Author's Notes: Longest chapter to date thus far, but that's because it's the last one :D I wanted to thank everyone who took the time to both read and review this story, because it's by far one of my favorites, especially for Charmed. I'm not really sure why it isn't getting the reviews people think it should (to answer your wonderings, writerchic16 and charmed4eva112), but I suppose there's a reason for everything. Whatever the case, this chapter is dedicated to all of the faithful readers!!
Also, just to let you know, I'm not really sure if I'll go with it or not, but I'm fiddling with the idea of a sequel to this story, if only because I liked where things ended up, and I think that there could be a lot of expansion upon them. But we'll see! Bear with me, cause it might take a little bit longer. I usually don't post stories until I'm completely finished with them, which...may take some time. Still, it'll be worth it, I'm sure. :)
Oh, yes. And I don't own them, like always. (Just Landon!)
It was a wonder that Chris had managed to get any sleep that night at all. After going upstairs and immediately crawling into his bed, he had been rudely bothered by Wyatt, who kept on trying to get information on the fight between his two siblings. He eventually had to tell his brother to just shut up and go to sleep. It didn't leave things on very good terms between them, but Chris had been more worried with other things. He had more than enough things going on…worrying about fixing things between him and Wyatt would be something later. He was still unreasonably angry with him, anyways.
When Chris woke up that morning he saw that Wyatt wasn't in his bed. He figured that he must have been downstairs, but he wasn't terribly concerned with where his brother was. He got up and out of bed, went to the bathroom and then headed downstairs. He was just about to step into the dining room when he heard footsteps behind him. A glance back showed that it was Wyatt, who was carrying the Book of Shadows in his hands. Chris didn't think much of that and just continued on his way to the kitchen, where he found his mom, dad and Mel.
"Looks like we're all up now," Piper said, sipping at her coffee. She turned to her daughter, who was sitting beside her. "You said it was a female demon, right?"
Melinda nodded. "I…don't remember what her name is, though. I don't think she ever said it. I'd know her face if I saw it, though."
Chris didn't really acknowledge anyone—they all seemed to be just fine with that—and headed over toward the refrigerator to get himself something to drink. His stomach was still feeling queasy from the night before, and he didn't want to make himself sick. With a new demon to go after, there would be no time for rest or relaxation, or even recuperation. Part of him was a little bitter about that, but majority of him knew that that was just the way life was.
Around this time Wyatt stepped into the kitchen with the I Book of Shadows /I in his arms. Although he carefully set it down on the table there was still a quiet thud that came along with it. The book had become awfully big over the years, so carrying it was getting difficult. Chris had some problems with it, and Mel did, too. Wyatt didn't have quite as many issues, since he was bigger and stronger than the both of them.
"Why don't we just do…some cross-referencing or something?" Chris suggested as he walked over to the table, resting a little against the chair his mom was sitting in. "What was her hair color, or her stature?"
"She was about my height." A thoughtful look took over the youngest one's face. "And…I think her hair was black. She was pale. Weird looking. Kind of a hooked nose."
Chris yawned. "All right, let's see." He waved his hand over the book, and it parted open upon the table. Pages started flipping on their own as he continued to move his hand, almost as if he were physically doing it. "Female demons with black hair, pale…" When the book flipped to a page and stopped, he looked over at his sister.
"That's not her," Mel said.
It was understandable, Chris thought. There were probably several demons in the Book that were female and that had black hair. He used his powers again to flip to another page. This time they all looked at her, and almost at once Mel winced, looking downward and away from the Book.
"That's her," she said, sounding a little weirded out.
"Looks like her name's Lilandra," Wyatt said as he gazed over the two-page spread. "There's…God, there's a lot of stuff about her in here."
Piper, who had put on her glasses, was looking over the page as well. "It says she's had ties with Zankou…so she's been around for quite a while. And…that she's apparently gathered a few powers over the years…but if this hasn't been updated since we vanquished Zankou, then she must have been in hiding or something since then."
Leo propped his chin up with one of his arms, and he stroked it with his thumb. "It's possible that after he died, she went quiet…I know you, Phoebe and Paige haven't dealt with her before. I don't think I've ever even heard of her."
"She—" Mel paused, because right at the time she went to speak, so did Piper.
"No, go ahead, Mel. What were you gonna say?" Piper said.
