A common cold
Figures talking in the shadows, their faces illuminated by the torches that decorate the underworld.
"The white lighters won't know what hit them."
"By the time they realize what's happening, it would be too late."
"The funny thing is that the one to cause their downfall will be one of their own." Added another one. "Are you sure he's coming?" He said looking at the first one for answers.
He closed his eyes for a second. "He is here." He said.
A fourth voice spoke from the shadows, more menacing than the others. "Then we'd better not keep him waiting, remember, scare him, but don't hurt him…much, he has to think we weren't expecting him."
The shadowy figures nodded and shimmered out of sight.
"How did you know he was coming, sir?" One of the shadowy figures asked to his leader.
"I've been observing him, he usually comes to the underworld when things are too quiet, when demons stop attacking for a while, when he thinks it is safe to spy on us." He said, "Now go."
"But not today." The demon stated while holding his dark lighter arrow. "He has another thing coming today." He smiled maliciously at this.
At the manor, a few days later, Piper and Phoebe were having trouble fighting a couple of demons that had appeared in the conservatory a few minutes ago.
"Piper, get down!" Screamed Phoebe just in time to prevent her sister from being hit by one of the demons. She kicked him hard in the chest and helped her sister up. Piper froze an energy ball in mid-air and tried to do the same with the demons with no results.
"Ok, could you stop trying to do that already?" Phoebe said annoyed, for her sister had tried that for what seemed like the hundredth time.
"Hey, I'm open to suggestions. Besides, I wasn't trying to freeze them; I was trying to blow them up." That wasn't exactly true but Phoebe didn't need to know that.
Paige orbed at her sisters' call for help. "Athame," she cried and the weapon that had been in the demon's hand reappeared in her own. She stabbed one of the demons with it but nothing happened, she immediately said an incantation she remembered using on another evil creature a few months ago, she just rephrased it a little. Her idea worked, both demons burst into flames and her sisters breathed a sign of relieve.
"Are you guys ok?" Asked Paige concerned.
"Yeah, thanks." Said Phoebe brushing dust from her blouse. "What happened with the peace and quiet, does this mean recess is over?"
"Nah, something tells me they didn't have an agenda, I think they just got bored and came to give us trouble." Said Piper while picking up some things that had fallen during the attack. Her favorite lamp was broken and so were the vases. At least her wedding picture had been spared.
"On the contrary, I think they do have something planned, those two weren't ordinary demons, it took a rather powerful spell to vanquish them." Informed Paige to her sisters.
"Well, either way we'll have to check the book of shadows, see what we can find about them." Phoebe headed to the door, "but right now I have to get going, I have a deadline and I need to start working."
"Wait, help me clean this mess first and then you go." Piper requested a bit annoyed.
"Make Chris do it, after all he didn't come to help us with the demons."
"Where is he anyway?" Paige asked.
"Don't know, he didn't show up when we called him, I'll try again, Chris!" Yelled Piper.
The familiar blue and white orbs appeared immediately revealing the person who had been called.
"Well, it was about time you showed up."
"What happened here?" The place was a mess.
"Demons happened. Where were you? We could've used your help you know." The middle sister replied.
"I didn't hear you; in fact, I came because I wanted to check on you, to make sure you were alright."
"Well, that was very considerate of you." Paige said sarcastically while brushing the debris. "But unless you have the power of premonition like Phoebe, you have to come up with a better explanation."
"I had a feeling something like this would happen, the demons had been too quiet for far too long, I guess I was concerned that they would get restless and start attacking." said Chris, "especially after what happened a few nights ago." He added casually while sitting down.
"And that would be…?" Piper asked noticing the young man's dark rings under his eyes.
"I ran into some unexpected trouble in the underworld. I wanted to find out what the demons where up to, and maybe even discover who turns Wyatt." Said Chris to his audience, "but when I arrived, a bunch of dark lighters came at me, I almost didn't make it."
"Wow, how did you escape?" Phoebe asked concerned. She might show a tough exterior, but she was a softy underneath, even with their psychotic white lighter.
