfortably insignificant. The upper people of the world – Bush, Clinton, Tony Blair, Osama, Saddam, and all those million dollar superstars… they weren't people I'd ever have to deal with. They weren't my problem. But then pretty much overnight, my grandson steps over all of them and does something no one's ever done before. He literally takes over the world! And if that's not bad enough, he shows up without warning in a place I've come to think of as home just to see me – a guy who a couple of years ago meant no one to anyone with any real international importance."
Wyatt shrugged, clearly still amused. "What can I say? Times change."
"Speaking of which," Victor went on. "Why the hell did you expose magic to the world? Are you crazy?"
"No," Wyatt shook his head. "I only did that to piss off the people who were trying to completely eliminate me."
"Well, they clearly failed," Victor observed. "And you've managed to piss off a lot of other people in the process."
"What's done is done," Wyatt replied coldly, though a smile was still on his face. "There's no changing it now. Besides, I think things have worked out rather smoothly, considering all the tiny little variables involved in exposing magic and taking over everything."
"I'm sure," Victor conceded, leaning back in the booth and gazing leisurely at his grandson. "So I'm guessing this isn't a social call."
"You'd be right," Wyatt confirmed, leaning forward with his elbows perched on the tabletop. "One thing I didn't count on when starting all this was how busy it would make me."
"Really?" Victor's voice dripped with sarcasm. "Cause I always imagined world domination would be an absolute breeze."
"You'd think that with all the power I have," Wyatt bitterly agreed. "Unfortunately not even being evil takes away a guy's responsibilities when he's got to protect his position."
Victor's eyes narrowed slightly. "You aren't evil, Wyatt."
"Yeah, and I'm not good either," Wyatt reminded him with rolling eyes. "But what I am is strong. And I'm using that strength to keep enough order in this world for me to rule. The thing about chaos is no one's in charge, so if I want power, there has to be some sort of organization. And that's what keeps me so busy."
"And that's why you never call, right?" Victor asked, still sarcastic. Wyatt smirked and nodded.
"Fortunately, things have lightened quite a bit in recent weeks," he told his grandfather. "I told you this wouldn't be a permanent arrangement. I'm ready for Chris to come with me. I'll actually have time to spend with him, teaching him how to rule by my side. No one would dare hurt him, and he's old enough for the responsibility." Wyatt actually managed to sound excited about this, which disgusted Victor even more. Despite his civil tone with Wyatt, Victor could never forget that his grandson was every bad guy in countless and timeless stories who had actually managed to succeed in taking over the world. Wyatt had become a cruel and hateful dictator, much like the Middle Eastern leaders Victor had mentioned earlier. And the old man didn't want his younger grandson to have anything to do with that. He didn't want Chris anywhere near Wyatt. He would continue to protect the boy with every ounce of his being. And so, he shook his head.
Wyatt stared at Victor blankly, wondering if he had heard that right. It had been years since anyone had dared deny him anything. "Excuse me?"
"Whatever agreement we came to all those years ago," Victor elaborated. "They were made before you started campaigning for world dominance. Chris has never been outside San Francisco! And you want him to help you rule the world? What is that?"
"Yeah, I agree he's got a lot to learn," Wyatt allowed. "I'll take care of him, you can count on that. I'm not just gonna dump a ton of responsibilities on his shoulders, I'll give him only what he can manage, and I'll see to it that he does well. He'll have the best possible life, grandpa. Anything he could possibly want-"
"He has everything that he wants right now," Victor cut in, surprisingly patient. "I think he truly believes that both you and Leo have completely forgotten about him. He's never been happier in his life. You can't just show up after these many years and expect him to willingly agree to whatever destiny you have planned out for him. He'll fight you, Wyatt. And he'll hate you if you fight back."
Wyatt's face hardened. "Well then he's gonna have a little problem. Because I'm the one who's in control and no one else has a choice in the matter."
"It's not gonna work out the way you want it to," Victor warned his grandson. "If you want what's best for your brother, just leave him be."
Wyatt glanced down at the table, his eyes focusing on a black ashtray. There were a couple cigarette buts lying on it, some older than others, and Wyatt stared at them intently for a moment before he looked back up at his grandfather with a very harsh expression.
"I told you once," the younger man said softly. "I'm taking things back. If I want Chris… I get Chris. And unless someone more powerful than me shows up to tell me what to do, I don't take advice." He slid out of the booth and took a few steps away from his grandfather before pausing. Without turning around to look at the older man, Wyatt whispered several words under his breath. "In the darkness of this moment he cannot receive atonement for his self invoked malady that brings to him calamity."
From where Victor sat in the booth, he suddenly felt a sharp pain in his chest. Gasping, he sat up for a single moment before collapsing. Literally falling out of the booth, he lay motionlessly on the floor. Wyatt could hear and sense all of this without needing to turn around. Smiling smugly, he orbed out of the old nightclub.
"Just a moment longer?"
"Ssh." Bianca closed her eyes for a second, then opened them alluringly. "Till tomorrow night." She had leaned towards him for one last kiss before standing from the marble bench and backing slowly away. "I love you, Chris."
"Bianca, wait," he pleaded softly, standing up as well. He walked after her and took her hands in his. "Saying good night is getting harder."
"It makes me anticipate saying hello," she agreed with a smile. "Don't deny me that anticipation, Chris. It's what keeps me going everyday."
"I don't ever wanna say hello again," he whispered, pulling her into his arms. "Cause I don't ever wanna leave you."
They held each other. No one fit into another's embrace as perfectly as they did. They had been sculpted to be together. But then finally Bianca pulled away from him. "Until we can say hello again." She shimmered away from him. And he was already missing her.
Chris sighed as he orbed back home. For that is what he had come to call the nightclub. Even as a child, it had been a home away from home when Piper still owned it, and now it was where he lived. But it wasn't where he wanted to live. He wanted more than anything else to live wherever Bianca happened to be.
"Grandpa?" Chris called softly as soon as he regained solid form. He hoped if the old man was asleep, he hadn't woken him, but doubted very much that Victor would be sleeping when he knew who Chris was seeing. The boy looked around, getting no response. Shrugging, he made his way over to the bar, where he knew Victor left him notes whenever plans changed or information needed to be passed on when they weren't together to talk face to face. But nothing had been written down for him, so Chris knew not to expect anything out of the ordinary in the morning.
Turning towards the back rooms where Chris and Victor had put together sleeping quarters, Chris was ready for bed. It wasn't until he actually started making for those back rooms that his eyes finally caught sight of the fallen, motionless body on the floor.
Chris's eyes opened in alarm as fear coursed through his body. "Grandpa!" The boy practically flew over to Victor's side. "Grandpa!"
Carefully helping the old man onto his back, Chris frantically looked for any clue as to what was wrong. He could feel the panic growing inside him as he could see no visible injury. Checking for a pulse, he found only a faint and irregular one. "Oh, please, no."
Chris looked around wildly for a phone, but he had no idea where Victor had placed it last. Too afraid to leave his grandfather's side to search for one, Chris felt increasingly helpless, and his panic increased. "This can't be happening!"
Fear outweighing his better judgement, Chris looked towards the ceiling. "Dad!" There was no answer. Chris's body began to tremble. "Dad if you can hear me, I need your help! Please!" And when there was still no response, Chris felt his hope fade. He remembered Wyatt's words from so many years ago. "And I'd pay money to see you call for dad, just to see your face when he ignores you."
"Leo, please!" Chris shouted at the ceiling. Tears stung in his eyes when Leo did not appear. So his father had abandoned him after all. Even when he was on his knees begging, his dad would not come. "Dammit!"
Chris looked back down at his grandfather and checked his pulse again. It was fading. He had to get Victor to a hospital. "Okay, okay!" Closing his eyes, Chris gently held his grandfather by his shoulders, and orbed out of P3.
The emergency room was full of nurses and attendants, but was for the most part calm until Chris and his grandfather appeared in the middle of the floor. The lights were on bright, the atmosphere was almost too clean and sterile, and the first thing Chris noticed was the silence. Looking around, he saw everyone in the room staring at him in shocked surprise. But Chris was too close to breaking to even care.
"Someone help!" he stared up at several nurses, who were looking back in fear and alarm. Urgency flooded into him. "I think he might be dying!" No one moved. Chris wondered if some crazy being was deliberately trying to ruin his life. "Please!"
"No one's gonna help a Whitelighter," a cold voice said from behind him. Chris glanced over his shoulder in complete and utter dread to see four tall men dressed in black leather watching him in cold, cruel amusement. They each held a crossbow that Chris identified all too easily. They were four Darklighters.
Panicking, Chris spun around and scrambled away from them, inadvertently tripping over his own grandfather in the process. The Darklighters watched him in pure delight as he realized how he could have further injured the old man. Glancing down at his grandfather, Chris had no idea what to look for as far as damage went, for he didn't even know what was wrong in the first place. He looked back up at the Darklighters, his heart beating so quickly in his throat that he was waiting for it to burst.
"Stupid Whitelighter," one Darklighter stated, watching Chris with a predatory gleam in his eyes. He was relatively young and powerful in appearance, with dark hair and dressed up in black leather. Though he wasn't quite as big as the three other Darklighters, he had an authoritative air about him that warned others not to get in his way. He was the one who everyone noticed first and paid most attention to. He was the most dangerous, and obviously the cruelest. He smirked at the young Whitelighter. "ER's don't treat good magic anymore. Didn't anyone tell you that?"
Chris stared at the Darklighter in horror. He had never come across a demon that didn't know him as Wyatt's little brother before. And as much as Chris hated being associated with Wyatt, suddenly he was overcome with the realization of what might happen to him without his brother's influence protecting him. He shrank even further back from the demon.
"Please," he looked around to the other men and women in the emergency room for support. All he saw in their eyes and expressions was cold sympathy and frightened alarm. He began to slide backwards on the floor, away from Victor and the Darklighters, hoping to draw their lethal arrows away from the defenseless man's motionless body. "He's not magical. He's just an ordinary man who needs care…"
"Oh, really?" the Darklighter jeered. "Why can't a Whitelighter like you heal him, then?" Chris couldn't think of a response. He wasn't a full-blooded Whitelighter. He was part witch, and he had no idea if he was even capable of using the healing powers of a Whitelighter. And if he could, he had no idea how. The Darklighter took a slow step towards him before looking down at Victor. Chris sat up straighter as the other three also went to tower over his grandfather's body as well.
"What are you doing?" Chris asked in a small, terrified voice. He would much rather have had the Darklighters focusing on him than on Victor.
The Darklighter glanced at Chris cruelly. He was still smirking as he replied. "I've never used one of my arrows on an 'ordinary man' before. I save them for Whitelighters and kill innocents using other methods. But now, seeing how you're here and all, maybe we'll just flip that around. I wonder how quickly the poison will kill him." Chris's heart sped as the Darklighters all pointed their crossbows at Victor.
"No!" he shouted, feeling panic flow through his body until he felt like his fear would consume him. Every ounce of that fear was like a blanket covering him and suffocating him. He felt trapped and it was sickening him. He felt dizzy and could barely see straight as his head began pounding painfully. He needed a way to get that suffocating terror out of him, or he was certain it would drive him mad – if not kill him altogether. He needed to get it out.
Not knowing what he was doing or why, Chris threw up his right arm. It wasn't even what instinct told him to do, it just happened naturally on its own, as if his arm had temporarily taken control. And as it was flying outward, Chris felt power like nothing he had experienced before surge through his body and shoot out towards the Darklighters. Suddenly, all four of them were violently thrown across the room. The men and women standing and watching screamed and scrambled even further away from the scene as the four Darklighters crashed against walls and various pieces of emergency equipment. And as they landed heavily, Chris felt sudden relief as his panic began diminishing and he regained some control of himself.
Breathing heavily, Chris cautiously stood up, wondering what had just happened and if he could do it again if he needed to. The leading Darklighter's eyes snapped open furiously, and he pushed himself to his feet, spinning around to face Chris. The other three Darklighters followed suit more slowly and clumsily, but Chris's attention was fixed on the leader.
"Think that's clever?" the Darklighter demanded, taking a step towards the boy. Chris automatically stepped backwards, his fear returning as he sensed the hate emanating from his opponent. He knew Darklighters were by nature hateful. Hate was what gave them their powers. But he had never in his life sensed hate like this coming from a demon. He had sensed evil and arrogance and cruelty before, but never hate. It disconcerted Chris, reminding him too much of his brother.