"I…well, I don't really know what her plans are…but I know that they involve the three of us. She kept asking me what Chris was doing, and Wyatt, and she would…well, it's kind of hazy, but she would ask me to do things that would stir up trouble and stuff." Melinda made a face. "God, I can't believe some of the things I did." She looked up at Chris, then, and there was sincerity in her eyes that he hadn't seen even when they had the worst of fights. "I'm sorry about the things I said. I really am."
"It's okay," Chris said, but quietly. That sincerity made him feel a little uncomfortable, because now he felt bad about how he had reacted the night before. If it hadn't been for the way she had treated him the time before that, he probably wouldn't have gotten the guts to go talk to Landon, so he couldn't be entirely angry with her. "I know you didn't mean it," he said. "It wasn't you."
"Wyatt, too," Mel said, looking at her other brother.
Wyatt waved a hand dismissively. "Don't worry about it. I just thought it was you going through that…angry teenager phase that Chris and I went through. Happens to everyone."
Mel snorted, as did Piper and Leo.
"What?" Wyatt said.
"Nothing," Piper and Leo replied.
"It doesn't look like there's a vanquishing spell or potion in here," Chris broke in. "She…hmm. We'll have to come up with them."
"Is there a summoning spell?" Piper asked. She started looking over the pages.
"No, doesn't say," Chris said.
Mel shifted in her chair. "I don't think we'll have to worry about that. She said that she was going to come back sometime soon…but she didn't tell me why."
Piper and Leo shared a look.
"Do you think she—"
"—If she wanted to, it wouldn't be too hard—"
"—Not with an amulet like that. She probably thinks—"
"—That their magic is going to be broken, like what happened with Prue, Phoebe and I…"
Chris looked at Wyatt. "You ever get tired of it when they do that?"
Wyatt snorted. "You know them…"
"And you should know not to make fun of your parents," Piper said. She shook her head, but she looked amused momentarily. "We think that she was trying to get you three to fight and argue and use your powers on each other…so that the connection between you would break. With that, she probably would try and go for the Book. She's not the first demon to try to do this, so I'm not sure if she thought it would be successful, or…what."
"But I think she must have forgotten the fact that technically, the Book is still guarded by your aunts and your mom." Leo sipped some of his coffee. "I think a lot of demons forget that. It may have been passed down to you, but technically, until…well, they pass on, it's still under their care."
"Magic's so complicated sometimes," Mel said. She made a frustrated face.
Piper chuckled. "Oh, you say that now…just wait. It gets worse."
Chris snorted. "How reassuring."
"You know I mean it with the best intentions in mind." Piper moved to stand, and she rubbed her hands together. "But…let's come up with a battle plan. We've got a demon we need to vanquish, and with no spell or potion to go off of. That means…?"
"She's a Power of Three demon," Wyatt said suddenly. "We haven't fought one of those before…"
"So we've got a demon that needs to be vanquished by the Power of Three. Who wants to come up with the vanquishing spell?"
"I'll do it," Chris replied, raising his hand some.
"Just in case she doesn't come sooner rather than later, I'll come up with a summoning spell," Mel said.
"Should I make a potion?" Wyatt asked.
"It probably won't be necessary," Piper said. "Your active powers should be more than enough to keep her occupied. Just for safety measures, everyone needs to stay home today. No going anywhere."
"You think she'll attack today?" Leo asked.
"You know how demons are," Piper said, looking at her husband. "They're greedy to the core. She'll be here sooner than we think."
Everything was going according to plan. Charming that amulet with a will-bending spell was possibly the smartest idea that Lilandra had come up with since she had hatched the plan to steal the Charmed Ones' powers and the Book of Shadows. With it, she had been able to talk Mel into doing whatever she wanted, and it was that which was assuredly going to undo their sibling connection and break the power over the Book. With both their powers and the Book in her possession, she would easily be able to rise to the position of the next Source, with or without blood ties to him. Nobody would be able to refute her power…she would be the new queen.
It had only taken two decades and then some to get the idea into full effect, but it was better late than never. She had more than enough time to spare.
Perhaps her own cockiness was going to be her undoing. She didn't think so, however. She had power under her control that only one other person had ever used in going against the Charmed Ones. But unlike the original Source, she wasn't sending minions to do her job for her. No, she was doing it herself. It was always better, and much more reliable.
