Sarah caught Chris's wrist in her hand, feeling for the pulse under her fingers. It was slow. Far too slow. Her hand touched the hilt of the athame gently, looking for any demonic symbols, but finding nothing, Her eyes fell to the shield before her and she choked softly. She'd been careless, she'd run in here without even thinking and now she had no way out, no way to help Chris. She couldn't heal. Orb, blink, shimmer, blow shit up; hell, one morning Wyatt had woken up to find a black Labrador licking his face because Sarah had transformed overnight and couldn't for the life of her work out how to change back.

Sarah stumbled back and sobbed as her hand slipped in a puddle of Chris's blood. His eyes opened a fraction, gargling slightly before his hand touched hers.

"Please….."

'I'm sorry, I'm so sorry…" she sobbed, stroking his hair softly and sniffling helplessly. Chris was going to die. No magic could get out of a shield like this without dying. Leo would never hear her. She looked down at Chris and saw his eyes roll back. The image made her heart race and she shook her head frantically. This wasn't going to happen, she wouldn't let it.

The shield shimmered as Sarah moved forward, her fingers outstretched to find the exact moment where it began. Heat burs at her fingertips and she hissed, yanking her hand away from the agony. She just needed one moment, enough power to send a magical flare for someone to feel. Sarah let out a shuddering breath and plunged her hand through the shield, screaming in agony as the smell of sizzling flesh filled the small room. The concentrated magic in her palm burst open and she ripped her hand back, falling to the ground beside Chris and choking back her screeches of agony. Scorched and twisted, her arm bled uselessly at her side, Chris's blood clumping in her hair as her green eyes rolled back into her head, the pain and shock taking over as her whole world went black.


XxX


The sisters and Leo sat around the dining table, intently listening as Piper detailed

her earlier meeting with Amanda. They all knew the same Piper did, Amanda was going to become a vital part of their lives very soon. Daily playdates, family dinners… adopting Sarah when Amanda passed on. The future knowledge they had loomed over them, knowing that they would welcome this woman wholly into their family to have her ripped out far before her time.

"What's she like?" Phoebe asked in a hushed tone. Sarah had let slip that her mother and Phoebe had been workers together on the paper, as well writing a book collaboration very shortly before Amanda's death.

Piper sighed and stroked her stomach, eyes distant.

"….so much like Sarah." She answered honestly, "So full of life and love and… something magnetic."

Everyone nodded silently in understanding. Something about Sarah was undeniably captivating. Paige twirled her hair absently around one fnger.

"..are you gonna tell Sarah?" she said quietly, her eyes darting to Piper as the entire table fell into an awkward silence. Piper looked up and slowly shook her head. She couldn't do that to her. She didn't know enough about Sarah's relationship with her mother to try and bring it up.

"Speaking of Sarah, where'd she run off to?" Phoebe frowned as she straightened over the table. Leo looked around and shrugged.

"She was looking for Chris, he said he was going back to P3 for a book but-"

Leo cried out and gripped his chest, ripples and aches spreading up his chest and tightening around his heart. The sisters jumped up, Piper's hands ready to blow up anything that stepped inside. Leo shook his head frantically and groped for the table to steady himself.

"No… no… someone's in trouble. Chris…Sarah."

Orbs surrounded his body immediately, not knowing how much longer he had. Paige wasted no time in grabbing a startled Phoebe and Piper, following after Leo without hesitation.

Piper screamed. The sound ripped the air and brought everyone's attention to the two bodies on the floor. Nobody was sure what was worse; the athame wedged inside Chris's chest, or Sarah's mutilated arm and the scent of melted human skin. Piper raced forward but Leo cried out and caught her by the arm, hauling her back and holding her tight.

'What the hell are you doing, Leo. HEAL THEM!" she cried, tears streaking her face and her heart pounding an erratic rhythm.

Leo shook his head, eyes roving desperately for some kind of escape, "It's a magical shield. I can't go through. None of us can."

"Why the hell not!"

Leo wiped his face and ignored the tears welling up in his eyes at the sight of his son and his girlfriend on the floor. The mixed scent of blood and burning made his stomach churn.