One of the other Darklighters wiped his mouth. "What is this? Another mutt? Are witches screwing their Whitelighters becoming a trend now?"
The leader ignored the question as he continued to watch the younger boy. He held up his crossbow and aimed it at Chris, who visibly tensed. The Darklighter sneered. "I'm very quick, Whitelighter. If you so much as orb out of the way, I'll have this thing reloaded and I'll kill your friend. And I've never met a Whitelighter faster than me."
Chris shivered, trying to keep from choking. He couldn't believe this was happening. He was going to die…
The voice was loud, angry, and disgusted all at once. Everyone in the room, along with Chris and the Darklighters, all started and looked around for its source. They found it near a large door in the form of a beautiful young woman. Bianca. Chris's eyes closed for a moment as relief washed over him. This was the second time she had appeared out of nowhere to save him. Suddenly he found that he could hope that everything would be okay again.
The Darklighters all turned to face Bianca, and the leader took a couple of angry steps towards her. She didn't shrink back or even tense as he approached. Instead, she wore a hard, equally angry expression, and her own kind of power radiated in her eyes. And then Chris remembered that she was Wyatt's assassin for a reason. And even though the Darklighters didn't recognize Chris, he felt certain that they would recognize her.
"You want to say that again, Bianca?" Jobyne – the leading Darklighter – demanded.
She crossed her arms. "All right. Stay the hell away from the Whitelighter and his friend. Or I'll kill you so fast you won't even know you're done for."
"So you're protecting Whitelighters now?" Jobyne asked angrily. "I'll bet your boss would love that."
"Yeah, and just in case you've forgotten dick-head," Bianca shot back smoothly. "My boss is a Whitelighter, too."
"Right," Jobyne smirked. He strode towards Bianca again until he was only a foot away, but even still she did not back down. For a moment they stared at each other, hate coursing through both of them. Chris could feel it as he watched them, concern for Bianca building inside him.
Suddenly, Jobyne pushed his crossbow up against Bianca's stomach and fired. But she was already gone, shimmering behind him, an athame in her hand. She rammed it into his back, but he had dissolved into black orbs, reappearing at the other side of the room. She spun around and faced him, holding up her hand. An energy ball appeared and shot at Jobyne. His face contorted into an angry scowl as he was consumed by the energy and almost instantly destroyed.
Chris watched, stunned once again by Bianca's display of power. She tossed her hair out of her face and glared at the three remaining Darklighters. "Does anyone else have a problem with me?" The three Darklighters all backed away from her and shook their heads. She nodded. "Good." Turning towards the medics in the room, she gestured towards Victor. "Get to it." They instantly obeyed, some rushing to help Victor while others scrambled for a gurney. Chris continued watching, feeling his strength drain from him as his fear for his grandfather returned. He watched as the men and women worked together to lift Victor onto the gurney, and didn't even notice when Bianca came to stand next to him.
They began rolling the gurney away, and Chris made to follow, but Bianca grabbed his arm and gently held him back. Chris tried pushing her off, but when he did, her gentle touch grew more powerful. "Chris you have to wait."
He turned towards her angrily. "I can't let anything happen to him!" He tried breaking away from her again, but she wouldn't let him go.
"You have to let them do their jobs!" she told him harshly. Chris shook his head violently even as a woman walked over to him.
"She's right," the woman told Chris, worry and sympathy filling her expression. "You'll only get in the way. You'd best wait for the doctor in the waiting room."
"No!" Chris objected, but Bianca immediately shimmered him out. They reappeared a moment later in the waiting room. Chris stared at his new surroundings in surprised confusion, as his body grew to feel empty. "What…"
He turned to look at her, and saw in her eyes only love and sadness. Then tears blocked everything out, and he could barely see anything at all as they began to shed. His body trembled, and Bianca, who still supported him, could feel his weight. She gently led him over to a chair and helped him sit.
"It's okay," she whispered into his ear, sitting beside him. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and leaned his body against hers, pressing his head gently to her heart. "You'll be okay… You'll be okay."
It seemed like hours passed before a young woman dressed in blue scrubs entered the waiting room. Despite her obvious youth, her face was lined with ages of experience, emotionless and hardened. When she saw Chris and Bianca, she took a quick breath and walked towards them.
Chris had been able to sit up by himself for awhile now, and he sat there staring at the floor with Bianca sitting in much the same position beside him. She saw the doctor first, and gently touched Chris's knee. He looked up and saw the doctor as well, and immediately got to his feet.
"Chris Halliwell," the doctor checked, and Chris nodded. The doctor glanced down at Bianca for a moment before looking back at the Whitelighter. "I'm Dr. Caraway, and I treated your grandfather… Victor Halliwell?"
"Is he okay?" Chris demanded, his voice soft and close to breaking. His eyes were red, but it didn't look like he had cried his last tear yet. This, the doctor knew, would be very painful for him.
"I'm sorry," she stated, sounding anything but. "There was really nothing more we could do for him other than make him comfortable."
Chris stared at her, uncomprehending, confusion apparent on his face. "I don't understand…"
"Your grandfather, put simply, suffered from lung cancer," the doctor explained. "His records show that he has no history with any kind of cancer, but he was never really a regular patient at any hospital to begin with. He hasn't had a check up in years, and it would seem his case developed rapidly. He was a smoker, and as far as I can tell from the records of the few times he did go in for a check up, he did display some early signs, but nothing too serious. He probably wouldn't have had cancer if he had quit smoking years ago. I'm terribly sorry for your loss."
Chris could only stare at her, paralyzed. The shock was too great for him, and he had no idea how to react. Bianca stood and reached for Chris's hand. She held it tightly as she looked at the doctor.
"Thank you," she whispered, and the doctor nodded before turning and striding away from these people she wanted nothing to do with. Chris continued staring into space before he slowly sank to the floor. His body was shaking again.
Bianca turned towards him and knelt down in front of him. For the first time, tears were forming in her eyes as her love for him overwhelmed her. She felt so close to him that his pain seemed to be transferring into her. She couldn't bear the thought of what he must be feeling. It was too much for either of them.
"Chris…" she whispered as his eyes began glazing over. But then they snapped back into focus and he looked at her coldly.
"There has to be a spell," he told her. Her eyes narrowed in confusion.
"There has to be something," he stated, and suddenly he orbed out of the hospital. Bianca felt his absence instantly, and concern and worry began to overwhelm her as she realized she had no idea what kind of trouble he was orbing into.
When Chris regained solid form, he looked around and saw that the attic was exactly as he had left it. Spinning around, he instantly saw the pedestal on which the Book of Shadows rested undisturbed even to that day. The only change there seemed to be was a great increase of dust and cobwebs.
Chris made his way over to the Book and took it desperately in his hands. Trembling, he opened it and started flipping from page to page, looking for a spell – any spell – which might be able to fix this. There had to be something there! There had to be something he could do! He wouldn't be able to bear a loss like this if there wasn't.
The young Whitelighter jumped, dropping the Book back on the pedestal. He looked up in terror, recognizing his older brother immediately. He automatically scrambled backwards, tripping over an old box in the process and landing painfully on the floor.
Wyatt took a step towards him. "What are you doing?"
Chris was finding it difficult to breathe, but he forced his gaze away from his brother and back up to the Book on the pedestal. Determination ran through his veins, and he pushed himself back onto his feet and grabbed for the Book, ready to orb it out of the Manor. But Wyatt anticipated this, and he threw up his arm. Chris was thrown across the attic, and he landed heavily on his side.
Wyatt stepped calmly between the fallen boy and the pedestal. "Are you really dense enough to try stealing the Book of Shadows?"
Chris looked up at his older brother. "I need it." Tears were forming in his eyes again, and Wyatt crossed his arms.
"Grandpa's dead," Chris looked away. "I need… it… to bring him back."
Wyatt took a deep breath and rolled his eyes. "If the Book was capable of doing something like that, Prue never would have died, Paige never would have died, and the Power of Three would be alive today. Magic can't bring Grandpa back from the dead, Christopher."
That fact was one Chris had known his entire life, but one he didn't want to believe. And yet, hearing his brother say it like that, so coldly, hit him painfully in the stomach. He curled into a ball and tried to hold back his tears.
Wyatt bit his lip as he stared down at the boy. This certainly brought back memories, and memories Wyatt didn't want to have. Irritation rubbed against him, and it was all he could do not to lash out at his brother. "Stop that. You should be used to death by now." Chris ignored him, and that angered Wyatt further. He strode towards the boy and grabbed his shoulders, forcing him to sit up. "Shut up, Chris!
Chris took a moment to catch his breath, his tears drying. And then he summoned all the strength he had left and pushed Wyatt away from him. Catching the older man by surprise, Wyatt lost his hold on Chris and stumbled backwards a few steps. Chris then dissolved into blue light.
Wyatt tossed his shoulder-length blonde hair out of his eyes as he held up his hand. "Stay put!" The blue light suddenly vanished, and Chris fell back onto the attic floor. No less determined to escape, Chris pushed himself onto his feet and bolted towards the door.
Wyatt stepped in Chris's path and grabbed his shoulders. Chris shouted and struggled against his brother's stronger hands, but the older boy easily pushed him back onto the floor, and Chris stared up in alarm, sweat covering his face.
"Stay down," Wyatt ordered, watching his brother carefully as the boy struggled to catch his breath. Chris shook his head and once again scrambled forward, trying to push past Wyatt and break for the door.
Wyatt grabbed Chris and, stepping slightly to the side, shoved him forward. Chris landed heavily on his hands and knees. His grimaced in pain as Wyatt knelt by his side. Using his natural strength, Wyatt forced Chris down against the floor and held him there. Chris tried breaking him off, but the pressure on his back easily held him in place.
"Stay. Put." Wyatt said coldly and fiercely. "You know, Chris, you came here willingly, but though I admire your determination, I can't let you leave that way."
"Let me go!" Chris shouted angrily, trying to push Wyatt off again. Wyatt didn't let him go, but moved one hand onto the side of Chris's head and pressed it against the floor.
"If Grandpa's really dead like you say he is," Wyatt continued. "Then you've got no one else to look after you. You're staying with me."
"I'm twenty-one," Chris spat at him. "I don't need-"
"The hell you don't," Wyatt shot back, letting go of Chris's head long enough to hold up his hand. Magic shot from it, consuming the Manor in fire for a single moment before the flames died, leaving everything exactly the way it had been before. Wyatt looked down at Chris, somewhat triumphantly. "Okay, then. No more orbing in the Manor, and you can't leave. Other than that, feel free to go wherever you want to go inside." Only then did Wyatt move back from his little brother.
Chris spared Wyatt only a moment's glance before trying to orb out. But like Wyatt had said, he was unable to do so. Panicking for what seemed like the millionth time that night, Chris pushed himself onto his feet and bolted from the attic. Wyatt smiled slightly as he watched Chris go.
He ran down the landing towards the stairs and descended at a dangerous pace. When he reached the bottom, he made his way straight towards the front door, but as soon as his hand reached for the door knob, red energy shot at him and he was flung backwards.
Landing heavily on his back, Chris groaned and stared up at the ceiling in pain. Wyatt was walking down the stairs at a more leisurely pace, looking down at Chris in amusement. "Look at you. Always doing things the hard way. Can't you ever take my word for it?"
Chris turned his head towards Wyatt. If losing his grandpa wasn't bad enough, now he had to try and figure out how to get away from his psychotic brother. Feeling helpless and vulnerable, Chris rolled onto his stomach and slowly pushed himself up onto his knees. But his strength had left him, and it was all he could do to just sit there.
Wyatt came to stand behind him, and Chris grew still. The pain inside him elevated and tears stung in his eyes. Wyatt smirked and reached down roughly brushing Chris's hair. Tensing, Chris shut his eyes and leaned forward and away.
"Fine," Wyatt allowed in a cruel voice. "Just accept it, Chris. I've got a lot planned for you, and you aren't getting out of it." He turned towards the door. "But I'll give you some time to think about it." Walking to the door, Wyatt looked back at Chris and tauntingly opened it wide, allowing the cool night air into the Manor. But when Chris didn't honor him with any sort of response, Wyatt shrugged and walked out, slamming the door shut behind him before locking it. He knew locks were pretty much useless in this new world, but the thought of locking Chris in, and knowing that Chris could hear the door being locked, pleased Wyatt in a strange and very satisfying way.
