There are a lot of fanfics out there that make Christopher Perry Halliwell out to be a weepy wisp of a man who heart bleeds because of his lies; a boy abused, a son forgotten, et cetera et cetera. Okay, I'm sure it wasn't easy (even if the way time works in this universe makes absolutely no sense to me), but I doubt Chris himself would make out his whole life to be a tragedy or his current situation something to cry about. Thus I present to you: season six from Chris' point of view.
The word 'neurotic' does not appear anywhere in this fanfic. If that's not a first, I don't know what is.
"Ready for this?"
Christopher Halliwell snorted. "Ready? You really think anyone can be ready for this?" He scowled at the trifecta scrawled on the wall before turning his glare on his fiancée.
But Bianca just smirked at him. "Good."
And that was the last words they exchanged for two weeks.
"We all know this is hopeless."
Chris leveled a glare at the dissenter; the witch waved a hand, scowling back. "You know full well we aren't going to make any progress here. We don't have enough resources or enough people, and you—" He stopped speaking abruptly.
"I'm what?" Chris growled. The other witch would say nothing, however. He threw up his hands. "Fine, whatever! Don't trust me! It doesn't make any damned—"
"Chris, Darren, both of you ease up," snapped a third witch, stepping between them physically with her hands up. She glanced at the two before lowering her arms. "I think it's time to revisit the time travel thing."
"No way. We could make it all worse," Darren snapped, but the female witch spoke over him.
"Chris, Darren is right about our cause being hopeless. We're on our last legs here. You know, I know it, and in all likelihood Wyatt knows it. I know we all agreed it should be our last resort, but … I think it's time for our last resort."
Chris ran a hand through his hair. "You know what I said then, too: I won't let anyone else do it. It has to be me."
"I know," she said in a low voice, but Darren threw up his hands and turned away.
"He'll never kill his brother! Nothing is going to get fixed if we send him!"
Chris' face may as well have been made of stone as he said, "Watch me."
The truth was, he was the best candidate for a lot of reasons. One, he was a Halliwell, and that really counted for reasons one through one hundred to send him back as opposed to anyone else. It made him a powerful witch – nothing like his brother, of course, but very little could hold a candle to Wyatt's power. It meant he could handle the Book of Shadows, which possessed the most acute time travel spell known to magic. He knew the Charmed Sisters better than anyone else alive (besides Wyatt).
Two, he was half-whitelighter; as powerful as the Charmed Ones were, they didn't often consort with other witches. It gave him a good cover.
The final reason counted to no one but himself, as, after all, he had not told the small group that knew of the plan his actual intentions. I am probably the last person on earth that loves Wyatt, he thought. And I'm going to save him.
Loving Wyatt came naturally, helplessly, frustratingly. Liking him was a whole different matter. Chris hadn't liked Wyatt much since he was thirteen and the really nasty pranks started, like stripping him of his powers without him knowing and then daring him to fight an ogre. He'd said 'I hate you' maybe a hundred times to his brother's face, and Wyatt usually laughed at him because the words were impotent. "You don't mean that," Wyatt would say in a mocking tone, or "I love you too, brother."
And killing him? Chris had honestly tried once, and only once; thinking of the crime that caused the incident made him sick, and then sick again when he thought of the aftermath. Then again, Wyatt had honestly tried to kill Chris never, and it was disgusting the only reason he knew this was because he wasn't dead. It was maybe love or at least a twisted kind of mercy. Maybe sadism, but Chris didn't think so. Indulgence, perhaps.
Someone told him, "No one was meant to have that much power," and Chris had snarled that wasn't true, because it wasn't, or Wyatt wouldn't.
The problem was that it didn't make sense, but only because Wyatt was evil. That kind of power might have made sense in someone good – someone who wouldn't abuse it. So, Chris wondered, why was his brother a twisted madman? This kind of thing didn't happen on accident, or out of the great blue yonder.
The question of why ate at him. He spent several months obsessively chronicling all the vanquishes of the Charmed Ones between Wyatt's birth and his fifth birthday, although whatever had happened to him probably happened before Chris had been born, but that told him little to nothing about Wyatt's experiences. He almost wanted to go back in time just to sate his own curiosity.
Of course, there was also the other thing.