'It's a weave of pure magic. Magic can go through it, but once you're inside, you're trapped. If you try, it's like…."

His eyes went to Sarah's hand and the three girls followed his lead. It all slowly fell into place and Piper shook her head.

"No. No this is not going to happen, god dammit. We're breaking this down."

"Piper you can't-"

"Watch me."

Piper threw up her hands, the explosive power rattling the formations of the shield but not bringing it down. Chris's hand twitched beyond the barrier and Piper grit her teeth, another shocking blast knocking against the shield and shaking the entire back room.

'Piper you need to stop before-"

A large explosion rocked P3 in its roots, the magic shield collapsing into an array of electrical sparks. Piper rushed forward and collapsed beside Chris, feeling for a pulse, searching for a flicker of his eyelids. Her other hand met Sarah's neck, feeling a pulse but her stomach churned at the damage to her arm. Leo fell beside her, hands clasping around the athame and slowly pulling it out, immediately covering the wound in a slew of blue sparkles. The wound healed, Chris's eyes darting under closed lids before they opened lazily, staring directly at Sarah's wounds. Chris lunged up without thinking, sending his mother into a frenzy as se tried to calm him and push him back down. He called her name and Leo silenced him softly.

Piper gripped Chris's hand and stroked his head, murmuring soothing words as Paige and Phoebe held Sarah close, Leo's hands working hard to try and save her mutilated appendage. The skin cleared inch by inch, becoming supple and soft again. Le paused and gasped for breath, wiping sweat from his brow.

"Keep going, what the hell are you doing?" Chris demanded, "HEAL HER!"

Leo looked up, still drawing breath short and sharp, "I'm trying. The field sucked away so much from her… it's going to take a while. She'll survive though, Chris, I promise. She's just in shock. We need to get her home and you need to tell us everything."

Chris looked as though he wanted to protest, but he nodded, clasping Sarah's uninjured hand and murmuring softly to her.

'It's okay, Spazzy. I'm right here. It's going to be okay."


XxX


Sarah opened one bleary eye and groaned, rolling over and burying herself under the blankets. There was movement from beside her and she sat up, suddenly engulfed in warmth. She clung back, burying her face into the crook of Chris's neck and clinging to his shirt helplessly.

"I thought you were dead." She said softly, her voice muffled by the fabric against her lips.

"Don't ever do anything that stupid again, Sarah." Chris said firmly, not wanting to let her go for any reason. The image of her hand was burned into his mind, flashing every time he closed his eyes. She could have died in that shield if she hadn't succeeded in calling Leo. His father had explained that Sarah's wound was slowly killing the flesh around it, making it much harder to heal. It had taken him hours of on and off healing before he had been satisfied that Sarah would be okay. Sarah reluctantly pulled back and looked around. She was tucked in her bed at Magic School, the drapes drawn and books strewn across the bottom of her bed.

'How long was I-"

"A day. Nearly two. It's…" Chris looked over at the clock, "Three in the morning."

Sarah nodded and flexed her fingers experimentally. Her limb felt stiff, almost as though she had been resting it against something for too long. She stretched it out, flexing the muscles and rolling her shoulder to try and work all of the knots from the appendage. A warm, firm hand came down to her shoulder, pressing into the skin and working in small circles. Sarah sighed and tipped her head forward, letting Chris massage away the pain.

"…someone tried to kill us."

The words made the air thick and heavy, Chris's finger tightened on the muscles in Sarah's back. He had been grilled relentlessly about his attack, but he had no memory of the event. He never saw the demon's face and everything was black until the moment he had been healed. He did remember that he had been attacked on the opposite side of the room, and that the magical shield had been created long after he had been attacked. Leo had gone to consult with Gideon while the sisters had begun another search. Demons had come after them before, many times. But this had been so perfectly planned, so calculated that it was scaring them even more than they cared to admit.

Chris wet his lips and gently tugged Sarah back against him so she was nestled between his legs.

"Sarah…. I have a theory."

