Disclaimer: what the damn word implies.
"Oh. My. God."
Chris' hands gradually slid from his face and he seemed to stare straight through them with wide, unseeing blue-green eyes. "Shit! Oh, my God-- tell me I didn't just-- and then you-- and what about the-- holy…" and then he proceeded to let out a stream of swear words, curses, and other vulgar phrases the author would get sued for typing in this 'T' rated story.
Paris blushed madly at the pouring of foulness and a few family members and friends chuckled nervously. At last, Paige from the past was the one to bring his flooding of badness to a stop with the words, "Jesus Christ, Chris! Please stop before you give us a heart attack! …And is that even English, anymore?"
"Constitunia alma FREATIS AMADDA immase-- a-w-wha--what?" he stuttered to a halt, looking at them all as if seeing them for the very first time. Then he blushed, having the good grace to look abashed at using such filthy language… in multiple languages, nonetheless.
The assembled just stared at him, none quite knowing what to say. At length, the older Chris sighed and buried his face in his hands again, appearing tired and unenthused. "Alright," he sighed at length. "Just tell me and get it over with-- did I kill anyone, this time?"
"This time?" questioned Leo, looking like he didn't know what to make of that statement, at the same instance Piper answered in a dangerous mother's voice,
"No one's dead, thank God, but we are going to have a serious talk with you when you're born about what kind of magic you use."
The young man opened his mouth to shoot a response back when it clicked. Serious talk. With you. When you're born. Wow. That sure as heck wasn't the Piper he knew (young version or mother version) so that could only mean that she was the younger version and she knew. Well, knew who he was, anyway. He was pretty sure she already knew she was the young version. Anyway… It took a moment for the reality of what he'd just figured out to hit him.
His eyes went wide and he flung an accusatory glare at his young version, who looked rather affronted at being the recipient of such a look. "You told them, didn't you?" the older one all but spat, crossing his arms and glaring as though plotting a way to kill his young version without harming himself in the process.
The seventeen year old's jaw dropped, his indignity truly showing, now. "Me? Why would you assume it was my fault? You know, maybe they were the ones that already knew and surprised me ! Good grief! Automatically pointing fingers at --yourself, nonetheless! You are just like everyone else, thinking without any proof whatsoever that it's my fault! Jeez, can't I even give myself a break? And what's with you having to cause me a headache with all this time travel shii… stuff? I mean, as if life isn't complicated enough, and fooling around with strange English verb tenses isn't pointless enough, you've gotta go and re-write the rules on grammar and…"
He carried on, completely rambling almost incoherently for what felt like hours. Everyone else, including his older self, could only stare at him, surprised at how pissed off he seemed to be, for no reason except being blamed by himself.
"Huh," the older one interrupted when the young on paused for a breath. "Do I always do that?"
The Paige from the past pat his shoulder for some reason as she responded, "Nope, his ranting is much more widespread. You just rant at us about vanquishing demons all day long. Very one-track."
The young man arched an eyebrow down at her and sniped sarcastically, "Gee, thanks."
But Paige was ignoring the comment as she looked down at the shoulder she had pat, eyes narrowed slightly. "You're shaking. Why are you shaking?" she asked suspiciously.
"I'm not shaking," he replied defensively, pulling his arm away.
"Yes, you are. And you're extremely pale. And you look like you're going to be sick," the young Paige continued, giving him that same suspicious look, though there was obvious concern underneath.
"Well, how do you expect me to act?" he suddenly demanded in a raised voice, a mask of anger trying to cover up the storm of emotions that suddenly howled to life as the rest of reality came crashing down on him. "I just came from a future where every person in this room is tortured to death for me! I just found out I was using dark magic yet again! I just found out my parents from the past know I'm their son that they totally abused! And now I'm talking to an innocent version of myself who has no idea of the hell he's about to go through and I can't tell him anything about how to stop it or else I'll never make the decision to go to the past to change everything I've ever known! So, Paige, please tell me, if you were in my position, wouldn't you be a little shaken up, too?"
Yet again, everyone in the room was staring at him, eyes wide, mouths slightly open, at a complete loss for what to say. Paige of the past blinked a few times.
Well, then. She knew that she and Chris bickered at each other just a bit more than her other sisters, but she'd never seen this Chris get this angry, or reveal so much future information at one time. So, needless to say, it was unfamiliar territory and she had no idea what to say that wouldn't hurt or anger him further.