The underworld felt unnaturally dark and hot to Bianca as she impatiently paced back and forth. Not knowing where Chris was scared her, and waiting for Wyatt was eating at her. She was desperate to find the man she loved, and she hated the fact that time was moving onward with every passing second. Time that could see Chris come to serious harm if she didn't find him soon!
Suddenly Wyatt appeared behind her. Bianca sensed him immediately and spun around. He stared at her with his usual cocky and arrogant expression. "What?"
"I killed a Darklighter today," Bianca told him instantly. "Jobyne."
Wyatt stared at her for a moment, processing this, and then he shrugged. "So? I've got other things to worry about aside from Darklighters."
"Yeah, I'm sure," she replied calmly. "But I was hired to protect Chris from witches who might use him to get to you. Not from demons who are supposed to be under your control."
"Wait," Wyatt stared at her coldly. "Jobyne was after Chris?"
"Yeah he was," Bianca stated, equally as cold. "He had no idea who Chris was, and neither did the other three Darklighters. Chris could be in a lot of danger if he runs into a couple of upper level demons who don't know who he is either. There's only so much I can do."
"Don't worry, Bianca," Wyatt shot back. "Pretty soon, every demon will know Chris's face as well as they know mine."
"I know what your plans are for him," Bianca assured him. "But there's something else. Chris's grandfather died today." Wyatt nodded, but Bianca didn't allow him time to speak. "And Chris took off. He said something about a spell, and now I can't sense him anywhere."
"He's at the Manor," Wyatt told her. Bianca stared at him in obvious surprise, and Wyatt shrugged. "He came looking for the Book of Shadows. Thought there might be a spell to reverse what happened today. So don't throw this out of proportion, Bianca. He'll be quite safe there."
"Only if he chooses to stay there," Bianca told him in concern. "He could be anywhere by now."
"No," Wyatt shook his head. "I'm keeping him there. He can't orb. He can't leave. And no one's gonna hurt him."
Bianca stared at Wyatt in complete horror as she realized what he had just told her. "You're keeping him prisoner?"
Wyatt shrugged. "Only until he accepts his fate." He stared at Bianca curiously, noting the abhorrence she was suddenly displaying. He had never seen her so unguarded before as emotion poured into her eyes.
She backed away from Wyatt, not looking away from him. How could he? Chris wasn't someone who could handle being locked up! Especially by his brother! Especially on a night like this one! And Wyatt had left him alone! Bianca couldn't even begin imagining the pain Chris must be in. She couldn't allow it to continue! Backing even further away, she shimmered out of the underworld.
Reappearing in the Manor, she quickly took in her surroundings. It was like in all these years nothing at all had changed. Wyatt must have gone through a lot of trouble to keep it exactly as it had been. But then those thoughts fled from her mind as she caught sight of Chris huddled on the floor in front of the front door.
He looked up in complete surprise, and Bianca bolted towards him. Rising slightly, he caught her in his arms as she fell to her knees before him. They embraced, holding each other so tightly Bianca felt like they were melting into one.
Suddenly, Wyatt shimmered into the Manor. When he saw Chris and Bianca in each other's arms, the surprise was like nothing he had ever experienced before. For the first time in his life, he was shocked speechless.
Bianca and Chris separated, and both turned to look up at Wyatt from where they sat on the floor. Bianca reached for Chris's hand and held it firmly.
"Bianca!" Wyatt spat when he finally could speak again. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Chris isn't yours, Wyatt," Bianca told the other man. "If he belongs to anyone, it's me."
Wyatt took a menacing step towards his assassin. "You little slut-"
"You know what, Wyatt?" Bianca cut in. "Go to Hell. I quit." Wyatt opened his mouth, but Bianca didn't wait for him. She immediately shimmered from the Manor, taking Chris with her. They reappeared in an alleyway on practically the other side of San Francisco. Bianca helped Chris onto his feet and they embraced again.
"I can't believe you," Chris whispered as he held her. She smiled slightly, feeling a hundred times lighter, and finally free at last.
"You told me to do it once," she reminded him. "I figured that was as good a time as any. I couldn't let you stay there."
"I love you so much," Chris told her. "I'm so sorry. I really am…"
"For what?" Bianca pulled back and looked into Chris's eyes. "No matter what you do… you don't have to apologize to me. Because whatever path you decide to take, I'll go with you. I can be bad. I can be good. I will be whatever you want me to be. I will do whatever you think is right. You owe me nothing, and for that you never have to apologize."
"You're wrong," he whispered, looking away from her. "I owe you everything."
At that moment, the alleyway flooded with blue white light. Chris and Bianca both looked over at the light in alarm, ready to flee in a moment's notice if they needed to. They continued holding each other, feeling that Wyatt would not be able to hurt them so long as they were in each other's arms.
But to their surprise, it was not Wyatt orbing into the alleyway. It was another, older man, whom they had not expected to see.
"Chris?" Leo asked as he regained solid form. Bianca didn't recognize this man, and looked up at Chris questioningly as the boy stared at his father in shock.
"Dad?" Chris released Bianca and took several steps backwards. Bianca remained in place, standing protectively between Chris and his father.
"Chris," Leo took several steps towards them, but paused when Bianca summoned an athame to her hand and held it up threateningly. He stared at her in confusion. "Bianca…?"
"That's my name all right," Bianca confirmed coldly. "Now you can just back off and orb wherever the hell it is you came from."
"I'm going to talk to my son whether you like it or not," Leo told her before continuing forward and pushing past her. She did not stab him, but grabbed his shoulder and pushed him back a couple of steps. Chris didn't stop her as she once again stepped between them.
"You can talk to him," she replied. "But you can do it at a distance." She crossed her arms and silently dared him to try arguing.
"Fine," he agreed, looking past her at Chris. "Are you okay?"
"What kind of question is that?" Chris demanded, emotion pouring through him. How could his father show up now? Why would he do that? Despair built up inside him, and he didn't know if he could survive any more of this, even with Bianca.
"Chris-" Leo began, but his son violently shook his head.
"No!" he shouted. "I don't want to talk to you! You're too late! You're always late!"
"You have to let me explain," Leo told him. "I wish it didn't happen this way! I wish I got to Victor in time!"
"I called you!" Chris shouted. "I actually called for you and you didn't come! You come for everyone else but not for me?"
"I would have come," Leo tried telling him. "I heard you calling and I would have come, but there are thousands of witches in this world fighting thousands of demons and Victor wasn't the only one in danger at the time!"
"So some witch was more important?" Chris demanded.
"It was his time to go," Leo told his son. "His death was natural-"
"How is any death natural?" Chris asked.
"Because it was lung cancer," Leo said. "It happens to people. Demons and sadistic torturers don't cause it, and I have an obligation to protect the people in danger from evil! I had to make a choice."
"And you chose witches over me," Chris said, tears forming in his eyes. "How many did you save?"
"Four," Leo spoke softly. "If I hadn't gone to protect them, they would be dead now, too. And even if I had gone to Victor, I don't know if my powers could have saved him. It could have been for nothing."
"Nothing," Chris repeated, looking away. "Aside from Bianca, all I have left is nothing."
Leo shook his head. "That isn't true! I love you, Chris! And I cared about Victor every bit as much as you did, and I'm every bit as sorry that he's gone!"
"That doesn't make a difference!" Chris shot back angrily. "He's gone now! You think I care about the lives of four witches? When do I ever call you? When do I ever ask anything from you? I don't! You'd think the one time I ask something from you, you'd at least try giving it to me! The one time I actually needed you and you weren't there! If it had been mom, you would have gone to her! If it had been Wyatt, you'd have gone to him!"
"Look, Chris, I understand your anger," Leo cut in, tears forming in the Whitelighter's eyes. "You've lost so much-"
"No!" Chris shouted. "I don't want to hear it! Just stop! Please!"
Bianca had heard enough. The pain Chris was going through… She had to find a way to ease it before it grew so much that healing would be impossible. She turned and went to him.
"Chris," she whispered, taking his hands. He looked into her eyes, and she could see his pain lessen already. She smiled softly. "Forget this. Let's go. I'll find a way to get you through this, but for now… let's just leave him behind."
Leo stared at Bianca in confusion. "Don't you work for Wyatt?"
Bianca groaned, wondering how many times she would hear that question in the future. She turned and glared at the old Whitelighter. "I used to. Quit. By the way, Leo, I'm in love with your son. I hope you approve." The tone in her voice clearly stated that she didn't give a damn whether he approved or not.
Leo stared at her in shock. He looked down at Chris. "You're dating your brother's ex-assassin?"
"What?" Chris looked back at his father angrily. "So now you're actually interested in my life? There's a surprise."
"Chris!" Leo shook his head slightly. "You can't date your brother's ex-assassin!"
"Try and stop me!" Chris shot back. "I can date whoever I want! I'm not a kid anymore! And even if I was, the hell I'd ever listen to you!"
"Fine!" Leo held up his arms in frustration. "Do what you want! It might actually help the cause."
"What cause?" Bianca demanded, looking at Leo with a frown. He stared at her seriously.
"I'm fighting Wyatt," he told her. "A resistance has been formed. I told you there's thousands of witches fighting thousands of demons. We're working together to overthrow Wyatt."
Chris and Bianca stared at Leo, completely stunned. They had no idea how to react to that.
Leo took a step towards them, staring at Chris. "I know you hate me. You have every reason to hate me. But I know you don't like Wyatt any better. Come with me, and help us fight him. Ending his reign is more of a priority right now than our relationship, anyway."
"Oh it is?" Bianca managed to get over her shock first. "I cannot believe you just said that! Freaking ass…"
Chris shook his head slowly. "Are you actually asking me to join a resistance against my brother?"
Leo nodded. "Without Victor, what are you going to do, Chris? He was able to raise you in neutrality, but he's gone now, and you've grown up. You have to do something now with your life. You have to take a side."
Chris stared at his father, close to despair. He glanced at Bianca before looking back at Leo. "Okay… Did the conversation we just had mean absolutely nothing to you?"
"It did," Leo assured him. "And I know this… isn't what you need right now… But Victor was the one thing keeping you away from Wyatt and the Elders. Now that he's gone… you're going to be in a lot of danger, Chris. And you can't run from it and you can't hide from it… You'll find some resemblance of refuge within the resistance."
"No!" Chris shouted angrily. "I'm not! Are you out of your mind?"
"Then what?" Leo's voice was slowly raising as well. He had very, very little experience with his children. "You're siding with Wyatt?"
"Then come with me!" Leo ordered. He looked at Bianca. "Both of you. You're needed…"
"Why?" Chris covered his face with his hands. "Why is this happening to me?" His body quivered. He felt like he was being pulled in two different directions. He felt like rope in a tug-of-war game. Rope that was close to snapping.
"I hate having to ask you, Chris," Leo tried to sound more gentle. "No one should have to choose between his father and brother. But if you aren't with me, than you're with Wyatt."
Chris looked at Leo, and tears stung in his eyes. "No! If mom were alive, she would never ask me that!"
"She would," Leo disagreed. "Look, Chris, you're not the first person to be put in this position. Phoebe was in it once. She wanted to be with Cole and she wanted to be with her sisters. Piper told her she had to choose. She said that you can't be good and evil. Now I'm telling you that you have to choose."
"I won't!" Chris shouted furiously. Bianca turned to Leo with equal anger.
"Do have any idea where Chris just was?" the woman demanded. Leo glanced at her in slight confusion, and she didn't wait for him to respond. She continued angrily. "He was with Wyatt. Wyatt has pretty much written Chris's future out for him, and if I hadn't just broken Chris out of the Manor, he'd still be there right now with Wyatt planning out his fate. That wasn't even fifteen minutes ago. And now here you are doing the exact same thing! So you better be glad I can't kill Whitelighters as easily as I can kill Dark ones."
"Then that proves it!" Leo replied, ignoring her last sentence as he looked back at Chris. "You have to come with me, or Wyatt'll hunt you down and keep trying to control you!"
"Great," Chris spat back sarcastically. "So. Would I rather be controlled by Wyatt or by you?"
"Hard decision isn't it?"
The voice was a new one, but one they all recognized. Chris, Leo, and Bianca all spun towards the far side of the alleyway to see Wyatt step out of the shadows. His arms were crossed and he had a small smile on his face.
Despair poured into Chris as he stumbled away from his brother. He felt like all the breath had been knocked out of him, and it was difficult to regain that breath as his panic returned. Bianca immediately repositioned herself between Chris and Wyatt, and Leo took no time at all to join her.