"I had the element of surprise I guess; otherwise I would be dead right now. The weird thing though, they didn't summon their crossbows."
"Yeah" said Paige "even if they were surprised to see you, how come they didn't just kill you right away, I mean, it would've been easier."
Chris was massaging the bridge of his nose. "Gee, thanks Paige."
"Oh, you know what I mean; I just find this whole thing very odd, a bunch of dark lighters and none of them hurt you?"
"Not exactly." Said Chris lifting his T-shirt to let them see his bruised abdomen.
"Oh! My God! Chris!" Phoebe thought of a rainbow with not so pretty colors.
"It's not that bad, it barely hurts really" he said lowering his tee.
"And to tell you the truth, I don't know for sure whether they had their crossbows or not, it was pretty foggy down there."
"Foggy." Repeated Piper.
"Yeah, this purple kind of blue fog started filling the place the minute I got there, but aside from the smell of rotten eggs, it is not all that unusual, the underworld gets very foggy sometimes."
"Maybe, but I've never heard of a colorful fog before."
"Or smelly for that matter." Paige finished her sister's thought.
"Neither have I." Chris continued. "But I don't think we have to read too much into it."
"Leo!" Yelled Paige unexpectedly. Everybody turned to look at her questioningly. "What? Chris needs healing, doesn't he?"
Maybe Phoebe was not the only softy one around here.
Leo materialized in a dance of blue and white orbs. "Hi, wow look at this place. Demons?"
"No Leo, we decided to throw a party." said Paige.
"Be nice." Piper admonished her sister and then added to Leo. "Don't mind her, she is just been Paige."
At the youngest sister's face, Phoebe decided to speed things a little. "Leo, Chris needs healing."
"I'm fine guys, I told you it's-it's…" His sentence was cut short by a violent sneeze. "Nothing." He completed.
"Bless you" Phoebe said frowning. "Look guys, I really do need to get going, I forgot I have an important meeting and I'm already late." Heading for the door, she added, "Maybe you guys can check the demons that attacked us in the book of shadows."
Piper turned to Chris. "I almost forgot you weren't a full white lighter."
"OK-" Chris was not sure where this was going.
"I mean," added Piper at Chris' confusion. "That might be the reason why you didn't hear our call. You must be catching a cold and your powers are affected by it."
"I am fine, I'm sure it's nothing, it's probably an allergy or something of the sort."
"That aside, you need to let Leo heal you."
"I'll be alright, I don't need healing." Well, if someone could pull stubborn, that was him.
"I don't have time for this." Sometimes Paige wanted to beat some sense into that thick head of his. "I have some errands to run, so, bye now."
"Wait up, I need to go to P3 to check on the band, I can give you a lift if you want." said Piper standing up.
"That'd be great thanks."
"And you two start looking for those demons, and Leo, make sure Wyatt takes his nap."
"Where is he?"
"In the playpen in his bedroom."
"We can't do that." Said Chris the moment the girls were gone.
"Find the demons in the book of shadows."
"Neither one of us saw them."
Leo had healed Chris's wound after the latter accepted the help of his father to be. The two of them with Wyatt in his father's arms had headed for the attic. Paige had orbed after a while apologizing for leaving them with nothing to give them the details they needed to start working. She'd left soon after that.
Leo started flipping the pages, trying to see if he could find something, and at the same time checking on Chris who was resting his head on his knees. Leo had noticed that Chris had barely spoken and that the young white lighter looked a little green.
"You OK? You don't look so good."
"Fine, did you find those demons yet?"
"I think so, they are called the collectors and they appear only when they are sure they can eliminate their victims. Apparently they underestimated their opponent this time; they weren't counting on the power of the charmed ones." He said smiling.
"I've heard about them, in the future, and their strength lies in the fact that they never work alone, they usually have back up." Chris said standing up only to double over in a sudden attack. The coughing variety.
"I think it's safe to say you are coming down with something." Leo said helpfully.
