Heaven Help Us
xXx MissHaun†ed-MoonLigh† xXx
Disclaimer: I still, still, still, still, still, still, still, still, still, still, still, still own nothing …
A thousand apologies! I've been in hospital … for nothing good … (Shudders)
Yeah, I know it's a lame excuse, but at least it's a valid one. Hospitals suck, not least of all because they don't have working computers.
Sorry again! I'll try to be quicker, next time! Pinkie Promise!
And sorry if this isn't as good as my previous ones – I'm still recovering, and I haven't written for a long while. It's probably a little slow in comparison to some of the earlier chapters, but the action picks up next time.
And finally … I can't believe how long this is getting! I mean, what the Hell?! I started it thinkin' it'd be like, four chapters at most … and now we're on 13 (unlucky for some) and I can't even see the end in sight … and then look at all those shiny reviews! I mean … (faints).
So fatabulous, guys! You've no idea how much it means to me! Can't express my gratitude enough, so thanks ever so much!
You don't know a thing about my sins,
How the misery begins.
You don't know,
So I'm burning, I'm burning
Chris couldn't believe it.
For the first time in years, he'd slept in! Three O'clock! Who in their right minds could sleep in until mid-afternoon?!
This was so not good.
Forcing himself into sluggish reality, rubbing at his eyes as he practically flew out of bed, tripping over the clothes he'd left out the previous night in his haste before plucking them into his arms, he hurried for the bathroom, eyes wide and mind alert as he tried to avoid a run-in with anyone.
He didn't have time to be molly-coddled, after all.
Showering and dressing in what had to have been record time, Chris emerged five minutes later and dashed straight upstairs without a second thought.
The sooner he got out of here, the less chance there'd be for one of the Sisters or Leo to try and stop him.
But even he couldn't leave without doing his research first.
And there was one Demon in particular who was mere minutes away from feeling his wrath.
Pay-back was way overdue.
Piper dropped the bag of groceries onto the counter with a content sigh and wheeled Wyatt's stroller into the conservatory. Crouching in front of him, she smiled warmly, ruffling his hair fondly before pulling him free of the straps and setting him down into his playpen, eyes dancing with delight as he gurgled happily, gathering up a handful of building blocks and stacking them one on top of another in front of him.
"Now, you be good for two seconds, 'kay?" she said brightly, walking away. "Mommy's just gotta put the shopping away and then go and check on your wayward brother. If he's still in bed at this hour, he's in for it."
Well, she mused, smiling as she set about unpacking the items she'd purchased, that wasn't exactly true.
She couldn't help but feel immensely relieved that Chris had actually stuck it out this long. When she'd left for the store an hour prior, he was still dead to the world.
Which proved just how exhausted he really must have been.
Still, she'd accomplished the impossible, that morning – she'd broken through his defences if only for one night, managing to convince him to let his guard down for the first time since she'd first laid eyes upon him.
Or perhaps even before that. She knew not when Chris had last had somebody to 'mother' him.
And she couldn't help but feel immensely proud of herself.
Fed and cleaned up, he'd submitted with ease, and sleep had claimed him the moment his head had hit his pillows. Piper's smile stretched as she mentally recalled just how adorable he'd looked, seemingly at peace for the first time in what had to have been a long while.
Which is why it was with a heavy heart that she traipsed upstairs ten minutes later, a steaming mug in one hand and a bowl of Baxter's original in the other. Evil though she may have felt, waking him after finally managing to convince him to take a break, it was a necessity.
After all, he was way too thin.
She'd have to fix that.
Not to mention give him one Hell of a talking to once everything was over – in Piper's not so guarded opinion, it was nothing short of a miracle that he'd lasted this long, barely sleeping, hardly eating and taking off on God knew how many Demon hunts a day.
Well, he was her son, and he was damn well going to do as she said.
Starting right now.
Even if she had to force-feed him.
Unfortunately, she realised, opening the door to Phoebe's bedroom a moment later and staring at the empty and hastily re-made bed in mild disbelief, she was going to have to find him, first.
"Oh, you're in big trouble, Mister," she murmured, fuming, as she placed mug and bowl down as one onto the dresser before stalking away, making straight for the stairs and shouting her frustration at the unresponsive ceiling. "No Demon hunts for a month! Let's see how you like that, Future Boy!"