The Charmed Ones had fallen on Chris' fourteenth birthday. Piper Halliwell, the eldest living sister, had died in the family room of a broken neck, witnessed by her second son and second sister.
Most people prayed to go quickly when they did, but a Halliwell prayed that death came slowly enough to let Leo or Wyatt come to their rescue first.
The family had never been the same after that; Chris knew he had certainly changed. Aunt Phoebe never really forgave herself for not killing the warlock before he killed Piper (and it was a warlock, just a simple warlock, nobody special – just lucky). Chris couldn't say he felt any different, and fell into a depression he never quite climbed back out of. Aunt Paige went on a magic binge again which meant that Chris did a lot of babysitting, even though it should have been Wyatt doing the babysitting, but Wyatt was angry – furious – and frightening. Leo, not knowing what to do with either of his sons now that Piper was gone, may as well have disappeared off the face of the planet. Grandpa Victor had no reaction; he was already dead of cancer, two years then.
That was, in Chris' opinion, the real beginning of the end. He might have thought it was the trigger that caused Wyatt to go power-hungry and nuts, but he knew first-hand how Wyatt had been even before that.
For Chris, the end was when Wyatt killed their cousin Melinda, their last living relative. Conquering the world was just the epilogue.
Intellectually Chris knew his mother was not infallible. He also knew that Paige could be obsessive and Phoebe could get worked up over nothing, but applying adult reasoning to what he saw as a child only had limited impact. In his memory, Piper was always cooking something or giving a loving scold to him or his brother, or sometimes her sisters; Paige was always doling out money and helping her nephews and nieces pull pranks; Phoebe was smiling and giving love life advice.
Absence, they say, makes the heart grow fonder. (Now if only that were true of Leo.)
Chris Halliwell practiced saying his mother's first name under his breath and tried to remind himself that not only did the Charmed Ones he was about to meet not know he was their nephew or son, but they were also younger, had less wisdom, and less responsibility. They had lived through disaster, but not on a worldwide scale and not for an extended period of time. They were soft and had time to be soft.
They probably would not love him, but as long as they trusted him that was okay. He looked at the few pictures he had of them before he was born and got used to their younger faces. He tried not to lie to himself: okay, yeah, he was really excited about getting to hang out with his aunts again and see his mother again, so long dead in his own time. But he couldn't let himself get overwhelmed by it. He had to be professional and distant. He had a job to do.
When he stepped through the portal, he knew he wasn't ready, but he didn't know how not-ready he was.
Chris liked making plans. Plans made him feel like he had some firm ground beneath his feet; they gave him parameters in which to work.
This was Chris' plan for when he went to the past:
1) Get them through the Titan disaster more efficiently, thus gaining the Charmed Ones' trust. Become their whitelighter if at all possible.
This had limited success. The first time, according to the story as told by Aunt Phoebe, Aunt Paige had spent two weeks as a statue. The Titans had nearly wiped out the Elders, but in the end someone Up There had released the power of the Greek Gods and turned Leo, Mom, and Aunt Phoebe into gods. Here the story got kind of muddled, probably because Aunt Phoebe was embarrassed about something, but in the end, as gods, they managed to defeat the Titans. Aunt Paige had been unhappy about missing out on the whole turning into gods thing.
Chris' version of the same thing went a little differently. First he got Aunt Paige un-immortalized within hours instead of weeks. Then he got Leo to save a bunch of the Elders and turn all the sisters into Gods, which – in a little unexpected blessing – got Leo turned into an Elder early, opening up the 'whitelighter for the Charmed Ones' position. It also got him in good with the Elders when they heard Chris was the one that put Leo up to the whole thing and he got the job he'd desired easily.
Then Mom went and rendered most of this work moot by destroying the Titans in one fell swoop and refusing to stop being a god because she was mad at Leo for abandoning her and Wyatt.
It was only a taste of what the whole thing was going to be like, he realized while the wind howled and the rain beat down from his mother's fury. His aunts, his mother – they were all … annoying. They couldn't keep focus – and being a god was not a good enough excuse. They were far too dependent on Leo; Chris didn't remember them needing Leo so much when he was a kid. They let their emotions rule them, even knowing it could result in disasters like the one his mother was causing at that exact instant.
He probably should have felt bad about Piper's current mental state: after all, he was indirectly responsible. But the truth was he couldn't sympathize with making a tempest over Leo of all people.
