Hey, all. I originally posted The Triangle Complex under the pen name Charmed Leaf. I don't know if anyone remembers this story, but the version I'm uploading now is a rewrite.
Chapter 1: The First Point
The demon's body detonated in a burst of flame, his agonized screams a dying echo. Piper lowered her hands as Chris exhaled in relief. The demon hadn't been a particularly dangerous breed, but it never hurt to be careful. Years of being on the run from Wyatt in the future had taught him to always be cautious.
Chris held out a hand to stop Piper from speaking. His eyes flitted around the cavern and the tunnel leading into it as he listened for sounds other than his and Piper's breathing. The prickly feeling, the one that scurried down his spine whenever he sensed danger nearby, never came. No more demons shape-shifted from the shadows for another round. Satisfied that the threat had been neutralized, Piper tugged at his sleeve.
"All right, we're done. Let's go!"
Chris frowned. "What's the rush?"
"You mean, besides the fact that we're standing in demon central? I'd like to use what little time I have left to get ready, thank you!"
Chris waited until he orbed them both back to the manor to ask, "Get ready for what? Wait, you're not still going out with that Greg guy, are you?"
"As a matter of fact, Chris, I am. Now, if you don't mind…" Piper started to push past him for the stairs, but he moved to block her.
"Yeah, I do mind. There's still the Spira Demons to vanquish. We have to call Phoebe and Paige because we're going to need the Power of Three for this one."
"I'm sure it can wait a few hours. Actually, make that a few days. By the way, I need you to watch Wyatt while I'm gone. He's asleep in the nursery."
Chris opened his mouth to argue that he didn't have time to babysit, only for Piper to interrupt him. "Look, I get that this is important, really, but don't you think we deserve a break? We've been demon hunting a lot. I mean, a lot more than usual, and that's saying something."
"It's only three o'clock! Who goes on dates in the middle of the day?"
"I do," said Piper. "Greg works nights. When else are we supposed to go out?"
Paige came bounding down the stairs, and she stopped near the bottom to find Chris and Piper glaring at each other. As though afraid she might worsen the situation by talking too loudly, she whispered, "Is something going on here?"
"Yes," said Chris at the same time Piper replied just as vehemently, "No."
Paige's head swung back and forth between the two of them. "So, which is it?"
Chris ignored the question. "Good, you're here, Paige. Let's get Phoebe. I can fill you in on the way."
"Hold it!" bellowed Paige, throwing up a hand. "Are these demons going to attack anytime soon?"
"Well, no, but—"
"Are you absolutely certain these are the ones that turn Wyatt evil?"
"No," said Chris irritably, "but—"
"Then what's the hurry?"
"You don't understand. These demons increase their ranks by taking magical children. They corrupt their souls until they're as evil as them. Think about it! Doesn't that sound like the sort thing that could've happened to Wyatt?"
"It's not that we don't think those demons are a problem," said Piper. Her tone became patronizing, like she was talking to a child and not a grown man. "It's just that, if they're not an immediate threat, why go out of our way to piss them off?"
Paige flourished her arm in Piper's direction. "My thoughts exactly."
"It's settled, then. If you'll excuse me, I'm going now." She squeezed by Chris and Paige to dashed up the stairs. A moment later, Piper's bedroom door slammed shut.
Paige clapped him on the shoulder in what Chris supposed was a half-hearted apology. "Maybe next time, Chris?" Then she orbed out, probably to Richard's.
He rolled his eyes and resisted the urge to chuck something, telekinetically or otherwise, across the room. He had hoped that the sisters' trip through alternate dimensions, where their desires had come to life and nearly killed them, would have changed their attitudes. As usual, things never worked out so well for him.
Ever since her separation from Leo, when she wasn't tending to Wyatt, Piper had gone out on multiple dates with Greg, a fireman. She claimed to have moved on from Leo, but her erratic dating habits didn't bode well with Chris. This, Chris admitted to himself with a squirm, was his fault. Removing Leo from the picture had been necessary, so he'd have an excuse to stay close to the sisters. With half his cover already blown, though, did it matter anymore? Each newly revealed secret was doing little to improve his reputation in the sisters' eyes. He couldn't afford to alienate them further, not when their trust was hanging by a thread thanks to last week's fiasco with the Order and Mr. Right.
Maybe that was why he kept up the endless demon hunts. If he vanquished as many demons as possible, he could prove to the sisters that he was on their side.
He couldn't forget Piper's hate-filled expression and the words that had accompanied it. Chris, we don't need your help. I will get my son back and when I do, I don't want to see you anymore. He wasn't sure if her knowing who he was would have changed her attitude. He wasn't sure about a lot of things anymore.
The doorbell yanked Chris out of his reverie. Running a weary hand over his face, Chris shouted, "I'll get it!" to the stairs.
He walked to the door and pulled it open to a muscular blond man about Piper's age. He was dressed in a sports polo shirt and slacks—too casual for a business call. Chris had made it a point to familiarize himself with everyone the sisters knew, but he didn't recognize this man. He tensed, positioning his hand to throw him out with telekinesis if need be. "Can I help you?"