Wyatt didn't seem to care as he looked past them at Chris. "So what'll it be, little brother? Choose now."
Chris shook his head slightly. "I can't…"
"Then the choice has already been made," Wyatt informed him. "If you can't choose to help dad, than you're automatically evil. After all, it's been said that all evil needs to win is for good to stand aside and do nothing. So you might as well just come with me, because whoever helps evil is evil."
Chris flinched, and Bianca felt anger like nothing that she had ever felt before course through her body. She glanced over her shoulder at Chris. "Don't even think about listening to him!"
Leo also glanced back at his younger son. "You can't be neutral, Chris. You have to choose."
"No!" Chris shouted. He backed even further away, shaking his head angrily. "I can't choose between either one of you because I can't stand either one of you! You're both in the middle of your own little war, but I'm not! All I am to either one of you is a prize in your sick little competition! It's like whichever one of you gets me has cause for your own little celebration, and I won't be part of that! So what? The two of you hate each other? I was under the impression that people who hate each other can't cooperate together. Guess I was wrong. You two have cooperated enough to completely ruin my life!"
"That's not what's going on here, Chris!" Leo objected. "We're not fighting over you!"
"The hell we aren't," Wyatt shot back.
Leo ignored him, staring pleadingly at his younger son. "But you can't walk away from this! Whether you like it or not, you're our family. That makes you a part of this! You can't run away!"
"Oh no?" Chris asked. "Watch me." He glanced at Bianca and held out his hand. Without speaking a word, she reached out and took hold of it, and together they orbed out of the alleyway.
Left alone together, Leo and Wyatt looked at each other for the first time since the night of Piper's death. For a moment, neither one of them could find words to speak, so they stood together in silence. They stared at each other silently, the father and his son.
Finally, Wyatt regained his voice. "Stay the hell away from Chris."
Leo glared at him. "No. You stay away from him."
The doors to the church were thick and solid, despite everything that had happened in recent years. Though no one had gone to church since that night so long ago, it still stood in relatively perfect condition. Sure, it needed a good cleaning, and there was no longer any heating or lighting, but all in all, it had been left standing with little damage alone and empty. Until then.
Bianca carefully opened one of the two large double doors and looked inside. It was a small, suburban church, with one room that served as the sanctuary. The carpet was red, and the pews were wooden and covered in dust. There were several windows, all of which were stained glass. At the far side of the room, there was a pulpit and two altars with two white candles on each. Bianca could see an organ off to the side, and hanging on the far wall was a large wooden cross.
Even though there were no lights on in the room, sun light shone through the stained glass, casting colorful reflections on the floor and walls. Dust could be seen in the air, and the silence hung over the room in a hauntingly eerie way.
Bianca looked back outside at Chris, who was waiting for her word. She nodded at him, and together, they entered the one-room church.
"We should be safe here for awhile," Bianca told him as she shut the door behind her. "Demons tend to avoid churches. They don't like what they symbolize."
Chris frowned at her. "Religion?"
"Purity," Bianca replied with a shrug. She led Chris over to a front pew and helped him sit down. He was still pretty shaken from his confrontation with the rest of his family, and after everything that had happened the night before, exhaustion was getting the best of him. It was already dawn outside, and Chris hadn't slept in what felt like years. And though Bianca hadn't either, she hadn't gone through what he had. She had been there with him as he had gone through it, but she hadn't felt the things he felt. No one in the world could feel those things. All she could do was be there for him when he needed her. And she swore she wouldn't leave his side ever again.
"I wonder if this place has any food," she thought out loud. Getting up, she began exploring every corner of the sanctuary, knowing some churches collected food for pantries, and knowing that if there were canned food somewhere in the church, it might still be edible. If they were lucky.
As she went about that, Chris stared up at the cross on the wall, memories of the night before replaying in his mind. The most prominent of which were the memories of Wyatt and Leo an inch away from fighting each other just so they could claim him. And then… being called evil… Chris felt sick again.
In less then a second, the woman had returned to his side and was gazing at him with more love than anyone else in the world could possibly show for him now. He returned her gaze, trying to hold back his tears. "Do you believe there's a God?"
Bianca thought about that for a moment before shrugging. "I've never been given the chance to believe in anything other than… work."
"Yeah," he nodded a bit before looking back at the cross on the wall. "But if there was a God – or any deity… Then… would He be evil?"
Bianca stared at Chris for a moment. The pain he was feeling found its way into her heart again, and she too found herself trying not to cry. "What makes you think that would be a possibility?"
"Because…" Chris looked at the floor for a moment. "If God exists… than he doesn't do anything. I mean… he doesn't intervene. He just kinda… watches. But… that's all evil needs to win… right? And if He helps evil win, than He's evil… isn't He?"
Bianca shook her head softly. "If you listen to Wyatt, maybe. But Chris… Don't you think it's possible that if there is a God, than it's true that He is the one who created the world… and everything in it?"
Chris glanced back at her and nodded once. Bianca grabbed hold of his hands and held them tightly.
"So if He created all of us… than no matter what's happening in the world, He can't just choose sides because he loves every side too much to even consider choosing! How can that much love be evil?"
Chris shrugged and looked away from her. "What about me? I refuse to choose not because I love them too much… but because I hate them…"
Tears formed in her eyes. "Do you really hate them, Chris? Or do you only think you do because they've both hurt you so much?"
"What?" he looked at her without any comprehension in his eyes. There was only pain to be seen on his face, and Bianca's heart reached out to his. The love she felt for him was encompassing, and all she wanted in the world was to take his pain away.
"The pain you're feeling right now," she whispered. "It wouldn't be half as terrible if you hated them. Because when you simply hate them, you expect them to hurt you. And when you expect it, it doesn't hurt nearly as much as it does when it catches you by surprise. But when you love someone, and they betray you, it's always a surprise, and the pain is infinitely worse. And then you feel hate. Passionate hate doesn't come to a person unless you love them or loved them at some time."
Chris looked away again. "Maybe I loved them once. But I don't anymore. And I can't choose. I mean… you're supposed to choose between the lesser evil, right? That would be dad… But then I'd be fighting against Wyatt… And he's… my brother. But I can't fight with Wyatt, because then I would be evil, wouldn't I?"
"Like me?" Bianca asked. Chris looked up at her sharply, suddenly realizing what he had said. Shame crossed into his face and he looked down again.
"I'm so sorry, Bianca," he whispered. "That isn't what I meant. I just forgot-"
"Ssh," Bianca held her hand up to his face and caressed his cheek. "Enough of this. God doesn't choose sides, Chris. What He does is choose to touch the hearts of whoever actually does believe in him, whether He's real or not. I don't want you choosing sides, either. You can't fight one or the other. So don't fight them. Try to find a way to help them. Both of them. Isn't that what your mother would do?"
"Yes," he knew it as well as Bianca knew it. Piper would not ever choose between Leo and Wyatt. She would overcome whatever obstacle there was in her path to save them both. Or she would die trying. Chris looked at Bianca pleadingly. "But how?"
"We'll find a way," Bianca promised softly. "But for now… let's think of nothing else… but ourselves." She leaned towards him and brushed her lips against his. She felt him immediately surrender to her, and he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close. She pressed against him, returning his embrace as they once again melted together and for one moment forgot about everything else outside of the old and empty church.
Wyatt paced slowly back in forth in front of a large throne in the underworld. The chamber he was in was decorated with tapestries, exotic carpets, jewels, and other riches that added to the luxurious and demonic atmosphere of the place. But Wyatt, with his arms crossed and a frown on his face, didn't care about any of this. All he cared about was the report about to be given to him by his new assassin. A warlock by the name of Thanto.
Thanto had been in his service for a week now. Since Bianca had left, Wyatt had gone through numerous assassins, but unfortunately, none of them seemed able to measure up to his original killer. He had been lucky with Bianca, and he had grown spoiled with her. She had been gone for two months now, and he still couldn't find anyone else to take her place – which said a lot for her, but not much for the rest of the underworld. Wyatt forced himself to take a deep breath. She couldn't hide from him forever. Eventually, he'd find her, and then she'd regret betraying him like that. It was a promise he made himself. Bianca had been the best assassin he could ever hope for. She couldn't just "quit" and run off with his little brother. He wouldn't allow that. Her punishment would be brutal and it wouldn't end with her death. He would take from her whatever he wanted to take, and then he wouldn't have to put up with demons like Thanto any longer.
At that moment, Thanto shimmered into the chamber. He was a tall man with broad shoulders and powerful arms. He had brown skin and a shaved head, and his eyes were outlined in red. Dressed entirely in black, and twice Wyatt's size, he had the look of a pretty decent assassin, and yet, even with him around, Wyatt would have preferred Bianca. Size didn't matter. The girl was just more impressive all around. Wyatt sighed as Thanto knelt humbly before him.
"Well?" Wyatt demanded, turning towards the demon, who had by then regained his feet. "Where are they?"
"From what I've learned," Thanto replied in a deep, heavy voice. "They've been down in the subways. When you think about it, it's actually a pretty decent place to hide. Demons don't use subways, and mortals certainly don't have cause to use them anymore, either. It's like a labyrinth down there, and dark, too. Those kids can get to practically wherever they want to in the city, and not be seen by anyone."
Wyatt rolled his eyes and stared at the ceiling, impatience flooding through him. The San Francisco subway system. One step up from the sewers. Pretty much the last place Wyatt, Leo, any demon or witch would ever look for them. Wyatt had to give Bianca credit, she certainly knew what she was doing. Who would've thought she had any skills other than mindless killing? It was impressive. "Don't tell me they've been down there for the last two months and you're the first to realize it." He was getting very, very disgusted with the lack of efficiency in the underworld. It was like Bianca was the only competent being around.
"No," Thanto assured him. "I'd imagine they've only been down there for the last two and half weeks. Before that, I've been given reports from various mortals saying they've been seen on railroad tracks and hiding in bus stations and airports."
"These are places that should be under watch," Wyatt snapped angrily. "Humans aren't allowed in or out of the cities they live in. Roads, train rails, airports… They should all be under constant surveillance."
"Of course," Thanto agreed. "Unfortunately, mortals have been under your control for so long now that none of them would even consider trying to sneak out of the city. The demons guarding these places have had it pretty easy and have grown pretty lazy. They don't take their jobs as seriously as they did at one point. And this is Bianca we're talking about… She could easily hide under their noses for who knows how long without those idiots even noticing. And since they're supposed to have those areas under check, none of the other demons searching for her would even bother searching them."
"That's great," Wyatt spat sarcastically. "The demons of this world have grown inept and Bianca's making them stand out as fools!"
Thanto shrugged. "She's good at what she does. But demons aren't the only ones she's avoiding. Leo and his group aren't having any more luck tracking them than we are."
"Well that's something, at least," Wyatt allowed. It wouldn't do at all for Leo to find Bianca first. Because it was common knowledge that wherever Bianca was, Chris was sure to be. And Wyatt wouldn't have Leo get Chris. He glowered at Thanto. "So they're in the subways?"
Thanto nodded. "I haven't sent any search parties in there yet. Bianca's already proven capable of slipping past them, and now that we know where they are, I thought you might have a different strategy that might be more effective?"
Wyatt stared at Thanto for a moment, thinking the suggestion over. He shrugged and nodded. "Well, it certainly wouldn't hurt to try something different, now would it?" Finding that his demons had grown pathetically incompetent, Wyatt found himself remembering an old proverb: If you want something done right, do it yourself…
The afternoon sun shone down the staircase that descended into the large underground tunnel. It let in some light, but for the most part, it was still dark on the platform. A subway car stood empty and motionless on the tracks several yards away, and benches and old trashcans furnished the abandoned place. Litter still remained on the ground, even after all this time, and rodents especially seemed to thrive there.
It was a miserable place. Haunting and eerie, just as any other place seemed to be in recent years. For phantoms lingered there. Phantoms… reflecting a time when things had been different. When things had been better. Alive. Without this chaos. When times had been normal and decent. The place haunted Bianca, as it haunted Chris. But at that moment, any such phantoms were the last things on their minds. For they were fighting a demon.
The demon was a large monster, his skin red and wrinkled. He dressed in black rags and had elf like ears, fangs, and black eyes. He didn't talk, but often shrieked, and he was powerful, with large energy balls and muscular arms. He threw one such arm up against Bianca, and she was roughly tossed across the platform, landing on the floor heavily, not far from the subway car. But she remained unhurt, and looked up at the demon angrily as she tossed her hair out of her face.