How, he wondered, did my mom and aunts get anything freaking done around here?
And Aunt Phoebe had come within an inch of flirting with him. Seriously, gross! Granted, it wasn't her fault, but still!
He told them he had come from the future to save Wyatt. It was not a lie, but nor was it the truth. Unfortunately, he doubted the sisters three could handle the whole truth, and he sincerely hoped he wouldn't have to find out if they could. They bought it and welcomed him with uncertain looks, and Chris figured it was the best he could hope for.
The good news, he decided, came in three: one, once his family got focused things happened, and fast. Two, he hadn't done anything stupid to give himself away or accidentally reveal much of anything about the future. And three, hearing his mother say, "I'll handle this!" in the exact same tone she would use ten years in the future? The sweetest sound to ever hit his ears.
2) Get Leo out of the picture entirely.
This was an unexpected addition to the list that quickly shot to the top when Leo informed Chris that he didn't trust him (nothing new there!) and would be watching him closely (that was different). Being watched closely by anyone would be a bad thing, since he wasn't exactly the kind of whitelighter Leo probably had in mind for the Charmed Ones.
Chris wondered distantly how Leo's shocked face would look if he ever found out the truth and got a good chuckle or two out of it. (If he was completely honest with himself, he might have noted that he was a little bit selfishly motivated too; he did not like Leo. It was just funny that this past Leo didn't like him either.) But he hastily made arrangements with the Valkyries for his safekeeping, and all it took on his part was a well-placed telekinetic shove.
That lasted for about a month.
3) Establish an information network and start eliminating all threats to Wyatt.
In that month he established roughly twelve demonic contacts by befriending or intimidation and got the Charmed Ones started on vanquishing the long list of demons that would come after either them or Wyatt.
His mother also slowly went insane.
Chris remembered his mom as a nice person; her temper had kind of faded into a footnote in his memory. Nonetheless even he couldn't deny that she was far too … happy … that month, especially for someone who had tried to drown San Francisco with her grief over Leo. Aunt Paige made a spell that backfired and erased her memory entirely; Phoebe amplified the whole problem when she gained her empathy powers (which caught Chris off-guard; he'd not expected her to come into those powers until after he was born). Then the sisters decided to go to Valhalla in search of Leo and when the whole mess finally ended, Chris realized Step Two had backfired on him so spectacularly he was surprised he didn't have whiplash.
That's what he got for being selfish.
4) Undo all the damage done by Step Two.
By this time he was tenuously established in the back room of P3's office. He slept on the couch (which was too short for him and he was really getting sick of waking up with cramped calves), decimated Piper's office coffee supply, and took showers at the local YMCA.
Staying out of his aunts' and mother's hair as much as possible while still keeping them on track seemed like the wisest course. Leo was even more suspicious of him now, certain that Chris had sent him to Valhalla; Chris denied it vehemently and when he left, he shoved shaking hands in his pockets. The trust the sisters had given him was tenuous, and when Leo found proof – and he would, since, after all, Chris had done it – that would be gone, and he didn't know what to do.
Wyatt was no help.
Okay, Wyatt wasn't even a year old. At first he'd thought that would be the weirdest thing about traveling into the past, but in the end he'd thought about it so much that seeing baby Wyatt in person for the first time was barely a footnote to his first day in the past. He was a very quiet baby with the beginnings of curly golden locks of hair and didn't even have full motor control over his body – yet he threw up his shield at the very first sight of Chris for that whole first month.
"You dick," Chris told him. "As if I'm the threat." But baby Wyatt merely stared at him with big blue eyes. "I'm trying to save you! Can't you cut me a break?" Wyatt waved his arms and Chris flinched back – even as a baby there was a lot he could do with those arms – but nothing happened.
"I really do hate you, you know," Chris mumbled.
Privately Chris could admit Wyatt was right to fear him, and even more privately Chris was relieved the shield kept him at bay. On his darker days he would clutch an athame and consider how it would look with baby Wyatt's blood on it, and wonder if the world wouldn't be better off.
Chris had known about the shield before he came. Everyone knew about the shield. Wyatt was so overpowered that he rarely needed it in the future; he had the full range of whitelighter powers, including healing, orbing, and sensing others' locations, and a host of witch powers: pyrokinesis, telekinetic orbing, freezing, combustion, conjuring, projection, animation, and even limited precognition. Excalibur enhanced these powers and added levitation and traditional telekinesis to the bunch.
