Disclaimer: See First Chapter.
Author's Note: All I can say is: FORGIVE ME. Yes, I know its been a long time and I'm very sorry. And as usually happens the longer you wait to post the better you feel the post has to be and so and so on. A vicious cycle!
Anywho, thank you so muchfor all the wonderful reviews!
I hope you enjoy this chapter. Cole is back.
"Thank you for joining me, Chris." Wyatt drawled, two hours later, as his younger brother was escorted into the conference room by two demon guards.
"Thank you for extending the invitation." Chris drawled back, as he took the seat Wyatt indicated to.
The older man nodded slowly, dismissing his guards with a wave of his hand.
He watched them go, ignoring his brother for a moment, before abruptly fastening his gaze on Chris.
Silently, intently, he studied his younger brother, "I'm glad to see you looking better." He finally stated.
"You've provided me with excellent care." Chris acknowledged in the same coldly polite tone.
"How do you like Lucy?" Wyatt asked.
Chris paused a moment, his face perfectly composed, "She's very." he purposefully hesitated, ". polite." He finished, keeping his emotions and thoughts under very tight reign. So far this interrogation seemed more like an interview and he wanted to keep it that way.
"Yes, she is." Wyatt agreed almost amiably.
"She's kind too," Chris couldn't resist adding, "An oddity in a friend of yours."
Wyatt's eyes narrowed, "How do you she's a friend?"
Chris shrugged, "Dad told me; said you went to high school with her. Poor girl, been your slave for years and years, huh?"
"She's not my slave!" he hissed.
"What is she then?"
The question was out before he could think better of it; which he should have. He didn't want to walk Wyatt down this path, didn't want him analyzing his relationship with Lucy. thinking about her in any special way.
"She's a friend." Wyatt said through clenched teeth.
Chris nodded quickly, "Okay," he said simply, hoping to end the conversation he'd unwittingly begun right there.
"Don't patronize me, Chris." Wyatt growled.
"I'm not," the younger man stated quickly, "I'm sure she is." he murmured, dropping his gaze to floor; but he knew he didn't sound convincing enough. He was using most of his concentration to keep his thoughts under wraps. not to lie convincingly.
"But you can't imagine why, right?" Wyatt hissed, his voice dangerously intent, "You can't possibly comprehend why a girl who isn't a demon or an assassin would have anything to do with me."
Chris shrugged, lifting his gaze slowly and smirking lightly, "Well, when you put it that way." he stated, letting the sentence trail off.
"She's loyal, Chris," his brother practically spit at him, "A concept you're obviously not familiar with."
The bitterness in his brother's voice startled him; his eyes widened and for a moment his mind went blank. Wyatt sounded almost - hurt.
Chris swallowed hard, his mouth forming words before his brain processed them, "I understand the concept," he stated.
"Just not how it would apply to me? Your brother."
"I've been loyal to you, Wyatt! As loyal as I could be when you're murdering innocents!"
"How is plotting to destroy everything I've built: loyal!" his brother roared.
"I'm loyal to who you should be!" Chris roared back, forgetting his resolve to stay on Wyatt's good side for a moment, "To the person you should have been; the person you could've been!"
Wyatt's gaze narrowed, "But not to me, right Chris? Not to the person standing before you now, right? You're loyal to a child of prophecy, to an ideal. one that doesn't exist. You're loyalty-means nothing to me."
Chris winced unconsciously, his brother's words drawing blood. He tore his eyes off the tall form and forced himself to draw in deep breath, ignoring the thread of truth that ran through Wyatt's words.
He had to focus- focus on the mission.
He remained silent; concentrating on guarding his emotions and thoughts. It was always important to be on guard when in a room with Wyatt, especially now.
"We have much to discuss, Chris." Wyatt said after a long moment. His tone once again calm, not one hint of the bitterness it had previously boomed with.
His brother had always been good at that-burying emotion. It was a trait Chris had had to pick up as well.
He sighed inwardly as he realized that Wyatt's calm demeanor could only mean one thing. they were in for a long afternoon. Carefully, he shifted, finding a more comfortable - less painful - position in the chair.
Wyatt chuckled suddenly, "Yes, I suppose you might as well get comfortable. It could be a rather long afternoon."
The younger boy's eyes flashed, but he remained silent.
"What? No orders for me to stop going through your thoughts?" Wyatt asked archly.
"Why bother?" His little brother hissed.
"Why bother indeed." Wyatt stated, "I'm glad to see you understanding the futility of fighting me."
Chris watched as his brother neared him. The room was well lit, practically bright and decorated in crèmes and pastels; very delicate. and very misleading.
"I have several questions for you Chris." Wyatt stated, taking a seat near the younger man. "I want you to answer me truthfully, okay." He paused, then added, "I want to keep this civil."
Chris arched an eyebrow, "Civil?" he drawled, "There's a new one..."
Wyatt scowled, "Yes, Chris. Civil." He stated through gritted teeth.
Chris smirked, "I can do civil. Question is, can you?"
"I'm trying." The words were hissed and Chris couldn't help but smirk. His brother scowled and continued, "In the interest of said civility I'm going to insist that you refrain from provoking me by being your usual irritating self." Wyatt continued, "I want you to be pleasant. Can you do that? Or is that concept to difficult for you, as well?" He finished, dryly.
Chris stared at him a moment, the barb going over his head as a sudden, hysterical urge to laugh overwhelming him. His brother, who had imprisoned him, killed several of his friends, murdered his fiancée, and destroyed the world, wanted him to be pleasant.
He saw Wyatt scowl at him and quickly got a hold of himself, his brother was obviously monitoring his thoughts carefully. Slowly, with the ease of years of practice, he drew in his emotions tightly and cleared his thoughts.
His brother was reciting a speech. A very careful, and given the situation, utterly nonsensical speech, but a speech nonetheless. They both knew that the two of them could never be civil with each other, not for long anyway, but if Wyatt insisted... he'd play along.
"Would you like something to drink before we begin?" Wyatt asked, tersely.
Yes, he would play along.
