AN: Thanks a million to those who stuck with this till the bitter end. You're my inspiration, my motivation and my teachers.
Challenge: There are old song lyrics buried in here. Anyone can find them wins a point ;)
Cole glanced up from the case file he was reviewing in time to see his nephew come running over to the small café table, a guilty look on his face. The half-demon sighed, put down his paper and leaned back in his chair, lifting a brow in question.
"Sorry, sorry. I know I'm late," Chris apologized sitting down at the seat and grabbing hold of the menu resting on the glass top. He quickly flipped through it, found something that sounded remotely appetizing and then put the menu back down. When he looked up, it was to see Cole still giving him a look. "What?"
"You. Boy College."
Chris shrugged. "I may be King of the magical community, but I still have to earn a living in this one."
"So, you find a job yet with that stupid ass degree of yours?"
Chris ignored the jab at his literature degree. "Finding a job straight out of school makes fighting demons look easy."
"Fighting demons is not easy," Cole argued. "It's fun. There's a difference."
His nephew chuckled. "Right. Cause I do so enjoy the constant attacks, the near death experiences, and less than witty banter."
"You live for it."
Surprise suddenly filled Cole's face. He masked it quickly before turning his attention back to his friend. "I need some ice cream."
"Go get me some ice cream from that shop over there."
"I'm not the one with the random sweet tooth. Get it yourself."
"I said you. Now get me that ice cream now damn it."
Chris, taken back by the tone and volume of his Uncle's request finally shook his head and succumbed to his errand boy status. "What kind?"
"You're insane, you know that?"
Cole paused a moment to consider this. "Actually, not since before you were born."
Chris rolled his eyes before reluctantly rising from his seat and heading over to the small ice cream parlor next door. He glanced down at the colorful sign with the various flavors listed on it. He wondered exactly what a psychotic former Source of All Evil preferred for his ice cream cone– Strawberry Sensation or Chocolate Mint Meltdown. He smiled as he caught the last name on the list: Devil's Fudge. Perfect.
The young man's head whipped up at the sound of the voice. When his eyes landed on the owner of the voice, they nearly fell out of his head just on principle. Bianca. She was standing at the counter with a waffle cone filled with Chocolate Mint Meltdown. She was here. She was back.
Chris glanced over to the table to see Cole, hands behind his head smiling like the Cheshire Cat. He wasn't sure whether to kill him or bow down at his feet.
"Bianca," the young man greeted, "Hey."
"Hey," she repeated, a small smile tugging at her lips. "What a nice surprise."
"So, you do think it's nice?" Chris asked, a tinge of the bitterness he'd been harboring for so long slipping off his tongue.
Bianca let out a breath. "I deserve that. You probably hate me for what I did."
"No," Chris answered, his eyes intense as they stared into her brown. He added with just a gaze what he refused to admit with words: I still love you.
The message was heard. The woman licked her lips nervously as she pushed her hair back behind her ears. "So, how have you been?"
"Good. I just graduated."
"That's really great, Chris. So what are your plans now?"
Chris, still staring her right in the face, bluntly asked, "You want to go out sometime?"
The woman, clearly caught off guard, blinked in surprise, trying to process the situation. It wasn't everyday that a Phoenix was caught in an unpredicted circumstance. Their lives were about strategically analyzing every possible outcome of every situation so as to properly defend themselves from danger, accomplish their missions. However, right in this moment, she couldn't predict anything. This wasn't the Chris she remembered. Either Chris really. The old Chris would have spoken with the confidence and boldness this man did, but in his eyes, there was unreserved emotion, a clarity and lightness that never existed in his other version. He didn't hold himself like a man on constant guard like the old him, but she could feel that he was alert for threats just as the old Chris would have been. It seemed Chris had grown up into the man he was supposed to be...a perfect blend of who he had been, and who he was destined to become.
"Yes," Bianca answered at long last.
"Good," Chris said. He gave her a lopsided grin, "Tomorrow at 7?"
"Sure, I'll give you my address."
"Don't need it," the man replied, "whitelighter thing. Just be ready at 7."
Without another word, he left, taking his place back at the table with Cole, leaving Bianca to stare after his retreating form. He certainly wasn't a boy anymore...
"So, now I'm basically running the place," Bianca finished her story before taking another bite of her pasta.
It was seven thirty the next day at Charmed, the restaurant owned by one Piper Halliwell. The table was lined with a beautiful silver cloth. The lights were on low. The food bursted with robust flavor. The only problem was that Chris was bored out of his head.
Chris nodded, leaning back in his chair. "So, how much longer are we going to do this?"
"Do what?" the woman asked.
"Pretend like we don't already know everything there is to know about each other."
"We don't," Bianca argued. "It's been a long time, Chris."
"Not what I meant. I mean, come on, Bianca, is this small talk shit really necessary? I know everything I need to know about you. I know how you can only sleep on the left side of the bed, that you cry at movies where animals get hurt, but would deny it. I know how when you lie your nostrils flare a little bit, and when you're really sleepy you play with your hair."