Chris' orb trail vanished from sight and he winced as the tinkling sound echoed ominously around the dimly lit cave.
Dark, dank and torch-bracket-lit.
Demons really did have no sense of originality whatsoever, he mused silently, shrinking into the shadows of the grimy wall and strengthening his grip on the tiny bottle in his hand.
'Even a lick of paint would be an improvement. Just once I'd like to visit a Demonic lair that isn't insufferably unhygienic.'
Straining his ears against the constant drip drip of falling water from somewhere above his head, Chris scowled darkly as he heard the grating, piercing laughter of a group of Demons coming from the mouth of the cave's corridor behind him.
So the only way was onward, it seemed.
Of course, he'd known that before he'd even arrived, but still, having his exits blocked wasn't exactly a very comforting omen. If this went wrong … again … he wouldn't be getting out quite as easily as he had last time.
Although saying that, it hadn't exactly been easy the first time around…
Shaking his head as his scowl deepened, he shrugged away his unease and crept cautiously on through the murky corridor, sliding along the walls and willing himself to make as little noise as was humanly possible.
The element of surprise was going to be crucial.
Piper was going to kill him, of that he was certain.
Biting his lip, he shook his head again to clear it and increased his grip on the bottle held tightly within his grasp. Suppressing a shudder, he swallowed his anxieties and shuffled ever warily onwards, resolve set and heart racing.
'Sorry, Mom,' he thought calmly, pausing at the lip of the cave and staring out into the gloom of Zereph's quarters, eyes fixing on the prowling form pacing like a distressed lion around the outskirts of the cave.
But just as he was about to jump in at last, hand holding the vanquishing potion he'd prepared minutes prior raised in preparation, Zereph stopped in his tracks, his back to the makeshift 'doorway' but apparently intently focussed upon something, nevertheless.
And it didn't take Chris long to realise he'd been busted.
"So," Zereph called at last, raspy voice menacingly low but rich with a traceable delight, "it's true what they say 'bout the Halliwell's."
Chris raised an eyebrow in confusion, no longer bothering to pretend he wasn't there and stepping into open view instead.
Zereph wheeled around, a malicious smirk twisting his Demonic features, the hood of his cloak down and his white skin glinting evilly in the twilight, red eyes narrowed. With his clawed hands clasped behind his back, he clicked his fingers once, the sound reverberating around the cave like a knelling bell.
And Chris was suddenly cornered.
Glancing over his shoulder, he sighed heavily as at least eight Demons shimmered in, staring at him almost hungrily as they inched ever closer, forcing him well into the cave, sneering and hissing in anticipation.
'So much for the element of surprise,' he thought, his original plan well and truly useless, now. 'Ahh well, figures. I was stupid to think it'd be that easy.'
Fixing a death-glare onto his face and dropping his hand, he stood his ground in the centre of the cave, surrounded on all sides but his gaze fixed solely on the being standing a few metres or so in front of him.
Zereph's malicious grin widened, and he ran a forked tongue over his deformed lips in eagerness, his words echoing ominously around the cavern, making Chris' blood run cold through his veins.
'Death' really is nothin' to you guys, ain't it?"
Paige wandered absent-mindedly into the Attic, Wyatt bouncing happily on her hip and Phoebe stumbling somewhat drunkenly up the stairs after her.
Spotting the array of potions ingredients scattered across the small, wooden table in front of the window, she smirked knowingly, depositing her nephew into his playpen before sinking onto the couch, Phoebe leaning casually against the doorframe and running a hand through her hair.
"I take it Chris is feeling better?" she asked brightly, spotting the dark look Piper flashed her way and suppressing a snigger.
"Most definitely back to his old self," she admitted, more than a little annoyed as she flicked angrily through the Book, scowling her frustration and venting her anger out on the worn and unsuspecting pages.
But Phoebe caught her attention and she glanced up, frown softening a little.
"What's up with you?" she asked, surprised.
Phoebe shot her a half-smile and shrugged.
"Migraine," she said quietly, wincing. "Jet lag sucks."
Piper glanced at Paige, an eyebrow raised.
"I thought you orbed?" she said, confused.
Paige nodded, at a loss as she considered the middle sister, looking as stumped as Piper felt.
Phoebe just shrugged again, a scowl of her own deepening.
And Paige's smirk widened.
"Aww, has poor lickle Phoebe got an evil, nasty hangover?" she asked, mock-baby voice echoing irritatingly around the room.