"Or I'm probably overworked, I am going back to P3 to get some rest."
Leo got worried; he couldn't help feeling concerned, he had learned to like the kid. "I can heal you right away."
"Don't bother, I…, what?
Leo was looking at Chris in a funny way, like some kind of idea was forming in his mind. "I was just wondering, do marriages between white lighters and witches are allowed in the future?"
"Excuse me? Where did that come from? Asked Chris unnerved.
Leo wasn't sure of that himself, but suddenly Piper's words were ringing in his mind -I almost forgot you weren't a full white lighter- "So?"
"Of course not, you know better than anyone what elders think about…" Chris was interrupted by yet another meaningful look from Leo, he didn't have a good feeling about this and that had nothing to do with his possible cold, he suddenly realized he had said way too much. He blamed it on his pounding headache. "What's going on?"
"Oh nothing, I simply find it strange that you are half witch, half white lighter, which is why you can get sick. I just assumed witches and white lighters couples were popular in the future." Said Leo looking very carefully at Chris.
"Yeah" Answered Chris uncertainly. I have to go, tell the girls what we found out. See you."
Leo kept staring at the place where a few seconds ago Chris had been standing on, he couldn't be certain, but something kept telling him he was one step closer to finding out who Chris was.
P3 was closed and the lights were off. Piper was about ready to head home, she just needed to check on Chris before leaving. He hadn't looked so well last time she saw him.
It was a good thing she did if Chris' fever was anything to go by. "Leo!"
Leo materialized and saw Chris lying on the couch with his eyes closed. "Heal, now." Piper always did have a way with words.
"Ok Chris, I know you wanted to treat this with antibiotics but I think it's time you let me heal you."
When the glowing that meant Leo doing his magic started, Chris opened his eyes and a few moments later he was feeling like himself again. "Thanks." He said groggily.
Piper and Leo exited the room. Chris saw them leave and couldn't help but smile, his soon to be parents. "You know Leo," he said to himself, "I think there may come the time when I can call you dad."
In the middle of the night, Chris awoke with a start. He was sweaty. Was he having a bad dream? He changed his T-shirt and went for a glass of water. He went back to bed but he couldn't go back to sleep, he had a runny nose and a splitting headache. It was 4 in the morning when he decided to get up. He figured he might as well be doing something productive. He went to the manor and started working on the vanquishing potion for the collectors, if they ever came back, he would be ready.
At 6:30 in the morning Paige entered the kitchen desperate for a cup of coffee. She was surprised to see Chris sitting at the table, especially in such a bad shape "Chris, what's wrong?" "Did something happen?" She said pouring herself a cup of coffee.
"I have a bad cold that's all." He said and blew his already red nose for what felt like the hundredth time in 2 hours. That's when Paige noticed the trash can filled to the top with used toilet paper.
"Why don't you call Leo? He can heal you in a heartbeat." Paige sat by his side.
"He did do it, and I thought it had worked, but for some reason the symptoms came back just hours afterwards." He answered miserably.
"Morning." Phoebe said entering the kitchen. "I thought I was going to be the first one up. Where's my coffee? You Ok?" She added when she noticed Chris.
"He has a cold that apparently Leo isn't able to fix." Chris chose that moment to sneeze, a very violent sneeze. "Bless you" Phoebe said definitely concerned.
"Thanks," he said sneezing once more.
"I'll make you some tea with lemon and honey; it will help alleviate your raspy throat." Paige said finishing her coffee. She stood up and a sudden dizziness threaten to make her fall, only Phoebe's quick reflexes prevented Paige from kissing the floor.
"Thanks, I shouldn't have stood up so quickly"
A few hours later, Chris was back at P3. Phoebe and Paige tried to convince him to call Leo but he didn't think it was necessary and orbed out of there. The sisters told Piper about Chris's cold and she got worried, she had seen the kid burning up the previous night; she didn't understand why Leo's healing hadn't been permanent. "I'll check on Chris later."