He had demonstrated nearly all of those powers before the age of two, and he never had any trouble using them. The only stories about magical mishaps with Wyatt were those of the havoc he wreaked before he knew better – never magical backfire. He was the Twice-Blessed; magic stopped the day he was born; he was the next King Arthur.
Chris could orb and sense the location of his charges and family – when he'd had either – and he was a powerful telekinetic like his Aunt Prudence. The ability to orb, or orb other things, he'd had since birth. The telekinesis he hadn't demonstrated until he was nearly five years old. The most remarkable thing that could be said about his birth was that he'd nearly killed Piper when she hemorrhaged during her C-section.
And his mother had wondered why Chris had an inferiority complex.
The one place Chris had never felt inferior to his brother was at his grandpa's apartment. Grandpa treated them equally no matter what and he was always fun. He seemed to know all the best places to hang out with kids.
Grandpa Victor lived in the same apartment he would occupy in a few years, when Chris and Wyatt would start being dropped off at his house to be babysat on a regular basis. Feeling a little stalker-ish, Chris lingered outside a window one evening and watched his Grandpa come home from work; he whistled to himself, throwing his keys into the same cup holder he would keep them on in the future, and put down a bag of groceries on the counter in the kitchenette. He looked almost exactly as he would ten years later, just before the diagnosis that would end in his death.
Chris drafted an anonymous letter warning Victor that he would die of mouth cancer if he kept smoking, but in the end he set it aflame. He watched the fire eat the paper in under a minute, thinking future consequences future consequences over and over again.
Besides, if the cigars didn't kill Grandpa, burying his remaining daughters surely would. It was just selfish to want him around for a couple more years.
Most of the time being distant from the sisters was surprisingly easy. It was great to see them alive again, yes, but in light of what Chris had shown up to accomplish he found them so exasperating that he rarely found himself feeling confused or even all that nostalgic. (It helped a little that he was taller than them all now; he hadn't hit his final growth spurt until after they had all died.) It was the little things they did – the way Paige not-yet-Aunt-Paige would flip her hair, or when Phoebe came into a room breathless with excitement and her hands balled up at her sides, or when Piper rolled her eyes skyward and said 'yes' in that long drawn-out way that said 'but I'm about to object' – that would throw him for a loop.
It was hardest to be detached around Piper, but it still wasn't that hard.
He remembered his mom lamenting that she couldn't have a normal life because of magic. He didn't remember Aunt Phoebe or Aunt Paige complaining of the same problem, but here, in the past, they were all determined to 'not let magic take over their lives'. Chris could do nothing to impress his urgency upon them; they visibly resented him for constantly demanding that they vanquish demons he had found.
"Look, would you pick up the pace?" he would imagine saying. "Your precious kid there is going to turn into an evil dictator on the level of Hitler and you can't be bothered to cancel a spa appointment!?" But he couldn't bring himself to say it. For one thing, they would never believe him and the trust that continued to hang by a thread would be shattered. For another, when – or if – they realized the truth, he really didn't want to see their expressions. Differentiating between the past and the future was easy most of the time, but that didn't mean he wanted to see their hurt, depressed faces.
And he did what he could on his own – not to spare them, at least not entirely, but to spare himself the struggle of getting the sisters organized and on the job. Nobody was supposed to know about his telekinesis, so he used it sparingly and to great effect, always keeping his eyes open for Leo, who was starting to resemble a stalker with all the sneaking around following him everywhere.
"Don't you have something better to do?" he demanded when he caught Leo standing outside the McDonald's he had just bought a cheeseburger from.
"My first job is keeping the sisters and my son safe," Leo said in reply, leveling an even, piercing look at Chris.
Chris had to hand it to him; Leo could pull off that 'peering into the soul' angel stare pretty well. He scowled in response. "Yeah, well, that's my job. You gave it to me, remember? Don't you have Elder stuff to do?"
"It can wait." Leo didn't move.
Chris took a big bite of his cheeseburger and stared at Leo over the wrapper, eating with his mouth open on purpose out of petty obnoxiousness. "Well, I hope watching me eat a burger and go to bed satisfies your voyeuristic tendencies. Don't blame me if the Elders get all huffy about you neglecting your duty."
