The night was never truly dark this high up. Looking upwards was the velvety black sky, strewn with stars and the moon, just visible because of passing clouds. But looking down or even straight ahead the lights of the city and the cars of its inhabitants robbed the night of its darkest shadow. At least at the top of the Golden Gate Bridge.
It was a truly remarkable sight, looking down at the city from the very top of the great bridge. The people and cars seemed so small and insignificant, the noise that was associated with all major cities quieter, drowned out by wind that was much more ferocious and cold than down on the streets below. It was a beautiful but acquired taste, for not many would wish to so very high up. Isolated, alone, with no easy means to get up or down, for that matter. Not to mention the risk of falling or hypothermia.
But for those who could overcome these obstacles, it was a good place to get away. To retreat from the world's harsh blows and just think, or brood.
For Christopher Perry Halliwell, it was a blessing.
Brooding was something he seemed to be doing quite a lot of, especially recently, he mused wryly, pulling his legs up to his chest. He blew out, staring up at the stars. The wind's chill was strong, but he barely felt it.
Chris had always been a thinker. For every situation he made a plan, and a backup plan. There was always a contingency plan and if that failed, he would come up with a solution to pull himself out it as he danced around the situation. Quite literally sometimes, when up against the numerous demons and warlocks and demonic threats that were part and parcel of his life. His ability to think on his feet had saved his butt and his friends and family on numerous occasions.
But not always.
Chris sighed again. It was his thinking that had landed him here, in the past, twenty two years before he was born. And more recently, the situation he'd landed himself into trouble he wasn't sure he'd get himself out of.
Looking back, he couldn't really remember why he'd thought that using a spell to convince his would-be mother and aunts to bind his baby big brother's powers was a good idea. Without his powers, Wyatt would not be able to become that evil dictator he remembered so clearly from the last few years. No power meant that no-one in the Underworld would come after him and turn him. Breaking that link would mean everyone would win.
Or would they? Binding his powers just left Wyatt defenceless against the demon attacks that so frequently disrupted life at the Halliwell manor. And a dead Wyatt Halliwell was the last thing he wanted. No matter how much Chris wished he could, he could not hate Wyatt. It was pathetic really. Wyatt had turned his back on his Halliwell heritage, taken over the world and the Underworld, destroyed the good Halliwell name and left the world teeming with demons and death and destruction. He'd killed countless innocents, by his own hand, or on his orders carried out by his minions. He'd torn his splintered family apart and was indirectly responsible for some of the deaths in their family.
But Wyatt was family and family meant everything.
Family. Chris chuckled softly at that thought. The sisters and Leo and Wyatt of this time were technically his family, yet he was a stranger to them. After the stunt he'd pulled today, he might be considered an enemy.
He closed his eyes. His mother-no Piper's-face when she'd told him in no uncertain terms to leave her house had nearly broken him. No matter how many times he'd told himself it wasn't his mother, that his mother would never have kicked him out of the house, it had almost broken his fragile heart in two. His mother, whom he had loved and adored, had told him she never wanted to see him again.
Tears involuntarily welled in his eyes and he angrily wiped them away. Well, what the hell did you expect? He thought furiously. Piper wasn't his mother; his mother had been dead eight years. Piper would become his mom-if he was ever conceived, which was looking unlikely-but she was not his mother.
He had to keep reminding himself of that. To never let his guard drop. It hurt-ached-to be around his family and not tell them who he was. To be Chris Halliwell not Chris Perry. To get advice from his Aunt Phoebe, to confide in his Aunt Paige. The lines drawn between the girls and his mother and aunts would seem steady until a comment or action sent him back into his memories of his childhood and suddenly the lines seemed to blur. He'd never been as close to his father as he had once desperately wished, but there were times when he wished to tell this Leo, the only one who trusted him now-and that was staggering-the truth. To relive some of the weight off his shoulders, the constant burden he had to carry with him.
But he couldn't. He could not afford to lose focus, to get distracted from his mission. He had to save his brother and he couldn't afford them to learn his identity. Assuming they actually believed him, they would want to get to know him, protect him. Love him. He shuddered, as if to protect himself. Either way would undo him. He could not afford to break. Too much was counting on him.
But still the memory of Piper haunted his thoughts. He had to regain their trust he knew that. It was ironic that the person who trusted him least was now his only his supporter. Well not only, he amended, smiling slightly. Wyatt trusted him now and that thought made him happier than he thought it would.
It was his mother's-and Piper's-birthday. A day that had filled him with nostalgia for the last eight years. He certainly had a lot to make up for.