Chris was going over his notes; he was determined to find the demon that turned Wyatt evil. His vision was starting to blur, he was feeling sick and weak so he thought it was time to take a break, just then he noticed a shadow moving by his side, he instinctively moved his arm and sent it flying into the wall. The adrenaline left him immediately; he staggered towards the unconscious figure and recognized the demon which, by Paige's description, had attacked the sisters a few days ago. Another collector shimmered in the office unnoticed by Chris and grabbed him from behind; he orbed out of harm's way and threw one of the potions he had made at the demon from behind. Obviously the unwelcome visitor wasn't expecting that as it cried out in agony while bursting into flames.
"Chris? Are you in there, I need to talk to you." Piper said knocking at the office's door. When no answer was forthcoming, she continued. "I'm coming in." The scene that greeted was unexpected and a little unsettling. She saw Chris barely able to remain on his feet and a demon knocked out in the corner. Right then a dark lighter shimmered in, pressed a hand on the demon's shoulder and they both disappeared out of sight. "That must be it," said Chris with a lot of effort, "-the collectors are working with the dark lighters." He said before falling unconscious on the floor.
Leo heard Paige calling him and orbed to meet her. She was surrounded by demons and she seemed exhausted. Leo sensed the seriousness of the situation and immediately held the girl's arm and orbed to the manor leaving the demons without their prey.
"Why did they attack you?"
"Is that a rhetoric question? Leo, those were demons; that's what they do." Answered Paige just in time to prevent a sneeze from interrupting her, "but they did say that it was taking longer than expected; something about after the first one falls, the others will follow immediately." Yeah, that didn't sound ominous at all.
Paige was happy to let Leo fill Phoebe in on what had happened, she was feeling too tired to bother.
Phoebe was about to say something when Leo told her Piper was calling him and that it sounded urgent. He orbed to meet Piper and wasn't happy to see Chris unconscious and sweaty. Piper was by his side. "Where were you? I've been calling you all morning."
"I'm sorry I didn't hear your call." He walked towards Chris. She noticed that Leo was paler than usual.
"Great, now I have to worry about you too?"
"What do you mean?" Leo said placing both hands on Chris's chest to allow the healing process to begin.
"It started that way with him too." Piper said pointing at Chris. "He said he hadn't heard our calls, and then he started feeling unwell."
"Don't worry about me, I'll be OK." He said but as if on cue he sneezed violently. "I'm sure it's nothing." He added sheepishly. "It's him we have to worry about, he's not healing."
"Let's take him to the manor, we'll figure out what to do there." Piper said holding Leo's arm waiting for the orbing to happen. Leo just stood there; not moving a muscle. "What is it?" Piper was starting to freak out.
"Have you noticed how much he looks like you?"
"What are you talking about?" Piper was definitely freaking out.
"His desire to save Wyatt; what you said about him not letting the phoenix kill you, something about not being a future without you; not to mention his half and a half status." Leo murmured getting paler by the second.
"Leo you are scaring me, I don't know what you are trying to say and frankly this isn't the best time for riddles."
"Remember the arrow that dark lighter threw at me?" Leo was panting. "Remember how the potion took longer to act because it went straight through? How long ago was that? Two, three weeks?" He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "I think that somehow I have been infected by dark lighter potion because I feel as bad as I felt in the spirit realm, maybe worse."
"My God Leo, are you sure? I mean, is that even possible?" Said Piper panicky, but as she said it, she recalled a dark lighter being in that very office with Chris.
"There's more, I think Chris has been infected too." Piper noticed Leo was almost out of breath. "And Piper, I won't be able to orb."
"We'll find a way to heal you, both of you." She called Paige but when her sister didn't show up; she started to think that some kind of trap had been set up and that they had fallen right into it. "Do you think you can help me with him? He asked Leo "My car is right outside." Leo stood up and with every bit of strength he had left managed to help Piper carry Chris out and into the car.