Leo said nothing. Neither of them needed to; the rest of the conversation may as well have been rehearsed. If you harm the sisters or Wyatt in any way …
Oh blow it up your butt, Leo. I'm here to save Wyatt, how many times do I have to say it?
I'm watching you.
Yeah, I noticed. Hard not to.
If Leo ever found proof that Chris had sent him to Valhalla, he never presented it to the Elders or the sisters. Chris counted his blessings and tried not to wonder why.
Leo hadn't been a bad father; he just wasn't around much. In the original past he became an Elder after Chris was born and that had put him Up There rather than Down Here a lot more. Chris didn't often try to be objective about Leo, and it seemed to him that when Leo was around he spent more time with Wyatt than himself; on the occasions that he did try to be objective, he had to be fair and admit that Leo's extra time with Wyatt was halfway due to Wyatt being a troublemaker, especially as he hit his teens. Not that Chris didn't get into his own fair share of trouble, too: nonetheless, it was hard to like a man that was rarely around to do more than mete out discipline.
He made it to firsts – the first play, the first spelling bee, the first graduation, the first sports game. The problem was Wyatt, being older, got all the 'firsts'. Chris … got a lot of apology letters. He made a poor joke in his mother's hearing about Leo having a form letter in his files: I'm sorry I didn't make it to your (blank), but I was swamped with work. I'm sure (blank) went well! Mom's face had gone flat and hard and she left the room, and later that night there was an argument between her and Leo, but nothing changed.
While he and Piper had separated not long after Chris had been born, Piper's death had been the end of any attempts for a relationship between father and sons. Leo's appearances were only for the direst of emergencies after that, and even then he was too late more often than not.
Aunt Phoebe had been sure, even into her last months, that Chris resented Leo for not saving Piper's life. Chris wasn't stupid; Mom had died instantly when her neck hit the coffee table, and very little could heal death. Besides, Wyatt had been the closer one with the healing power. No; Chris did not resent his father for not saving his mother.
He hated Leo for not saving anyone else afterwards, including himself.
Chris was grateful to Leo for exactly one thing, and that was introducing him to the top of the Golden Gate Bridge. The view was magnificent, the wind was refreshing, and there was nothing quite like seeing the San Francisco skyline intact and under a brilliant sun to remind him of the kind of future the world could have once again.
Leo liked it up there too, and sometimes they crossed paths, even when Leo wasn't following him around. Weirdly, they could actually share that space without animosity.
Chris had to admit it was kind of nice.
Actually, the hardest thing about trying to use the Charmed Ones to save Wyatt from turning evil was their tendency to react in the most bizarre ways to pressure. Like trying to direct water from a nozzle on full blast with a thumb, they tended to fly unpredictably in any number of directions. Sometimes they blew him off; sometimes they acted suspicious. Occasionally one of them would be abruptly gung-ho about whatever mission he was throwing their way. In the midst of a situation they were as likely to get depressed and want to give up as rally themselves and fight back. Any battle plan they came up usually fell apart within minutes, or failed due to unforeseen circumstances, leaving them vanquishing evil while flying by the seat of their pants.
Exasperation didn't begin to cover what Chris felt around them.
"You know, usually we just let the demons come to us instead of going to them," Phoebe told Chris once while throwing on her jacket to go to work. "It's worked out okay."
"That's my point. It doesn't work out okay," Chris pointed out, gesturing, but Phoebe was already on the way out the door.
"Let me know if you need me! But, uh, try not to need me between noon and two, because we have a staff meeting at the paper, okay?" She called as she jogged down the steps.
It was a really good thing that Chris didn't have the power to blow things up. The door would have been toast.
Since traveling through time, especially to the past, was a massive taboo, there wasn't a lot of research done on the effects of meddling with past events. While Chris felt fairly certain that nothing he did could make the future much worse than it already was, he didn't know what the sum total would be, or what ongoing effects would occur. Would his memories be altered as the future changed, or would everything fall into place when he returned to his own time? Or would he return to the future unchanged and know nothing about it? How would he know if his memories had changed? Would erasing the trigger event that sent Wyatt down the path of evil just be like throwing a switch, making the future as he knew it an obsolete alternate timeline? What would happen to him, then?