The demon looked away from her as his attention landed on Chris, who was regaining solid form in a swirl of blue white light. In his hands he held a metal pole, much like a staff, as he stared at the demon with a determined and set mouth. The demon shrieked and dove towards him, but Chris easily ducked out of the way with an expertise he hadn't had two months ago. The demon shot right past him and Chris slammed the metal pole against his back. The creature stumbled forward, landing heavily on his knees.
Chris backed away towards Bianca and held a hand out to her. She took it firmly and Chris pulled her to her feet. Side by side, they both watched as the demon regained his own footing and spun to face them. It shrieked furiously.
The demon held up his hand and constructed an energy ball. Bianca braced herself even as Chris tensed, feeling his own power flood through his body. Before the demon could throw it at them, Chris's arm flew up and power shot forth from his entire being. The demon, energy ball and all, as well as several trashcans and even a bench, were magically thrown across the platform.
The demon let out a pitiful cry, finding it more difficult to rise after that onslaught. Bianca glanced at Chris with a frown and he shrugged, unconcerned. Rolling her eyes, she approached the demon and threw her own energy ball at him. The demon was engulfed in flame before he burst into dust, vanquished now for all time. Bianca spun around to face Chris.
"You really need to get that power of yours under control," she told him seriously as he tossed the pole onto the floor. "Otherwise it's dangerous."
"I'm doing my best," he told her casually. "But I'm learning all this as I go. It's not like I have a teacher."
Bianca nodded. "I know that." She sighed and smiled at him, shaking her head gently. "At least you're getting better."
Those words caused Chris to visibly brighten, and he grinned at her. "You think so?"
She nodded again. "Yeah. At least now you've got it working when I'm not in the way."
Chris's face turned bright red and he looked away from her. "Yeah, I'm sorry about that…"
Bianca chuckled. "Stop apologizing. That happened weeks ago, and it hasn't happened since. No real damage."
"No real damage?" he glared at her. "You aren't ever gonna let me forget about it!" Her eyes were gleaming mischievously.
"You got that right," she teased, taking his hands in hers. "Come on. We gotta move before some other demon shows up looking for his friend." She turned to lead him away, but Chris held her back.
"Hey," he objected lightly. "Wait a minute." She glanced back at him and he pulled her into his arms. "Not without celebrating first." He kissed her, and she kissed him back.
In the shadows by the subway car, Wyatt watched unnoticed as his brother and assassin made out. He could hardly believe what he had just seen. Chris had powers now! The little runt had telekinesis! When had that happened? Not too long ago, apparently, seeing how the kid had hardly any control over those powers. Wyatt glanced over at the bench and trashcans Chris had mentally thrown across the platform with the demon. He might not yet have control, but he certainly had potential. Chris could be very powerful if he was trained properly, and that just made Wyatt want the boy even more. And now it was time to claim him.
Wyatt stepped out of the shadows and walked purposefully towards the two lovers. Both Chris and Bianca sensed Wyatt's presence at the same time, for at the same moment they both pulled away from each other and turned towards him in surprise and dread. Wyatt immediately threw up his arm and Bianca was thrown across the platform. She collided heavily against a cement wall and collapsed to the ground, motionless.
"Bianca!" Chris shouted, summoning the blue white orbs that would carry him over to her. Wyatt threw up his other arm and sent Chris flying in the other direction. He landed on the floor, and looked back up at Wyatt in anger. The older brother was surprised to see very little fear in Chris's expression. In the last two months, Chris had grown up a great deal. Wyatt could see the ferocity in Chris's eyes, as well as an attitude in his demeanor that came only with life on the streets. He was stronger now. More independent. More stubborn. Much like their mother.
Chris threw up his arm, and power shot violently towards Wyatt. The older boy shimmered out before the power reached him, and reappeared behind Chris in time to see even more benches lying broken on the ground right where Wyatt had been moments before. Wyatt smiled and looked down at Chris. His brother spun his body around, throwing his leg into Wyatt's and successfully managing to push him off his feet. Wyatt landed heavily on the floor.
Chris stumbled to his feet and made for Bianca. She still lay on the floor motionlessly, but Chris refused to believe that anything terrible had happened to her. He had to get to her!
Wyatt suddenly appeared directly in front of him. Chris stopped short and for a moment, the two brothers gazed silently into each other's eyes. Then Chris violently lashed out, throwing a fist towards Wyatt's face. But the older boy expertly stepped aside and with one hand, grabbed Chris's arm, and with his other hand, took hold of Chris's shoulder. He put pressure on both, forcing Chris's upper body forward and towards the floor. He then raised his knee and plowed it into Chris's stomach. Stepping back, Wyatt watched his little brother crumple onto the floor.
Pain tore through Chris's body as he rolled into a ball. He couldn't breathe, and all he could see were blinding lights that caused his head to spin. And the only thing he could think about was Bianca, and he was petrified at what Wyatt might do to her now that he had found them.
Wyatt gazed down at Chris unsympathetically as Thanto shimmered onto the platform. Wyatt glanced at his assassin and gestured to Bianca. "Take her under. As soon as I'm done with Chris, I want to have a little chat with her."
Chris choked, gasping for air as he struggled to regain his feet. Wyatt looked down at him and saw the fear Chris held for her. Bianca meant more to him than the world. Wyatt could tell that despite the power and strength Chris had discovered inside himself, he was still just a kid in that he worshiped Bianca and couldn't stand the thought of anything happening to her. Wyatt knew to file that information away, predicting it might be useful in the future.
Thanto stared at Chris for a moment before nodding to Wyatt. He turned towards Bianca and scooped her unconscious body in his large, powerful arms. The two then vanished.
"Bianca…" Chris managed to whisper as Wyatt knelt beside his brother. Wyatt smiled cruelly.
"Don't worry, Chris," he said calmly. "I'm sure you'll see her again. After, of course, the two of you are my loyal and faithful servants." Chris stared up at Wyatt hatefully and shook his head. Wyatt forcefully grabbed his brother's chin and held his face still. "There will be no more arguing, Christopher. Now I know children don't always know what's best for them, so you'll just have to believe me when I say I'm only looking out for your best interests."
"I'm not a kid anymore," Chris angrily reminded his brother. "And I already told you I don't want a part in this!"
"Sorry, little brother," Wyatt shrugged. "Cause whether you like it or not, you're gonna remain in my care for a very, very long time." With those final words, Wyatt shimmered out of the old subway tunnel, taking Chris with him.
The underground cavern was well lit by flaming torches that hung on the walls. Light from fire or lava in some other chamber flowed through the long underground corridors leading into that particular cavern, reflecting off the floor and walls and leaving the whole place looking more reddish than black. It was warm and dry, which only contributed to the hellish atmosphere that already dominated the entire underground. The chamber itself was rather lacking in the decoration. All it held inside was a large obsidian altar on which Bianca lay sleeping.
Presently, she let out a quiet moan, rolling her head left and right before her eyes slowly opened. Pain tore through her head, and she grimaced, letting out several more groans before she slowly sat up and took in her surroundings. It only took her a moment to recognize where she was.
"Oh, great," she grumbled unhappily. "Back in hell." She thought about Wyatt, cursing herself for being caught off guard. And then she thought about Chris, and terror swept through her body and into her heart. Where was he? Was he okay? Was he in trouble? Uncertainty took over, and it was all Bianca could do not to panic.
Sounds of approaching footsteps caught her attention. She looked towards the large threshold leading out into a corridor that could go anywhere for all she knew. Someone was coming! And she had a good idea who it was.
Taking a deep breath, Bianca forced herself to push her panic aside. It would only get her killed, and it certainly wouldn't help Chris any. She had to get out of there. Concentrating, Bianca prepared to shimmer out of the underworld, only to find that, to her horror, she couldn't. Her heart missing a beat, Bianca tried again, but with the same result. Her panic immediately subsided as anger took its place.
"You're kidding me," she muttered, holding up her hand and summoning an energy ball. Nothing came. She tried summoning an athame, but that eluded her as well. "Dammit!"
At that moment, Wyatt strode into the chamber. He had an ugly grin on his face when he saw her, and for a moment, he chuckled. "What? Don't like helplessness?"
"Oh, I think you'll find that I'm far from helpless," Bianca spat at him angrily, sliding off the altar and striding towards him meaningfully. Wyatt immediately held up his hand and closed it into a fist. Bianca stopped short as magic wrapped around her throat and squeezed. Almost instantly suffering from oxygen deprivation, she found it difficult to remain on her feet. When Wyatt let her go, she still stood, but shakily, and she found herself too busy coughing for breath to be able to attack Wyatt head on.
"You see, that's why I like you so much, Bianca," Wyatt told her with a grin, crossing his arms. "You're always so determined to complete your mission that you'd attack your opponent even without any of your powers. It's very admirable, if slightly irritating."
Bianca glared at Wyatt hatefully as she regained her breath. "Where's Chris?"
"I wouldn't be worrying about him right now," Wyatt told her seriously as he walked up to her. She let him come, not backing away, not growing tense, not showing any fear. She stared up at him calmly as she had so often in the past. Wyatt was frowning now. "He isn't in nearly as much trouble as you are."
"So are you going to kill me?" she asked, unafraid. It was like she was daring him to do it. Wyatt shook his head.
"No," he told her. "Not yet, anyway. I hate to say it, but you're the best damn assassin anywhere in the world. I'm not ready to let that go. You can't just quit, Bianca. You belong to me as much as Chris does."
She glared at him and, straightening her back, drew close to him with surprising boldness. "No."
Wyatt shrugged. "Then I will kill you. If you won't do what I tell you to do, then you're no good alive." Before Bianca could respond, Wyatt grabbed her shoulders roughly. "But before you make that decision, Bianca, think very carefully about what your death will do to Chris."
Bianca opened her mouth slightly, but couldn't say anything. She stared at Wyatt in dread as she suddenly realized what he meant. He released her and she took a single step back, looking down and staring at the ground below her. Wyatt smiled, incredibly pleased.
"What do you want?" Bianca asked quietly, finding herself unable to look back up at him. She had never felt trapped like this before, and it made her feel horribly sick and disgusted. Wyatt savored the defeat he sensed in her.
"You will be my assassin again," Wyatt told her coldly. "And you will do whatever I tell you to do without question. You won't feel anything. You'll just be a heartless killer without emotion. And you'll not go near Chris."
He wanted to take everything away from her. She had been with Chris for almost a year now. And over that course of time, she had become a person and not just an assassin. She had found joy and happiness, as well as pain and sadness. Chris had made her feel warm. He had made her feel like she wasn't heartless, and now Wyatt wanted to take that from her. And he could, too. She was finding that he could do anything.
She looked up at him coldly. If he wanted to push her down that road, she'd take it. But she swore he'd live to regret it. If she became a heartless murderer again, he'd learn what it meant to possess something unwilling and unable to be controlled. "If that's what you want, Wyatt."
He studied her for a moment, already knowing she would never be the same Phoenix she had been when he originally found her. Chris had changed her too much in the last year. Things couldn't go back to the way they were, and now, she would either be as pathetic as the rest of the demons in the underworld, or she would be stronger, colder, and more efficient than ever before. Either way, Wyatt would be pleased with her. She was his prize now, his trophy. He smirked. "You're too old for him anyway."
Her eyes flashed angrily. "Age doesn't matter, Wyatt. When I see Chris, I don't see someone four years younger than me. I see the only person in the world who's ever shown me kindness. The only person in the world capable of understanding me. He's the only one I care about." She paused a moment, then stared at Wyatt tauntingly. "And no matter what you take from me, you can't have the way I feel about him. Magic might be able to hide it, but no power can reach into a person's heart and change it. Not when it's love."
Wyatt slapped her across the face, sending her forcefully to the ground. She landed on her hands and knees, her hair falling into her face as her cheek stung painfully. Wyatt stared down at her angrily. "If you care at all about Chris and what happens to him now, you'll start showing me more respect."
She tossed her hair out of her face and looked up at him coldly. "Fine."
Thanto stared at Chris from across the chamber. They were in their own empty underground cavern, very similar to the one Bianca had woken up in. But unlike Bianca, Chris wasn't willing to stay there. Unlike Bianca, Chris was too valuable for Thanto to even think about hurting. And unlike Bianca, Chris could still use some of his powers. Namely, his telekinesis.
