Well, there's not too much to say about this. If you're here because of that other story, I can't really give you much hope. I read through it and I'm not really inspired to write anything more. There is always the chance that I'll get so frustrated with having a WIP hanging over my head that I'll work on it. Anyway, back to the matter at hand.
Disclaimer: I don't own Charmed, or any characters or situations thereof. I'm writing this for fun, and for stress relief, and because I was inspired by teal-lover's "Unplanned Changes."
I suppose you could say this is set in the changed future. Chris and Wyatt are older…not teenagers anymore at least. Wyatt's POV, but 3rd person.
If you like it, feel free to drop a note. If you hate it, feel free to drop a note. If you just want to say "hey," feel free to drop a note. :-)
"You're trying my patience, Chris."
His mother's voice, coming from the kitchen, and bouncing off the wall before it came back to him. She was turned away then, from the doorway and from Chris, who he could see standing at the breakfast bar. She was probably working on cooking this or that. Wyatt hoped it might be dinner, or better yet, dessert.
He didn't hear Chris respond, and more than likely his little brother had sighed or rolled his eyes or something equally frustrating to parents. But maybe not. Lately he had noticed that Chris was less and less likely to come up with sarcastic comebacks and even more rare were the whining and the frustrated anger. Maybe Chris was finally growing out of the terrible teens?
But Chris turned around, interrupting his revelry in the doorway, and he saw something else in Chris's face, only briefly, before the boy he knew was back: cool and unaffected.
"Did you find the demon?" Chris asked, folding his arms, but less like he expected to be disappointed, and more like he was protecting himself.
"Yeah, I left the book open upstairs. It needs a potion, and I thought maybe you could…" he gestured with his arms, and let a sheepish look slide onto his face.
But Chris didn't roll his eyes, or shake his head. He just said, "I'll make it," and orbed upstairs.
Wyatt stayed where he was, watching his mother move about the kitchen until she noticed he was standing there and jumped a bit, before giving him a glower.
He gave her a full, bright smile and instantly she went from annoyed that he had been watching her to happy to see him.
"How long have you been there?" she asked, but she was smiling.
He shrugged. "What are you making?" he asked back. "One of my favorites?"
"You'll have to wait and find out," she said, and turned back to her cutting boards and mixing bowls.
"I suppose I could do that," he said, but came into the kitchen to try and peak over her shoulder anyway.
She swatted him away with a towel, and he went to the breakfast bar, to where Chris had been standing.
"Were you arguing?" he asked her, looking around the items on the breakfast bar. Maybe there was a leftover cookie or something to last him until dinner…
"What?" She didn't turn around, but grabbed a knife and began chopping…or slicing…or something. He didn't really know.
"With Chris. What were you fighting about?"
Her knife stopped, only for a little while, but he noticed it, and filed it away, along with the fact that Leo or Paige must have snagged the last of the cookies on their ways into work.
"We weren't fighting."
"Oh," he said, and let the tone carry his disbelief. She put down the knife and turned around to face him full on.
"Look, Wyatt, I know you probably don't realize it, but sometimes your brother can be, well…" she shook her head and looked up to the ceiling, as though she could find some guidance there. Maybe she could. You really never knew.
She let her breath out in a burst and turned away from him again. "Frustrating."
He sort of thought that the word she was looking for was "annoying."
When they were little, Chris would follow him around, looking all young and innocent, and being extremely annoying to his cool older brother. So like any good older brother, he used to try and find things to say to get Chris to leave him alone.
He had tried the classic, "You're adopted," but it didn't work. Even when he was little, Chris didn't go off running and crying to mommy and daddy over that one. Mostly, he got a look in his eyes, one that Wyatt hadn't understood at the time. But now, looking back, he saw it as longing, and maybe even a bit wistful. Now, he could see that Chris had held some hope that he had parents somewhere else, different parents.
But what parents could be better than Piper and Leo? That was the part Wyatt still didn't understand.
When they were a little older, Wyatt had figured out the perfect way to get Chris to leave him alone. They were outside in the front yard alone, and he had said, "You're a mistake. Mom and dad never meant to have you."