The girl in question craned her neck and cocked an eyebrow, a silent request for him to continue. Worried, Chris rubbed his forehead a little and then sighed. It was now or never. Too many things just weren't making sense and his visit to the Oracle and the events of the last few days gave him reason to believe there was more to everything than they had assumed.

"What if… we've already killed the demon that turns Wyatt evil?"

Sarah tilted her head to the side, clearly not understanding. As soon as they killed the demon, the future would change and they would be erased. Chris sensed her confusion and continued on, "BUT… there's something else. Something else that influences Wyatt's future."

He explained everything, pouring out what had happened with the Oracle, his theory about Gideon, the way nothing seemed to add up.

"We don't live at P3 anymore. I decided to go there on a whim, I only told Gideon and Dad. We had no reason to be there so how did a demon- or something else- know where I would be so they could attack me?"

Sarah, who had been silent throughout all of Chris's speech, wet her lips slowly. She couldn't deny that Chris had a point. From the very beginning, they had known the demon who turned Wyatt was strong, brainy.. calculated. They knew they had to let the evil build over time, slowly adapt to everything before striking at the right moment. They had poured over every text they could get their hands on; vanquished so many demons in the process of finding the right one. At this point, a theory like Chris's was become more and more likely.

"So.. you think Gideon is, what? Trying to kill Wyatt? Turn him evil?"

Chris shrugged, recalling all of the information the Oracle had given him before he was expelled from the cave, "I think…. He tries to kill him. But he fails, but Wyatt sees something bad or something lingers in him and still turns him evil. In the original future, our future, a demon turned Wyatt. In this future, Gideon found out that Wyatt would go evil and didn't trust us to stop it, so he's going to try and kill him. But he'll fail, and Wyatt will go evil anyway, which is why we're still here. The future was altered, but not enough for our timeline to change."

He paused and knit his brows together, replaying his words slowly, "Did that… did that make sense?"

Sarah turned her whole body, curling up in Chris's lap. His words made sense, and at this point she was open to all kinds of suggestions. She would never admit it to Chris, but little by little, she was feeling death grip at her body again. It meant they were running out of time.

"Should we tell Piper? Leo? Someone?"

Chris shook his head, reaching for her hand absently and tangling their fingers, "I don't want to worry them. If we tell them, they'll go straight after Gideon and we might never catch him or find out if it's really him. We just need some solid evidence. We need to catch him in the act at something."

Sarah agreed and squeezed his hand before leaning in. The movement surprised Chris, heart skipping as she slid her hand under his shirt to rest where the athame had plunged through. Though it didn't hurt, he could still remember the feeling of the blade slicing through his skin and flesh. Sarah's long hair draped over his chest as she rested her head above her hand, eyes closing in pleasure at the thrumming heartbeat in her ears.

"…I was so scared, Chris."

Chris's long fingers caught under her chin and tilted her head up to his. Their noses brushed softly and he smiled weakly, "I was too."

Sarah angled her head a little, wanting to just brush their lips together. Wyatt was priority, Wyatt was important, they had no time to be screwing around with one another when there was a major future in the palms of their hands and-

"Excuse me?"

Sarah jerked her head away and looked down sheepishly, her hands parting the drapes and looking to the closed door.

"Come in."

The door creaked open, Sigmund's head peering around the door curiously before he opened the door fully, a tea tray in his hands. Two steaming cups rattled as he walked forward, awkwardly placing them on the bed and shoving his glasses up his face.

"Sarah, good to see you awake and healthy. I brought you both some tea." He gestured to the cups, "My own special recipe. When you're both ready, the Charmed Ones would like to see you in the library. They have a theory."

Sarah took her teacup gratefully, smiling at Sigmund while Chris assured him they would be down as soon as possible. Chris drained his cup in one gulp while Sarah sipped contentedly at her beverage, the warm liquid filling her insides. She cradled the delicate china cup in her pale hands, looking over to Chris with curiosity.

"What do you suppose the new theory is? More demons? I really think we've tapped the demon angle dry. The more I think about your theory, the more I think we've been looking in the wrong spots."