Phoebe scowled at her, but remained tactfully silent.
And Paige snorted derisively.
"Jet lag my ass. You just had one too many bottles of extravagant house red last night with Jason."
Unfortunately, Phoebe was far from being in a joking mood, and consequentially stalked over to the couch herself, sinking heavily down onto it before whacking her youngest sister lightly on the arm.
Paige glared at her, but her defiance soon melted from existence as Phoebe's expression softened.
"Well … it was just nice to get a minute to ourselves, you know?" she admitted finally, shrugging. "With Jason off travelling the world on his daily business trips and me left behind learning how to make Paper Origami Sculptures, I find myself missing home more and more. So with it just being the two of us last night for the first time in ages - and with me there reeling from all the action here last night with Chris and all … well, let's just say we probably got a little bit too carried away."
Paige grinned, drawing Phoebe in for a half-hug as she glanced up to see Piper shake her head and begin again her attack of their precious family heirloom.
"I hear ya," she said brightly, "take it where you can get it, sweetie. You only live once, after all."
"My sentiments exactly," Piper put in, glaring at her sisters as she raised her head for a second, "which is why we need to find my son before there's nothing left to find. He, too, will only live once, though said life will more than likely be tragically cut short when I get my hands on him."
Paige restrained an eye-roll with immense difficulty.
"Piper, relax. Chris'll be fine. He can take care of himself, no problem!"
But Piper's scowl only darkened, her impatience vanquished in a heart-beat as her anxieties blossomed.
"So, what was last night all about, then?" she asked softly, fingers gliding absently over the page for a second as she was consumed by her thoughts.
But snapping herself out of it a second later, she returned to the assault with renewed vigour.
And Paige could only shrug, a small sigh escaping her lips as she dropped her hand from about Phoebe's shoulders.
"She's got a point," Phoebe conceded, fixing Paige with a pointed stare.
Paige raised a hand in surrender and nodded.
"Well, have you tried calling him?" she asked, trying to sound knowledgeable before blushing as Piper sent her a death-glare.
"What do you think?" she asked sarcastically.
Then frowned, tongue between her teeth and a shiver running up her spine.
"Wow, dé ja vu or what?"
Paige raised an eyebrow, giving the Halliwell Matriarch a rather distinctive, 'come again?' look, but Piper merely rolled her eyes and turned away.
"Never mind," she murmured, shrugging. "He's not answering me, but that's not exactly surprising given where he's gone."
"The Underworld," Phoebe clarified, nodding slowly. "He's probably gone after Zereph."
Piper nodded too, hands no longer skimming through the book as her eyes were drawn to the abandoned potions table.
"At least he's gone fully prepared, this time," she said softly, anger evaporating as she stared at the slowly cooling concoction swirling sluggishly within the cauldron. "That's a relief, at least."
Paige nodded, expression one of casual concern.
"But," she drawled, dragging the word out as though testing it on her tongue. Glancing up, she half-smiled, "I reckon he could use a little backup, don't you?"
Piper smiled gratefully and nodded.
"Exactly what I was thinking," she admitted, collecting a handful of pages and skimming through them, letting them drop lazily from her fingertips as she searched faster.
Paige shot Phoebe a questioning glance, and grinned as Phoebe nodded in resignation, dragging herself lethargically to her feet and wandering over to the potions table.
Paige watched her, finally taking pity on her suffering sister as she turned away with a subtle shake of the head.
"You bottle up some more of what I'm sure is a kick-ass potion and I'll see if I can't help you out," she said, orbing away before she'd barely finished her sentence.
Phoebe stared after her in surprise, but soon caught Piper's eye and hurriedly returned to bottling another batch of Chris' vanquishing potion – or at least, that's what they hoped this stuff was.
As not one of them had a clue as to what it could be if it wasn't.
Six potion-filled bottles later, Paige orbed back in holding a glass of water in one hand and a couple of white tablets in the other.
"So much for helping me," Phoebe muttered, nevertheless accepting them with a thankful nod of her head. "You do realise it's gonna take like an hour for these to kick in, don't you?"
"Yep," Paige replied brightly, nodding her approval as Phoebe handed over two potion bottles before taking the tablets and downing the glass Paige had handed over. "Think of it as corporal punishment. Maybe next time you'll think twice about drinking so much."
