Wheeeeee! So close...only an Epilogue left!! I can't believe I'm actually FINISHING this! I feel accomplished. And I would like to thank all of you who have hung in here with me for so long, and enjoyed it. Writing is such a fun thing for me, and I'm so happy to have somewhere I can exorcise these creative plot bunnies which plague me. haha!
Speaking of which, another reason this has taken so long for this chapter, is because I've had this idea for a new story and I've written the first chapter for it, so be on the lookout for it...I'm hoping it'll be a good one :)
For right now, I hope you enjoy the second to last chapter of "Trick". Hopefully it won't be too long for the epilogue, since that will be a little shorter than normal chapters. Eh. Enjoy :)
Disclaimer: Not mine :)
"Oh man..." Paige groaned. "This is amazing. How have we never had this before?"
"We have," Phoebe said with a grin. "It was before your time here."
"And plus, you never asked." Piper added, also grinning as she took another bite, savoring her own good work.
"Not fair." Paige replied, a fake pout on her lips.
Chris chewed, smiling as he looked on and watched. He loved his family; they were crazy, combative, moody, and off the wall. He loved every second of it. He hoped he hadn't changed any of it.
"Let's go into the living room," He suggested. His mother shot him a hairy look.
"Are you crazy? On my couch? This chocolate will stain!"
He smiled a sneaky grin and shrugged his shoulders. "Well, you may want to charm the couch if it means that much to you. I sense grape stains in the future."
"Hey!" She replied with a playful slap on his arm. He yelped in response and scurried to his father's side, laughing.
"Oh don't bring me into this." Leo piped in, nudging way, all the while letting Chris take refuge behind him still. Piper glared at him teasingly.
"Oh yeah, I can see who's gonna have to be the enforcer when your son's acting up."
"Oh so now he's my son?" Leo replied teasingly. Piper just grinned back at him and quickly moved close to him, pecking him on the lips lightly.
"Oh, no, not kissing!" Chris exclaimed, playfully making a face. Phoebe grinned at him.
"Oh so it's okay if you do it?" Phoebe asked. He reddened, and moved back to his ordinary place in the circle, standing directly in front of his aunt.
"I don't kiss in front of them." He grumbled, but maintained the smile. Piper paid attention the entire time, smiling fondly. This was the family she wanted, that she looked forward to for all the years of her life. She prayed, in that moment, it stayed that perfect all the days of her life.
But as usual, something decided to interrupt her perfect moment. Phoebe's eyes bulged at the sight of something behind Chris, and as everyone took note, they turned in unison. Chris felt himself and those around him stiffen, ready to defend themselves.
Dammit, he thought. I knew this was too good to be true.
He turned, prepared to use his telekinesis almost immediately, and froze.
He always wondered how Wyatt had blue eyes. Chris himself had inherited the green eyes from his father; his mother had brown. Wyatt had gotten them from somewhere unknown, a slight joke about the mailman tossed around every now and then when the timing was right as they grew up.
And now, the blue stared back at him, worry and anxiety clouding their gaze. He had felt the bond between them increase over the past few minutes, but he assumed it was just the feeling in the room increasing it between him and little Wyatt. Apparently, he was incorrect.
He saw, out of his peripherals, his mother raise her hands. He wanted to shout no, tell her to stop. Wyatt was two steps ahead.
"Whoa, no. Please. I just..." He paused, confusion on his face until his shoulders sagged. "Hey guys. You won't believe what I'm about to tell you."
There was no doubt of the difference in his brother. He almost wouldn't have recognized him; gone was the long, tangled strands of blonde, the menacing stare that graced his features as well as the ominous looking facial hair. Nor was he clad in all black. No, this Wyatt had almost a crew cut, was clean shaven and wore a blue t-shirt with a design on it over denim jeans. There was nothing fearful about this Wyatt.
Still, Chris' guard went up. It wouldn't be the first time Wyatt would've tricked him. "What are you doing here?" He asked suspiciously, stepping in front of his mother to protect her in case of an attack.
Wyatt's demeanor changed; it had been calm, assured, even almost cheerful. Now, his shoulders sagged low, and sadness and disappointment graced his features. "Mom sent me."
"Oh god," Piper whispered behind Chris, realizing who he was. "Oh, my god."
"Because of you. To bring you home, to let you know it was okay to come home."
"What do you mean, okay?" Chris asked warily, although his heart leaped. He didn't think even evil Wyatt would lie so heinously to say their dead mother lived, at least to him.
"20 questions much?" Wyatt sighed.
"They'll go easier if you just answer them." Chris' tone was to the point and sharp. Wyatt's downcast features returned.
"You're sick, back home."
