Chris threw himself behind a broken pillar. An energy ball whizzed and exploded on the rough stone, damaging it even more. Muttering foul curses under his breath, Chris crouched down behind the thick stone, pulling out vials from his pocket.
His mission tonight had been to slip in, dust off a few of the high ranking upper level tribal demons and disappear again. Naturally he had managed to pick a night when the leaders were having a meeting of some sort and the cavern contained more than thirty demons. All of whom were currently engaged in trying to eradicate his very existence.
This was the story of his life.
He didn't feel fear, but rather a grim determination. He had experienced much in his life to feel afraid in situations like this. He reserved his fear for far more important things. He had not survived his hellish future, built the Resistance against his own flesh and blood, lost more than he cared to admit and devised his dangerous and illogical scheme to save his brother only to die in the past by a lucky shot from some insignificant demons.
Chris gritted his teeth, his muscles tense before making his move. He threw himself upright, flinging a vial with deadly precision into a small knot of demons. They promptly burst into flames. Running for cover, he waved a hand and sent the closest demons away from him directly into the firing line of the further demons.
He flung himself to the other side of the stone cavern, tossing a grenade behind him. He rolled behind a boulder and crouched, waiting. An enormous bang and guttural yelling followed. He popped up spotting a good number of the demons had disintegrated to ash. Modifications to his grenades made them pretty damn potent, though unfortunately several were getting to their feet, only stunned from the blast.
He sensed the presence of a demon even before he had fully shimmered behind him and whipped around, burying an Athame in his neck as he materialised. He exploded in a flash of fire and smoke.
He whirled as an urgent nagging feeling told him to turn around. As he did the air shimmered and another twenty or so new demons appeared.
The few from the original group were staggering to their feet and joining the newer bunch of demons. Chris stood behind a large boulder an Athame in one hand and a potion vial in the other staring at the large crowd of demons, feeling grimmer by the second.
Should have just stayed in bed this morning….
One demon stepped forward, a sneer playing on his face. He looked human, tall and obscenely muscular with numerous tattoos adorning his bald head, face arms and chest. His eyes were pure black and his teeth were shark like, displayed in a lipless mouth.
Chris stayed where he was, shifting his position slightly into a defensive posture. He tightened his grip on his weapons, preparing himself.
The supposed leader grinned an evil grin and hissed
Phoebe's nose was twitching. She tried to ignore the tickle, but it was persistent. Come on, not now…too late, she turned her head away and sneezed.
The moment ended and her sisters broke apart laughing. Phoebe grinned sheepishly holding her hand over her nose. She had had her face buried in her oldest sister's hair, relishing the familiar scent until her hair tickled her sense of smell.
"Sorry" she apologised, lowering her hand when she was sure she wasn't going to sneeze again.
"Don't worry about it" Prue grinned affectionately and shifted her robe higher up her shoulder. Suddenly aware of the garment she looked down and wrinkled her nose.
"The other side has no sense of style" she commented wryly, grimacing again. Paige giggled a little and Piper smiled widely, feeling tears prickle her eyes again. She wiped her eyes, exasperated. Enough with the waterworks already.
Paige smiled a little shyly at her oldest sister when she caught her gaze. This was so surreal. It reminded her of the early days of her witch life. After the denial and disbelief, there had been a sense of childlike wonder-awe in fact-at the idea that she had sisters, family. An incredibly strange and not exactly welcoming at first family, but actual blood kin after being so long without it.
She had never had sisters before and it was an amazing feeling. She had never regretted her new life, despite the constant drama, and evil barging in at every hour of the day she wouldn't trade it for anything. She had regretted not getting the chance to meet the eldest Halliwell sister, occasionally wondering what would have happened if she had plucked up the courage to approach the family before Prue had died-when she had tried to find her biological family and had stumbled upon the Halliwell name during her research. She knew it was silly, similar to comparing herself to the older woman, but the thought had always lingered in her mind whenever she let herself think about her oldest sister, if only….
But 'coulda, woulda, shoulda' never helped anyone and it wasn't Paige's style to dwell on what ifs.