Chris smiled sweetly, "Sure. What've you got?" He asked.
Wyatt stared at him, "I think I can manage to drum up whatever you want." He deadpanned.
"True, true, being ruler of the world and all."
And then he proceeded to think- loudly. about drinks.
Water, ice tea, orange juice, apple juice, grape juice, soda, orange soda, grape soda, root beer, ginger ale, a beer maybe, or a shot of-
"Goddamnit Chris, just pick a drink!"
Chris smiled again, "That's not very civil, Wyatt."
Wyatt scowled, took a deep breath, and spoke through a clenched jaw, "Cut it out, Chris."
Chris sighed, "I'll have water." He stated.
"Yes, water. With ice, please."
With yet another scowl, Wyatt waved his hand and a glass of water appeared in front of Chris.
"Thank you." The younger boy stated politely.
"You're welcome." Wyatt said, then after a moment opened his mouth to proceed, "I want to-"
"Can I have a slice of pie please?" Chris interrupted, before his brother could continue.
Wyatt stopped, "Pie?"
"Apple, with ice cream. that would be good."
Wyatt stared at him, "You want me to conjure you apple pie and ice cream."
Chris tilted his head to one side, "No, Wyatt, I want you make me an apple pie." He taunted, then rolled his eyes, "Of course I want you to conjure it. And make it nice and warm. and the vanilla ice cream, don't forget that."
"Why-" his brother cut himself off, and shook his head as if clearing it, "You know what, never mind." he muttered, then waved his hand and a the desired desert appeared before Chris.
"Thank you." The dark-haired young man said pleasantly as he picked up the fork.
"You're welcome." Wyatt gritted out again, watching as his baby brother forked pie and ice cream into his mouth.
He was obviously stalling for time, and it was freakin annoying, but it was also. completely irrelevant, because all they had was time.
With that thought, Wyatt drew a calming breath; there was really no need to get upset. Chris could stall all he wanted, because he had no where to go, no way of getting out.
"How is it?" he asked, because all they had was time.
Chris shrugged, "Okay. not as good as Mom's."
Wyatt's complacent mood vanished. He hated it when Chris brought up their mother.
"But then again. how could it be?" the younger man continued, knowing exactly what he was doing to his brother, "Mom was the best baker in the world. Remember that cake she always made for you? The one with M&M's. that was a really great cake. huh? Remember how she always made extra icing so we could have some while she iced," he babbled, ".. of course the cake I got was always much better. I mean why go with M&M's when you can get Oreos; now there's a cake. and the crème icing on that was much better-"
"You have five seconds to finish that pie," Wyatt interrupted, "Or I shove down your throat."
Chris stopped speaking, looked up, met his brother's gaze, and grinned provokingly, "That's not a very civil thing to say."
Blue eyes flashed, he watched as Wyatt waved his hand and the plate in front of him flew off the table and into a wall, clattering noisily to the floor, leaving behind smears of apple and ice cream.
Chris sighed, leaning back, "You really should do something about that temper; Mom always-"
"STOP TALKING ABOUT MOM!"
"Or what?" Chris asked, arching an eyebrow; testing this civil thing.
Wyatt's glare intensified and Chris prepared himself for the blow; but it never came.
The older man released a frustrated growl, turned away from his brother, drew in a long breath, then turned back. "You're a real brat, you know that?" Wyatt growled.
Chris chuckled, pleasantly surprised that he hadn't flown into a wall.
"I don't want to talk about Mom... what I'd like is to talk about your little trip to the past." His voice was terse and Chris sat up a little straighter, his amusement gone.
"Don't play games with me Wyatt. You know all about my trip..." he hissed, flashes of Bianca's body filling his mind; suddenly he was nauseous again and by the suddenly smug look on his brothers face he knew he hadn't done a good job of controlling his thoughts.
The older man shrugged, "You shouldn't have been dating a Phoenix anyway." he said callously, "She wasn't worthy of a Halliwell."
Chris's blood boiled; all thoughts of civility deserted him, converging instead on the desire to pummel his brother. He made a move to rise from his seat, only to find himself imprisoned in it. Instantly, he changed tactics and flicked his hand at his brother.
. nothing happened.
Wyatt chuckled, "Right." he drawled out, "'Cause I'm gonna give you free reign of your powers."
"Why not? Scared?" he hissed, bitterly his eyes glowing murderously.
Wyatt stared at him and inhaled what he hoped would be a calming breath, "You're not gonna goad me into shortening this session, I won't let you. We are going to discuss your rebellion and how we are going to terminate it. If you cooperate I will make the deaths of those involved quick and painless." He stated imperiously.
"Is that supposed to be incentive?"
"I will find them anyway, Chris..."
"You haven't yet, Wyatt." The younger boy taunted.
"I was focusing my efforts on finding you."
"You should be. I've made many allowances for you." The older man hissed, holding on to patience by the skin of his fingernails.
Chris remained silent; recognizing the truth in those words. Had Wyatt not made allowances for him, he'd've died long ago.
"And if you will submit to me," Wyatt continued, "I will continue to do so. You are my brother, Chris." He said as if Chris was the one who needed reminding.
The younger man blinked at him, "Your brother." he repeated the words softly.
Wyatt met his gaze, "Yes."
The silence stretched for a moment, "Then talk to me Wyatt. Tell me what happened to you... how did this happen?"
Wyatt drew in a long breath and released it slowly, his fists clenching, "For the hundred millionth time... nothing happened to me. I am not turned, Chris. I'm clearheaded. I have drive and goals..."
"But where the hell did it come from?" Chris roared, interrupting his brother and shooting up from his seat. Wyatt hadn't expected him to and therefore hadn't held him in place, "Where the hell did you learn that kinda fuckin drive from? 'Cause it sure as hell wasn't at our mother's knee..." He continued, glaring at Wyatt as he forced himself to lower his voice, "That kind of drive... the kind that destroys everything in its path, wasn't taught in the house I grew up in." He stated, his voice suddenly dropping as images of his family filled his thoughts, "The people that raised me were kind and caring and wouldn't... wouldn't have ever behaved like that..." he finished softly.