A sudden thought occurred to him that sent him jerking upwards at the absolute absurdity of it. It was crazy, he knew it. And forbidden he knew that. But since when did his family ever listen to the Elders?
He smiled at that thought, but his mind was still racing. Could he do it? Rules applied differently to him as a time traveller anyway. He could do it. It might even help him regain some ground with the sisters.
But above all, Chris Halliwell was his mother's boy at heart, and all of his reasoning's and rationality went out the window when he ever hurt or disappointed his mother. He'd never been able to stand his mother being upset.
Besides, he'd never gotten her a present. The two personas he now had, Chris Perry and Chris Halliwell warred with each other before Chris Halliwell won and orbed out, before he lost his nerve.
After all, he was a Halliwell-and Halliwells would do anything for family.
Piper sighed as Mr. Right disappeared. He really had been a wonderful birthday present, not that she would tell her sisters that. The whole family had enough problems breaking rules, they had to be careful. But it had been incredibly refreshing just talking to him. Confiding in him, sharing her deepest worries and fears. And his compassion, his non-judging attitude, his understanding had been so desperately needed. It had been very relaxing, talking about her worries and woes without feeling as though she was being harsh or selfish.
Inhaling softly, she entered Wyatt's nursery. For a long moment, she just stared at her sleeping child. With his angelic blonde curls and cherub face, he looked the epitome of innocence. Of goodness.
Piper's lips compressed as she recalled the less pleasant memories of the day. When the now dead Order had kidnapped her son and reversed his morality. When she realised her Whitelighter had manipulated her and her sisters. When he told them Wyatt was evil.
That thought made her blood boil and her fingers instinctively twitch, itching to blow up something. How he dared to say something like that, something so obviously wrong and impossible, it made her want to blast him into hell, orbs and all. It made her shake to even think her Wyatt, her baby could be evil.
And yet Leo believed him. Believed Chris-the secretive, neurotic, manipulating, lying Whitelighter-was telling the truth. That their baby was evil.
The thought was so wrong it almost made her cringe, as if to physically ward it away. She hated Chris for putting that foul thought in her head, for forcing her to think such thoughts. The look on his face when she told him she never wanted to see him again had pleased her at the time, wanting him away from her family as much as possible. It still pleased her as the anger from his words sang in her veins just recalling the memory. But now a tiny part of her was just the slightest bit remorseful at his expression. And couldn't help but wondering if there was the slightest hint of truth in Chris's statement.
Piper sighed. Their Whitelighter was impossibly confusing, forever doing things that made them think he was one thing, before doing something that changed their opinions yet again. She wanted answers. But the likelihood of getting anything out of Chris was slim, especially considering she'd kicked him out. If anything, Chris did have a self preservation instinct. But then again, if he did, he wouldn't have tried manipulating herself and her sisters.
She turned to leave the room, when something caught her eye. Leo's present. She'd forgotten about it completely, given the day she'd had. Curious, she picked it up, eyeing the pretty paper. She should have expected something from him and a part of her had. But her feelings and her situation with Leo was so confusing and upsetting that she was not keen to delve into their relationship; it hurt too much.
Her breath caught as she lifted the lid of the box. Oh my God. Leo. Reverently, she carefully pulled out a sparkling silver charm bracelet. The charm bracelet, her charm bracelet. The one her mother had given her, the one her big sister, bless her, had lost years ago. Disbelieving, she stepped out into her room where the light was better and looked on the inside of the bracelet. Sure enough, etched into the back, a little worn but legible was 'To my dear Piper, love Mom.'
Ever so carefully, Piper laid the bracelet over her wrist and after a couple of efforts, succeeded in closing it. The clasp was sturdy and solidly made. Carefully, she ran a finger along the silver charms, a cat, a rose, a half moon and a heart. She smiled, her eyes welling slightly. Oh thank you Leo. It beats Mr. Right easy.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the familiar fluorescence of blue white orbs and for a split second, thought it was Leo. But her ex-husband didn't materialise and neither did anyone else. Confused, she looked around and spotted a yellow note page lying on her bed that hadn't been there before. She picked it up.
I know you told me to leave and I will. But I want to say something first. Five minutes in the attic and I'm gone.
I was wrong. He has no self preservation, was Piper's thought as she stared at the note in disbelief. Then she was up and moving, striding toward the stairs to the attic.
He was there, standing over the Book, looking at a page she came in. He looked up at her and stepped away, facing her.
"I've known demons with more sense than you" Piper said bluntly. She was in no mood for pleasantries. "I thought I made myself clear earlier."
"You did" Chris said. He stuffed his hands in his pockets. He looked uncomfortable.