He leaned closer, his voice dropping. "I know that you have the knowledge to kill in over thirty different ways without using either of your hands. I also know every spot on your body that drives you crazy. . .like the one on your inner thigh..."
Bianca blushed, her breath catching as a memory of a different Chris teased that very spot with expert ability. She could practically feel his hands on her. A little rough from so many fights, but more gentle than any other lover she'd known or imagined. She cleared her throat. "Those are just details."
"Do you love me?"
For the second time in two days, the man had taken her by surprise. She should have known that if anyone could it would be Chris. She opened her mouth to argue that she couldn't possible know. The truth was she'd known for years. The question became was it real this life or simply based off the other one?
"Stop thinking about it," he ordered. "Just answer."
"How can I not think about it?" she shot back. "Love isn't something that you can just jump into blindly, Chris. I know what I feel, but I still don't know where it comes from. When I'm with you, my life doesn't make sense. I don't make sense. The memories and the feelings...they're not mine."
Chris smiled softly. "That's where you're wrong. It is you. It is as much apart of you, as my past lives are part of me. It was you then just as it is you now. You can't separate yourself from that part of you. You'd drive yourself crazy if you tried. Now, I'm going to make this real easy for you. I love you. I've never stopped. I couldn't. So the question goes back to you: Do you love me?"
Bianca would have thought her instinct would have been to run. In a way it was– only it ended up being toward the man sitting in front of her rather than away. Instead of running as far away from him as possible every part of her screamed to run into his arms and never leave them.
"I always have," the Phoenix answered. "I couldn't stop either."
"Then let's get out of here," Chris replied, holding out his hand to her.
Bianca knew just what he had in mind, and she was both terrified and excited in a way she had never known.
Two hours later. . .Clothes were scattered all over the floor of Chris's bedroom in the apartment he shared with his brother. Bianca's blue blouse was lying haphazardly over the lamp, conveniently adding a romantic blue light to the room that made it feel as though moon light were engulfing the two lovers as they lay covered only in a thin white sheet on the bed, their legs entwined.
Bianca snuggled her head closer to Chris' bare chest, smiling as she heard his heartbeat strong and steady. She closed her eyes contentedly. "I could stay like this forever."
"Me too," he agreed, kissing the top of her head. "This is what we dreamed of having. Just you and me in a world that we could actually raise a family in."
"A family huh?" the woman quirked a brow at him.
Chris smiled, "I don't mean right this second. Stop panicking."
"Oddly enough," the woman replied, "I'm not. I've spent one life with you. The idea of spending this one in your arms too sounds perfect."
"Guess you aren't afraid of what you feel anymore, huh?"
Bianca laughed, "Guess not."
With a more serious air, her deep brown eyes gazed up into his face. She let out a sigh of pure contentment, her hand reaching up to his cheek, her thumb stroking it lightly. Her lips slowly curled up as his eyes closed, his head leaning into her touch. Her voice was soft as she ventured, "It's like we never were apart, isn't it?"
Green eyes glowed brightly in the mystical light of the room. "We're both different now. The important things are the same– who we are intrinsically, the things that carry over from one life to another. But, we are different. I mean, we've got whole new lives now."
"Sometimes, I feel like the me from this life doesn't exist. Like it's just the old Bianca in here. Does that make sense?"
"Perfect," Chris responded, wrapping his arm around her, pulling her back against him. He rested his head on hers. He smiled as he smelled her hair– a honey odor– just as before. "Think of it this way. It's like reincarnation. You aren't battling with another person. It's you. It's just you that came before. Since you lived one life already, it will influence this one heavily. For example, say you fell off a horse and died in one life. In the next one, you'd probably hate horses. That doesn't mean that you're still that same person, but it's bound to have an impact. Get it?"
Bianca nodded. "Like if I knew a man I loved in one life loved when my haired smelled of honey, I might be drawn to honey conditioner this time around?"
"Yeah, something like that," Chris replied with a laugh.
"Why is it that when I'm with you this doesn't seem to terrify me nearly as much? It wasn't like that last time I saw you."
"I was just a kid then. You were right about that much. I wasn't ready. Everything just sort of fell on my plate at once, and as much as I hate to say it...you were right to go. It wouldn't have worked back then."
The woman's fingers moved to entwine with his. "I'm sorry I hurt you."
"I'll spend the rest of my life making it up to you."
The young man gazed down at her. "Are you suggesting what I think you're suggesting."
"Yeah. I am."
"Are you sure? I mean, it was just tonight that you were so scared of what you were feeling..."
Bianca grinned, "I want to finish what we started, Chris. More than anything."
The witchlighter smiled widely before capturing his lovers lips with his own, pulling her tightly against him. It wasn't long before the two lovers were buried under the sheet, laughing like children but rolling like thunder under the cover.
Cole glanced over to Leo and shook his head. "You're crazy. There's no way they're going to win."