Now he knew how cruel that was, but then? He had really wanted to learn tricks on his bike at the neighborhood park, and he hadn't wanted Chris around ruining his image.
He only ever said it the one time, and had instantly regretted it when he saw Chris's face. He had thought for sure the little boy would go crying to mommy and daddy that time, but he never did. He had even asked them later, what Chris had done when he went back into the house. But they didn't know. They had said he must have gone to play with his toys.
The urge to say something hurtful only came over him one time after that. He had opened his mouth, and his friends were standing right there, laughing. He had opened his mouth, but Chris had cut in by saying, "I know, I'm adopted, right?" and then left them alone. He didn't really try to hang out with Wyatt and his friends after that.
Now that they were adults, he was constantly trying to get Chris to hang out. Wyatt had a lot of friends. He was energetic and fun, and smiled and laughed all the time. People flocked to him. But Chris was the opposite, so he always tried to get his little brother to loosen up, and to meet people. Mostly Chris smiled and said, "Maybe another time." But there never was.
He orbed up into the attic, and sure enough, there was Chris, diligently working on the potion. Wyatt came up beside him, but Chris didn't shoo him away like he usually would. He also didn't do anything when Wyatt read over the potion and added some of the ingredients. Usually Wyatt helping meant that Chris would have to start over again, and sure enough, just as he was preparing to portion the concoction out into the little jars, the whole thing sizzled, gave a great heave, and popped, sending bright orange liquid all over the attic.
Wyatt started to laugh, and then caught himself, sobered up and turned to look at Chris with what he hoped was a straight face.
Chris looked back at him, or at least, he tried to, but his entire face was coated. He raised a hand to wipe at it, and Wyatt grabbed a towel and reached in, trying to help remove the mess. So he was wiping his little brother's face when Chris started to shake.
"Oh man, Chris, I'm sorry about—"
But Chris grabbed his hand, and moved it and the towel away. Wyatt could see that he was laughing.
"You're unbelievable, you know that? But come on, let's start over." Chris gave one last swipe at his face and reached for a fresh cauldron.
"'Let's'" he repeated incredulously. "You want me to help? Even after this?" Wyatt waved his hands to encompass the scope of the disaster.
"Yeah, well, someday you'll have to do this by yourself, so you better learn how."
"What? Why would I have to do this by myself? I have you, don't I?"
But Chris didn't answer. He only shrugged and went about the business of potion making. Again.
As a teenager, Wyatt remembered Chris being all those wonderful things that a surly teenager can be. He was, well…surly. And angry, and manipulative, and his face always said that he suffered from a great injustice.
Wyatt had been a pleasant teenager. He had gotten good grades, good girlfriends, and acceptances at good colleges. He had tried his best to make sure Chris was happy and having a good time at home and at school, but there was only so much he could do. Some things were just hormonal.
Or so he thought.
And probably it was a big part of it, but so was Leo being so busy at Magic School and Piper being so busy with the club and the family (now much extended) and her cooking and being, well, Piper, that maybe that school trip to the museum just wasn't as exciting as it was the first time around. With Wyatt.
And maybe another part of it was Chris's sometimes supernatural (not that so many things in their family weren't also supernatural) knowledge of demons, and moreover, his obsessive drive to take care of things, right then and there. He never wanted to take the time to sit down to dinner when there could be innocents in danger.
And maybe the biggest part of it was the look that Aunt Paige sometimes got in her eyes. The one that was accompanied by the rolling of said eyes and rang of boredom. Like Chris and his actions were a part of a song already sung. It was the way Aunt Phoebe ignored him when she came into the house, and said she 'didn't want to deal with it, Chris, she already had a headache.'
Wyatt and Chris had vanquished a lot of demons themselves when they were teenagers.
Their parents and the Aunts looked at Chris a lot when he was a teenager. Usually when he was leaving the room, after learning they didn't want to help. They looked at him like they were searching for something. Or maybe, they were searching for something not to be there. Hoping even. But whatever it was, Wyatt noticed that eventually, they all gave up hope.
Wyatt sometimes wondered when Chris got to be the innocent.
