…It's been 6 years since I started this story. Three since I updated. Going back to reread the past chapters, it's amazing how far I've come. I get extreme flashes of embarrassment going back and reading some chapters, authors notes…however, I know this story was much loved when it came out. I think this is primarily because of Chris angst, and me having a first-hand knowledge of what Chris fans like. I can say nothing for the quality of the story till now, but I hope that these last three or four chapters can show a great improvement.
To return to the manor was far too great a danger that night. They had no way of knowing if their mother was still in the midst of her manic rage, and neither was too willing to venture home to check. Surely by now she was at least calming, with the object of her repulsion far away from her, but having Wyatt go after him couldn't have been any comfort to the witch.
Instead, Chris offered up his own home for this adventure in brotherly spell-casting. All it took was an address, and Wyatt new instinctively where to orb them. It impressed Chris, really; this power was one so overwhelming to him. It sounded so simple; close your eyes and be anywhere you want to be, but in reality, it was more like, close your eyes and hope you end up where you were intending. So to see Wyatt flit them so effortlessly into a state, a house that he had never even seen before was remarkable, and actually intimidated the younger Halliwell a bit.
As the fluttering white lights faded into the darkness of the living room, Chris felt another not so pleasant emotion, one he was reluctant to label as shame, but…the family manor in San Francisco was towering, a beautifully preserved example of high Victorian architecture and taste. Compared to the glistening stained glass, hand carved crown molding and sprawling floor plan, the cramped apartment he'd grown up in seemed lackluster and grimy.
Immediately, he shuttled Wyatt into his bedroom, not wanting him to see the second-hand furniture that adorned their home. His bedroom really wasn't any more impressive or luxe, but at least in there he could blame the lack of wealth on personal taste.
For his part, though, Wyatt didn't seem to notice the worn carpet with orange juice stains, or the aphgans tossed on the backs of chairs to hide the holes. How could he give a rats ass about décor when his baby brother was sitting just a foot away from him on the same bed?
Raised in a richly magical environment, by women intoned with the laws of nature, destiny and revelation, he was able to easily slip into the role of brother. The closeness might not be there yet, for really, he didn't know this young man, but blood called to blood, and the pull was undeniable. He wondered if Chris could feel it to? He sat so stiff, so unsure, the shiny, pretty newness evaporating and leaving doubt and awkwardness in its wake.
Of course, he was sure their mom's recent conniption fit in the attic wasn't helping to ease him into the family.
"Chris…listen. I don't know what happened back there, with Mom…but I want you to try and understand, that wasn't Piper. I don't know who that was, but I've never seen her like that before. She always loved you…"
Chris was sitting uncomfortably as he 'listened' to his brother. He couldn't blame him for this compulsive need to defend her behavior; where Chris only had a fantasy to cling to for 16 years, Wyatt had a lifetime of love, security and kindness to compare this fit to. Perhaps this explosion of hatred WAS truly out of character for Piper Halliwell, but why would it matter to Chris? It made no difference what she was like last week, or last decade. All he had was that one experience.
Wyatt continued. "I mean it, Chris. That…that scared me, actually, and I don't scare easy. Even Dad seemed unsure what was going on. I bet he's going right now to go check with the Elders!" he chuckled, but it was fleeting as it was instantly obvious Chris didn't get the family in-joke. "A-anyway…we're going to figure it out, ok? Something happened when you were a baby, and I'm stil not convinced Piper's been acting on her own impulses. I promise we'll fix this."
Chris was quiet, looking away the moment it was safe to without missing words. He crossed his now seemingly tiny room to rummage through his desk. In the middle drawer he withdrew a plain, blue notebook; his spellbook. He felt more embarrassed at the half-assed magical rhymes contained in these pages than anything else in the house, so he hurriedly flipped the first blank page before handing it to his brother, ballpoint pen contained in the spiral.