Chris threw up his arm and power shot out at Thanto. The demon scowled as he was thrown violently across the room. Chris didn't spare him a second glance, but bolted towards the large threshold leading out into a long corridor. Thanto shimmered to Chris's side and grabbed his shoulder, forcing him back.
Chris took hold of Thanto's shoulder as well before allowing himself to fall back. They both tumbled onto the rocky floor, and Chris used his legs to push Thanto away from him. Tossing up his arm again, Chris magically threw Thanto violently across the room. Spinning around, Chris came face to face with Wyatt.
His older brother held up his hand and grabbed Chris's throat. After squeezing for a few seconds, Wyatt pushed Chris back, and they stared at each other for awhile, as Chris rubbed his throat, struggling to catch his breath. Thanto angrily got to his feet and faced Wyatt.
"This kid is going to be nothing but trouble," Thanto spat. "Why not just kill him now and get it over with?" Chris glanced at Thanto and gave him a dirty look. But then he turned back to Wyatt expectantly, and utterly unafraid. Wyatt looked back at him, not sure whether he liked this change, and eager to test it. He wanted to see how much it would take now to make his little brother squirm.
"No one is to touch him," Wyatt said calmly, looking at Thanto. "I would greatly like an heir who actually has the blood of the Charmed Ones flowing through him. Nothing else is worth my time." He looked back at his brother. "Together, you and I will be truly invincible."
Chris shook his head. "Don't expect that to happen, Wyatt."
Wyatt smiled slightly. "Oh, don't worry about that. I've had a lot of time to think about this, Chris. I can see you don't want a part in this, and as much as I want you on my side, if it isn't meant to be, there's only so much I can do…" Wyatt crossed his arms maliciously and began walking in a slow circle around Chris. "So if you really don't want to be Turned, Chris, you don't have to be. As much as I would like you, I don't really need you. I can easily find a woman to bear me a child. My own spawn would have as much of the Charmed Ones in its blood as you do. Would you prefer that?"
Chris grew tense, knowing Wyatt's question was a trap. He didn't know where Wyatt was headed with this, and didn't trust his brother or himself to answer that question. Wyatt came to a stop in front of him and grinned cruelly.
"Of course I'd have to find a woman strong enough to bear me my child," he told his little brother. "And how many of those are out there? Not many. In fact, I can only think of one woman worthy of that honor. Ironically, she's also the only woman I'd even want to have the pleasure of screwing. What do you think about that, Chris? Should I take this little sibling rivalry thing we've got going on up to the next level? I have to admit, you do have good taste in women."
Rage tore through Chris's body and the anger in his face escalated exponentially. A power he once had to vent out of fear became a power he needed to vent out of pure wrath. His arm flew up and that very power burst out of him once again. But Wyatt easily shimmered out of its path, and reappeared behind Chris and out of harm's way. He held up his hand and Chris was thrown forward, landing hard on his hands and knees.
Wyatt stared down at his brother, grinning cruelly. "So what'll it be, Chris? Join me now, or I swear I will kill you and you can die imagining what I will do to Bianca."
Chris sat and looked back up at Wyatt with hate, anger, and despair mixed into his expression. "We should have been a family… That's all mom wanted…"
"We can still be a family, Chris," Wyatt assured him calmly. But Chris was shaking his head.
"I don't want to be evil…" his voice was quiet now, close to breaking. Wyatt was almost there.
"I never wanted to be evil, either, Chris," Wyatt told his brother in a gentle voice. "How many times did I go to mom or Phoebe? How many times did I ask them to help me? Every single time one of the good guys kept us apart! Sometimes it was even Leo!"
"They only did what they thought was right," Chris defended them softly. But the defense was pathetic, even to the younger boy, and he couldn't bring himself to look up at his brother.
"What they thought was right," Wyatt repeated coldly. "How do we know what's right and what's wrong? The Charmed Ones certainly didn't have a clue! I saw them – and I saw dad – all three of them! I saw them fight beside demons, and so did you. All three of them defied the Elders. If they can do it, why shouldn't I be able to do it? If they were doing what they thought was right, then is fighting against the Elders really wrong? They did it. You can do it, too, Chris."
Chris wasn't listening to him anymore. Memories were washing through him. Memories of his mother. He missed her so much, it hurt to even breathe! He just wanted her back!
"How do we know what's right and what's wrong?" Chris whispered much to himself, tears forming in his eyes as his memories washed over him.
"Because they enjoy it. Because they're mean and cruel, and they don't know any better. They're just… bad. And it's wrong."
"It's against the rules?"
"Bad people don't care about rules, Chris. And good people don't need rules because they follow them anyway, and would follow them even if there weren't any."
"That sounds hard…"
"It is hard. Because sometimes, there really aren't any rules. Sometimes, you don't know what the rules are. You could do one thing, and it could be bad, or you could do something else that's good, and you don't know what to do because you don't know which is which. So you have to make a choice…"
"When aren't there rules?"
"Whenever you don't know what they are,"
"Then how can you follow them?"
"You can't. If you don't know what the rules are, you can't follow them. In those moments, you don't search for a rule to follow, you figure out what's right and you do that."
"How'll I know what's right?"
"Sometimes it's not easy. Sometimes it looks right in every direction. You have to search very hard sometimes to figure out what's good and what's bad. It's the hardest thing in the world. And you'll make mistakes, Chris."
"An' then I'll get punished?"
"You might. But what's important is that you learn, and grow, and become better. You wanna get better, Chris. Always better."
"What if I'm bad? What if I'm bad on purpose?"
"That'll make mommy very sad. She'll cry."
"I don't wan' cha to cry!"
"Then don't be bad, Chris. Never be bad. If you're bad, it'll hurt me more than anything else will in the world. And I'll cry very hard."
"How come you don't laugh? I never hear you laugh!"
"Chris… If you're very, very good, you'll make mommy very, very happy. And I promise you, you'll hear me laugh one day. Just stay good, and strong, and perfect… Like you are right now… and no matter what happens… I'll laugh. Just for you. I promise."
Chris trembled violently as the memory appeared before him like a vision. He could still feel her holding him. He could still remember what it had felt like on her bed in the dark room as her love threatened to overwhelm him. His mother had been strong and confident and sure that there really was a difference between right and wrong. She had seen it clearly. But Chris couldn't see it at all. Piper had been right. This was the hardest thing in the world. He had no idea what to do. If he listened to Wyatt… he'd be failing his mother. If he defied Wyatt… he'd be abandoning Bianca to a fate he didn't even want to imagine. How could he stay good if this was the choice he was given?
"I don't know the rules…" he whispered, his body falling towards the ground. It felt hard and unforgiving… and all he wanted was to be on his mother's bed and in his mother's arms. "There aren't any rules for this… Nothing to follow…"
"Mom, Aunt Phoebe, and even Leo fought to protect me," Wyatt told his brother coldly. "Everyone else called me evil. Why would the Charmed Ones do that if I were evil? They wouldn't! I may command demons, Chris, and I may do things in ways the Elders don't approve, but in the end, it doesn't come down to whether or not I am good or evil. I've tried being good, and I've tried being evil, but neither makes a difference."
But it does make a difference, Chris thought bitterly. He finally brought himself to look up at Wyatt. "There will always be good and evil. If I deny that, then I'd be denying everything mom ever taught me. I love her too much to do that…"
Wyatt looked down at his brother and shook his head slightly. "You have to decide, Chris. Is the love you feel for a dead mother stronger than the love you feel for a beautiful woman who is still very much alive?"
Chris stared up at Wyatt and felt the words come out of his mouth before he could even think about what he was saying. "Do whatever it is you want to do with me. But leave Bianca alone."
Wyatt stared down at his brother and slowly shook his head in disgust. "So that's what your attitude is going to be, is it? The noble, self-sacrificing hero? Well that's just fine." Wyatt turned and made for the threshold leading out into the corridor. He paused for a single moment. "At least it's a step in the right direction. Don't worry, Chris. Before long, you'll learn better. And you'll come to accept it. I promise you that."
Left alone in the chamber, unable to orb out, and unable to leave through the threshold, Chris sat against the obsidian altar and stared at his hands. Turning his gaze to a couple of stones on the ground, Chris delicately sighted and picked up one that looked sharp. Bracing himself, he took the sharp side of the stone and ran it across the palm of his hand. He tore the skin, and a thin line of blood seeped through.
Dropping the stone, Chris stared thoughtfully at his bleeding hand. The blood… it was just like any other blood in the world, wasn't it? It didn't look magical. It didn't look strange or unusual in any way. It was just blood. Plain old and simple blood. And yet it wasn't. It was this blood that caused Chris so much pain. Because it was the blood of the Charmed Ones.
This was why Wyatt was constantly after him. This was why Leo and the rest of the world wouldn't leave him alone. His blood was Piper's blood. It didn't look special to him. It was just blood. But at the same time, it was so much more.
"It's Halliwell blood," a beautiful and melodic voice explained to him. Chris looked up and saw his mother standing before him with Bianca at her side. They were both smiling and looking down at him like angels. He had never seen two women who were more beautiful in the world.
They walked over to him and knelt beside him, smiling all the while. The love in their eyes was more amazing than all the magic in the rest of the world.
Chris looked at his mother. "This is a dream…"
Piper waved her hand in dismissal. "So what? Sometimes dreams are more than just dreams. They're like Heaven."
Bianca gently touched Chris's face and had him look at her. Her eyes aglow, she reached down for the stone he had dropped and picked it up. Running its sharp edge over her own palm, she looked up into his eyes and broke her own skin. It began to bleed as well. She then took his bleeding hand in hers, and their blood mixed. "It's not Halliwell blood anymore. It's our blood. Ours is the same. Wyatt's doesn't come close."
Chris gazed into her eyes. "But I'm still Wyatt's brother."
"Yes, you are," Piper nodded. "Nothing can change that. That's not what needs to change."
Chris looked over at his mother. "What needs to change?"
Bianca caught Chris's gaze again and he looked at her. She stared at him lovingly. "Wait and see. But for now, close your eyes…" Chris obeyed, and Bianca kissed him before melting into him. And when his eyes opened, they were one.
The sun was blazing down on the streets of San Francisco as Bianca walked purposefully along the sidewalk. Demons watched her from the streets and from inside buildings as she went, as did humans. She was dressed entirely in tight black leather that showed off her body and caught plenty of attention. Her long brown hair was loose and fell down her back like water and her eyes were focused and cold. Her perfectly beautiful face held no expression as she rounded a corner and continued on her path.
It had been several months since Wyatt had reclaimed her. Several months had passed, and in all that time, she had not seen Chris once. Every time she thought about him, her heart ached, and it was difficult breathing. She missed him more than she thought possible, and every day his longing to see him grew. She thought if it kept growing, before long she wouldn't be able to bear it. She wasn't sure if she was even bearing it as it was. She needed him. And Wyatt kept them apart.
And so, in times like this, she pushed him from her mind and thought only about her mission. Getting it done. Pleasing Wyatt. And staying alive for as long as she could… but only for Chris. And only in the hopes that one day she might get to see him again. That was all she lived for anymore.
Bianca came to her destination. A large fountain in front of an old corporate building. The fountain no longer ran, but it was still easy to spot, and made for a good meeting place. And Bianca could see that the woman she had arranged to meet was already there. Bianca took a small breath, and walked over to her.
The woman heard her approach, and turned around to face her. She was a witch, and Bianca instantly saw the vial in the woman's hand. She gestured towards it. "What's that?"
The witch glanced down at the vial for a second before looking back up at Bianca. "It's a vanquishing potion. You are, after all, his assassin."
Bianca stared at the witch without expression. "So you don't trust me?" Her voice was not mocking or hurt. It was very monotonic, which only further displayed how cold she had become in recent months. "That's wise."
The witch stared at Bianca in comprehension. "Then you really aren't here with information about Chris, are you?"
Bianca stared at her coldly. "No. I'm not." An athame came to Bianca's hand. The witch backed away and held up the potion. Bianca powered up an energy ball.
"Leo!" the witch screamed as she threw the potion. Bianca shimmered instantly out of the way, reappearing behind the witch. She pushed the knife into the witch's back right as blue white orbs filled the street.