But Wyatt didn't help with the second batch of potion. Instead, he cleaned up the mess he had made by wrecking the first batch. He cleaned by hand, no magic, and for a long while, as least long to Wyatt, neither of them said a thing. After a while he noticed that he was thinking about how it probably wasn't a long time at all to Chris, and not about Chris potentially leaving or even about how the orange goo was staining his hands and clothes.
So he said, "How's the potion coming?" and Chris turned his head to the side, like he meant to turn the whole way to face Wyatt with a clever retort, but he then didn't.
He said, "It's okay," and turned back and that was that.
"Because, you know, I think orange is a nice color for a potion. We don't get to make nearly enough things that are orange."
Wyatt stood up on his tiptoes to reach a glob that looked like it was trying to form some sort of psychedelic stalactite. He giggled to himself about how that sounded, which caused him to only dislodge it and not to catch it, and it ended up on his head.
He sighed, then reached up and rubbed it into his hair before going around to face Chris on the other side of the table where he was working.
"Look, we match."
Chris said, "yeah. How 'bout that."
"I think we make a very intimidating pair right now. Let's summon the demon and watch him cower before our ferociousness."
Chris looked him in the eye, and then handed him a potion bottle. "You should teach kindergarten or something, Wy."
Wyatt nodded very seriously. "I've considered it."
After the demon was summoned and subsequently destroyed, and Chris turned to leave the attic, Wyatt grabbed his arm to stop him.
"We need to talk about this."
Chris tilted his head and stared at Wyatt's hand on his arm for awhile. "You know," he started and then looked Wyatt in the eye, "we really don't." He removed Wyatt's hand gently and then left the room. Wyatt stood and watched him go.
Once, when he was eight or so, Wyatt had left his room after his bedtime and crept to the top of the stairs. He could hear his parents down there, arguing. He had sat on the top stair and put his head in his hands, just listening. A little while after he had been there, he heard footsteps behind him and a hand fall on his shoulder. He looked up to see Chris standing there, and had scooted over to make room. They had sat there in the dark and held each other's hands as the arguing escalated.
At one point, he remembered that Chris had turned to him and whispered, "Is daddy gonna go Up There?"
"Why would he do that?" he had whispered back.
Chris had shrugged, and was quiet for a long time. Eventually, he got up to go back to bed, and even though his back was turned while he was walking away, Wyatt could have sworn later that he heard him say, "Maybe he should."
A few days before that, dad had failed to turn up for Chris's kindergarten play. It was the only event like that that Wyatt remembered their father had ever missed, and he knew that he even sent an apology letter. But for some reason, Chris never seemed to let it go.
Wyatt supposed that their father had never missed anything of his.
Chris was in the shower, so Wyatt went downstairs to check on dinner. That is, he went to see if he could get a sneak preview.
His mom and dad were down there, and he heard her say, "I can barely stand to look at him, Leo."
"Piper…" his father said, and then didn't say anything. He heard the sound of a chair being pulled back and assumed his father had taken a seat.
"I mean, I know that they're not the same. My brain knows that."
Another chair was pulled out.
Piper said, "I don't think my heart knows that, Leo."
His father sighed and Wyatt imagined him reaching out to take her hands in his.
"Piper, he's our son. We love him. He knows that, no matter what's going on between us right now. It'll get better, Piper. It's just a phase. We've been upset with Wyatt before, too."
He heard a sniffle. Was Piper crying?
"I never wished that—"
Just then the bathroom door opened upstairs, and he heard Chris go into his bedroom. He missed whatever they were saying, and when he listened in again, the conversation was over.
He stepped into the kitchen, and there they sat, just like he pictured, hand in hand. They smiled when they saw him, and both of their eyes were a little red. Just then, Chris came downstairs and into the kitchen after him. They stopped smiling.
Maybe, when Wyatt said, all those years ago, that Chris was a mistake… Maybe that was why it hurt them both so much. Because it was true. Even if they hadn't known it at the time. Wyatt vowed then and there that Chris would never know. The thing was, he figured Chris probably already did.
Another time, Aunt Phoebe came home from a trip with a present for Wyatt, and walked right by Chris. He smiled after her. He was very young. He probably wouldn't have appreciated a miniature replication of one of the stones of Easter Island anyway. At that time, Wyatt didn't either, and the empty face and long nose freaked him out when the moonlight hit it on his dresser. Later, he and Chris had buried it in the backyard together. Aunt Phoebe never noticed.