"Care to make a little wager on that, Cole?" the former Elder asked, wagging his brows in the former Source's direction.
Wyatt shook his head. "Mom's not going to like you betting on the game..."
Leo waved him off. "What your mother doesn't know won't hurt her."
The former Source and the former Elder clanked their beer bottles together in cheers.
"Now," Cole started, "twenty bucks?"
"Make it twenty-five," Leo amended.
"Neh-eh," Piper interrupted, coming into the room and setting the bowl of chips down on the table. "There will be no gambling. You boys can't watch the game nicely I'll turn it off."
Wyatt smirked at his father, his eyebrows wiggling in a silent I told you so.
Phoebe chuckled as she came up behind her sister. "You better listen to her fellas."
"Oh yeah?" Cole asked as he pulled his wife down across his lap, eliciting a gasp and a laugh.
"You're a very bad man," she mockingly scolded in a small voice, unable to even keep a straight face.
Piper rolled her eyes, "Get a room."
A small girl came running down the stairs just then. She barreled over stand directly in front of Cole, who paused in his tender kisses long enough to see what the girl was about to say. The little girl, hands on hips, gave the two lovers a pout. "Mommy, Daddy, Mel and Prue aren't letting me play."
"I'll take care of it," Phoebe informed her husband as she got up from his lap. She gave her hand to her daughter, "Come on, Persephone, I'll talk to your sisters."
As mother and daughter headed up the stairs to straighten out the sibling rivalry issue, the front door swung open, and Chris strolled into the livingroom, Bianca trailing after him, their hands locked.
Piper smiled at the blissfully happy look on her son's face. "Hi. A little birdie told me that you two had met up again. I'm glad to see it's true. It's nice to see you again, Bianca."
Cole frowned as he looked up at the two. "Something's up. What is it?"
"We're engaged," Chris answered. "Bianca and I are going to get married."
Wyatt began to rise from the sofa, ready to embrace the newly engaged couple, but his mother's hands on his shoulders pushed him back down. He looked up to find a less than pleased look on her face. He looked over to his dad hoping to find a little support. No such luck.
Leo's brows were at his hairline. "Guys, don't you think that's a little...fast."
Chris looked his father in the eyes with a solemnity that was unquestionable. "Actually, I think it's way overdue." He looked to Bianca, "I lost her twice. I'm not going through it again."
"We love each other," Bianca added. "The kind of love you and Piper share." She turned
to Cole, "and you and Phoebe. We just want to start the life together we were denied before."
Wyatt nodded, a proud smile forming on his lips. His eyes locked on his little brother's, and the two siblings shared a wordless communication. The older informed the younger that he more than approved, and if his kid brother needed a champion, the Twice Blessed would always be in his corner. Chris understood every unspoken word and relayed his love and gratitude.
"Now, Christopher," Piper began. "I just don't think– "
"No," Chris cut his mother off. "I'm not done. Just hear us out. We're not getting married right away. I don't even have a job yet. It'll be a longer engagement, but we are engaged, and I think that's something to celebrate, and I'd like my family's support."
"Done," Cole answered. He lifted his beer bottle, "To the happy couple."
Leo, following the other man's example, raised his own bottle, "To the happy couple. May they get the happiness they fought so hard for before."
The young man turned to his mother. "Mom?"
Piper looked between the two lovers, saw their hands locked, their bodies still touching just slightly. Their eyes were glowing with an inner light and warmth that the Eldest Charmed One couldn't deny. She moved in front of Bianca, who to her credit, stood her ground in the face of one of the most powerful witches the world had ever known. Then, without warning, Piper wrapped her arms around the Phoenix. "Congratulations."
Chris, Cole, Wyatt and Leo let out a simultaneous breath of relief.
"Be good to my baby," Piper whispered. "Make him happy."
Bianca answered, "It's all I want to do."
Cole had known a long time that this day would come. As he saw his nephew and the younger man's new fiancee together, their hands still locked in a loving grip, he knew without a doubt that it was all part of destiny. Under his breath he murmured, "To every Arthur his Guenevere. The circle's complete."
At the same time, Wyatt observed his family and saw another complete circle. One wasn't a Halliwell without noticing the significance of the number three. The Charmed Ones were three all powerful sisters after all. And now, there was another important set of three. Three sets of forbidden loves. His parents: A witch and her whitelighter. His aunt and uncle: A witch and a demon. Now? Now, was his little brother's turn to take on the Halliwell legacy of finding a soul mate in the most unlikely spot: A witch and an assassin. Their story was just as legendary as the two that had gone before. His parents had struggled, but stuck together through thick and thin. Cole and Phoebe had broken apart for so long, but eventually their love would not be denied. Now, Chris and Bianca had found each other again, defying time and space. They had waited a lifetime for one another, and Wyatt Halliwell knew his heart it would be worth the wait for those two.
The Twice Blessed stared at the three couples, a smile forming on his lips as he softly stated, "And they all lived happily ever after."