Wyatt could easily sense that Chris wasn't up for excuses for his mother's scathing, hurtful words. He wanted an answer, not defenses. Hell, that's what he deserved, even. To know why Piper had left him…Wyatt felt he deserved to know too. A small seed of resentment had already started to grow roots in his emotions, feeling the unfairness of being lied to his whole life, being told his little brother he barely remembered was long dead at the hands of demons…were his aunts behind this too? Father? He doubted it, and hoped that doubt wasn't just wistful thinking.
He tapped the pen against the blank paper for only a few moments before words came to him. He scribbled furiously over the pages, minding his penmanship only enough to be legible.
Behind him sat Chris, watching with an almost hungry gaze as he wrote. His own spells were adequate, but his was a witchcraft practiced with a spice rack on his bedroom floor. He could transport himself, float object around his room, and locate his missing things, but he'd never written a spell for anything so adventurous.
Wyatt, however, had been raised in a home steeped in magic, and it was no surprise to Chris that he knew how to construct a spell. However, it seemed to be a very stiff, formal sort of construction. He wasn't sure if that was how it worked best, but Wyatt's words were very plain, to the point and seemed to have very little room for creative license. Perhaps his own superfluous writing and thesaurus abuse in his own spells weakened their effectiveness for something as powerful as what they were going to attempt, but they worked, and he felt they had a lovely ring to them.
Several times Wyatt began a spell only to cross it out as a failure, though he noted that each new attempt carried some hint of the previously rejected line. It was evolving with each new beginning, a process Chris found fascinating.
"This is…going to be safe, right?" Chris asked, seeing the words before him and realizing how treacherous a tri this could be.
Wyatt waved his hand dismissively. "Oh, sure. I've been on excursions like this with the aunts. Trust me; once you've time traveled, making yourself an observer into someone's thoughts is a bake sale."
Time travel! And he spoke of it so casually! Chris shook his head to clear it, focusing instead on the spell being borne from his pen.
Finally Wyatt capped the pen with a flourish and drew his knees up to sit crosslegged, as Chris was.
"You ready little brother?" he grinned, tearing the page from the perforated notebook.
Chris opened his mouth to affirm he was, but not without effort. WAS he ready? Just days ago he'd been casting a spell he didn't remember casting, meeting a brother he didn't remember meeting. He'd been normal, hungry to know his family, but without this new knowledge that he'd been unwanted. Now here he was, with aforementioned brother, getting ready to cast a spell to relive his bitch mother's memories.
How did one mentally prepare for something like that?
"I…spose I am. As much as I'll ever be."
Wyatt took that as confidence. Or at least as much as his nerve-shaken brother could produce at the time. He turned to wrap his arm around his thin shoulders, and held the page before them, where they could both see. Hearts pounding, especially Chris's they began to recite.
Spinning and whirling and lights flickering past his closed eyes, flashes of brilliance reduced to a fireworks display through clenched eyelids. The dizzying thrum of magic surrounded the pair, warm and wrapping yet terrifying all in the one instant it took to cast the spell. Chris half expected to open his eyes and find himself in the land of Oz, little witchy munchkins scurrying about their feet. Perhaps with a house crushing them. It could happen.
Instead, they "landed" without much fanfare. No jolting stop, no jerking motions. They were just sort of…there.
Wherever there was.
Wyatt instantly recognized the attic, and Chris's own few memories placed it soon enough. It looked…different though. It was still full of junk, but it was different junk. The same rusted bedframe was there, and the same books that no one ever read, but everything else seemed out of place.
This wasn't what Chris noticed though. He had nothing to compare to. The attic, despite being a spiritual hub for the Halliwells, was only a vague image in his mind. Besides, he was far too entranced by a far, blank wall.
It was a plain wall. Had some trunks stacked up near it, a dressmakers dummy to one side, butother than that…it was just a wall. Still, there was something about it that seemed to draw him near, and he couldn't break his gazed away from the dusty planks. It drew him, captivated him.
While Chris was so enamored by a wall, Wyatt had his own images to be connected to. Beyond the odd arrangement of family cast off's, there was something in the musty, dust filled room that was even stranger.