"And if you think that rescuing Wyatt from the Order is a good enough reason for me to listen to you, you've got another thing coming" Piper said flatly, not even bothering to be civil.
"It's not" Chris looked at her and sighed, running a hand through his hair and winced, shifting his weight slightly. He had landed badly on his shoulder knocking the Order priest away from Wyatt and was paying for it now. Piper noticed his wince, but didn't let it bother her. Gone was the cranky and temperamental mother and Charmed One and in place was the hard matriarch of the Halliwell line, who would not allow anyone to harm her family.
"If you've got something to say, say it. Or we'll find out how a half-Whitelighter fares up when they blow up" Piper's voice was clipped.
Chris looked away and sighed. It hurt, her coldness to him, but it was expected. He deserved it.
"A wrong done for the right reasons is still a wrong" Chris looked back at Piper. "My Mom told me that" he said softly, smiling wryly. "And she was right."
He sighed and walked over to the window, looking out for a second, before turning back.
"I didn't want to tell you" he said in a low voice. "I didn't plan to tell you."
He sighed and went on. "I came back to save Wyatt, yes. But to save him from turning evil, not from evil harming him. I didn't want to tell you" he went on as Piper's hand's lifted in warning, "partly because I knew you wouldn't believe me-"
"You're damn right I don't" Piper said harshly.
"-and because I didn't want you to have to" Chris met her eyes. "I didn't want you to have to believe that your baby-Twice Blessed, King, Arthur-had fallen away from good. Not that he believes in good anyway" he rolled his eyes. "There's no good or evil, only power, apparently."
Piper's nostrils were flaring. "You're ly-"
"He sent Bianca back" Chris said quietly, unable to stop himself. He looked away and stared at the spot where Bianca had fallen, impaled by a piece of broken furniture. Her bloodless face as she told him he could still fix this, still haunted him. "That's who sent her back."
Piper stared at him, suddenly lost for words. Then she began to shake her head.
"I know I've lied" Chris looked at her steadily. "I know I've manipulated you, and lied to you and betrayed your trust, but I would never harm any of you, or wish you pain. I came back because I believe Wyatt is meant to be good. I know that he was a good person and if I have to die to save him and stop the world from going to hell, I'll do it. In a heartbeat."
He breathed out and looked away, at the page in the Book, inwardly arguing about the consequences of what he was considering. It was stupid and dangerous and downright foolhardy-
"I still don't believe you" Piper said. But her posture was less threatening.
"I know" Chris nodded.
"And I still don't trust you."
That hurt, but he nodded silently.
"The back of P3 is still free" Piper added. Grudgingly, but Chris knew when to accept even the weakest olive branch.
He nodded and looked once again to the Book, torn. Piper frowned at him. "What?" she asked suspiciously.
He sighed and smiled ruefully. "Doing something I'll probably regret later."
A little baffled, not to mention wary, Piper instinctively lifted her hands as Chris made a lazy open armed gesture.
"Candles. Circle" he said and with the familiar jingle, six white candles orbed into a perfect circle. Piper watched baffled as he deftly lit the candles one by one. A part of her noted he had the orbing telekinesis like Paige as well as the ordinary telekinesis like Grams had. And Prue.
"What are you doing?" she repeated growing tenser as he stood up and went back to the Book. She was getting antsy at his casual display of familiarity in her home, considering she was still debating whether or not she should trust him.
Chris gave her a small smile. "I owe you. And I didn't get you a birthday present. So I think I'll risk it. Just for you."
Without giving her time to answer, he started to speak.
Hear these words
Hear my cry
Spirit from the other side
Come to me
I summon thee
Cross now the great divide.
Instantly a swirling vortex of white light appeared in the circle of candles, before disappearing, revealing the transparent figure of a young woman.
A woman with longish dark hair and piercing eyes, who was looking beautiful in a simple white gown. And incredibly confused, looking around in astonishment, before landing her eyes on Piper.
An incredibly stunned Piper, who could only gape at the sight in front of her.
"Happy Birthday" Chris said softly and with a soft jingle and a blue white glow, he orbed out.
But Piper was oblivious.
"Prue?" she whispered.
A/N: Well what do you think? It's my first ever Charmed fic. Not sure how I did. Opinions? I've recently gotten back into watching Charmed and I've been itching to write one, but I've felt guilty about starting a new story when I've got unfinished ones still waiting to be updating. But I thought I'd give it a go. If people like it and review (hint, hint) then I'll make a story out it, obviously an AU one. If not, I'll leave as a one shot. So let me know!
Thanks for reading and please review! Even if it's less than flattering I'd like to know people's opinions.