"Sick?" Leo asked, alarmed. "What do you mean sick?"
"I believe you called it a 'catatonic stupor'. Like a trance. He's been in it a couple of days." He paused, contemplating whether explain further.
"So why you and not them?" Chris began again. Wyatt rolled his eyes.
"Come on. One of us goes all zombie and mom or dad leaves us?"
Chris glanced at his father sideways for a second. Sounded like he had kept his promise. He turned back to Wyatt, who had slowly moved closer.
"Slow down, big guy." Phoebe jumped in.
"Aunt Phoebe, I swear, I'm not the bad guy. I can prove it."
"Wait, what did you say?" Chris asked, his eyes narrowed as he caught something; I'm not the bad guy. "What do you mean the bad guy, why would we think you may be a...bad guy?"
Wyatt's eyes found the floor. "When you...went under, mom needed us to come back. But we wouldn't, without an explanation. So...she told us, about the other future." Unwillingly, tears filmed his eyes; he was surprised with himself at how emotional it was for him. "I'm so, so sorry you had to do this, kid."
Chris was surprised at that. The evil Wyatt would've never been able to act that well, as to summon tears, as to sound that genuine. Which meant only one thing.
This had to be the good one.
He wanted to jump and shout, to embrace everyone in the room and scream to the high heavens of his success. But something in Wyatt's explanation had caught Leo's attention.
"What do you mean, 'us'? You said your mother wanted 'us', which would mean there's someone with you."
Wyatt looked from his father to Chris. "Well, and that's the other proof, that something is different. You're the only one who can explain how much." He nodded in Chris' direction before he turned, yelling softly to someone they couldn't see. "Hey, come in here." Blue orbs formed next to him as he rolled his eyes as he playfully chided, "You couldn't walk 20 feet."
"Why should I have to?" She asked him with a roll of her eyes. When she turned to the others in the room, though, she smiled from ear to ear. "Hi everybody."
Chris studied her; there was something ridiculously familiar about her, something he could feel about her. She looked about 17 or 18, long flowing brown hair and big brown eyes. Just like his mother.
The realization could've knocked the wind out of him and unbidden emotions came quick. His aunts and parents saw the tears in his eyes come suddenly and realized her importance in this.
"Who is she Chris?" Paige asked.
He just stared. His mind wouldn't even function, and he wanted to thank god for favors. He walked to her slowly, completely-regrettably enough-ignoring Wyatt. "Melly?"
She wrinkled her nose playfully. "You haven't called me that since I was 9 years old Chris."
He wanted to touch her, to make sure she was real, but he was almost afraid to incase she was a mirage. He took her hand though, because he had to be sure. It was warm and soft to the touch. "You're beautiful." He whispered. "All grown up."
The smile left her face. His eyes had glazed over as he was 8 years in the past, remembering something that didn't truly happen. "I didn't get to grow up last time...did I Chris?" Her voice was small. He hugged her instead of answering.
He closed his eyes, not wanting to think of it. The picture of her, so close to 10, flashed into his mind. He was 14 and it was only months after their mother had gone and it was only the three of them and their sick grandfather. He was supposed to be watching after her as Wyatt went around doing God knew what. He was responsible for keeping her safe and he had failed miserably.
"I'm sorry..." He whispered, as if he was getting the chance to apologize to her 10 year old self. He broke the hug, looking at her eyes finally as a tear slipped out. "I'm your big brother, I was supposed to protect you and I couldn't and I'm sorry..."
"Hey, I'm okay, Chris." She assured. "100 real, warm flesh and blood. You saved me after all." She smiled, her own emotions almost getting the best of her.
"Um, wait, wait, wait. Excuse me, um, not to ruin the moment...did you just say big brother?" Piper asked from behind him. He stiffened and groaned lightly.
"Oh yeah." He said, slowly turning as he stayed between his siblings. "I forgot to mention I wasn't your youngest."
"I have 3 kids?" She asked, her mouth agape.
"Way to be air-tight, Chris." Wyatt said with a small grin. His mother had warned him of his brothers' fondness for future consequence warning, but this was not complying with that idea. Chris shot him a look.
"Shut up Wy."
Piper made her way over to the trio, the three of them standing shoulder to shoulder. Leo stood behind her as she examined their faces and smiled.
"You're perfect." She whispered decidedly. They all rolled their eyes with an exasperated sigh.
"Mom..." They dragged out in unison, drawing a laugh from both parents.
Piper let a sad smile settle on her face as the laughter ended. She knew what their presence meant, and if Chris was sick in the future, there was no time for niceties. "So I guess it's time for you to go home then."
