The Rules behoove me to inform you that I do not own Charmed or its characters, nor do I benefit financially from the writing of this story. I do it just for good, clean fun. Also: A very special thank you to a certain J.Bryson for her omnipresent support!
"So, what are they like?" Lee asked, with eyes glazed over as he fantasized.
"They're absolute beasts!" teased Chris. "Seriously, they're more monstrous and more horrifying than any demon, warlock, or dark lighter you've ever seen."
Lee smirked at his brother. "Think that's funny, do ya?"
"Lee, they're Mom and Dad!" said Chris, appreciating his younger brother's schoolboy nervousness. "It's not like you're meeting them for the first time."
"That's just it though," said Lee. "They are meeting me for the first time."
"Lee, you're worried for nothing." Chris replied. "They're exactly like they are in our time… mostly."
Michael Paisley Halliwell, or "Lee" as he insisted upon being called, was a cherub-faced young man of 15 years and the 'baby' of his large family. Despite his chaotic, demon-infested upbringing, he managed to retain a refreshingly genuine innocence. However, one needed to look no further than his clear, ocean blue eyes to detect a deep wisdom that only time and experience can bring. Regardless, no amount of experience would come close to preparing him for this day; the day he would, as a 15 year old boy, meet his 32 year old mother from the distant past.
Desperately wanting to make a good "first impression", Lee resigned himself to riding a wave of giddy anticipation. His mind was overrun with ideas of what the day would bring as he and Chris, his protective older brother, made an unusually large breakfast for their sleeping family.
Preparing the morning meal had become a kind of ritual for the two brothers, who had come to depend on this time as the one constant element in a life that was scarcely recognizable from one day to the next. Things were a bit different this morning, though, since it was, from his parents' perspective, the first time he had ever cooked for them and, as such, there was a palpable excitement filling every corner of the room.
"I just hope they like me!" said Lee, sounding more hopeful than concerned.
"Lee, look at me!" said Chris, shifting into 'big brother' mode. "Name one person who doesn't!"
"Demons don't count."
Lee reluctantly gave in. "If you say so."
"Besides," Chris continued, "we know for a fact that Mom's a huge fan of your cooking. You are, after all, the only one of us to follow in her culinary footsteps. Just don't use whatever that spice was that made Dad throw up for three days straight."
Lee's busy hands came to an abrupt halt. "Uh… right."
Chris tilted his head curiously. "Something you're not telling me?" he asked, stifling his smile.
"I knew it!" exclaimed Chris. "You did something to Dad's pancakes!"
"It wasn't supposed to last that long!" said Lee, convinced that this would somehow help him appear less guilty.
"Tisk! Tisk!" Chris teased, shaking his finger in mock accusation. "And you're the angel of the family too. We're doomed."
"Hey! He took my orbing 'privileges' away," said Lee. "I nearly missed The Lord of the Rings anniversary screening. I could have been scarred for life!"
Chris rolled his eyes. "That innocent act may work on Mom, Lee, but Dad was on to you the whole time," he said. "He knew that you hid your bike behind the gym dumpster and orbed the rest of the way from day one."
Lee's eyes widened as he absorbed his brother's words.
"Who do you think 'stole' your bike from behind the dumpster that one time?" continued Chris.
Lee looked back at him in amazement. "You mean… Dad was the one who took my bike?"
Chris nodded smugly. "Didn't you find it the least bit strange that he just happened to 'find' it the very next morning and bring it home?" he asked. "You know, Lee… for a telepath, you can be pret-ty gullible."
"Say's you!" Lee responded. "Every magical being knows that it's considered rude to read other people's minds without asking their permission."
"Sure it is" chided Chris.
"Telepathy etiquette aside, how come Dad never called me on it?"
"Have you ever even met Dad before? He's the biggest pushover this side of the moon."
"Oh, wow!" Lee said to himself, a tinge of guilt nipping at his conscience. "I feel so… so dirty."
Chris chuckled at this. "Well, let's just say that this ganga feast of yours is the first step towards making up for it, even though it technically hasn't even happened yet," he said. "Either way, they'll appreciate the effort."
"What do you mean? I do this every morning."
"Ah, but they don't know that."
"Either way, it's not 'my feast'" Lee said, his voice brimming with sincerity. "You're doing just as much as I am. You should take half the credit."
Chris couldn't help but admire his younger brother's overdeveloped sense of honor. "How about this?" he said. "Why don't you take the credit for this one as a favor to me?" Knowing that Lee would object to the suggestion, he quickly added: "and... keep in mind that my feelings will be hurt and my honor insulted if you so much as think about arguing with me about it."
Lee's dimpled smile spread widely across his face. Darn his brother for knowing him so well, and bless him for the very same reason.
"Besides, I got away with plenty," said Chris. "Trust me!"
Chris had always felt protective of all of his younger brothers, but Lee especially. He was a bit more vulnerable than the rest of them and, should someone try, easy to take advantage of. Over time though, Lee would prove again and again that being innocent by nature doesn't necessarily mean that one is fragile as well. It was true that Lee's feelings could be easily hurt and that he took things more personally than most people, but he also bounced back with a resilience far greater than any of his brothers.
This softness of character had concerned his parents for quite awhile, knowing how much death and violence he would witness throughout his "charmed" life. Lee had often told his mom that, in order to read the minds of others, he needed to feel the emotions that accompanied their thoughts. He was convinced that, in order to be an effective telepath, he had to be willing to experience another person's inner landscape. It was Lee's vulnerability that allowed him to let the emotional garbage of other people work its way through him. Were he to simply soldier on and suppress each "borrowed" emotion, all of that darkness would eventually overtake him.
Despite all of Lee's many virtues, the fact that he existed at all was what Chris treasured most. He was all too aware that, before his earlier trip back to save Wyatt, Lee had never existed. It wasn't that the Piper of the future wasn't still alive at the point of Lee's conception. Rather, it was his parents' lack of intimacy and his father's fading devotion to his family that had prevented Lee's existence.
Chris never told Lee that he was never born in his original future, but Lee knew from the content, grateful look in his brother's eye, that something had definitely changed… and that change pleased Chris deeply.
The two young men continued to enjoy the rare peace and quiet of the early morning. Though he was too modest to acknowledge it, Lee did pretty much all the work himself. Chris merely served as his assistant, handing the young prodigy whatever utensil or ingredient he required at the time. Over the years, this had become the daily routine: Chris and Lee would be the first to rise and, one by one, each Halliwell brother would eventually saunter into the kitchen with their mother completing the cavalry.
This morning would shake things up a bit. It's no secret that Piper Halliwell did not like surprises and discovering just how many sons she would have in the future… Well… Let's just say it wouldn't be quite the introduction Chris had hoped for.