Luckily, Piper impeded just in time. "Why don't we all sit down and just… get our bearings, okay? This is a hard time for everyone and we all need to just stop and take a breather." When nobody immediately protested, the mother turned to her big sister and asked with the air of a woman with direction, "Prue, could you please turn that table back over and get the chairs, too?"
Prue nodded, seeing that it wasn't her place to take charge, and telekinetically righted their table and chairs, which had been overturned in the older Chris'… episode, for lack of a better word. The family and FU team all sat down in the nearest chairs and Chris walked over to the chair between Cole and Victor, having unconsciously stood up from his previous seat during his impassioned rant. He sat down, shoulders tired, eyes downcast, and with a heavy sigh. Whatever potion he had been injected with made his mind a lot more capable of dealing with the obvious facts he was faced with-- like the fact that he was more likely to be in the past rather than in the company of shape shifters that just so happened to act exactly like his real family. Just so happened to have their powers. He also believed he was dealing with the fact that Piper and Leo from the past knew who he was and what they had done rather well, too. At least he wasn't going into denial like he had done when they came to the… Wow. He could remember what his seventeen year old self had gone through concerning this event… that was weird, seeing as it was just now happening when it had really happened almost two year ago for him… That was really weird. That seventeen year old sitting on the other side of Cole really was him, living what he'd already lived two years ago for the first time. Did he mention how extraordinarily freaky this was?
He had to shake that notion off, too, as it began to give him an even worse migraine and his mother was starting to talk again.
She was sitting directly across from him and looking directly at him as she spoke. "Alright, now, I think you have quite a bit of explaining to do, young man." -- At this, the alleged twenty-two year old noticed his young counterpart shiver and had to suppress a similar action and smirk, himself. Piper noticed. Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. "What?"
The older answered, deciding to cut his younger self a break. He remembered how hard and confusing it had been, meeting his mother from the past and discovering why she had done the things she'd done… "Do you have any idea how weird that sounds coming from you to me?"
Piper glared at him, but not in hate. "I'm starting to get an idea," she said dryly, and continued with passion, "Why didn't you tell us, though? Anything! I mean, we would have at least trusted you…! Well… if you'd said the right thing in the right way, we would have given it a thought… actually…" her voice trailed off, moment of assuredness dissipating quickly as she realistically considered what would have happened if a stranger came through a strange portal claiming to be her unborn, abused second son trying to stop his big brother, her little angel, from becoming the very source of all evil. Yeah… now that she thought about it, she realized how crazy that would have sounded. She probably would have blown his ass to the dark side of the moon for even suggesting such a thing.
The older Chris smirked wryly at her, sensing her thoughts unintentionally with his aunt's telepathy. "Yeah, that would be more accurate. So you see why my way was much better."
"What would be more accurate?" questioned the Paige of the future, looking between them as if trying to use telepathy, too, even though she didn't have it. "What way? What on earth is going on here? How do you know this Piper-- she's from a time before you're even born! And how do you know him when you probably won't even be pregnant for another few months? Come on, answers, people, I want answers!"
The ones from the past shared looks, debating how much to disclose, when voices suddenly exploded in the eighteen year old's head. Voices of people begging. People dying. …The voices from the people in New Nirvana.
He cringed, despite his best effort not to, as their dying pleas echoed deafeningly inside his head. He screwed his eyes shut and gripped the edge of the table tightly, trying to push them back down, like Bianca-- oh God, Bianca…-- had instructed him. It took what seemed like forever to fight them back until he gained enough control to actually hear what was going on in the real world over them. As the pain began to fade, he could hear the family's tone of voice first, but couldn't make out the words. Then, as he opened his eyes and made his doubled vision back into single, he could distinguish their faces and voices clearly.
They were concerned, asking what was wrong, what was going on, but he could also see and feel their apprehension and even… fear. His using dark magic must have really scared them… And now they feared a relapse, as everyone always did that had seen him lose it. He sighed inwardly and looked back up at them. "Nothing, just… nothing. What were you saying?"
"Um… we were just about to explain how you had come to our time when you went sort of rigid and Future Phoebe over there sensed a lot of pain and chaos coming from your mind," said the young Paige, looking concerned and slightly anxious. "What was going on?"
Chris shot her a look and was about to repeat what he'd said about it being nothing when Leo interrupted, hitting it right on the money. "You were hearing voices, weren't you?" When Chris stared at him, taken aback and reticent, he elaborated, "A while ago, when you were… kind of psychotic… you were trying to get voices out of your head."