"The people that raised me are dead." Wyatt stated, his flat tone startling Chris, "And they died young."
The brothers stared at each other for several long moments. A lifetime between them - shared and yet so distinct; so many memories the same, yet different.
Wyatt was the first to turn away. Abruptly, he waved his hand in front of him and a stack of files appeared before them.
"Sit down," he ordered harshly.
Wyatt squinted his eyes a little and the chair Chris had been sitting in pulled back and turned towards the young man. Before Chris could react he felt himself shoved into the seat and then the chair turned back to the table and pressed up against the table-imprisoning him against it and making him wince in pain.
The table's edge pressed against his chest. He tried to push away but it didn't budge.
"That hurts." He told his brother, still trying to push back from the table.
Wyatt stared at him a moment, studying the scene before him, then he shrugged, "You'll live," he stated before sliding the stack of files towards Chris. "I want you to tell me who the officers of your little rebellion are."
Chris remained silent; he had the urge to respond with an I-want-my-brother-to-stop-acting-like-a-prick remark, but he really didn't want to have to contend with anymore debilitating injuries – which Wyatt would undoubtedly inflict if he pushed too hard.
Wyatt walked over to stand behind his brother, then reached over and flipped the first file open. "These are men I've seen with the girls. I want you to tell me what their involvement is."
"Do Prue and Mel know your spying on them?"
"If they don't, you haven't trained them well enough." The older man replied casually, as he placed the first photograph in front of Chris.
The younger man stared down at it then up at his brother, "We're going to be here for a long time if you think I'm going to identify people for you."
In response to that his brother TK'd a chair closer, sat down, and stared at Chris with a deadly determined glint in his eyes, "Then we're going to be here for a long time, Chris." He said calmly.
"How exactly are you NOT freaking out?" Mel hissed at her father.
"Because his freaking out won't do us any good." Prue answered for him, drawing her twins' attention.
"It's been FOUR DAYS!" Mel continued, after shooting Prue a glare, "I think its time to freak out!"
"Freaking out before and freaking out now, is the same thing Mel - useless." Her sister pointed out rationally.
Mel released a long breath as she slumped down on the office couch. They had commandeered Luke's office since migrating underground the day of the Fucked-Up-Plan as Mel had taken to calling it. An hour ago their father had called them in here to tell them what he'd found out.
Drew couldn't be located.
Wyatt still had Chris.
Wyatt's drone-demons were scourging the city for them all.
She raked an aggravated gaze over her father and twin, "Drew has disappeared! His powers aren't bound! Wyatt has Chris! And for godsakes, Daddy was in prison!"
"The opportune word being was, Mel." Cole stated, meeting his daughter's gaze, "Now take a deep breath and try to breathe. It helps with the thinking-rationally thing I need you to do."
"Daddy." Mel stated, even as she drew in that supposedly calming breath, "Wyatt. Has. Chris; Drew. Is. Missing."
Cole's expression hardened suddenly and both girls felt a shiver of apprehension slide down their spines, there father could be intimidating as hell.
"I'm really leaning towards the suggestion that your brother had a lot to do with that ambush." He said, his voice hard with restrained anger.
"I can't believe that..." Mel defended quickly, shaking her head, "... that he would do something like that, I mean. He's being a brat, yeah; but to sic Wyatt's minions on you... that's just..." Mel trailed off, shaking her head again. "That would make him almost as evil as Wyatt..." she finished a few heartbeats later.
Cole snorted, "He's not evil; he's stupid. He thinks Wyatt wouldn't hurt family."
"Still, he has to know that Wyatt's demons could've hurt you. I just don't think that-"
"He did." Prue stated, simply.
Mel shot her a glare, "He'd put his own father in that kind of danger...?"
"You need to listen," Prue drawled, ". Drew doesn't think Wyatt would hurt any of us. Therefore he doesn't believe Dad would be in danger. just arrested."
Mel sighed, "But still, getting your father arrested--"
"--I can prove he did." Prue said calmly, interrupting her twin, "Come look at this. I've been working on it for the past few days."
"In between your make-out sessions with Luke.?" Mel goaded cheekily, earning herself a scowl.
She and Cole walked over to where Prue sat with a laptop; she was sitting Indian-style on Luke's desk with the computer on her lap. "I uploaded his genetic and magical fingerprints into the system then cross-referenced them with the magical aura security feeds we get -- watch this." She told them, as she activated the program. "His is the green."
They watched; and saw a faint green wisp meander its way around the center of the screen until it finally latched itself onto something else... something more solid, larger and. purple.
"What the hell is that?" Cole asked, scowling as the purple aura guided the green wisp out of Headquarters.
"You, Dad," Prue stated, sighing as she turned off the image, "The dweeb used the fact that you share DNA to send his little message latched onto to you when you left Headquarters. If someone had been watching out for it, they would've caught it, but no one was."
Cole's jaw clenched, Mel dropped propped herself up against the desk, her eyes wide and suddenly very sad.
"I've suggested color-coding aura's twice already and no one takes me seriously." Prue complained, "It would make monitoring these feeds so much easier and effective. It's been studied that the human eye can foc--"
"--have you figured out how he got out?" Cole asked interrupting her complaint.
Prue stopped then sighed, "They underestimated him," she stated, "Watch--"
"--just tell us, Prue!" Mel snapped.
Prue rolled her eyes, closed the laptop, and set it down beside her, then looked to her father and sister, "It was too easy. It looks like he cast a cloaking spell on himself. When the guards turned around and saw the empty cell they freaked out-"
"And opened it to take a closer look," Mel finished, groaning, "God... he walked out."
"Yep, he walked; since he couldn't shimmer." Prue confirmed.
"Do you think he's with Wyatt, Daddy?"
Cole sighed, "Yeah, I do." He said wearily.
"Do you. do you think he knows Chris is there?" Mel continued.
"Yes," Cole answered, "In fact I think he knew all along."
"... he might've read it from you." Prue offered.