Chris nodded and held out his hand when Sarah's cup ran empty. She frowned a little in confusion but slid her hand into his, smiling at the way her small hands were dwarfed in his. The familiar tug of orbing pulled at her navel before the pieces amalgamated in the library. Piper was slumped in a chair, her large stomach a prop for her book. Phoebe and Paige were bent over to tomes a piece as Gideon and Leo mumbled in low voices off in the corner. Nobody appeared to be fazed by their arrival, so Chris cleared his throat.

"We had a theory?"

Piper looked up from her book and flailed her arms a little as she tried to stand. Finally getting out of her seat, she waddled over and pulled Sarah into the warmest hug her stomach would allow.

"Sweetie, are you feeling okay? You had us so worried, I just…."

She tightened the hug and sniffed as she pulled away, wiping at her eyes. After meeting Amanda, seeing who influenced Sarah so much as she grew up, something about seeing Sarah in that condition made it even worse than she could ever imagine.

Everyone took their seats, Chris pulling Sarah into his lap protectively as Gideon stood at the top of the table. Sarah squeezed Chris's hand softly, the two sharing a look. From this moment on, Gideon was a suspect. Everything he did was under strict observation.

"Chris has told us that the Oracle is under the impression that we're looking in the wrong place. I think she was right. What if…. It isn't a demon that turns Wyatt evil? We assumed that a demon planted the seed of evil inside Wyatt and let it grow, but what if instead, he was influenced by something? By an event? Now, I doubt this event has already occurred, but this opens up an entirely new section for us to explore."

"Yeah," Paige chimed in, pushing a heavy book forward, "Here it says that magical children are easily influenced, which means that if Wyatt sees something- even this young- it could be something that triggers a slow moving build of evil. Like, if he saw a vanquish or a death or something."

"Which is why," Phoebe interjected, turning to Chris and Sarah, "we need to know if you guys ever remember us telling you about a specific vanquish we did around this time. The time before you were born. I know, future consequences, but this could really be a chance for us."

Sarah and Chris sat in silence, hands entwined and minds racing. Sarah knew that Chris had been selective about the information the Seer had given him, and now she understood why. Gideon was working an event angle, but Chris knew for a fact it was a human planting the seed by trying to kill him. One the one hand, telling them something would be sending them off on a wild chase at nothing, but it could also send Gideon the wrong idea that they suspected him, buying them time to work out if he was a threat to Wyatt.

"I remember you mentioning a vanquish," Sarah lied, clearly picking up on Chris's train of thought. "Around about this time, I guess. You said that some demons just came out of nowhere one day at the house… in Wyatt's room and you vanquished them."

Chris rubbed Sarah's back softly, letting her know that she was doing the right thing. He hated keeping his parents out of the loop, but he knew for a fact this angle was wrong and he needed to know if Gideon was pushing it for a reason.

"Can you tell us more?" Piper asked, sitting up a little in her chair.

"I don't remember much," Sarah said with an offhanded shrug, "I mean, Wyatt's seen a lot of vanquishes in his time but I guess this one could have been different. There's so many ripples in the demonic world now, everyone's too afraid to breathe. I guess anyone with the guts to attack you must have some serious juice."

Phoebe and Paige nodded, immediately hitting the books while Leo stood tall, "I'll check with the Elders, see if they know about anything floating around up there. Gideon, would you like to join me?"

The Elder looked up as though broken from a trance, "Oh, no, Leo. Unfortunately I need to attend a meeting about the return to Magic School for the children, lots of planning. And Sigmund seems to be out a lot these days, I think all of this Wyatt business is starting to worry him. Wyatt is the Twice Blessed after all. Most of the magical world is rippling, not just the demonic side. Knowing that the Twice Blessed is in serious danger is causing some…. Disturbances."

Leo nodded in understanding, kissing Piper gently before orbing away. Gideon bid the remaining witches farewell, his clock billowing as he pushed open both doors to the library in his exit. Piper stood up, waddling over to the cuddled pair in the large chair and sighing.

"You guys have been through the mill the past few weeks. Take a day off, okay? And don't fight me on this unless you want to be grounded before you're even out of the placenta."

"Ew, gross." Chris scrunched his nose and screwed his eyes shut, not wanting to think about the image. Sarah giggled while Piper rolled her eyes.