At this, Chris blushed furiously, catching Leo's meaning loud and clear. Still blushing with that strange sort of shame, he asked awkwardly, "I was bashing my head against a wall or something, wasn't I?"
Leo nodded uncomfortably, not able to meet his son's eyes. Piper, seeing the 'twenty-two' year old's weird shame at his behavior, said gently, "Sweetheart, judging from what you said you've gone through, you acted better than anyone else would have. You really weren't that out of it…"
At this the older Chris had to laugh, though it was harsh and his face was still flushed with that same ignominy. "Weren't that out of it?" he echoed in a shaky, but convinced tone. "Please. Wyatt's shown me what I'm like when I lose it. I had to be worth at least a dozen lobotomies and a straightjacket. Now can we just forget it and get going?"
"Not until someone tells us what the heck is going on!" said the future Phoebe, looking just as irritated at being left in the dark as Paige. "Now, why did you go to the past, Chris?" she asked sternly, looking at the older one.
He looked right back at her and said in challengingly simple tones, "To stop my brother from becoming a megalomaniac freak, Phoebe."
Phoebe, Paige, Cole, Henry, Victor, and everyone from his Resistance team gaped at him, shocked. There was a heartbeat's length of this stunned silence before the exclamations and protests broke out, and break out they did.
"What! How could you screw with the past that much?" -- Andre
"Do you have any idea how much you could inadvertently change? That's way too dangerous to chance!" -- Cole
"In 2004? You could cause yourself or your cousins to cease to exist!"-- Phoebe (future)
"Good Lord! Is that even possible?" -- Victor
"All I gotta say is if you're going to do that, you'd better change your wardrobe, 'cause they would vanquish you on the spot, going in there lookin' like one bad-ass gothic demon-boy," snorted Joden in reference to Chris', indeed, rather punk-goth look.
"Wow…" said Paris thoughtfully, examining him as though intrigued.
"Hmm…" Bianca, also thoughtful, eyes clouded and narrow in thought.
"Holy f… (author cuts off last of word)" -- Henry
"Oh my God, Chris-- how could you just decide to change everything? What if you just make things worse?" -- Prue, quieter than most.
"No way! What if you cause us to marry the wrong people? What if you cause the demons we vanquished to come after us at the wrong place and we die? What if you cause our kids to not even exist!" -- Paige (future) looking horrified at the last thought.
The young Chris remained silent throughout it all, and the older Chris knew that he already knew. The young one was just going to log the information and possibility away in his mind and only come back to it as a last resort. He still had so much going for him. He still had this family, these friends… his innocence… He wasn't ready to change it all.
"Paige," the older Chris said, snapping back into his immediate concern-- talking to the adults and getting them off his case. He slipped his smart ass mask back on. "Do you really want your kids to grow up in this world?-- Hold on-- wait-- Nevermind! They won't even get the chance to grow up at all if I don't change this! They are going to be brutally tortured to death in a few months' time and there's no other way in the world you can stop that!"
Complete. And utter. Silence.
A few people blinked, taken aback. Others just stared. The eighteen year old sighed inwardly yet again. Okay, so maybe revealing that particular fact like that wasn't the best way to go about getting their approval or even consent. And people said he had tact…
As their stares gradually became dreaded sort of inquiring looks, the young man bowed his head, fiddling with his fingers. They wanted more details, so they might be able to stop it. They wanted him to open up to them. He could feel it, and it was emanating from every single person in the room, which made the overall urge to comply overwhelming.
Still not looking up, the young man intoned quietly, "Every person in this room… and their children… are all tortured to death by Wyatt. Everyone except me, Bianca, Leo, and Grandpa. But… they get killed eventually, too… Everyone except me…" he ended even quieter so that even Cole and Victor had a difficult time hearing it.
Again there was silence. When, at length, it became unbearable, Phoebe from the future clarified softly, "So… my oldest nephew is going to kill us all?"
Chris began to nod, but stopped, eyes glazing over. Wyatt wasn't the one that sentenced Leo to an eternal life in damnation… And, to be honest, he couldn't remember if Victor was killed by lung cancer or a demon. He remembered it had happened in one of the last hospitals in existence… but demons attacked those sometimes, too. And Chris had kind of been psycho at the time so his memory of that event wasn't exactly coherent…
"Chris, sweetheart?" came Piper's concerned voice.