"Phoebe! Paige! I need some help" Piper yelled while letting Leo enter the house helping a semi-conscious Chris into the leaving room. Phoebe ran from the conservatory to meet her. Both white lighters were in bad shape; she saw her sister trying to help both Leo and Chris sit on the couch and went to help her. "We have a problem." Said Phoebe dead serious.
"No kidding. Where's Paige?"
"That's the problem, uh, the other problem I guess, she started shivering badly and then she passed out, she has been out cold for some time now, she kind of looks just as bad as these guys."
Piper didn't even have time to react, a bunch of demons shimmered in the place. "This is it witches, the moment of truth."
"You know, you really shouldn't count your chickens before they hatch." Paige sudden appearance startled everyone. She threw a vanquishing potion at the leader making him burst into flames. The others shimmered out; it was clear, just as Paige had predicted that without their leader the brainless demons would get confused as what to do next. Paige walked slowly to her sisters carefully.
"Hey, good timing."
"Good thinking, when did you have time to work on a vanquishing potion?" Piper asked while helping her youngest sister get comfortable on the couch."
"I didn't. I found a labeled vial in the dining room table. Chris or Leo must have left it for us. She finished her sentence just in time to allow her sneezes to take over. "I'm going to kill Chris, he passed on his viruses to me."
"Of course! That's it. It may not be a common cold after all." Piper said.
"What do you mean?" Phoebe asked.
"Something Leo said, it's likely that you guys were infected by dark lighter potion, only this time it was transmitted in a different way, a much slower but effective way."
"By means of a cold you mean." Said Phoebe catching on what her sister was saying. "How's that even possible? Only those annoying demons have appeared so far, and neither Chris, nor Leo was around. They weren't even dark lighters for crying out loud."
"No, but they are working for them. I just saw a dark lighter saved one of those collectors back in the office."
"It must've been that attack Chris told us about." Paige hoped her nausea ended soon or cold or no cold, Piper was going to make her clean if she vomited on her precious carpet.
"I'm not following."
"They got Chris first and from then on it was a matter of waiting for the virus to do the job." Paige was doing her very best to stay awake. "But how? How did they get to Chris in the first place? He said there weren't any dark lighter arrows anywhere."
Chris started coughing loudly and he was sweating badly. Piper walked by his side to try to comfort him. He was burning up and tossing and turning. "We have to do something, he is getting worse."
This time it was Leo's turn to cough loudly. "Never mind that now, we have to find a way to cure them, fast"
"Mom, mom." Chris had opened his eyes and was now looking at Piper. She felt sorry for the kid, he was obviously hallucinating.
Phoebe had had that vision in magic school about Wyatt's little brother but she hadn't wanted to say anything until her suspicions were confirmed. She had noticed Chris's weird behavior, trying to force Piper and Leo back together and then his enormous relieve when they made it out of the ghost plain alive. She didn't understand why she had been so reluctant to believe that the boy from the future was his nephew, but then again, that was kind of big news, not so easy to digest.
Wyatt orbed into the living room probably sensing the others' distress. Piper panicked. "Phoebe, get him out of here, he is half white lighter too!" Phoebe tried to pick him up but Wyatt orbed again, this time he landed on his father's chest. Wyatt's hands started glowing. Not thirty seconds later, Leo was opening his eyes and with Piper's help, sitting down.
"Unbelievable, Wyatt healed Leo. I didn't know he could do that." Phoebe knew his nephew had powers but she was still amazed.
Once Leo's strength returned, he wasted no time in bending over to heal Chris. The kid opened his eyes but everything was still blurry and he wasn't feeling any better either. "Dad." He said at the sight of Leo before passing out again.
"Why, why can't I heal him, why?" Leo was getting desperate. He too had confirmed his vague suspicions, Chris was his son.
Paige coughed and tried to get up but she was feeling too weak to do it.
"Paige, I'm sorry." Said Leo and hurried to heal her, this time it worked.
"Maybe you can't heal him because he was exposed to the poison longer than we were."
"That's right, there's nothing you can do for him now." The collectors had returned and this time the dark lighters were with them.