Leo watched in shock as the witch turned to ash. He looked at Bianca with wide, horrified eyes. "You…"
Bianca glanced at Leo with no expression in her eyes even then. There was no evident feeling in her heart. No remorse. She shimmered out, without speaking a single word to the Whitelighter.
Chris and Wyatt both knelt on the ground of the underworld, on either side of a small box on which several stones lay resting. The room they were in was no different from any other room Chris had been held in in the last several months. Very little in the way of scenery had changed. And in the time that had passed, Chris had grown accustomed to his surroundings. He had grown used to it all. Sometimes it felt like that was all he had ever known, and that his life had never been any different. That this was all there was.
"Do it now," Wyatt suggested casually, and Chris did not talk back. He glanced down at the stones on the box before them and focused his powers on them. In a matter of seconds, the stones were in the air, floating softly around each other as Chris concentrated on their positions. There were at least a dozen of the small stones, and Chris was able to move all of them at once in slow patterns around each other. He magically interwove them with a skill and expertise that he hadn't possessed before Wyatt had found him. The talent came with practice and training, and Wyatt watched him perform with a small, triumphant smile on his face. Chris ignored it. He found that he had to. It was the only way he could focus on the stones in the air.
After a few minutes passed, Chris delicately placed the stones back on the box, each rock falling into the exact position from which it had risen. He looked up at Wyatt, who was nodding in approval.
"Your control over your powers gets stronger every day," Wyatt told his little brother pleasantly. "You've come a long way, Chris."
Chris nodded, knowing it was the truth. A few months back, and he would never have been able to use his powers as he just had. No matter how he felt about his brother, Wyatt had proven to be a competent teacher. "Yeah. Thanks to you." He knew it was what Wyatt wanted to hear.
The sun had fallen. Thanto and several other demons were patrolling the streets of San Francisco when it happened. Suddenly. And without warning. No one had predicted it would ever come. But they should have. Leo had spoken of it. A resistance. And that night the resistance revealed itself. Countless witches, Whitelighters, fairies, nymphs, and other creatures of good magic, as well as even humans, made their way into the streets all around the world and began slaying demons. A fight was beginning.
Thanto shimmered into the underground. He found himself in a chamber where Wyatt was speaking privately with Bianca about some future assassination or other. Both stared at Thanto in surprise and irritation, but Thanto did not worry about whatever meeting he was interrupting. This was more important.
"The Whitelighter, Leo, and every other magical creature of goodness is attacking demons all over," Thanto told his master.
"You're kidding," Wyatt asked. Thanto shook his head and shimmered back to the surface to help with the fight. Wyatt's mouth opened slightly in bafflement, and he and Bianca glanced at each other wordlessly. A moment later, Wyatt too was gone.
Left alone, Bianca frowned and thought about what had just happened. Leo's resistance was finally taking a stand. They were probably pissed off about the death of their friend – the witch Bianca had killed. Leo had seen her do it, and could only wonder what had happened to Chris. If he was desperate enough to find out, of course he would attack Wyatt now. Bianca smiled slightly, realizing this was the perfect time to get the hell out of here. All she needed to do was find Chris, and the two of them might be able to escape at last.
Chris could hear the commotion outside the chamber he was kept prisoner in. He had no idea what was going on, but whatever it was, he didn't particularly care. Nothing mattered to him anymore. Whatever fight was going on outside could end in the death of every single creature involved, and he wouldn't mind at all. There was nothing left for him anymore. Wyatt had taken away everything. And the only choice he had was to keep Wyatt happy for Bianca's sake. But then, something unbelievable happened. The very woman he had been dreaming about for months made her way inside the chamber from the corridor beyond it.
"Chris?" Bianca saw him almost immediately and stopped short. He looked up at her from where he sat leaning against the obsidian altar, too stunned to move. For a moment, he was positive Wyatt was trying to trick him. This had to be an illusion. It was impossible for her to be here.
But then, a moment later, she was at his side, and he knew it was her. Her presence, her touch, her scent… it all spoke of Bianca. It was too true to be a dream. She wrapped her arms around him and he returned her embrace, neither of them speaking, for words could not express what they felt to be together again.
Bianca shimmered them out of the chamber, and they found themselves in the park, sitting on the marble bench, far from any kind of battlefield. It was where they had first fallen in love… where they had first kissed… where they had first felt the joy of being together.
They held each other tightly, neither one of them ready to let go. They had been apart for too long. They felt like they had so much to make up for. And so they sat holding each other for what seemed like an eternity in this place they had come to consider their own, even though they had not been there in months.
Finally Bianca drew away from Chris only far enough to allow her to gaze into his eyes. Already she was feeling alive again. Already her cold heart was warming and melting into happiness. Wyatt had pulled them apart, but they were here again, together. And she found that Chris was the cure to her heartlessness. No matter what Wyatt did to her, Chris could pull her back from the depths of darkness and show her light again. She needed him. She loved him. And the tears she thought she no longer possessed formed in her eyes.
"Hello…" she whispered.
The tears were there in Chris's eyes as well. For once again, she was waking him from a completely terrible nightmare. "Hello."
They pulled each other together again, and shared in a kiss they had been dreaming about for far too long.
The fight was like nothing the world had ever seen before. In cities everywhere, demons were fighting against witches and other magical beings. Thanto and Wyatt themselves had to shimmer around the planet, going from country to country in order to get the mounting chaos back under control. It was hard and dangerous, and even exhausting work. And it was flooding down into the underground as well. But before long, it became apparent. Wyatt was going to win. Leo and his resistance were putting up a good fight, but in the end, they wouldn't stand a chance.
This much both Chris and Bianca could sense as they sprinted down a railroad track leading out of the city. They ran as fast as they could, hand in hand, eager to get out of the city without attracting demons to their sides. The railroad would lead into a small forest outside San Francisco where Bianca hoped she and Chris would have better luck in hiding. It would not take Wyatt long at all to discover they were missing once this whole world wide battle ended. She hoped to be far away when that happened.
"It won't do any good, Bianca!" Chris shouted as they ran. "There's no where for us to go! If Wyatt can win World War Three in one day, than finding us will be easy for him! There's no where for us to hide!"
Bianca came to a stop, bringing Chris to a pause with her. She turned to look at him, and for the first time in months she allowed another human being to see the emotion in her eyes. "I don't care, Chris. I can't do it, anymore. I can't be controlled by Wyatt. This has to stop. He said that if I went near you, he'd kill me. But if we part again, I think I'd die anyway."
"He threatened to kill me too," Chris looked away from her, and stared out over the tracks and into the distance. "I guess he doesn't need either one of us. Just gets a kick out of controlling us."
"Chris…" Bianca gazed at her lover with tears in her eyes. "I know it's very Romeo and Juliet of me to ask, but…"
"No," Chris looked at her and smiled sadly, but for once in his life, he seemed sure of himself. "I know you're right." They stared at each other for a moment, cold acceptance flowing through their veins. And then Chris brought Bianca into his arms, and for awhile they just stood holding each other.
Blue white light appeared on the tracks not far from them. Chris and Bianca both turned towards it quietly and expectantly, only to find that it wasn't Wyatt orbing to them. It was Leo. When he appeared, he stared at the two of them, out of breath, and with a cut bleeding on his forehead.
"Chris!" he shouted when he saw his younger son. "What are you doing with her?"
Chris grew tense and glanced at Bianca. When she looked at him, she could see the same old turmoil in his eyes. Some things would never change. She smiled at him sadly.
Suddenly Wyatt orbed onto the tracks behind them. Chris and Bianca both spun around to stare at Leo's oldest son. Now Bianca was tense as well, as they realized they were surrounded.
"Well, this looks familiar," Wyatt observed in some amusement. He stared first at Bianca, then at Chris, and then finally at Leo. His eyes narrowed as hate filled inside of him.
"Wyatt!" Leo shouted towards his older son. "This has to end now! It can't go on any longer!"
"Nothing's gonna change!" Wyatt shouted back. "Even as we speak, the last of your pathetic resistance is getting completely overrun. Attacking my demons was a very stupid move, dad."
Leo stared at Wyatt helplessly before looking back at Chris. "You have the power to make a difference, Chris. Will you?" Chris stared at his father expressionlessly, not knowing how to reply to that.
"Chris!" Wyatt shouted at his brother. The younger boy turned his head to look at Wyatt, who was staring at him savagely. "You are in-between me and our father. Move."
Chris nodded slightly, taking Bianca's shoulders and leading her carefully off the railroad tracks and out of Wyatt's way. Leo watched him go with despair written on his face. Wyatt watched him go with slight satisfaction before he looked back at his father. He held up his hands, and a crossbow appeared in his grip. The arrows loaded in the bow were the arrows of a Darklighter.
Chris continued leading Bianca away from the rails. They wrapped their arms around each other as they walked together, holding each other up, and supporting each other with their love. They did not look back. They did not speak a word. The sky overhead was dark and covered in clouds. It was hard to see anything.
They had only covered a short distance when Chris pulled Bianca to a stop turned her to face him. They looked into each other's eyes and Chris nodded slightly as tears slid down Bianca's face. They listened to the arrows shoot from Wyatt's crossbow. They did not look. But they felt it when the arrows hit their target. They listened to Leo's cry of pain. And they still did not look. Instead, Chris pulled Bianca close and held her to him, trying to take away her pain.
Wyatt slowly made his way towards his brother. Neither Chris nor Bianca had moved at all since he had shot Leo with those arrows. Neither of the two had spoken or done anything at all to try and protect the older Whitelighter. They had just stood there, looking away, and not interfering. Wyatt was greatly pleased by that.
"Chris," he stood a few feet behind his brother and waited for the younger man to turn around. When he did, the first thing Wyatt noticed was that Chris's eyes were dry. This time around, he had not shed a tear. Surprisingly, Bianca was the one with tears in her eyes, but she was quickly bringing them under control, and somehow, Wyatt sensed the tears were not for Leo.
"Hey, Wyatt," Chris said in a quiet but otherwise strong and steady voice. And once again, he wasn't afraid.
"Where exactly were the two of you headed?" Wyatt demanded, but gently. After all, this hardly qualified as a shout-at-each-other moment.
Chris shrugged. "Away from the fight. Actually, we weren't thinking that far ahead."
"What exactly were you thinking?" Wyatt asked, glancing at Bianca. "I thought I told you to stay away from him."
"I went to her," Chris quickly cut in, surprised by how easy the lie came to him when it was meant to protect someone he cared about. Wyatt glanced at him in surprise, and Chris shrugged. "A couple of witches found the chamber I was in and tried killing me. I fought back, and when they were out of the way, I found your little spell keeping me locked up in that chamber had broken somehow. So I left and found Bianca. I hope it doesn't bother you, but some of your influence is rubbing off on me, and I figured I'd just take what I wanted."
Wyatt couldn't help but smile slightly at the attitude his brother had just displayed. "You did? Well, that's another step in the right direction, isn't it? But then… running away is a step backwards, don't you think?"
"We were running from the fight, not from you," Chris replied sourly. He gestured to Bianca. "Besides, I wasn't sure you'd exactly approve."
"Yeah, cause I really don't," Wyatt informed his brother.
"After everything you've taken away from me," Chris stated confidently. "I'm taking things back, Wyatt. Now I'm not gonna fight you because you've taken over the world or anything. But I will fight you to keep Bianca."
Wyatt studied his brother thoughtfully for a moment, before glancing at Bianca and nodding slightly. He turned his attention back to Chris. "So you're agreeing to follow my leadership if you get Bianca?"
Chris nodded. "Yeah. You let Bianca and me be together, and I'll be the brother you want me to be."
Wyatt nodded assuredly. "Good. Then it's a deal. And I'll hold you to it, little brother." With those words said, Wyatt orbed away, leaving the two lovers together by the railroad tracks.
"I joined him," Chris whispered as they once again sat together on the marble bench in the San Francisco park. They were completely side by side, not facing each other, but both looking ahead, more apart than together. Their love was still strong, but at that moment, it was overshadowed with uncertainty. "I let him… I let him kill the one person my mother ever truly loved, and I…"
Bianca nodded, gently. "It was the only thing you could do."
"I let him die." His tone was wrought with a guilt he had not carried in it when speaking with Wyatt. Now that things had quieted in the city, he could replay what had happened that night. And he was deeply ashamed with himself.
"So that we would have a chance together." Bianca glanced down at her hands resting in her lap. The pain she felt that night had not left her completely. It was surprising how quickly her ability to feel such pain returned to her, after spending months as Wyatt's assassin. Chris truly did bring to her feeling, and as painful as it was, she felt she owed him the world. She had to help him. She had to comfort him. She loved him too much not to.