"His powers were never precise enough for that," Mel contradicted.
Prue shrugged, "If he's been working with Wyatt..." she left the thought unfinished.
They all considered the possibilities.
Mel suddenly scowled at her sister, "Why are you so cool about this?" she hissed.
Prue shrugged a little, running a hand through her dark hair, "Because, someone needs to be," she whispered, "You're the emotional one remember?"
Mel huffed, "I'd like company on this freaking out thing, thank you very much."
Prue smiled a little, "Naw, you've pretty much got it covered on your own." She told her sister, Mel smirked and the twins shared a moment of affection with each other.
They didn't need to say anything or even do anything, all they needed was to feel for each other, sense each other-and that was comfort enough.
After a moment, Prue turned to her father, "I think Mel and I should be the ones to go in."
Her father's eyes narrowed, "No." He said simply, emphatically.
Prue sighed, "Dad, be logical about this-"
"I am. Losing you to Wyatt is not in anyone's best interest." He interrupted her, his tone firm. "We have to be careful, Prue. The stakes are higher now. He has Chris, okay-that's bad. But Chris would never betray us. the dangerous thing is. he has Drew too and Drew's helping him. think about what that means. Drew knows The Resistance; maybe not well, but enough to put a chink in its armor. And he won't hesitate to give information out."
"But we need to get in there," Prue argued.
"How else are we going to get Chris out?" Mel finished.
Cole sighed, looking down, they weren't going to like this; but the decision had been made and he was determined to see it through.
He wasn't comfortable with it - hell, he hated it - but as Luke had pointed out-- it's what Chris would have done.
A moment later both girls gasped.
Mel shot up and glared at her father angrily, "YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS!" she roared.
He looked up meeting her gaze steadily, "I've asked you both to stay out my head."
"We didn't even have to go in, Dad." Prue said coldly, getting up to stand by her sister, "Your guilt transmitted itself to us."
He encompassed her in his heated gaze, "I don't appreciate that tone Prudence." He told her, "I'm your father you may not like my actions, but you'll sure as hell respect them."
"Respect the fact that you're abandoning our cousin in the clutches of a tyrant," his daughter countered.
Cole's eyes flashed, "It isn't like that."
"Then what the hell is it like Daddy?" Mel yelled, her eyes bright with tears. She could read her father's determination. He wasn't going in to get Chris. He was going to leave her cousin out there. "Tell me! Tell me how you can just turn your back on him! Wyatt will kill him!" she continued, her voice breaking, "If he hasn't already!"
"He hasn't." Cole responded quickly, "We'd know. It's not something Wyatt would want to keep quiet. He'd want the world to know. An example."
"So there's not retrieval mission?" Prue asked, her voice sharp.
Cole met her dark gaze, "There hasn't been for any one else."
"But this is Chris," Mel stated, the tears gone replaced by an angry scowl, "This isn't just anyone else! This is your NEWPHEW! This is CHRIS!" she repeated and Cole felt his resolve shake.
She was right.
This was Chris... but...
"No matter what, Mel, we can't risk The Resistance. It's the last hope-"
"CHRIS is the last hope!" She cut him off, her voice beginning to shake again. She couldn't get her empathy under control, it was making her volatile and she knew if she didn't' stop she'd be sick. But christ, she could feel Prue's anger and fear mixing with her own and her father's guilt and determination and indecision. all roiling around in her.
All bubbling up in tears and short suddenly gasped sobs, "He's worked so hard- Daddy we can't just... we can't just leave him...!"
Cole's resolve melted and a moment later he held one of his little girls in his arms. He didn't say anything though; didn't tell her it was going to be okay or that they'd find a way or that he'd fix it. He didn't want to lie to her.
So he just held her and pressed a kiss to the top of her dark head as she buried her face in his chest. He looked up and caught Prue's gaze.
He outstretched one arm to her and a moment he held both his little girls.
Several long moments passed as both girls clung to their father. Cole sighed softly, as he prepared to tell what the orders were.
"We haven't' been able to reach any of the agents already placed inside," he told them gently, when Mel's sobs quieted down, "... so we're going to have to do some fancy-footwork to get someone in and out; someone to pose as an emissary from one of the other states or a representative of a magical community. But the agent that goes in, isn't going to get Chris out; just collect information and bring it back." He stated, as Prue pulled back.
"But if we're getting someone in, why not just have them get Chris out...?"
"There isn't enough precise data of what's going on; of what exactly Wyatt wants with Chris. We can't assume anything; you know how unpredictable Wyatt can be. I didn't expect him to put Chris in the pseudo-Manor. It makes things more difficult."
Prue sighed, "We only have three agents in the pseudo-Manor and with the way he tightened security after Bianca they haven't been able to report back to us."
Cole's gaze sharpened, "Highly informed, aren't you?" he hissed, still bristling over her secret involvement in all this.
Prue shrugged a little, looking slightly sheepish, but her response was cut off when Mel pulled away from her father abruptly. Her gaze no longer tear-filled, but firm, "We have to do something Daddy." She stated.
Cole dropped his hands to his side and met his child's gaze, "After the information is retrieved and studied they'll have a more decisive course of action. As of right now, it looks like The Resistance will carry out several distraction missions and." he paused, the girls were already looking at him accusingly, "... and hope that Chris uses them to his advantage."
The room was silent, neither girl feeling the need to tell their father what they thought of that plan. They didn't have to, he knew.
The plan sucked.
"It's the best they can do." He whispered after a long moment, his voice hoarse, "At least that's what Luke tells me." He finished, noticing the way Prue jumped a little at the mention of the other man's name. He focused his gaze on her, "He's running the show. Chris left him in charge." He told her.
"Chris would never leave one of us."
Mel whispered the words-and they seemed to suck all the air out of the room.
It was the clincher.
The thing that had been driving Cole insane since he'd been forced to accept that he wouldn't be able to break Chris out of Wyatt's pseudo-Manor, since he'd left Wyatt's compound without his nephew, since he'd reported back to The Resistance and listened to them as they analyzed data and studied, as they set objectives and made plans-Chris would never leave one of them.