"Christopher, you are old enough to start behaving maturely when someone says placenta. This is little you I'm carrying, don't forget that. Inside me right now, kicking a catchy drum beat onto my bladder is you. Oh, and I got another ultrasound photo," she produced the black and white image with a flourish, smiling as she handed it over.

"You can see it a little better now, it's right there-"

"MOM!"

Chris snatched away the picture, ears red and head ducked as the four women in the room dissolved into uncontrollable laughter. Sarah caught his hand and pressed a light kiss against his cheek, nuzzling his neck as she climbed off his lap and took his hand.

"Now, I mean it. Go and have a relaxing day, go on a date, watch a movie…. Anything. Just don't let me catch you in here or hitting any books or so help me I will ground you both, effective as soon as little Sarah sets foot in my house."

Chris and Sarah nodded, lacing fingers as they orbed away, leaving a very satisfied Piper in their wake.

They reemerged in Chris's room, the space now decorated in a handsome red and gold colour scheme. Sarah nodded in approval before throwing herself down onto his bed, the colour immediately shifting from red to green. Chris rolled his eyes and climbed on next to her.

"So you're with me on the Gideon theory?" he said quietly. When Sarah nodded, he took her hand and smoothed his thumb over the back of the palm and across her knuckles. "Thank you."

Sarah smiled and kissed Chris's hand, peering shyly up at him through her long lashes, "Don't thank me. I'm with you. Always."


XxX


Gideon swept into his office, door slamming shut behind him and plunging the room into darkness. The small desk lamp flicked on and Barbas turned his head to stare Gideon down.

"You're late."

"I was busy."

Barbas leaned back in his chair, propping his long legs onto Gideon's desk and placing his fingertips together, surveying the Elder over the desk.

"You're going to lose," he said simply, a wry grin on his face. "You underestimate the Charmed Ones, the Slayer and the boy. You're going to end up just like the rest of them."

Gideon forced a smile onto his face and leaned over the desk, palms flat, "You're going to help me," he said bluntly, "And I'm going to give you what you want."

Barbas chuckled and threw his hands into the air, "What I want? Tell me, Gideon.. what is it I want?"

The Elder leaned back and waved his fingers in the air absently, "Freedom. Don't think I don't know how you keep breaking your confinement rules. Selling your powers piece by piece. There's a reason you're growing weaker, Barbas. And I can help you with that. Help me and I'll help you. Understood?"

Barbas, who had been frowning as Gideon spoke, cocked his head o the side and bared his teeth, "Well…tell me what you think I can do for you. All I can do is make them suffer their worst nightmares, but they've dealt with me before. They'll know what I'm doing and I can't promise I won't.. let slip… who I'm working for."

Gideon chuckled, "I am counting on them knowing it is you. They are on my trail, I can feel it. I need a distraction. What you are going to do is make them think that I had nothing to do with this. Instead…"

Gideon snapped his fingers and Sigmund appeared on his desk, dazed and unseeing, "Make them think he did it. Make them suffer.. and when they come to you, point them to him. Do all off this, and I'll restore you to full power and let you roam free wherever you please."

Barbas smirked and held out a hand over the table, grasping Gideon's palm and squeezing hard.

"We have a deal."

Gideon smirked and snapped Sigmund away, knowing he would have no recollection of anything. Gideon had him under his full control and had for some time. Gideon had been making sure Sigmund slipped herbs into the tea he had been passing around the school. This had to look realistic. The plan was foolproof. Once they were off his scent and chasing Sigmund, Gideon could make his move. Barbas kept his feet propped on the desk and Gideon swept them off as he began to glide forward, cloak billowing behind him as he loomed over Barbas.

"The sisters and Leo, they can wait. Do them last. Start with the boy. And make it good."

Barbas chuckled and waved his palm in the air, watching the wavering image appear in his palm. A sly grin etched onto his face and he licked his lips. So simple, so easy.

"Done."


A/N- This was a flesh out chapter, just so I could introduce all of my concepts for the next chapter without making it too long. Enjoy.

Weird question- does anyone have a face they see as Sarah?