He instantly switched back into the moment and out of his thoughts. Phoebe had half-asked if Leo, Bianca, and Victor had been killed by Wyatt… Leo… Oh boy. He grinned, still not quite looking up to meet their querying gazes. Then he tried to stifle a small chuckle that fought to the surface. At their confused feelings, he answered Phoebe's half-question. "Um…" another grin and suppressed chuckle. "--No. Wyatt…" small laugh. "Wyatt didn't… didn't kill…" there was a peel of laughter here, completely confusing and shocking his family and friends. But he couldn't help it. "He didn't k-kill L-L-Leo…" Burst of laughter here, and he gasped in between, "Oh--my--God! I can't-- b-b-believe I'm-- laughing about-- about this!" But he couldn't stop. He had killed all the Elders in the only way possible-- with dark magic. And he had killed his own father permanently-- twice, however that worked. He had seriously killed his own father and was laughing about it.
He was going to Hell for this…
And he was still laughing.
Looking completely baffled at what could be funny about his death, Leo queried uneasily, "Chris… then how… did… I die?"
Chris snorted slightly at the memory. He had been completely out of his mind. Completely. Noticing again that people were staring at him, waiting for an answer, he half-heartedly stifled another laugh and answered, smirking provocatively, "Can't. Future consequences."
Everyone in the room glared at him, but his younger self looked intrigued, as if he was already putting some pieces together and asking for the rest. The older found himself unable to resist that look. On a whim, he recalled the memory to the front of his mind and locked eyes with the young one. He sent the memory forward, directly into the young one's mind.
The memory went something like this:
A seventeen or eighteen year old stood among white pillars and floor-clouds, the heavens around him practically spinning from his shock and sense of surrealism. But the bodies didn't move. The dead, burned, already decaying bodies of the good overseers of the world, also known as Elders.
"Oh my God," whispered the memory Chris, surveying the devastation with wide, horrified eyes. "I killed… killed… the… Elders. I killed them all…" He slowly sank to the ground and breathed, "Oh my God…"
There was a faint groan from behind one of the council benches and a moment later, a disheveled Leo lifted himself painstakingly onto an elbow and into eyesight. Chris caught the movement and his entire demeanor changed. With a look of complete and utter rage and hatred, he conjured an energy ball, intensified it with a quick bit of dark magic, and hurtled it at his father with a yell of fury. The man was instantly incinerated into a pile of ashes on the ground. Chris glared at it for a moment before clearing his throat and shifting back into his previous position of having sunk to the ground in horror. "Excuse me," he stated to himself, cleared his throat again, and resumed the horrified, shocked, and devastated expression, and finished, "Oh my God, now I've killed all the Elders…"
The young Chris stared at him, clearly shocked and astonished. Then he burst out laughing, managing between peels, "You didn't! Oh God, I'm going to Hell because of you, now! Shit…"
Slowly his laughter died down and the two Chris-es pointedly ignored the sudden questions that were thrown at them about what had happened and what was going on between them. Instead, the young Chris took a different direction and said to himself, "You remember what happened today with me, don't you?" When his older self nodded, suddenly looking slightly suspicious, the young one resumed, "Then you'll remember that it actually wasn't Leo's fault for his actions. And if he changed and was all 'I'll try to be better, now, and make up for it' why would you still--"
"Oh, in about thirty minutes flat, he's going to be totally obsessing over getting your trust back," the alleged twenty-two year old informed him dismissively, seeing where he was going. "Since the war is going so badly, the Elders need all the help they can get so they need him back up there with them, not down here trying to talk sense into the 'unruly' son. Therefore, in about three weeks for you, they decide it's for the greater good just to give him his old attitude back."
While the older Chris informed them of this rather lightly, as if it didn't matter to him, they knew it did because of his younger self's crestfallen, hurt expression. "They make him an abusive bastard again?" the seventeen year old asked sadly at the same instant Leo groaned in similar tones,
"They make me an abusive bastard again?"
The senior Chris shrugged. "Eh. It really was easier for both the Elders and me. And it's not like we saw each other on a regular basis, anymore, anyway, so it didn't matter. Anyhow, we really gotta get going. The Elders from your time are probably having multiple heart attacks by now just waiting for us." He paused and his eyes narrowed at the ones from the past. "You did get it, didn't you?"