Certainly, not family, but not even members of The Resistance-- Chris would never leave them behind. It's how he'd made The Resistance such a formidable force; he plotted and he analyzed and he projected-but in the end he followed his instincts. He took risks and chances and somehow he always made it work-he was a Halliwell.
He'd chosen Luke to lead while he was gone because Luke was smart and good under-pressure; because he was responsible and reliable-and before he'd left Chris had made sure Luke understood that keeping The Resistance alive was his priority... his responsibility.
A responsibility that Chris felt was his own, as well. And in that Luke had been right-Chris would decide to leave himself behind-but he wouldn't leave others behind, that just wasn't in his nature.
Mel was right.
He swallowed hard, a lump rising in his throat, "Mel, honey, I know-"
"Never, Dad." She continued in that whispered voice, "You know it."
Cole drew in a deep breath, Mel was pulling out the big guns with that Dad, "The Resistance-"he began, but she cut him.
"I don't give a shit about the resistance, Dad. I care about Chris. my cousin. my family. we're not going to leave him. I'm not going to leave him."
Cole shook his head, "Mel, you can't-"
"I can! And I will!" She cried, "I'm not going to abandon him! And I don't see how you can!" She finished angrily, her eyes flashing with fury.
Cole's temper snapped-he wasn't the bad guy in this.
"Dammit Melinda! What do you want me to do! I'm not even officially involved in this organization! I can't order a retrieval mission! This is Luke's show, not mine! I have no say in this!"
"But I do." Prue interrupted, her voice suddenly cold, "Or I will." She stated after a moment.
"What's that supposed to mean?" he asked her, his head starting to hurt-the usual side effect of arguing with the twins. Their psychic vibes went all out of whack when they were upset; he could only take it for a little while before they made him sick.
It used to a constant joke when they were younger - Phoebe's joke - how he spoiled them rotten so they wouldn't make him sick.
"I'm gonna have a talk with Luke," she stated firmly.
Mel nodded eagerly, "Yeah, good idea. He has to understand, just tell him that-"
Cole released a long frustrated sigh as he rubbed a hand over his face. "I know this is hard for to accept-"
Prue growled, "Dad-"
"ENOUGH!" he roared her, "That's enough! The two of you have made you opinions clear; now let me make something clear to the two of you. We're basically refugees here right now, we have no rank, no authority and if you think for one minute Luke is gonna let you interfere in his decisions then you sure as hell don't know the kid well enough to be considering marriage!" Surprise flickered across her face, but Cole continued, glaring at Mel now too, "There is a chain of command around here that we are not a part of. It's true, because of who we are everyone takes our wishes and opinions into consideration, but the only person in this family who is officially part The Resistance is Chris. That means that just because we want to go in and get him out doesn't mean its going to happen. We have no say in how they run things here. We are not going to intervene with their plans." He finished harshly.
They stared at him with dark, angry eyes.
"Do you understand?" he asked, then he waited. He waited for them to understand, to accept.
Mel was the first to break her gaze away. Her eyes fell to the floor, before coming back up to his again, "What if he can't do it? What if the distractions aren't enough? He's hurt, Daddy. What if he can't do it?"
The girls made several good points... and his head was pounding… and it was Chris.
"What if he needs help?" Prue continued, her voice just as soft, just as worried, "What if he gets half way out... and then needs help?"
"Girls," he began softly, but couldn't finish. He didn't know what to say. Their words had suddenly conjured an image of an injured Chris… needing help.
Without another word he moved behind them and sat down. His mind suddenly racing, the girls' words echoing in his mind along with those of the officers he'd met with.
They claimed it was the best they could do, they couldn't risk The Resistance. Chris wouldn't want them to.
That was true. It was all true.
Sort of like how Chris hadn't wanted him to reveal his identity to the 2004 Charmed Ones. Yet he'd done that anyway, because its what had been best for the boy-because he was in charge of these kids, they were his responsibility. so why was this different?
The answer came quickly, it wasn't.
It wasn't different at all.
It was the best they could do - but it wasn't the best he could do.
They couldn't risk The Resistance - and he couldn't risk Chris.
"Dad?" Prue's voice broke into his thoughts.
"Did we make you sick?" Mel asked softly.
He smirked a little, as he stood. They were pale and a little shaky looking-they were beginning to accept.
"We can't intervene in their plans." He repeated firmly, the smirk disappearing.
Both pairs of eyes dropped the ground.
After a moment, he continued, "So we're going to have to come up with one of our own." He stated.
Their heads shot up, surprise evident on their features.
"You two wanted a chance to prove you're grown up. Here it is." He paused studying their dark eyes a moment longer, before he smirking at them, "Impress me." He challenged.
A moment later slow grins bloomed on their faces.
"I am beginning to lose my patience, Christopher." Wyatt said through gritted teeth as he stood and turned away from his brother.
Chris released a mental sigh and slowly lowered his head to the table, resting it on his hands.
After four and a half hours of keeping up civil behavior with Wyatt, his head was pounding, his shoulder throbbing, and being in an upright position for so long was wreaking havoc on his ribs-- he could practically feel them poking things they should be no where near.
The air was heavy with restrained violence.
He had goaded his brother mercilessly for the first hour, followed by the silent treatment for a while, then he'd slid into a quiet defiance, and now he was just being ridiculous; making up names and scenarios for the photos Wyatt was showing him, answering questions with nonsensical answers, ignoring pertinent ones and zeroing in on anything, but what his brother wanted to talk about. And through it all keeping his guard up and ensuring that Wyatt could read nothing from him-- not thoughts or emotions of any kind. The thoughts he did allow his brother to read were devised to create further frustration in the older man.
He was taking a huge risk, he knew that. Goading Wyatt like this; his older brother's temper tended to snap and if it did Chris wasn't sure he'd survive. He never was with Wyatt.