Aunt Paige used to bring them both candy, and she would smile at Chris and give him extra pieces. She would smile extra big and sigh when she walked away. That was when Wyatt first learned about smiles being fake. He never faked one. Never. And Wyatt smiled a lot. Chris had put the candy in a box under his bed and got it out every once in a while and counted the pieces. He never ate any. He didn't like candy. But Wyatt knew he liked having them anyway. Until one day Aunt Paige's smile was just a bit too big. They buried the box next to the miniature head.
One night, Wyatt had looked outside and saw Chris burying something else. He had gone out after Chris was asleep and dug it up. It was Leo's letter. On an impulse, Wyatt had pulled the last cookie from Piper's latest batch out of his pocket (he'd been saving it for later) and threw it in there, too. It was a sugar cookie, with frosting and sprinkles. Chris didn't like that kind.
"Are we eating?" Chris asked. He stood just behind Wyatt, and Wyatt noticed that he had become a barrier between Chris and their parents.
No one said anything.
Wyatt narrowed his eyes at their parents.
"Or, I could order something in, I guess. I mean, we haven't done that in a while." Chris waited a little longer and then drifted out of the room, probably in search of a phone book.
Piper locked eyes with Wyatt. "Wy…"
But Wyatt shook his head. "I don't understand it, and right now, I don't really care. I'm taking Chris and going to Grandpa's for dinner."
He turned to leave the kitchen, but stopped in the doorway and said, "Maybe for a little longer than that," over his shoulder.
Grandpa's. Even when he was a surly teenager, Chris was happy at Grandpa's. Wyatt liked to go to Grandpa's because he, well, loved Grandpa, but more than that he liked to go to Grandpa's because Chris was always happy there.
Demons could be coming out of the woodwork (which once they did, literally) and Chris would be laughing and tossing them around with his telekinesis and cheering Wyatt on. Usually, he was their high school soccer coach reincarnated (bless that poor man's soul), all strategizing and demanding and he never ever let Wyatt drift around midfield and watch grass grow while there were demons that needed to be vanquished.
But at Grandpa's? It was almost fun to have the balance of good and evil resting between his shoulder blades. And he knew that if it was a boulder to him, it was a mountain to Chris. At Grandpa's, the load was easy.
Poor Grandpa, though. And the man wasn't getting any younger. It was one of the only times now that they used magic for cleanup. Just because Grandpa couldn't be redoing any walls or rebuilding any furniture nowadays, and because it was the only time Chris didn't immediately say "personal gain."
Wyatt secretly thought that Chris liked having those sorts of projects to do. Something to keep him away from demon hunting for a little while, and probably away from the family, too, since everyone else usually vanished in the face of a broken grandfather clock. And the last few years, Wyatt had been helping. There truly was something therapeutic about working with his hands in that manner.
But being at Grandpa's, with a happy Chris, was therapy enough.
Wyatt found Chris in the living room sitting on one of the couches. He was leaning forward with his elbows resting on his legs and his hands clasped.
"Hey," Wyatt said, sitting down across from him.
Chris looked at the floor for a long time without saying anything. Then he said, "I'm not a very good person."
Wyatt frowned, and said, "Are you kidding me? You're the best person I know!"
But Chris didn't smile. He said, "I lied, I manipulated. I was rude, and sarcastic." He sat back and ran his hands through his hair, finally looking up at Wyatt, and his eyes were bloodshot. Funny how they all had matching eyes.
Instead he said, "You couldn't find the phonebook, huh?"
Chris shook his head and looked away. "I just thought, that they wouldn't be so difficult. I just thought, they wouldn't be rude or sarcastic either. How come they could never see that I was just like them?"
"What are you talking about, Chris? Mom and dad and the Aunts? Or something else?"
Chris was whispering now. "It was over twenty years ago, Wy. I'm not the same person that I was. I'm not, and I am, both at the same time. But no matter that, or any of it. I'm family. I thought they would love me anyway."
Wyatt stood up and held out his hand until Chris finally looked at it. "Come on. Let's go pack. We're going to Grandpa's."