There was his aunt Phoebe, and his aunt Paige…red headed. Aunt Paige hadn't been red since he was in middle school, and that was cherry. This was more of a Weasley orange…but worse than that, it just…wasn't his aunt Paige. Just as that aunt Phoebe just wasn't his aunt Phoebe. Or rather, not as he knew them. They looked so…smooth faced. Undyed. YOUNG.
He heard them speaking, but for some reason their words didn't seem to be reaching his ears. Something about Greek gods, about heat waves, but it wasn't settling into his mind. It was like when he'd drift away in History class, where he knew vaguely what was being discussed, but it carried no weight, and he couldn't focus.
"Chris? Are you seeing this?" he tapped his brother on the shoulder. Still, Chris's attention was somewhere else, still seemed to be frozen on that far wall, as though expecting it to open into Narnia at any moment.
Sluggish. Dazed. That's how they both felt. It was a feeling unlike anything that Wyatt had felt before, no matter where in magical time he'd been. If he had to pinpoint it, it was like being in a pool of water. Crystal clear, perfectly still, but insolated, suffocating.
It dulled the senses. Eventually it seemed even Chris was noticing how out of place he was feeling. He tore his eyes away from that mystical wall long enough to look around, and move a step closer to his brother.
"Wyatt…we're back at the manor, aren't we?"
The blond nodded slowly, and he too moved closer to Chris, almost protectively. "But it's not right, Chris. This isn't…just look at Paige, and Phoebe…they barely look older than us."
Chris nodded vaguely, but turned his attention away again the moment things got…weirder.
Wyatt supposed he should have been shocked and surprised, seeing a woman appear in a whirlwind in the attic. Any other time in his life he'd have leapt into fighting witch action and spell casted her ass, but now he seemed only vaguely concerned as powers flew and flung across the room, seeming to skin right past and through them but not touching, never scarring.
He hated this heavy, detached feeling. This was his family, his loved ones! How could he feel so uncaring as he watched his aunts fighting this thing?
Perhaps it was the knowledge that this was obviously the past. Something that had happened, something that didn't effect him…
No, no…nothing seemed to unsettle him until that wall of Chris's? Finally DID open.
A flash of blue light, and suddenly everything seemed to truly come into focus as a man came flying full sprint through the wall. Tall, thin, with long dark hair…he was about 5 years older, perhaps even less, but neither brother could mistake that it was Chris they saw joining the fray.
"I'm Chris…Chris Perry. I'm…from the future."
That was him. Those were his eyes, his build, his ways of walking, moving and speaking. It unsettled Chris, at a completely core level. This…this wasn't conjuring up a light show to put him to sleep at night. It was [ranking his teachers a la Matilda with moving chalk. No, this was a magic far beyond what he could understand. And it chilled him.
"Wyatt…what am I doing here? I mean, there…in this time…I'm not that old!" his thoughts ran wild, trying to find a way to make this make sense.
According to Wyatt, and what he saw, they were in the past, their aunts being so young…but that couldn't be. That didn't make sense, to either of them. That was Chris. There was no one else it COULD be. He was older, yes, but it was him. Perry…that was Chris's middle name.
And seemingly at the same time, both brothers seemed to finally realize what this...other Chris had just said.
"The…future?" Wyatt stammered, looking between the two men before him. "You…you're a time traveler?"
"I don't remember that…" Chris murmured, still dazed.
"No, you wouldn't. You haven't done it yet." Wyatt said, remarking on his age.
"But apparently I have."
"He has, but you haven't. You will. I guess."
"But he's me…"
Silence fell between the two, both tryong to ward off the overwhelming confusion of the situation.
"Let's get this straight," Wyatt began, taking a deep breath. "We decided to go back into Piper's, mother's, memories…and we went to the past. Where a future version of yourself has just arrived…"
"But then…where's Mom?" Chris ventured, deciding to solve the easiest oddity of the moment.
Both looked about the attic. That was…a very good point, thought Wyatt.
"We cast the spell to see mother's memories…I don't understand why we're not seeing things from her point of view."