Chris was surprised how hard this was for him. He bit his lips, tears filling his eyes as his gaze met Leo's. He was surprised to find his fathers eyes tear filled as well as his mother's. "Don't cry on me." He whispered to his mother.
He felt his brother and sister back up, leaving this past Piper and Leo to speak with Chris. Paige and Phoebe, who had been silent during the entire exchange, followed the duo to speak with them, giving Chris and his parents some privacy. "It's not like we're never gonna see each other again." He softly reminded them.
"But we have to wait 22 years to see you, again. We'll love our Chris, so, so much. But you're special too and we have to wait 22 years..." Piper said. "We're gonna miss you."
"I wasn't planning on leaving until tomorrow." He reminded. "It's like 9 at night."
"But don't they have to get back?" Leo asked. Chris shrugged.
"When I wake up there, I don't want to have to go to sleep and wait until morning to figure everything out. Besides," He asked, his mouth quirking into a cheeky grin. "Are you trying to get rid of me or something?"
"Never." Leo replied quickly, but with a matching grin.
"I think that's a good idea too." Wyatt interrupted, entering the room with his eldest aunt. "It'll give you all time to say goodbye. And Chris has a point. I guess." He grinned.
"You guess." Chris snorted, before growing serious. "Well, I guess it would give us time to talk."
Wyatt's rolled his eyes. "All work and no play makes Chris a dull boy."
"All work and no play have kept Chris a living boy." Chris joked back, but he could see his brother's face fall. "I didn't mean it like that...I just think there are some things we probably need to hash over before going back."
"No I understand. I'm gonna go...wait with Mel. We'll talk then." Wyatt replied quietly. He shrugged and left the kitchen. Piper turned to follow.
"I'm gonna go talk to him." She said, following her first born, leaving Phoebe and his father with him. They stood in the kitchen, making small talk as Chris picked at the remnants of his uneaten cake. After a few minutes though, Leo made him sit down at the kitchen table and set him straight.
"Don't worry, Chris, he'll be okay. I think you both have things you're gonna have to get used to." Leo reassured as Chris frowned.
"I know, I just feel bad. I didn't mean it like that..."
"We know, and so does he." Phoebe spoke up. "Believe me, I can tell." She winked at him, and his frown settled. "Like your dad said, it's just gonna take some time."
"And we're gonna give you that time, cause I think we all need to head to bed." Leo said. He rose from the table and motioned for the two sitting to follow. As he entered the living room, he greeted his wife who was re-entering the living room. He bent low, his hand on her lower back as he whispered in her ear. Her eyes met Chris's, and then went to the ground as she nodded.
"We're gonna head to bed; it's been a long day and we all need to be fresh for tomorrow. I'll make a big breakfast, it'll be great." They could all see her forced smile as she looked at all of them. She walked a few feet to Chris and arched up, pecking him on the cheek. "Goodnight."
"Night mom." He whispered, watching her retreat after exchanging goodnights' with her other two children. Soon, the three siblings were left alone.
"She went and made the room up for us." Melinda spoke first, quietly. "Before you all came in here, she hurried upstairs and made the room up really quick."
"There's not enough room for all 3 of us in that room. 2, maybe, if we share a bed..."
"I'm not sharing a bed with you. You snore." Wyatt snorted at Chris, which earned him an eye roll from his brother.
"Fine, you can have the couch." He shot back. They all just stared at each other for a few quiet moments, before all breaking into giggles.
"This is weird," Mel began, wiping her eyes. "This is so weird, even for our family."
"I'm just so happy with knowing it worked, I don't even care how weird this is." Chris admitted. Wyatt looked at him seriously.
"How bad was it, then? You have to tell us something."
Chris observed his brother. He knew he couldn't get away with just not saying anything at all. So he had to choose wisely what he would tell.
"Something happened, originally, in this timeline, to make you distrustful, and scared. In the other future, when Mom..." He shook his head. "Mom died, you somehow got this idea that if you could become this all powerful witch, you could control everything. That there was no good or evil; only power. You kind of went a little crazy, but don't worry. I got it under control." He smiled at the end, trying to lighten the quick once over of the tyranny Wyatt. Wyatt didn't seem to find it that funny.
"And me?" Mel asked softly. "I mean, when I orbed in, and you realized who I was, I swear you looked like you'd seen a ghost."
Chris swallowed. He really didn't feel this was necessary; why tell her about her death when it didn't matter?
"It matters to me." She urged, as if reading his mind and with a calculated look, he realized she had.