"Yes. Does Piper Halliwell still live here?"
Chris' eyes narrowed. "Who wants to know?" he demanded more aggressively than he intended. Nothing indicated that the guy was demonic, especially since demons weren't known for minding their manners before attacking. Then again, there was always at least one exception to the rule.
"I'm an old friend of hers. Name's Dan Gordon. I was just stopping by to visit."
Dan Gordon. Why did that name sound familiar? Chris was certain he'd heard it somewhere before…
The dining room had been crowded an hour ago with friends and relatives, but now it was empty save for Chris and his mother. Wyatt had gone to bed early complaining of a stomachache from eating too much cake. Streamers, balloons and a banner proclaiming "Happy 10th Birthday!" in gaudy colours hung on the walls, and scraps of wrapping paper and a card were strewn all over the table. On the card, the message "Happy birthday, Chris. Sorry, I can't be there today. Will make it up to you tomorrow. Love, Dad" jumped out in black sharpie.
As his mother gathered up the wrapping paper, Chris traced his fingers over the message yet again. He should have known better than to get his hopes up. Yet he had, because Dad had promised to come—crossed his heart, even. Suddenly, Chris crammed the card back into its envelope, not caring how many the creases he made.
His mother saw what he was doing and glided over to him. She wrapped him up in a tight embrace.
"I'm sorry he couldn't come, honey. He really did want to be here," she said.
So what if he wanted to? There was a difference between wanting to do something and actually doing it. It was the same excuses year after year. Dad never missed Wyatt's birthday, after all.
"I know that doesn't make it right," she said, as if she knew what he was thinking. "I'll talk to him when he comes home."
Chris pulled away from her. Any talk his parents had about him would explode into an argument. It always did.
A question he'd pondered in the last few months nagged at him again. Should he ask her? He was sure it was rude, but he wanted to know. Asking Aunt Paige or Aunt Phoebe might be better, if he could wait that long. Unfortunately, his mouth acted independently from his brain sometimes, and before he could stop himself, he asked, "Mom, did you date anyone before you met Dad?"
His mother gave him a funny look. Nonetheless, she decided to humour him and began to tick off her past boyfriends on her fingers.
"Yes, I did. Let me see, in high school there was…" She listed the guys from that time, then university, and then the ones from her early days as a witch. "Jeremy turned out to be a warlock. Surprise, surprise, huh? There was Mark—he was a ghost we helped out, although I didn't technically date him. And last but not least, Dan Gordon."
"I wish one of those guys was my dad. Even the warlock would be better," Chris said darkly, too low for his mother to hear.
Dan Gordon. Piper's ex-boyfriend. The last one before Leo.
So he wasn't a demon. On the other hand, Chris couldn't fathom why he would be here. Dan and Piper had broken up years ago and hadn't had contact with each other since. The timing of Dan's arrival felt strange to Chris, or he could be overanalyzing things.
When Chris didn't reply, Dan pressed on. "And you are?"
"Oh. Is Piper home?" Dan stretched his neck to the side to see past Chris' shoulder.
"She might be." Chris shrugged. He hoped Dan's visit was just that—a visit.
Dan's eyebrows shot up. "Okay," he said. "Out of curiosity, how are you related to Piper?"
"Let's just say I've known her for a very long time."
A staccato of footsteps drew both their eyes to the stairwell. Piper ran down the steps as fast as her high heels would allow her, her hair curled in gentle waves, a simple black dress clinging to her slender frame. "Oh, my god, I'm going to be late. I hope Greg doesn't think I stood him up." When she looked at the front door, she almost tripped on the last step. "Dan!"
Dan smiled and waved. "Hi, Piper."
She hobbled to the doorway to plant herself next to Chris. "Hi. What brings you here? Don't get me wrong, it's nice to see you," she stammered.
"I took a week off from work. Figured I'd come down to San Francisco for a bit."
"That's great. Chris, you can let him in," Piper said. Chris reluctantly stepped back, so Dan could enter the house, and shut the door behind them.
"How have you been?" asked Piper.
Leaning against the door, his hands stuffed in his pockets, Chris barely heard a word of their conversation. Instead, he gazed at nothing in particular as he planned his next move. Since the sisters were unwilling to vanquish the Spira Demons, he'd have to put them off for the time being. He didn't like letting those demons run loose, but pursuing them alone was out of the question. He could take care of a few lower-level demons himself until the sisters were in a more cooperative mood.
He looked up to tell Piper where he was going, but what he saw next made his stomach twist. What the hell? How did Dan and Piper get so close to each other without him noticing?
He tuned in to their conversation, observing that they kept to mostly harmless subjects, but their actions were another thing. Was it his imagination, or did Piper seem way more comfortable with her ex than she should be? The last time he'd seen her at ease like that, it had been when she was on better terms with Leo. She appeared to have forgotten about her date with Greg altogether, which wasn't a bad thing in Chris' book. The fireman was bland, annoying and unworthy of her anyway. Problem was, it didn't do him much good if she was about to trade one boyfriend for another.