Wyatt shrugged. "The Powers that Be are assholes," he declared, as though it was a well worn and practiced phrase. "Perhaps witchcraft wanted us to have more than one view here."
Chris shook his head, he didn't care. He was too enthralled watching this man…the other him? The other Chris? Himself? Oh good God he didn't care.
Soon enough, ironically, was Piper, walking in through the attic doorway. Wyatt felt his breath catch; she looked so much like she did now, as he remembered her, but…so young. Beautiful. And with just as high strung a voice as he recalled.
But they apparently weren't meant to last long here. That same whirling, twisting, churning wind struck up again, sweeping them away from the attic, away from their mother, away from…Chris, in a way.
Too bad their confusion couldn't be left behind as well.
P3. Wyatt had spent so many days growing up playing here before hours. Right now, it seemed to be empty, save for what looked like the janitor making rounds, polishing tables and emptying wastebaskets.
"Where is this?" Chris asked once he got himself orientated.
"Mother runs a nightclub," Wyatt answered, knowing it would be enough to explain. Suddenly those barstool looks so welcome. He lead Chris over and both sat down, enjoying taking the weight off their feet and wishing it would take off their minds as well.
Both sat quietly for a time, trying to make sense of what they had just seen. A time traveler. Chris was a time traveler. Or would be…was? He didn't know. And now their spell was running haywire…he didn't want to share this small anxiety with Chris, this risk that something had gone wrong. He hadn't been lying; it was likely that the magic was taking it's own course to give them an answer, but demon intervention was always an option.
Before they had a chance to speak again, the janitor did it for them, speaking to Chris. But not the 17 year old one; the one in his mothers office.
Wyatt was the one who heard the voice, and yanked a now befuddled Chris to his feet and dragging him to the office, where he knew they wouldn't be seen. Both witches watched in the same dense fog as Chris once again stood before them, early twenties and looking the same yet not.
Chris could see the differences. This man was him, but he looked so unhealthy, so…haunted, he supposed. If this was him, it was a him he didn't recognize.
"Wyatt…there's something wrong with him. That's not me."
"…Time travel is difficult, Chris. I don't know if I can explain it. It is you just it's a past you from the future…I'll explain it when you're older!" he finally dismissed in desperation.
Neither said another word as the wind gusted once again to scoop them away.
Flashes. That seemed to be all they were getting now. Their first stops had been only windows into a world they didn't remember, but now everything was even quicker. The wind never seemed to quiet. Desperately they clung to each other, bonded more from fear and confusion than a brotherly bond yet.
Voices, more than anything, seemed to echo around them, which shook Chris deeper than any of the flashes they got. It had been years since he truly hear a human voice not raised in anger and fear. It echoed through his head, as though he was simply understanding, more than hearing.
"I'm from the future…I can't tell you that. You cant know. You shouldn't know…you don't know what it was like…the world I came from? You were dead…she died…she dies when I turned 14…"
His voice, as best as he recalled it, grown and mature and he wanted nothing more right now than to block it out. So many years spent wishing to hear, wanting to hear, and now he wanted to close his ears and be enveloped in the silence of his world. More on instinct than anything, he buried his head into Wyatt's chest, terrified of the images surrounding him. That was him, a sword held to his throat by a man he now knew as his father. Him, lying sick, from an illness he couldn't name. Arrows leaving gaping wounds, a voice that should be familiar, telling him she never wanted to see him again…words he should have realized years ago.
Faster, stronger the wind screamed, and neither of the two could believe that anything could be heard over it's howling. But magic wasn't constricted to the binds of logic. This was in their head, it seemed. But that didn't make it any less frightening.
Both clung to each other, Wyatt's straggly curls whipping around his eyes, forcing them closed, yet still he saw. He saw Mother yelling at Chris, telling him to get out of her house. A woman dressed in gothic black, fingernails like claws, and Chris's own eyes glistening over black. Anger raging through him, screaming at someone, that they didn't know him…
After what seemed like hours standing strong against this onslaught, the wind whistled into silence as quickly as it had been brought up. And finally they found themselves back into the attic. Just like before though, something was terribly amiss here. It was dark, yet far too clean. No dust was collected over the trunks, cobwebs had all been swept away…
But there, again, stood Chris, side by side with a beautiful young woman, adorned in leather and brass.