They nodded quickly, but Phoebe from the past groaned and leaned over to hug her seventeen year old nephew. "But I don't wanna leave," she complained, ignoring the stiff glare the young Chris was sending her. "I like this Chris so much better than you."
The older Chris openly gaped at her. For a moment, he merely spluttered soundlessly, then abruptly collected himself. With a cool expression, he stated quite calmly, "If we don't leave, now, we are all going to have to help these poor souls fend off a giant, demonic green mass that is oozing its way here as we speak." When the past Phoebe looked less than convinced, his eyes narrowed again and he added dangerously, "And it will permanently stain your new shoes."
The young Phoebe's eyes went wide and she jumped to her feet. "Okay, then, I think I've had enough futuristic family reunions for one day," she said while ushering her bemused past-family to their feet as well. "Let's get back to the past and save my nephew! Or… nephews… whatever."
As the ones from the past gathered their things together, the future Phoebe stated with a grim smile, "You thinking about helping us out with the demon with no name?"
Older Chris grinned. "It's next on my list. And for the record, I still vote on naming it 'The Blob'."
Paige of the future snorted. "Are you kidding? After that old movie with the killer blob of jell-o or whatever?"
"You should know, seeing as you were the one to show it to me."
"And you liked it?" she demanded incredulously, but there was a hint of laughter in her eyes.
"Are you kidding me? No story line, crappy acting, dorky costumes and special effects-- it was the best movie ever!" he commended brightly, even though he felt anything but bright and playful. He missed this. Missed bantering with his Aunt Paige. Sure, they didn't really know where to start with each other when they were alone, but in company… When there were people there and they couldn't talk about the things that had come between them so long ago… it was fun.
There was silence which was only disturbed by a confused Logan's plead for attention. The young Chris instantly saw and pulled the toddler onto his lap, using his aunt Paige's new power of conjuring to orb some letter-cube-block thingies for him to play with. There was relative silence after that, too. Nobody wanted to have to be the one to break it, though, because they knew the next words would have to involve the ones from the past leaving.
"You guys know how much I hate long goodbyes," said Future Phoebe at length with a sigh, getting to her feet and going over to the already standing ones from 2004. She held out her arms and hugged them each. "So let's just leave it at 'see ya later', okay?"
The ones from the past agreed immediately. Then the other 'see ya later'-s came. The sisters, Leo, and Chris from 2004 endured hugs from the future Phoebe, Paige, Victor, Prue, Henry, Cole, Paris, and Andre. They had to go to the young Chris personally if they wanted a goodbye. Which they all did.
"Why can't you be more like this you?" Paige complained to her whitelighter as she latched onto the young counterpart, who narrowed his eyes at the contact. "He actually smiles, you know!"
The older one rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. If I smiled while ordering you on a demon hunt, you'd say I was laughing at you and you'd hate me even more-- not to mention refuse to go on the hunt."
Paige considered that statement as she reluctantly removed herself from the young one and gave Piper and Leo their chance. The others, seeing this awkward moment coming up, hastily began moving in a huddle out of obvious earshot. When the older Chris smirked and made to leave as well, the young one glared at him and mouthed sternly, 'Get back here!'
The elder one just gave him an innocent look and involved himself in the remaining Charmed Ones' conversation about how they'd get back. His young self scowled, but quickly changed his expression to a neutral one as Piper and Leo sat down on either side of him and began silently requiring his attention by trying to meet his eyes. He was then hard put to keep it neutral…
"Chris…" Piper began after a moment of silence, clearly not sure what to say now that she was speaking. She hesitated a minute before resuming. "You know… you can always come to our time if you ever want to talk. It doesn't matter if you have to erase our memories afterwards, as long as we can help…"
Young Christopher arched an eyebrow and remarked dryly, "Huh. Don't get an offer like that everyday."
The parents smiled, not quite knowing what to say. What was there to say? They had already apologized, they had already sworn to change this… If they upheld their oaths, technically this Chris would never exist, so they would never have to counsel him in the first place…
"Don't worry about me," the young one said softly after another stretch of silence. He smiled faintly as he motioned at his future counterpart, who really was involved in the discussion several paces away, and said, "As you can see by him, I'll be fine. Or… as fine as the insane can be, at least."
The two adults smiled again, and were quiet once more. For a while, the three merely glanced around, casting about for something else to say, coming up with nothing. Time seemed to drag by, when the people in the little group discussing what course to take looked up. They had apparently decided on a solution.