"I've been exceedingly patient with you-"
"Why is it whenever you're exerting your authority you start using big words like exceedingly, I mean what's wrong with the word very. "Very" is a good word." He said, forcing a light-hearted tone into his voice as he lifted his head and faced the brother that was now glaring at him.
"This village idiot routine you've been pulling for the last hour isn't going to work! Don't make me have to resort to other methods of getting what I want!"
Chris's eyes flashed. Ah, the threat-- and only four hours to get it; so much for civility. "And what is it you want Wyatt?" he asked softly.
"I want the location of your little rebellion, the founders of it-- because I know it wasn't you, the officers of it, and the names of the moles you've placed within my organization." The older man listed quickly, steadily.
"Oh, is that all?"
The sardonic question was hissed and Wyatt smirked. "No it isn't actually. I want to know why you're here-- why you came back. I want to know what your objective in the past was and the names of the people - mortal and magical, who helped you escape. I know the Valkiries had something to do with it-- they were so pissed off when I claimed all their warriors," he said off-handedly, "I want the names of the individual ones."
"To kill them of course."
"Well then, hand me a paper and pen." Chris hissed.
"Your sarcasm is not appreciated Chris," Wyatt stated disapprovingly, "I've been very. nice to you today and it would be in your best interest to just give me the information I want."
"That was quite a list of needed information… what's wrong? Intelligence Specialists of the Wyatt Regime not so intelligent?"
Blue eyes narrowed, as Wyatt clenched his fists. The urge to slam his little brother washing over him for the seemingly hundredth time during this interrogation— but once again he squelched it. Despite his brother's defiant attitude and angry eyes, the boy was still pale and occasionally wasn't able to suppress a wince of pain here and there. Slamming the kid against a wall wasn't the best way to let him to heal.
"I'm not just going to hand over people's lives to you." Chris continued and Wyatt nearly released a frustrated sigh.
They were talking themselves in circles, getting no where… and even though all they had was time— he was getting sick of waiting.
"I'm hoping you will," he stated, his eyes suddenly a colder blue, "Or else I'll have to take them."
"Sorry, but you're the only murderer in this family." He hissed.
A cold smirk crossed the blonde man's face, "Not for long..."
Chris bristled, "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"Haven't you wondered about your presence here, Chris? How I knew?" he taunted.
The younger man recoiled, as realization dawned, "No," he denied, shaking his head, then wincing at the pain, "... he wouldn't-" he continued.
"He did." Wyatt stated coldly, ignoring the flash of concern he felt when Chris winced. In the same cold tone he continued, "Of course I knew something was up when he didn't show for our training session. And then when the kids all disappeared from sight, but Drew was the one who sent me the complete message. Read it from his Dad..."
"You've developed his telepathy..." Chris murmured softly.
Wyatt remained silent. The tense stillness of the room stretched, enveloping them both.
"It doesn't matter," Chris retorted suddenly, his green gaze lifting, "You won't turn him. You know you can't."
Wyatt smirked, shrugging slightly, "I almost have."
"Almost is as close as you'll get. You know that… or you'd have him doing this." Chris stated, waving his hand over the pictures.
"He's not strong enough to get anything off the people in photos only the ones taking it." Wyatt stated, "It's why I have you doing it."
Chris snorted, "I'm not doing it and you know that's not the only reason... if he did manage to get something— it would tell him these are good people, doing good. Drew wouldn't want to get them killed."
"He wouldn't know they were going to be killed."
A flash of fury filled Chris so strong it made his chest hurt, "You'd lie to him!" he cried, "You'd trick him, wouldn't you!" He didn't need to wait for the answer, he knew it; and it mounted his fury, he shot up, sending the chair to ground and planting his palms on the table, "Damn you, Wyatt! Damn. You."
The blue eyes flashed, "Watch yourself, Chris." He warned,
"It would destroy him!" the younger man continued, barely hearing the warning as he straightened and glared daggers at his brother, "He'd find out— what he'd done, what you'd tricked him into doing… and it would destroy him. Is that what you want! To kill him! To shatter his innocence!"
"Christ Wyatt! He's your baby cousin!"
"I'm aware of that. Sit. Down. Chris."
"He looks up to you, trusts you! And you'd look him in the eye and lie to him... you'd fuckin deceive the kid! When what you're supposed to do is watch out for him--"
"What the hell do you think I'm doing?" The question cut Chris off and had him blinking at Wyatt warily. He opened his mouth to respond, but stopped when Wyatt rounded the table to step in front him.
"Don't talk to me about watching out for him, Chris. You're the one that left. You walked away! So don't fuckin stand there and tell me that I don't watch out of him, for all of them!"
"Watching out for them does not mean making them part of your regime." Chris stated, a little breathlessly. The world was becoming a little unsteady and Wyatt's words were sounding as if they came from a distance.
"You've been gone a long time, Chris. Things have changed." Wyatt said, making an effort to control the temper that was steadily rising in him. He turned away from his brother and began to slowly pace in front of the window. He barely had a grasp on it and that told him one thing for sure. It was time to draw this interview to an end— time to get what he wanted.
"Really?" Chris drawled, carefully drawing in a shallow breath and blinking away the tiny black spots that were dancing in front of him, "How? What the hell has changed so much since I left?"
"Sheep wander when the shepherd isn't paying attention." Wyatt stated, still pacing, "The world is a complacent place… people get tired of fighting. Drew just wants it all to stop."
"He hasn't wandered... you've lured him away." Chris hissed, the world wobbling around the edges.
Now it was Wyatt's turn to snort as stopped and faced his brother, "He's made his own decisions. He's chosen to be part of my Regime. I haven't forced him, haven't lied to him--"
"You've distorted the truth!"
"I've opened his eyes!"
The word reverberated around the room and robbed Chris of his last breath. For several long moments neither brother said anything, then without another word Chris sank to his knees on the marble floor as the world around him shifted and blurred. He closed his eyes, slowly leaning one hand down on the cool floor in an attempt to steady himself. Instead, he felt himself fall father as a wave of weariness washed over him.
Wyatt watched silently with a manner of detached interest until his little brother leaned his forehead on the floor and seemed to just freeze there, holding himself perfectly still.