"Do…do you know her, Chris?" he asked softly, as though afraid to be heard. He knew it was impossible, but this tension in the attic air was too thicj to ignore, too suffocating.
He shook his head. He'd never seen her before.
A set of footseps. Several, actually, all slow and in line. Chris followed Wyatt's anxious gaze to the other side of the attic, and instantly balked at the intimidating row of demons that stood there. He'd never actually met one, but their aura was unmistakable to a witch.
But it was who stepped forward between these henchmen that chilled the Halliwell brothers. Slow, measured footsteps, and into the light came a man broad, tall, and powerful, someone who undoubtedly wielded a great deal of magic. But just like the Chris on their right wasn't the Chris at present, neither was this, Wyatt.
His thick tangle of dirty blonde curls was unmistakable, as were his eyes, his handsome face…but other than that, he as almost totally unrecognizable. The magical energy in the room seemed to crackle and spark as the demonic henchmen shimmered out, leaving just the two brothers in the attic, and the young woman standing behind.
Anxiety settled in between the two travelers, watching these…counterparts…standing before each other, tension filling the air.
"Wyatt…what the hell is going on here?" he didn't expect an answer though. One look at Wyatt's face told the nervous boy that his newfound brother didn't have any answers here.
Before them, the two men spoke. They exchanged words of betrayal, scathing, snide insults. There was bitterness in their words, voices that reached even Chris's deafened ears as he stood glued to Wyatt's side.
"I think this is…your time, Chris. Or his time. Future time." He murmured.
Chris shook his head contrarily. "That's. NOT. Me!" he asserted again. And it wasn't. He knew this, strongly and with everything he knew. And that wasn't Wyatt either.
"-I'd kill them on the spot!" came Not-Wyatt's angry, threatening voice. The other Chris just spat back, and Chris couldn't help but notice he was a bit of a bitch. And not very smart-guarded, it seemed, considering a moment later he was on his knees, gasping for breath.
It haunted Wyatt, seeing this. He didn't know Chris. He barely met him days ago, yet the thought of doing what this other him was doing, strangling him, hurting him…he wouldn't do that. This may have been the future, but it wasn't theirs.
"Dad always taught me," Wyatt began slowly, "that for every choice we make in life, there's 100 we didn't make. And each of those choices makes it's own world…"
Chris looked up at him questioningly. "Are you saying that's what this is? Some other world?" Wyatt shrugged. "But then…what choice did this branch off of? You ever wake up one morning and decide to be an evil, homicidal bastard?" a little harsh, but that's what happenes when one sees himself flung across the room into a painful looking pile.
Wyatt's answer was drowned out, though, in that now familiar wind.
Piper. Finally, after all this time, their mother finally was before them. The woman they'd intended on tailing, but had seen only in glimpses.
She sat in a nursery, adorned with Pooh Bear and other soft plushies, holding a dark haired newborn baby. Once again, another Chris…but they felt sure this was the Chris currently present.
She was smiling. So happy, cooing and rocking her child in her arms…such a change from the madwoman they'd seen earlier that night. That…that wasn't what Piper apparently felt for her son. This woman smiled, she seemed happy, cuddling Chris.
Chris…Wyatt looked to his side, trying to gauge his brothers reaction. This wasn't fair to him, and he knew it. It would kill HIM, he knew, to have gone through what Chris went through, and see a tantalizing view of how it could have been different. What had happened? What could have changed?
Sure enough, Chris's green eyes betrayed what his stoic face tried to conceal. A deepset pain and bitterness.
Silence. Murmurs. Coos. Then, from behind them, a voice. Deep, menacing and it sent a chill down Wyatt's spine as it rung so closely to his own.
III'm just gonna…leave this here...walk away slowly…see what you think.