Tonight would be the night. She would go to the Charmed Ones' manor, take the Book in its weakened state, steal their powers, and then kill them all one by one. It almost seemed anticlimactic in a way…but she supposed that would be the case, given that she had been using someone on the inside. They didn't even know they were being poisoned and destroyed from the inside out.
That thought made her smirk.
It would be under the cover of darkness that she would go. But could she wait that long?
She had waited for years, she told herself. A couple hours seemed like mere seconds in comparison.
"God, I'm getting tired of waiting…"
"You know, Mel, you're not the only one. Don't you have homework you could do?" Chris glanced over at his sister then, watching her shift around in the armchair.
She made a face. "You think I'm gonna do homework when a demon could attack at any minute?"
"It'd be a lot better than sitting here, watching TV, waiting for her to pop in."
"It's just because mom said we had to stay here," Wyatt broke in. He was sitting on the other end of the couch, the remote in his hand as he aimlessly flipped through channels. "But I'm…getting kind of sick of it. I wish we could just scry for her and get her in her lair, or whatever."
"Mom must have a reason for wanting us to do it here," Chris said, moving off of the couch. He stretched. "I just wish she'd tell us."
"You know mom and dad. They love letting us learn lessons on our own." Wyatt shrugged. "Damn it. There isnothing good on TV. I'm gonna go make myself a sandwich." Tossing the remote at his sister, he then got up and off of the couch, heading toward the kitchen.
Chris rubbed his hands over his eyes, then turned to look at his sister. "I'm gonna head up to my room and grab a…book, or something. I can't sit here and just watch TV for hours until she shows up."
When Mel gave a noncommittal sort of shrug Chris just stepped out of the parlor and went up the stairs toward his room. Beside his bed there was a short little bookshelf that he kept all of his books on, as well as a few other things, like his magazines or his textbooks, or readings for class. Despite having told Mel to do her homework in a way, he knew that he wasn't going to do his. Instead he grabbed the book that he had been reading off and on for about a month and a half. He hadn't even made it a quarter of the way through the book and had forgotten majority of it. Reading a little more and getting lost seemed like a good way to pass the time.
Especially since he didn't want to think about all the other crap that was running around in his head. Chris furrowed his brow and shook his head. It was going to take him a hell of a long time to get over that…
He had just stepped out of his room when he heard the sounds of someone moving around in the attic above him. At first he thought that it was maybe his mom or his dad, but a glance down the hall showed him that they were in their room, his dad folding clothes and his mom making the bed. Wyatt and Melinda were downstairs…unless Wyatt had orbed up to the attic to grab something. But he wasn't sure why he would do that.
Something was suspicious. There was only one other option as to who it was, because he sincerely doubted that it was one of his cousins having come to get a spell. When they did that, they usually brought the Book down into the ground floor of the manor for safety. No, whoever it was looking at it probably didn't want to be detected.
He knew that he should have told someone what was going on, but Chris wanted to just check and make sure that his suspicions were right. After tossing his book back into his room toward his bed, he headed slowly up the stairs that led to the attic, trying not to make too much noise. The door to the attic was almost completely closed, which gave him a chance to peek inside through the crack. What he saw, oddly enough, both surprised and didn't surprise him.
Pushing the door open, Chris barged into the attic with full force, not removing his eyes from the short, pale, and darkly clothed individual who tried to touch the I Book /I . Its shield went up instantly and it bounced right off of its pedestal, cascading across the floor.
"Damn it!" Lilandra cursed. She looked to Chris, eyes lit with surprise. "What—"
Before she was able to respond, Chris pointed at Lilandra and then toward the large, open area to the right of theBook's pedestal. She went flying through the air and landed on the attic floor with a heavy thud, one that almost would have caused him to wince.
He ran over to the Book and picked it up while she was down, holding it in his arms. "Wyatt! Get Mel!" he shouted. At the sight of Lilandra stirring on the ground not too far away he pointed at the box where they kept their crystals, saying, "Crystals! Circle!"
Before she was able to get up completely, four crystals surrounded her and formed a cage that trapped her in place. "WYATT!"
"You weren't supposed to have your powers," Lilandra said upon standing up. She attempted to shimmer out of the crystal cage but their resonating energy fields stopped her and gave her a shock. She cried out in surprise and looked around her. "This wasn't supposed to happen."