With a quiet sigh he walked over to the slumped figure and for the second time that week kneeled down in front of him.
"This does not bode well for civility, Christopher. I didn't get what I wanted," he murmured as he smoothed the boy's hair. Chris jerked against the touch, his lashes fluttering as he vainly tried to open his eyes.
"Next time we'll have to try it the old fashioned way," Wyatt finished, the gentleness in his gesture belying the subtle threat of his words.
The lashes fluttered again and this time fever-bright green eyes looked up at Wyatt for a moment before sliding shut as the young man slipped into unconsciousness.
"… next time…" Wyatt murmured, "For now though… I suppose you're safe."
He watched them with a mix of proud awe and fond chagrin that he couldn't quite shake. They hadn't taken his challenge lightly. They were out to not just save Chris… they were out to impress him.
They'd quickly taken possession of several blue prints for Wyatt's compound as well as most of the data compiled of his personnel. They were looking for an opening, for a weak link.
"How's it goin in here?" he asked, as he entered the cell they'd made there base of operations. Luke's office had apparently been too much like sleeping with your boyfriend's best-friend, according to Prue. Mel had translated that to mean that if they were going behind his back to do something they should at the very least go behind his back out of his office. So the girls had moved down to the holding cells and in a bust of pure vindictiveness had decided to use the cell Drew had been held in.
"Good." Prue replied, "We've come up with a preliminary procedure."
"Okay," he said staring down at them, "Let's hear it."
Mel grinned, "Sit down here by us, Daddy." She told him.
Cole rolled his eyes, and conjured a chair, "Sorry, I'd rather not sit a dirt floor… especially not that dirt floor."
She laughed, "Here take a look at this…" she said, handing him a sheaf of blue print. "That circled area of the compound is only patrolled by one hover drones and two guards."
Cole studied the circled area for a moment. It was near the main house, but not particularly so. It wasn't framed by walls or trees… it was curiously sparse and pretty open. He frowned, "I can see why," he commented, "Any action taking place there would be visible from these two sectors. He can have guards from those posts converge here within the minute if he needs it. And because the area is so open it doesn't leave those areas unmonitored."
He looked up in time to see the girls exchanged triumphant grins.
His frown intensified, "What?"
"That's exactly what we were thinking." Prue stated, as she shifted some other documents around in front of her.
"Help me out here, girls. I thought the point was to get Chris out."
"It is, but not necessarily get him out undetected." Prue pointed out, "The chances of that happening are too slim. Wyatt's bound to have him under lock and key."
"We're aiming for expediency over stealth," Mel told him.
Cole processed this for a moment, "Okay…" he drawled, "But uh, stealth as you call it, is kind of important. He'll arrest you both if he catches you."
Again they grinned at him, their dark eyes sparkling and for just a moment Cole let his mind drift to his wife. They were giving him that same smug, proud look she'd give him when she had something up her sleeve.
His face cleared as he thought materialized and he drew in a long breath, "Okay, what am missing here," He asked, wryly.
"What's the one thing that the whole family knows about me and Prue, Daddy." Mel asked him earnestly.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean if you had to describe the difference between us to someone who didn't know us… how would you do it? How would anyone in our family do it? What's the one thing that everyone knows, has always known?"
He thought on that for a moment—the difference between his girls…
"You tend to let your emotions control you. Prue's more level-headed." He stated simply. It had always been that way.
Their grins widened.
"Exactly." Prue stated, her tone satisfied.
Cole shifted his gaze to her and scowled getting a little frustrated, "I came here to give you some news, but since the two of you seem so reticent in informing what you're doing, maybe I just won't tell you."
They chuckled, exchanging amused glances.
"We're gonna play Wyatt's game by his rules, Daddy." Mel informed him proudly, "He used family to get Drew. He uses family to keep us in line… we're gonna use family against him."
"The preconceptions he has of our family," Prue clarified. "He knows the difference between us as well as you do. We're going to use it."
"I'm going in—guns blazing to get Chris." Mel stated, "And while we're arguing and yelling…"
"… I'll actually be getting, Chris..." Prue continued.
"… and when he's called away for the emergency—I'll slip away." Mel finished.
It was good, he thought quickly, it might work… except for one thing.
"He won't buy it; not for one minute. The entire family knows you two always stick together."
"Not if I won't leave Chris and Prue won't help me." Mel stated, her grin faltering as her father didn't seem to like the plan. "I can make him believe it." She told him firmly.
"We can do this, Dad." Prue interrupted. "We haven't gotten everything down yet, but we will. And we'll do it."
Her voice was steady and Cole drew in another long breath. God, what was his problem? These were Phoebe's girls… they could handle this.
He grinned, "Yeah, yeah…" he murmured and watched as they both visibly relaxed.
"So what's your news?" Mel asked.
"Chris sent us a message that he's okay."
Mel jumped a little, "Really? When? How?"
"Yes. This morning. That's the interesting part…" he told them, "The message didn't come from any of our informants, or from him directly…"
Prue frowned, "Then from who?"
He smirked a little, "Your guess is as good as mine."
"He turned someone," she said softly after a moment, a slow grin spreading across her face.
Mel chuckled lightly as she shook her head ruefully, "And we're freakin out—because why?" she asked in general.
Prue shrugged lightly, "Ya got me? I mean, after all, he did train us." She murmured, "We should have remembered that."
Mel nodded, "I suddenly feel a lot better about all this." She stated softly, her eyes glowing.
"About all what, exactly?"
The voice startled all three occupants and they whirled to face the cell entrance. Luke stood there, staring at them with a dark expression on his face.
Cole stood, the girls remained on the ground, staring up at him with suddenly mutinous expressions.
"You don't have to worry about it." Cole told the younger man. Luke's gaze briefly met Prue's before lifting to Cole's.
"If it's going on at this base I have to worry about it." He stated, then lowered his gaze and studied all the documents spread out in between Prue and Mel. A moment later he looked to Cole again, "And if it involves documents that are officially mine then I have a right to know."