"Well, that's certainly a new one." He muttered, referring to her power. She grinned, but the rest of her body language still urged him to tell her the truth. He sighed. "You were 10. Mom was...gone. And we were all really still in shock. Wyatt was gone all the time, recruiting, working the underworld. Dad was...nowhere, yet again. Grieving more than likely, but it still seemed like he was abandoning us." He took a deep breath. "And you and I lived with Grandpa. One day you went out, and I...I should've gone with you but I didn't. And you never came back."
"Oh jeez..." She breathed.
"That's it; I'm not saying anything else." He replied hurriedly as he saw her distress. He felt his brothers' warm hand on his back, and he turned, looking into the blue eyes.
"Yes, you are. You need to Chris."
"No, I don't." He argued stubbornly. Wyatt crouched to his level, as if preparing to talk to a petulant child.
"Mom and Dad are a big part of our future; so are the aunts. But Chris, we know you...at least the you from our future and we know that a lot of times, when you have a problem, you bottle it up. We want you to be able to talk to us about some of this."
"It's not your burden to bear."
"We could say the same for you about this situation." Wyatt rounded back. They sat staring at each other stubbornly, neither one wanting to give. Melinda's hand found Chris'.
"Let us help you." She whispered softly. "You've helped us all...hell, you've helped the world, so much. Let us help you, let us help you bear the burden. We're family, Chris. This is what family does." She urged.
He looked into her brown eyes that were sincere and sad, and he nodded. For her, and for him. He would do it.
"Okay, but it won't be that much. It might take a bit...how about we polish off the last of mom's cake while we do?" He offered, trying to lighten the heavy mood the situation had just taken on. Wyatt grinned.
"You've got a deal."
The night lived on a few more hours for the three grown children as Chris recanted things he thought to be relevant. All of them shed some tears, but in the end, as they fell asleep together on the floor, he was able to relax and not worry for the first time in 8 years. He didn't care what it had taken to get there.
In the morning, Piper awakened extra early, cooking enough to feed a small army. They drew out the breakfast, and all helped with the dishes, washing and drying them before putting them up slowly as they chatted. They knew it was all leading to one point and in the end, when every last fork and knife was polished and in the drawer, Leo felt it was his duty to bring up the inevitable.
"It's already 2." He said finally, facing Piper. "I think we need to get this started."
For the first time in the day that his siblings had been there, Chris was scared. He looked at his mother wide-eyed, and she noticed as Wyatt edged close to him protectively, placing a gentle hand on his younger brothers' shoulder as his eyes met her worried gaze as well and received the message he was sending with them.
I'll take care of him.
They all made their way up to the attic and Wyatt and Melinda stood back, letting Chris say his goodbyes. The aunts were quick and good natured as they tried to lighten the somber mood, but it was when he got to his father and mother that he teared a little.
"We've been through a lot, haven't we?" He asked softly. Piper grabbed him tightly in a hug and Leo softly embraced the two at once.
"I love you." She muffled into his side. "Thank you for this, Chris. You are a remarkable kid." She pulled back, not wanting to make her other two feel inadequate. "All three of you are remarkable people."
"And we love you all already, very much." Leo interjected as well, having nothing to really say since he'd already had his emotional goodbye earlier the night before. It didn't stop him, though, from placing a kiss on his temple as he pulled back and patted his sons back, roping an arm around his wife's waist as silent tears made their way down her cheeks. She broke away, walking to her other two future children.
"I'm so happy I got to meet you guys, to see you. I'm almost afraid for the next 22 years to go by so fast and have you grow up on me." She said sadly. She hugged them both, telling them she loved them, and rejoined her sisters as she tried to wipe her tears away. Leo followed suit, telling them he loved them, and couldn't wait to meet his daughter. When the hugs were done and the lines seemed drawn, that was it.
The aunts and the parents stood on one side, and the three young adults on the other. They faced the wall as they heard the Charmed Ones begin their chant and felt a warmth as the giant triquetra on the wall began to glow. Wyatt and Melinda swayed with the intention of stepping forward but stopped as they saw Chris rooted in his place.
He looked back over his shoulder, just once, just wanting to remember all of this, preparing himself for the battle ahead. For the merging of two souls, two lives, two sets of memories. His parents' expressions grew concerned and for just a moment, he wanted to turn back, but he felt a hand grasp his tightly. He turned to see his brother staring at him.
"You're not going through this alone." Wyatt reassured, choking on emotion in his throat. "I won't let you go through this alone."
He looked at Melinda, whose expression mirrored Wyatt's and Chris had a realization. This wasn't going to be easy but everything he had fought for, everything he needed in life was right here. He had won, and he wasn't alone anymore. He grabbed her hand too, feeling the time slipping away for the portal to be open.
"Let's go home." He said, and without another look back, followed his siblings into the portal as it closed behind them.