Chris turned and looked at Bianca with tears in his eyes. "What chance do we have now?" He sounded helpless. He sounded hopeless.
She glanced at him and smiled softly. "Every chance." Chris stared at her for a moment, then looked dejectedly around him. Everything about this little courtyard in the park reminded him of her and of his childhood home. A childhood home that he wanted to go back to. Great longing and homesickness built inside him, threatening to tear him apart from the inside out. He just wanted to go back.
And as Bianca gazed at him, for a moment, she could feel what he felt. And she wanted to make it happen. She wanted him to find happiness. She wondered if that were possible, and as she reflected on it, an idea slowly formed in her mind. Tentatively, she reached out a hand and cautiously took hold of his. "I once told you to try and find a way to help them both, right?"
"I remember that," he whispered, glancing at her uncertainly. "How can I help them both now that Leo is dead?"
Turning towards him, she gazed into his eyes. There was a sudden calm and confident radiance in them that had not been present before, but flourished along with her inspiration. "By helping all of them."
Chris shook his head slightly. "I don't…"
"Do you believe that anything's possible?" Bianca asked him. "Especially with magic?"
"Sure," Chris nodded. "But I can't see how…"
"Ssh," she brought a hand up to caress his face. "Wait and see… You're still Wyatt's brother. Nothing can change that. That's not what needs to change."
Chris stared at her in confusion. Those words seemed to have come straight from a dream he had once had. And the question he wanted to have answered most in that dream returned to him then. "Then what needs to change?"
She smiled softly at him. "Everything else."
Twenty Two or so Years Earlier:
Chris: Don't look into her eyes! … You all right?
Phoebe: Oh, my god. Paige!
Chris: Frankly, you see this a lot. Museums, universities, town centers – most of those statues aren't really statues. They're people like your sister here who've been, uh, turned into stone.
Phoebe: Who are you?
Chris: Chris. Chris Perry. I'm… from the future.
Chris: Look, where I come from, history shows Paige didn't get turned to stone on this day. She died. And with her death, the Power of Three died too.
Leo: The Elders voted… to make you the Charmed Ones' new Whitelighter.
Chris: They did?
Chris: How about this? Three more demons, then we can talk about taking a little break.
Paige: What? Do you have a quota or something?
Paige: Oh I didn't know your boss was back in town.
Phoebe: No. It's not with Jason. It's with Chad, the DJ, who I'm not really interested in.
Chris: Two demons. How about that? Two.
Phoebe: What did you do to our sister? … Oh, you poor dear. You feel awful about it, don't you? I'm so sorry.
Paige: Thanks, I think.
Chris: That's it? That's all the ass kicking you're gonna dole out? You're supposed to be sisters.
Paige: Oh, hey, can you take the dogs back for me? The addresses are in the book.
Chris: No. There's no way-
Chris: Well, in all my life, I have never seen you take the bait the way that witch took it from you.
Phoebe: In all your life? You've only been our Whitelighter for two months.
Leo: You expect me to believe this wasn't meant to protect your secrets?
Chris: No, I don't, but seeing as how you haven't figured me out yet, why would I even need it?
Leo: Don't get too cocky, kid. Wouldn't want me to clip your wings, now, would you?Chris: Oops. Looks like Wyatt needs another baby-sitter… dad.
Chris: Well it looks like we're one big happy family again.
Leo: You're not family.
Paige: No! We are not vanquishing a baby. What's wrong with you?
Chris: I'm just concerned that this could be the future evil that gets to Wyatt.
Paige: Don't be ridiculous.
Chris: What? I'm being ridiculous? There's a demon in the playpen.
Piper: If another one shows up, I'll be here.
Chris: That's just my point, Piper. What if you're not here? What happens if you're out on a date with the fireman or whoever else you're seeing this week?
Piper: Look, Chris, I don't want to go into it, but I'm not gonna be out on a date with the fireman or anybody else for that matter anytime soon so that I can focus more on Wyatt.
Piper: Did I stutter?
Chris: Piper, you can't give up on love… ever.
Piper: Why not?
Chris: Because you just can't, that's why. It's not natural. Look, all I'm saying is you don't have to make that type of sacrifice to protect Wyatt. That's why I'm here.
Chris: The Order. They used their powers to turn him, to reverse his morality. See, he thinks bad is good now and good is bad. That's why his shield repelled you.
Chris: So Wyatt brings his shield up around me. He thinks I'm a threat.
Piper: Yeah? So do I.
Chris: Listen to me. They reversed his sense of morality. That means his shield will protect him from you but not from me. Please, I'm the only one who can save him. Let me help.
Piper: Chris, we don't need your help. I will get my son back and when I do, I don't want to see you anymore.
Chris: I'm sorry.
Chris: Hey. So, did you come here to kick me out?
Phoebe: Uh, no, actually… I came here to ask you a question.
Phoebe: I need you to be honest with me. No games. No running away. Just the truth.
Phoebe: Are you Wyatt's little brother?
Phoebe: Okay, I'm just trying to get used to you being my nephew. Um. I never hit on you, did I?
Chris: What? No.
Phoebe: Oh thank god.
Chris: Can we focus here, please? Mom and dad need to have sex. Now who's gonna tell 'em, you or me?
Phoebe: You're unbelievable. I mean, most kids who are the cause of their parents' divorce actually feel guilty, and yet you're sitting here like it's part of your master plan.
Chris: I'm sensing some real issues here.
Phoebe: Oh, you're damn right there are issues. You can't just pop in from the future and play with people's lives because your big brother picked on you.
Chris: He picked on the world, Phoebe!
Paige: You… Oh, my god, you are sick! What is wrong with you? You're disgusting! You are some creepy registered sex offender from the future, just-
Chris: No no no!
Paige: Oh, my god! You're so gross!
Chris: I'm Piper and Leo's son!
Richard: Paige, I told you, don't orb in and surprise me!
Phoebe: He's not himself right now!
Paige: How come you didn't tell me Chris was my nephew?
Phoebe: Yeah, maybe we could talk about that later, because your boyfriend's about to woo-woo.
Phoebe's Ghost: Hey, Chris, we're not moving on.
Paige's Ghost: Why aren't we moving on?
Chris: Who cares? You're still here.
Paige's Ghost: Got any unfinished business?
Phoebe's Ghost: No, you?
Paige's Ghost: Yeah, now that you mention it, it would've been nice to find out I had another nephew before I died.
Paige: Yeah. Uh… Chris is your son.
Phoebe: Wyatt's brother. Look, I know this is huge.
Piper: No it's… it's not huge because it's not possible. It's crazy 'cause I'm not pregnant.
Piper: No, I'm not. I mean, how could that happen? I mean, I know how that could happen, but it… Oh. What am I gonna do?
Chris: This a bad time?
Piper: No. You are not leaving this room.
Chris: But what about you?
Piper: What about me? I have to stay here and help Paige summon Phoebe.
Chris: I'm part witch, remember? I can help Paige do that.
Piper: You can't vanquish the demons if they come and attack again.
Chris: Well I can try.
Victor: Listen to your mother, Chris.
Chris: What if something happens to her?
Piper: Nothing's gonna happen to me… Unless you know something I don't.
Piper: Right. But isn't that why you came here in the first place – to make the future better? How do you know you haven't already changed mine?
Piper: Well, I didn't have one. He had one. It was all his doing.
Chris: From the womb? He had powers from the womb? That's unbelievable. It's not like I don't have an inferiority complex with him already. Thank you.
Leo: Damn it!
Paige: Are Elders even allowed to swear?
Leo: No, but fathers are, especially ones whose kid tries to kill them.
Leo: I just – I don't understand why he hates me so much.
Phoebe: Yeah, but Leo, it's in the future. It hasn't happened yet, so you can change it.
Piper: What's that?
Leo: It's our little boy.
Leo: No? Then why don't you tell me what I did to you, huh? What, did I, uh, miss a school play? Did I take away your favorite toy? Did I play favorites with Wyatt?
Leo: So maybe you came back from the future not just to save Wyatt. Maybe you came back to save us, too.
Chris: I doubt it.
Leo: Did you find out who they work for?
Chris: No, but Leo, check this-
Phoebe: Dad. Would it kill you to call him Dad?
Paige: I came to tell you Chris has been arrested. It's a long story.
Leo: Did you call Darryl?
Paige: Yes, that would be the other problem, because Darryl arrested him. Longer story.
Phoebe: Have you forgotten he's in jail?
Leo: Not for long, he's not.
Piper: You know, you're a good father.
Leo: Yeah? Thanks. I hope you say that again in twenty-three years. I wonder where we'll be then.
Piper: Me, too.
Leo: Why didn't you tell us?
Chris: Because I didn't wanna get you involved. I was trying to protect you.
Leo: Chris… we're your parents. We're supposed to protect you, not the other way around.
Chris: I already said I was sorry.
Leo: And he shouldn't have to say it again.
Paige: All right, dad.
Chris: How's mom doin'?
Leo: She's scared. She's holdin' up.
Chris: And how are you doin'?
Leo: About the same.
Chris: Well, then maybe you should… I don't know… quit. Look, the girls are going to need another Whitelighter the moment I'm gone anyway.
Leo: That's not why you want me to quit, Chris.
Chris: Okay, fine, I admit, I would like to go back to a future where my parents are still together, all right?
(There's no one in the attic but Chris and Wyatt. Chris goes back to looking through the Book of Shadows, but there's another loud creak in the attic floor. Unsettled, Chris turns to Wyatt.)
Chris: Okay, it's time to get you outta here.
(Suddenly, Chris is magically thrown across the room. Gideon appears in front of Wyatt's pen and turns to watch Chris get on his knees.)
Gideon: Don't make me sacrifice you both.
(Chris watches Gideon turn back to Wyatt, then grits his teeth and gestures for all he's worth. Gideon is flung across the attic. He turns his head to glare coldly at Chris before summoning an athame. He disappears. Fearing for Wyatt, Chris gets onto his feet and runs towards his brother. But this time, Gideon's not after Wyatt. He appears in front of Chris and shoves the athame into Chris's stomach, sending the boy to his knees. Chris's face breaks in pain, and Gideon pulls the blade back out.)
Leo: Oh god.
Chris: Wyatt… Wyatt!
Gideon: It's for the best, Leo.
Leo: Chris? Chris?
Leo: Gideon doesn't know how to kill Wyatt, remember? We still have time!
Chris: Only… until… the trauma… turns him.
Leo: I am not going to choose between you and Wyatt, Chris. I can't!
Leo: Hey. I'm here now. You can… hold on, okay? Hold on. I'm here. You can hold on, okay? Don't give up, okay?
Chris: You, either…
Leo: No, no, no, please no…
Bianca: Haven't we been here before?
Chris: Maybe we will be again.
Leo: Because you murdered my son!
Leo: How is killing a child ever for the greater good? Who the hell are you to decide that?
Gideon: You know what happens! You know what Chris came here to stop!
Leo: You're the reason the future's threatened, Gideon, not Wyatt! But because of what you do to him! I'm about to make sure neither one of you get the chance again.
Leo: Hi. I got you. You're safe now. I have you. I have you.
Dr. Roberts: Congratulations. He's perfectly healthy.
Phoebe: Oh, look… He's beautiful. Baby Christopher… That's your brother.
Paige: Looks like we didn't lose him after all.
Phoebe: Can we see Piper?
Dr. Roberts: Well, maybe just one of you for now.
Phoebe: (To Leo) Go tell her we love her.
Leo walked towards his wife's bed with the newborn baby in his arms. Piper was clearly exhausted, but when she looked up and saw her husband and her child, she couldn't help but smile. Leo was grinning, staring down at his son, a small tiny baby who was so perfect… so beautiful. Words could not express it. He caught Piper's eye, and there were tears in them as she held out her arms. Leo placed the baby boy in them, and Piper held her son close to her heart. Looking out towards the waiting room, Piper caught sight of Paige, Phoebe, and Wyatt. Phoebe was holding Wyatt, and he looked so young, and so perfect, just like Chris. Evil had not touched him. Evil had passed right over them. Everything in the world was exactly as it should be. The future would be whatever they made it. And it would be a good future. Of this, Piper, Leo, Phoebe, and Paige were all sure. Tomorrow had never seemed brighter.