Piper sighed and finally turned her gaze back to Chris, who met it unceratinly. "I guess it's time to go, peanut," she said gently and, ignoring his confusion and amusement at being called a peanut, pulled him into a soft embrace. The young one tensed immediately at the contact, but after a while, he allowed himself to relax in it… kinda sorta.
At length Piper pulled away and looked at him with teary eyes, then went to stand with her sisters and half-witch-half-whitelighter whitelighter. Leo paused a moment, giving his seventeen year old son a moment to recover before he, too, went to hug him. The younger teen resigned himself to the embrace and vaguely wondered if he would ever accept this kind of affection from these people. And since they weren't exactly showering his older self in hugs and kisses, he couldn't tell.
"Be safe," Leo murmured as he pulled back and looked his son in the eye, making the look portray all his paternal feelings of caring love. This, Chris also met uncertainly. He nodded, feeling emotions of his own turning and bubbling in ways he'd never felt before, or anticipated. He swallowed them back and watched as the blonde man joined the past Charmed Ones, taking his wife's hand in his and meeting her still glittering eyes.
Future Phoebe handed her past self a piece of torn paper, which obviously had a spell written on it. The sisters of the past pulled together and chanted it while the future Chris and Leo said goodbye with their eyes to the assembled family of the future. The spell was finished and the young Charmed Ones glanced up one last time before the five disappeared in a breezy explosion of white and gold.
The Charmed Ones, Leo, and Chris found themselves hurtling backwards in a rush of white and gold, almost like with the time remote. They looked around, finding all very familiar but unexpected.
"Okay…" voiced Paige with a slight grimace. "Didn't quite want the spell to work like this…"
Meanwhile, Piper and Leo were staring at Chris as if plotting all the questions they were going to throw at him and Phoebe was subtly trying to place herself between them, nervous for her nephew's mental health. Chris noticed and had to smile at that. She really didn't change that much in the future.
"You sent me to Valhalla," Leo finally said, watching for Chris' reaction.
It was to roll his eyes. "Duh."
He would at least let them ask their questions, seeing as he was going to erase their memories anyway, and this way his conscience would be a bit lighter, knowing he had told them. He smirked as he mentally added: It was their problem if they couldn't remember.
"You know," said Phoebe, still moving to get herself between the parent-son trio. "This may seem really random, but you never told us why that teacher that announced your band hated you."
Chris stared at her, secretly thanking her for that weird subject change. "Yes, that did seem really random." At her pointed look, he smiled instead of smirked and answered, to their collective surprise. "She had a daughter who was, like, five years younger than me and the girl had a crush on me. When I… failed to encourage her… her mother, needless to say, felt it her responsibility to hate me and fail me in her class, along with a lot of other wonderful things."
"That's not fair," Piper immediately protested, indignant on his behalf.
Chris snorted. "Yeah, if life were to suddenly get fair, I doubt it would have happened in high school."
They all had to chuckle at that. However, the reasonable amount of time they could pass the comment off as funny was gone in no time. So, gradually, their smiles had to fade and the comfortable silence became… uncomfortable. As Chris looked down at his fascinating shoes, he got the impression that this awkward silence was only foreshadowing the many, many to come. … if he were to allow them their memories.
He sighed heavily as the time trip slammed to a halt (and they all miraculously managed to stay on their feet). If he was going to do this, he had to do it now, before he lost his resolve and capitulated to the prospect and possibility of having an actual family. He had to. For the greater good. For the future. For… himself. For the first time he could remember, the only solution was the easy way out.
"Chris?" Piper's voice intruded on his thoughts, forcing him into the moment rather abruptly.
He glanced up at her, not questioningly. He didn't want to know what she had been saying. He just wanted to look at her one last time while she knew who he was… while she still held love in her eyes… love for him. Though her expression was somewhat funny, not knowing why he was staring at her with tears welled in his eyes, he wanted to burn this into his memory forever. Hold on to it forever…
And, without a word, without breaking their locked gazes, he placed two fingers gently to his mother's temples… and erased her the alluded memory. And replaced it with a different, sorter recollection.
…The Phoenix Assassin holds the dagger to Piper's throat with a cold, cocky, "You were saying?"
"Wow, she is good," comments Phoebe…
Paige takes a step towards Piper and Bianca interrupts with, "Uh-uh. I can kill her in half the time it takes you to even think about it." …
Paige retorts, "Yeah? We still have enough potion to vanquish you."