"Yeah, well, believe it. You stupid—"
Chris was cut off by the sudden appearance of his brother and sister orbing in beside him. Wyatt and Mel looked to Chris, who pointed to the crystal cage.
"That's her!" Mel exclaimed.
"I don't know how long this'll keep her," Chris said. He waved his hand over the Book, and watched as it disappeared from his hands. He had orbed it to his mother, knowing it would be safe with her.
"Do you have the spell?" Wyatt asked.
Chris nodded. "It's in my—pocket—" He pulled the crumpled up piece of paper and unfolded it, glancing back over at Lilandra once more. "I made sure to make it hurt," he said, eying his sister momentarily. "For all the pain she put you through."
"You won't kill me!" Lilandra shouted. She formed a fireball in her hand and shot it at one of the crystals on the floor, which happened to knock it to the side just enough to break the cage. She immediately attempted to shimmer away, but was stopped by Wyatt, who stuck his hand out. She was stuck in mid-shimmer.
"Mel, freeze her!" Wyatt shouted.
Without hesitation Mel did exactly what her brother said, flicking her hands at Lilandra. Even though she was a higher-level demon it still affected her just long enough for Wyatt to use his power to bring her fully back to form.
As her figure began to shift and distort due to the effect wearing off, Chris clasped his brother's hand, and Wyatt did the same with his sister's. "Just read it from the paper," Chris said.
In unison, Wyatt, Chris and Mel all chanted: "Through us three, cast the spell, bring the death of evil and hell…"
Lilandra had completely fought off Mel's freeze, but now she was planted in place by the spell effect that was now taking place. At the bottom, red and black flames suddenly surrounded her. She looked down at them, then quickly back up to the three Halliwell children.
"You can't do this!" she exclaimed shrilly. "I didn't kill your stupid charge just to be—"
But the three Charmed Ones continued chanting, their voices, will and power remaining focused: "May she suffer, until she cries, her tears will run, and then she dies."
Tears as black as night and as thick as oil began running down Lilandra's cheeks. She stuck her hands out in front of her and cried out in agony, screaming, "Nooo! I won't be killed, I—NOOOO!!!"
But before she could finish speaking, the brilliantly colored flames engulfed more and more of her body as the tears poured from her eyes. Her body distorted its shape again once more before she threw her hands up in the air and her body imploded with a resounding boom. There was a large black scorch mark on the wooden floor where she had been, and a wave of wind from the blast whisked all of their hair back.
What she had said hadn't hit Chris until after she had been vanquished. I She /I had been the one who had killed Sophie. A strange feeling that wrenched his gut made him almost hunch over. Although he had killed her killer, it didn't make it feel any better. Vengeance wasn't a healthy feeling, and Chris didn't want it. But at least now…now he knew who had done it.
And it was one thing that he could consider solved.
"We did it," Mel said, sounding somewhat surprised, but more relieved than anything. She looked at her brothers. "We did it."
"Our first Power of Three demon vanquished," Wyatt said. He had a grin on his face.
"Congrats, guys," Chris said, and with a sigh.
They both turned to him, and Wyatt, who was still clasping his hand, let go and wrapped his arm around his brother's shoulders to bring him closer. "…Sorry about your charge, Chris."
"Yeah," Mel agreed gently. "…but at least we got the bitch."
Despite it all, Chris couldn't help but laugh at that.
He smiled a little. "You're right. At least we got her."
With Lilandra vanquished and thoughts of what had happened to Sophie finally out of his mind (at least for the time being--he wasn't sure he would ever be fully over it), Chris had been able to think more about other things. But unfortunately, what he thought about wasn't exactly the most positive. It was during this time that he realized that he had basically ditched Landon at the club without having intended to at all. There really was no easy way of lying to him about it—what he had done wouldn't make any sense to the other even if he tried to make it. Plus, he couldn't give up his family's secret—and their protection—just because he had messed up on a date. If his aunts had done that every time one of their romances failed, then there was no way that they would be where they were at that moment.
Still, it had taken a lot of courage to call Landon up. He had to think of a probable reason, something that wouldn't seem outlandish, complicated, or just overall, stupid. The only person that he would have been able to talk about it with would have been Wyatt. And even though his brother had told him that he was fine with knowing, it was an entirely different thing to actually act on that knowledge and use him as a resource. Maybe someday Chris would be able to do that, but that day wasn't I today /I .