Actually, that question was beginning to press on him anyway. Leo had become an Elder early and therefore his parents had split early, and what kind of paradox would it be if he had come back from the future but he wasn't born? Bleak though his own time was, Chris was rather attached to living and wanted to continue doing so. But trying to get his own parents back together just so Leo could father him made him kind of nauseous. He put the matter aside for later, writing down notes about what had been done and what still needed doing, his handwriting jumpy because of too much coffee and not enough sleep.
Then Bianca showed up, and everything nearly went to absolute shit.
Bianca was an assassin. Wyatt enlisted her to seduce Chris and turn him against the Resistance, to Wyatt's side – not that Wyatt thought he had a side. "Good and evil, that's bullshit," Wyatt would say. "All that matters is being powerful."
Chris had flung his arms out, nearly speechless with rage and horror at his brother's latest atrocity: six witches dead so that Wyatt's warlocks could steal their powers. "This, this--! You see this? This is evil," he had gasped.
Wyatt had looked at Chris, cool as ice and shaking his head. "I wish you'd let go of the whole good versus evil notion. It's starting to get on my nerves."
"Maybe I'd shut up if you'd listen," Chris had snapped.
"Maybe you'd shut up if you were dead," Wyatt answered, and smiled. "That's a joke, you know."
"Hah hah," Chris deadpanned, crossing his arms to hide his shaking limbs.
If there was no 'good' or 'evil', there was certainly 'Wyatt's side' or 'not Wyatt's side'. And Bianca – well. If anything had ever backfired on Wyatt, it was certainly Bianca.
Chris had never in his wildest dreams thought he would go the path of Aunt Phoebe and fall in love with a demon, but he had. And Bianca had gone the way of the fabled Cole Turner, loving him in return; rather than turning Chris to Wyatt, Chris had turned Bianca against him. She stayed on Wyatt's payroll and reported fake successes or failures, and they both waited in terror for the day Wyatt figured it all out. But if he had he said nothing about it. Until Chris returned – presuming he couldn't hit the mark and return only minutes after leaving in the first place – Bianca was supposed to be covering his ass, pretending Chris had just orbed to the far reaches of the Earth for some peace and distance.
Chris didn't seriously consider the implications until months later, but apparently he had been absent from the future for two weeks when Bianca appeared, stripped his powers, and dragged him back to the time from whence he came. She had little choice in the matter, of course, and given the consequences of her disobedience (death), Chris knew he had to come; it offered no comfort, though. His hard work over the months had not yet yielded any results, and any chance for future progress was probably about to be eliminated.
Wyatt had scared the younger Halliwell brother before. When they were little Wyatt would tell scary stories which gave them both the kind of shivers that made them share a bed that night. Later the scares got more serious and less funny – they started as pranks, then escalated to bullying, and ended in murder. In the months before crossing time to the past, Chris felt he had little to personally fear from his brother, who had never tried to kill him despite jokes (threats) that he would, but he feared for everyone else's lives.
That day, standing in front of his older brother, admitting his crime slowly (I'm trying to save you) and stripped of his active powers, he had no idea how he would survive.
It was his parents and aunts that saved him, issuing help from the past with a brilliant maneuver that restored his powers in time to escape, the time spell in his grasp.
He was not fast enough, however, to save Bianca.
The sisters were surprisingly sympathetic to the grief that followed – Phoebe especially, perhaps because she'd had to vanquish her husband once before (twice before, actually, according to Aunt Paige, although one of those times had been in an alternate timeline). Piper left him cookies at the club – not that she admitted it, but the 'leftovers' she kept at the office smelled like nostalgia and weirdly enough were the one thing that brought Chris closest to an emotional breakdown over everything.
He shed a few tears for Bianca. He granted himself a week long vacation from the sisters, the longest he figured he could afford.
He spent a lot of it underground killing demons.
On the seventh day he orbed to the Manor and into Wyatt's room, a Power of Three vanquish on his mind. Wyatt, down for his nap, didn't wake up.
"You're not going to get a chance to kill my fiancée," Chris informed him flatly. "That's never going to happen. I'll stop you from turning evil if it's the last thing I do."
Wyatt kept dreaming, and Chris never spoke so prophetically again.
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