"To hell there isn't." Leo paid no attention to the intruders and went back to do what he had to do. He knew the sisters would handle them and he had already sent Wyatt to a safe place.
"You're wasting your time elder. We are the only ones with the antidote and we are not about to give it to you."
"What'd you want?" Asked Paige furiously.
"To eliminate you of course, I thought that was clear."
Phoebe kicked the nearest demon hard in the face. Piper blew up another one. "What do you know? It worked." Paige orbed only to appear second later with vanquishing potions in her hands. Piper blew up the rest of the demons and Phoebe thinking fast recited an improvised spell that made them vanish into ashes. That worked every time. The dark lighters had had enough, the one time they thought they would win and the collectors had ruined everything. They were not about to leave empty handed though; they conjured their weapons and aimed them at Leo. Piper froze all their arrows. Sensing defeat, the dark lighters started shimmering out one by one.
The last dark lighter conjured a little vial and showed it to them. "You know what this is? This is the only antidote for the virus." To their horror, he threw the fragile thing against the floor while shimmering away. "Antidote!"
Phoebe smiled at her sister's quick reflexes. "Good one Paige."
Piper got dizzy and if it hadn't been for Paige who was near, she would have fallen.
"Are you alright?"
"I'm glad you and Phoebe are not white lighters, otherwise I would've gotten worry by your sudden dizziness" Paige said relieved, "and we have a lot on our minds with Chris…"
Leo and Phoebe stood up so suddenly startling both Paige and Piper. "What?"
Leo was thinking the same as Phoebe. Piper was pregnant, had to be, and they didn't know if she had gotten dizzy because of that or because of the virus.
Leo didn't know what made him do what he did, but he walked straight to Piper and placed his healing hands on her belly. Paige and Piper looked at each other but remain silent. Leo usually had a reason for everything. After that he got back to where his son was and waited. Phoebe prayed silently hoping it had worked. The other two sisters had no idea what was going on.
"Shouldn't we give Chris the antidote?" Paige asked uncertainly. What had she missed?
"Give me a minute." Leo said softly. 5 minutes passed in silence. At last what Leo had been waiting for happened, Chris opened his eyes. He looked disoriented but well. He sat slowly feeling much better.
"I'm just glad you're alright, you really scared me, you know." Leo had tears of happiness sliding down his face.
"How are you feeling?" Paige asked.
"Fine, just fine."
Three weeks later
Piper gave her son the toy he wanted and lifted her head inquiringly. "Found what?"
Phoebe closed the book of shadows and approached her sister. "The fog, that's how they poisoned Chris. It's pretty clever if you think about it, they made him inhaled the venom."
"Huh," Piper said uninterested.
"Do you want me to take Wyatt to the park or something?" Phoebe said to her older sister. She had been extra nice to her because she didn't want to upset Piper. This pregnancy thing was affecting Piper's mood and out of the blue she would cry, laugh, eat, get angry, etc. and everyone was getting very nervous. This day to Phoebe's delight, Piper was in a good mood. "Thank you, but that won't be necessary."
Phoebe thought back at what had happened and couldn't stop herself from smiling; the face her sister had made when she found out that Chris was her son was priceless. Phoebe was very happy for Piper and Leo because they seemed to be getting along pretty well, maybe because of the baby, but she knew it was more than that; Piper and Leo were soul mates.
She also smiled heartedly remembering how they all had ambushed Chris to make him confess who he was. That was also a Kodak moment for her.
Her thoughts were interrupted when Chris and Leo orbed in.
"You are just in time for dinner." Said Piper taking a casserole out of the oven.
"You guys are back! How was it?" Asked Paige entering the kitchen. "Did you catch a big fish?"
"Ah-choo!" Chris sneezed loudly.
Paige, Piper, and Phoebe froze. "Oh no, not again!"
"Don't worry" Leo was looking fondly at his son. "He fell into the water trying to catch a fish. I'm afraid he ended up catching a cold instead."
THE END ;)