Thanks to some miracle, Chris had been able to get Landon to meet him at a coffee house not too far away from the manor so that they could talk. Landon had sounded somewhat short on the phone, for which Chris couldn't blame him. This must have been the feeling that his aunts—and at times, his mom—had felt when dealing with these kinds of things.
He didn't like the feeling very much…
Feeling about twice as nervous as he had the time that they met at his mother's club, Chris sat outside at one of the small café tables, some water in front of him. He, however, was too jittery to even try drinking it. It wouldn't do to spill some on himself and make a mess. That would have been embarrassing as hell.
About five minutes had passed, and Chris looked down at his watch. Landon was late.
Or no, he wasn't. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed a familiar figure heading his way. It was Landon, but he was wearing sunglasses, which hid his eyes. He took them off, however, upon approaching the table.
Chris glanced up at him, a small forming on his face. "Hey…"
"Hey," Landon said. "Seat taken?"
"No, no, it's not." Chris snorted. "Sit, please. And have some of that coffee. I, uh, got it for you."
Landon did so and set his glasses on the top of the table near the little container that held all of the sugars. He looked at Chris, raising an eyebrow. "Now, you're…not gonna run out on me here after just a few minutes, right?"
That hurt. But, Chris thought to himself, he deserved it. "No," he said, and with assurance. "No, that won't happen this time. I…can't apologize enough for it happening the last time."
"I have to admit, only part of me wanted to come today, because I thought you blew me off." Landon's fingertips carefully tapped against his coffee container. "But that part was the one that was curious as to why, so…why?"
"I…" Chris began.
What he wanted to say was the truth. Even though he knew beyond all shadow of a doubt that Landon would think him crazy, the truth was what he felt like getting out. But there was more to it than that, and the more Chris had to think about it—which was a lot, in just two days—the more he realized there were completely normal, non-magical problems with him, as well.
"I…almost felt unprepared," he finally admitted.
Landon gave him a funny look. "What does that mean?"
"It means…that I don't think I was ready to completely open up then. I'm…not really a party-goer. I'm more of a homebody. I like going out to movies or to dinner, but I just…clubs, I don't go to them much. I felt out of my element, uncomfortable. And I didn't really think about what I did, so I just did it. Acted on impulse."
"It wasn't so bad the last time you did it," Landon said, and with a small smirk on his face.
"That wasn't really me, either," Chris admitted. "But the one you see before you…basic, boring Chris—that's who I am. That's who I feel like being. Easy-going—okay, maybe a little high-strung at times—but generally quiet, focused."
"Not the kind of guy who parties and drinks?"
Chris tried not to let that gut-wrenching feeling come back. "Yeah."
Landon didn't say anything for a minute. He remained quite quiet, sipping at his coffee once, and then twice. Finally, he looked at Chris, raised an eyebrow, and snorted. "Dude…why didn't you just say that in the first place?"
A confused look overtook Chris' face. "Eh?"
"You should have just told me in the first place. I don't…really know you well enough to know what you like, what you don't like. You just agreed to the club so I figured it was a mutual thing. If you didn't wanna go, you could have just told me. We could have gone somewhere else."
There was no chastising sound in Landon's tone, Chris noted. If anything, his tone seemed mostly surprised. That was a strange feeling. Chris scooted closer to the table then, resting his bare forearms upon it. "I didn't think."
"Eh, we're men." Landon laughed. "That happens sometimes. But seriously…next time? Just tell me. If you wanna meet at a café or something, that's fine by me. I don't always want to go out to clubs. It's just…kind of what I know about you, since it's where I first met you."
Chris turned a mild shade of red, which he hoped wasn't too noticeable. "I'll definitely be more upfront about these kinds of things the next time."
"Yeah, yeah…don't over think it." Landon reached across the table and patted Chris' hand with a grin. He, too, moved in on the café table. Their faces were somewhat closer together now. "It's dating. It's not rocket science."
Landon was right, Chris thought. It wasn't rocket science. He didn't have to over think it. He just had to enjoy it. Just had to be comfortable. And really, that wasn't too hard to do. If the inhibition spell had taught him one thing, it was that the desire and capability was there. He couldn't deny it.
And because of that, he was able to move in closer, closing the distance between them until their lips met in a kiss. It wasn't the best kiss, but when he pulled back, Landon didn't seem to be frowning. In fact, he was grinning faintly.
It looked like things would be fine, after all.