Phoebe glared at her, but said nothing.
Instead, Piper spoke up again after minutes of silence, glancing nervously at Wyatt before slamming the book shut.
"This is pointless. I can't find the right page and I'm not in the mood for fighting with this thing, so we'll just have to take these potions and hope for the best."
She looked up in time to see Phoebe drop her glass down onto the table, licking her lips and gripping two potion bottles. Nodding her approval, Piper stepped away from the pedestal and sighed heavily.
"I'm gonna go and ring Sheila. I don't want to disturb Leo, not after yesterday's fiasco. The last thing he needs right now is for us to drag him down for baby-sitting duties."
Paige frowned, pocketing her own potions and absently handing over another two to Piper, who took them without question and pocketed them too.
"I thought Leo was going to focus more on you guys?" she asked, a little annoyed by his apparent insistence to remain a part of the 'Greater Good'.
"Well, he is," Piper said, not sounding exactly convinced herself, "but he can't just up and leave, can he? There's rules and things. He'll be back, I know it."
Phoebe and Paige shared identical looks of scepticism, but nodded their mutual agreement regardless.
If only to ease Piper's mind.
"But what do we do if someone needs healing? One of us or Chris? Surely Leo should be coming with us?"
Piper shrugged, unsure.
"He gave me his word that he'd be down like a shot the second we yell for him, so if there's a problem, we just orb back here and call him. He knows the truth, now. He won't ignore us."
An anxious silence fell, all three Sisters glancing nervously at the ceiling before sighing and turning away.
Piper swept from the room, picking Wyatt up on her way to the door before vanishing down the stairs with a murmured, "I'll just go and call Sheila, then."
Phoebe stared after her, a small grimace distorting her features a little as she held a hand to her pounding head.
"She's right," she said softly, trying to convince herself as much as Paige. "He'll come if we need him. And there's no point in worrying him any further, is there? He's got enough on his plate, what with just finding out about Chris, and bearing the guilt of almost losing him, and being the outcast in the clouds for abandoning them all last night to help out down here."
"I guess," she replied slowly, nodding once before turning away. "But I'm more worried by the idea of the Elders keeping him away than by his refusal to come. We know he'd be here if he could, there's no doubt in my mind about that. But you heard what they were like yesterday."
Phoebe spared her an apprehensive smile.
"Well, we'll just have to hope for the best," she said simply, patting Paige on the arm before sinking down onto the sofa, awaiting Piper's return.
Paige nodded and bit her lip, glancing anxiously at her watch.
"I'd better orb Wyatt to Sheila's," she said finally, making for the door. "We don't want to be wasting time. God knows what Chris is up to right now. But if he has gone after Zereph, then I reckon we need to work fast. Something doesn't feel right."
Phoebe nodded, having been thinking along the same lines, herself.
"Hurry up, then," she said softly, sighing as Piper called up to her youngest sister in conformation of their baby-sitter's acceptance.
Moments later, Piper was hurrying into the Attic, the tinkling sounds of Paige's orb trail echoing up from the entrance hall downstairs.
"All set?" she asked anxiously, shrugging into a jacket as she absently fingered the two potion bottles Paige had given her.
"All we need is our taxi," she said wryly, nodding as Paige orbed back in seconds later, a determined look on her face.
"'Kay," Piper murmured, looping an arm through one of Paige's while Phoebe jumped up and grabbed her other hand. "Let's get this over with."
And as one, the three Halliwell sisters vanished from sight in a flurry of blue and white lights.
Thank you to History Buff 1990, aerohead1980, Marcus1233, peppymint, lizardmomma, fairyofmusic, dgeo98, gostlcards, X.o.XLoveIsBlindX.o.X, clois-chlois-liper-chriper, criminally charmed, Za Webmaster Authoress, onesmartgoalie, Secret Thought, Fae Child19, xcharmedgirl4evax, charmedgrl4ever, crazyDFFgang, JennMel, HauntedPast, artsfan, robin, Summer Jasmine and DemonessLeader!
Dudes! You're awesome! Y'all can have a cyber-cookie with your names on it!
AnyWho, thanks again! More up soon! I'm now officially on holiday (heh, like three weeks late), so I should be able to breeze few through at least the next couple of chapters. It all depends on my Muse. Fingers crossed I can keep her happy …
xXx MissHaun†ed-MoonLigh† xXx