For a moment Cole considered pulling his bully act again; but he hesitated. This wasn't personal, this was business; and as he'd told the girls when it came to The Resistance, Luke was in charge. He met the man's gaze and almost laughed as he realized what he had to do.
With a quick smirk he took a step back and looked down at the girls. When they looked up at him, he arched an eyebrow and waited for them to realize what he was telling them—this was their show.
It took them a moment, but they understood and quickly scrambled to their feet; masks of determination settling over two sets of identical features.
The urge to laugh came again when they turned to face Luke—the poor guy didn't stand a chance.
"You need to chill," Prue hissed, ignoring the commander of the Resistance and addressing her boyfriend, "Your precious, official papers are fine."
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"Not your business."
"If this is about Chris, you don't have to bother. We've got the situation under control." Luke told them, resisting the urge to flinch when the anger in her dark gaze seemed to intensify.
"You're under control leaves a lot to be desired," Mel stated, drawing his gaze to her, "… but don't worry, Prue and I will pick up your slack."
Cole winced at his daughter's jibe—that one had to hurt the guy's pride. With the smirk still on his face, he settled back against the wall and crossed this arms—this was better then a movie.
"You can't interfere in our operations." Luke told her through gritted teeth.
Prue arched an eyebrow, "Who said we would?" she asked.
He shifted and met her gaze; Cole shook his head sadly—bad move. You couldn't meet their eyes when they were determined to do something you didn't want them too—it was a basic rule. Poor, poor naïve soul, he'd have to learn how to manage Halliwell women better than that if he hoped to survive in their world.
"Prue." He said firmly. "I don't want you involved in any of this."
"Luke." She stated in the exact tone. "You don't get a say in this. He's family."
"Don't be stubborn. I care about Chris too, and we're going to do the best we can, but--"
"You do that, Luke." She cut him off, then after a moment added, "And so will we."
He started a little, then his face became worried. Aw, Cole thought, wishing he had popcorn, Luke was concerned. The girls were going to take that so well.
"You're going to stay out of this Prue." He ordered, "This is my operation. I don't need your interference."
"You didn't mind my interference before," she spit out.
"That was different, that was Intel. This is dangerous." He stated.
"And you don't think I can handle it, is that it?" she asked hotly.
Cole sighed softly; the kid was crashing and burning here.
"You don't think I'm capable of anything, but analyzing data?"
Luke shook his head, "No, that's not what I'm saying…"
"Then what are you saying?" Mel asked softly. "Because it seems like you're telling Prue that she's not skillful enough to handle a mission on her own."
Ah, Mel. The Instigator.
Poor Luke was getting played—a coke during this show would be good too.
Luke's gaze transferred to Mel and his eyes took on a suddenly panicky quality, "That is notwhat I'm saying." He said firmly, then looked to Prue, "That is not what I'm saying." He repeated.
The girls were silent, waiting; and Cole could practically see the beads of sweat popping out on Luke's brow. Poor kid, he'd gone about this the wrong way. Later… maybe after his first grandchild was born, Cole would teach him how to manage Halliwell women.
"I just don't want you to get hurt." The younger man told Prue after a long pause, his eyes sincere. Prue sighed, as her lips quirked it a frustrated smirk.
It was Mel who answered though, her voice lightly taunting, "I hate to break it to ya, Luke; but uh, we're trained to do this. While you were playing little league we were taking Tai-Kwan-Do, learning to write spells, practicing potion making, and training our powers… and yes, that's taking into account our age difference."
Cole winced again, jeez, Mel was bringing out the claws.
"We know what we're doing," Prue continued, her tone no less firm, but a bit gentler. She took a step towards him, "You've never seen us in action. When Chris left he told us to keep a low profile, so we have. Dad doesn't like for us to get involved in vanquishes and you kept us out of the fighting in The Resistance… I can understand why it bothers you to think of us actually doing something. But remember who we are Luke. It's in our blood."
"You don't have any experience--"
"It doesn't matter. We won't fail."
"You shouldn't be trying."
"We have to." She retorted, "This isn't business for us. This isn't another mission… this is personal, family. Let us handle it."
He stared at her for a long moment and Cole could practically see him caving. Of course, there was no reason why Luke shouldn't cave. After all he'd caved and he'd been dealing with Halliwell women for a lot longer.
"I can't let you interfere with our operations, Prue." Luke whispered, "I just can't. Whatever you're planning… if it interferes with us..."
"It won't." She cut him off. "Trust me." She whispered back.
And Cole smiled, pushing away from the wall as he straightened—that was it. Game over. Luke had lost.
He watched the younger man swallow hard, then nod slowly, "Fine… just… be careful okay."
Prue smiled, "Always."
Luke didn't smile back, "I mean it Prue. That cocky—it's-in-our-blood-attitude—will only get you so far. Wyatt will have mercy on you if he catches you… but first he'd have to know you'd been caught; and the time between when he knows and when you are—it can be very dangerous for you."
"Don't worry about us." She comforted, "We'll be okay."
Luke eyed her for a moment before nodding again. "Fine. But I'm not happy about this." He grumbled.
Prue's smile widened and she crossed the distance between them. "Aw, poor baby." She murmured and reached up to give him a kiss.
Cole's arms dropped to his side and he cleared his throat roughly—that was so not something he needed to see.
Mel giggled, "Come on Daddy. Have you missed the way they've been swapping spit for the last four days?" She murmured, all sweetness and light now that they'd gotten what they wanted.
Prue pulled back and turned to glare at her sister, "God Mel, do you have to be so… crude about it!"
Her sister just laughed and turned those laughing eyes on Luke, "Okay, so we're done here?" she asked him, "You understand that we're working on our own thing and that you can go ahead with your little distraction missions without worrying that we'll interfere?"
He sighed roughly; "Yeah, I understand…" he grumbled then shot Cole a resentful look, "How are you letting them do this?"
The older man shrugged, sharing a conspiratorial look with his daughters, "I'm in the mood to be impressed." He murmured.