…"Maybe. But then you really will have to hope the power of two will do," Bianca glances over at Paige, finishing, "won't you, Paige? You'd be surprised what's in the history books. Now put the vials down slowly."
"Bianca don't. Let her go and I promise I'll go with you," Chris tries to draw the attention back to him and away from his charges…
…"Chris, what are you doing?" demands Paige, looking incredulous.
Chris ignores her. "If you kill her there won't be a future for either of to go back to and you know it."
"What are you talking about?"-- Phoebe…
…"You'll see if you live long enough," Bianca answers, walking back over to Chris and taking his hand. Together, they move to the wall.
Hastily, Paige exclaims, "Piper, freeze them!"
Piper tries, but the Chris controlling the memory allows the small revelation of his wiccan-ness be known. His memory self doesn't freeze.
"Uh, okay, I get why she didn't freeze, but why didn't he freeze?" Piper demands, taken aback.
…"I don't-- Unless he's a--" Phoebe stammers.
"I'm a witch, too?" Chris suggests, halfheartedly. "That's right. Part witch, part whitelighter. Just like you, Paige."…
"You lied to us?" -- Paige…
"I had to. It was the only way I could get you to trust me."
…"Trust you?" Phoebe repeats, incredulous.
"Nevermind. It doesn't matter anyway…"
Piper: "So that's it? You're just gonna leave?"
…Chris looks slightly frustrated as he snaps, "I don't have a choice. She stripped my powers. Looks like Leo's gonna have to fix that floorboard without me." The part about the floorboard kind of came out of nowhere, but the Chris controlling the memory was developing the rest of the plan in the memory even as he thought so. Then, to Bianca, his false memory self said, "Let's go."
… The alleged twenty-two year old watched, fingers to his soon-to-be mother's temples, as she lived for the first time going through with her sisters about how to get him back from his fiancée's clutches, figuring out his floorboard clue and writing a spell to get him his powers back. Her cinnamon eyes were closed gently, fluttering faintly as though during REM. The others in the room had quickly followed his mother into this form of sleep as soon as he began creating the new memory. As he looked at them now, he felt his heart clench in protest. This wasn't right, altering their minds. Not only would they eventually figure it out (generally because he had forgotten to add anything about the artifact the Elders had wanted… maybe he'd erase the Elders' memories, too), he would have this on his conscience every moment he saw them, always wondering what it would have been like if he let them keep those moments he had erased.
Ah, well. What's done is done. He had to remind himself that it was better this way. He couldn't let all those emotions get in the way of his mission. Couldn't.
At length, he sighed and removed his fingers. According to their memories, he already come hurtling through the portal back into this time period, and they were at the part where Phoebe was expressing her sorrow at Bianca's death.
"Me, too," Chris said softly as they opened their eyes, having no recollection of doing anything but blinking. He shifted uncomfortably. Damn guilt. "So… you guys still alright with me hanging around here?"
There was hesitation as they all shared glances. For a moment, Chris inwardly panicked, wondering if the memory he'd chosen for them was still too much, wondering if he should have skipped to the part where they said it was fine… then Leo answered, laying his fears to rest.
"Absolutely. The next time you're in trouble, you gotta tell us. Trust works both ways."
Chris could deal with that answer and nodded slightly, unable to describe in any of the languages he knew how relieved he was. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad, after all. "Okay," he agreed.
Moments later, as the girls headed to their rooms for showers and (de)accessorizing, Chris found himself walking by Wyatt's playpen and catching the young boy's eye. He paused for a moment, holding that gaze and feeling the same connection he had with his brother, before their bond was broken. It wasn't at the point it had been at during their height, but it was enough to read emotions and intentions, and Chris knew the toddler understood what it meant, no matter his young age. Wyatt had always been smart.
The teenager leaned against the doorway, not breaking the gaze, not feeling the need to. It was his brother, as weird as that was. It was still the one who had murdered his fiancée only hours ago. And this little Wyatt felt something of that, too. But he was innocent, now…
Still looking down at his little older brother, Chris slowly shook his head. Weird.
And all he could say before he walked away was, "Damn."
A/N: One last page, to either answer reviews or maybe an epilogue. And I think after finishing MY FIRST EVER STORY, I deserve a review from everyone who reads it, right? If you read this in 2010, even, I don't care-- REVIEW!