"Well this is awkward" she found herself saying into the suddenly quiet attic; the sisters not knowing what to say. Eyes turned to the youngest witch who shrugged. Prue quirked her eyebrows, her teeth pulling on her lower lip, before grinning at Paige.
Piper snickered and ran a hand through her loose hair. God what was going on?
"So…." Phoebe wrapped an arm around her sister's shoulders, unable to stay away from Prue just yet. "How's life in the afterlife?"
Prue chuckled and squeezed her sister's hand. "Well it's different I'll say that. The outfits are so cheesy," she rolled her eyes at her gown for emphasis and wrapped an arm around Phoebe. "It's really bright and white and they really should come up with a new décor because the cloud thing is seriously clichéd…." She stopped and rolled her eyes at them. "I'm kidding."
"Aw Prue" Phoebe whined.
"Can't talk about it Pheebs sorry" Prue said apologetically. "You're not allowed know about it until you're there yourself."
"That sucks" Phoebe grumbled, sounding petulant. Piper rolled her eyes at her whining and heard Paige snicker.
"Sorry" Prue shrugged. "I don't want to give the Elders any more reason to keep me away from you guys" she added, glancing up at the ceiling. "I'm actually surprised they haven't summoned me back yet."
Piper stiffened and looked around wary. Paige blinked and nudged Piper. "Hey Piper did you leave the crystals out?"
"Huh?" surprised Piper followed her gaze and blinked at the sight of the crystal sitting on the windowsill. "No I didn't."
"You think Chris left them out?" Paige asked, peering at the crystal and looking around to spot the others. She spotted two others, the rest were probably around the house.
"Probably" Piper's lips thinned.
"And probably why They haven't summoned me back" Prue nodded to the ceiling.
"Why would Chris do this?" Phoebe asked, perplexed. Their neurotic Whitelighter was a study of contradictions. Whenever they thought they had figured him out, he did something courageous, suspicious or confusing, or all three together. She had no idea what to make of him and it was driving her crazy.
"He said it was a birthday present" Piper informed her sisters, absently playing with her charm bracelet.
"A birthday present?" Paige repeated, eyebrows raised.
"It's a very nice birthday present" Phoebe squeezed her older sister's shoulders. "But that doesn't explain why he did it."
"I doubt there wasn't a reason why he did it. Probably to get back in your good books" Prue said darkly, looking forbidding. Piper suppressed a grin, she had wondered what her older sister would have thought about the mysterious Whitelighter from the future. Well thanks to Chris's efforts she'd probably get to actually see what she'd do to him. There was a certain irony in that.
"Alright" Prue took command effortlessly and studied her sisters. "What do you all think about Chris?"
"I don't trust him" Piper said instantly and succinctly, folding her arms. "Ever since he came here, there's been one thing after the other with him. I've been going mad with him following us everywhere for demon vanquishing, and it seems that every week I catch him in a lie. He tried to get us to bind Wyatt's powers today and demons managed to kidnap him and turned him evil. And that's apparently my baby's future, turning evil. According to Chris my baby is evil." Her arms twitched with the effort of restraining her combustive power. All of her anger towards the Whitelighter was returning full force.
"I don't trust him and after today I don't want to. I hate what he's put into my head and I am starting to hate him."
Did she? She wondered. He had played an important part in her and Leo separating. He had manipulated and lied to her and her family and planted the seed of doubt of her baby's future. He had put Wyatt in harm's way today however unintentionally and had tried to convince her Wyatt, Twice Blessed a source of pure goodness, had fallen from the Halliwell path. It sent a dark fury tingling through her veins. If she didn't hate him, she very well disliked him, summoning Prue be damned.
If he were to harm her family nothing would stop her from vanquishing him.
There was a pause as her two sisters tried to explain their own opinions.
"I don't know what to believe" Phoebe quietly confessed, ignoring the glare Piper sent her. "I can't make up my mind about him. He's confusing. He lies, manipulates, and hides things from us. He told us today Wyatt turns evil." She shot Piper an apologetic glance. "I want to distrust him. But for some reason I can't hate him."
"Why?" Prue cocked her head, grey eyes inquisitive.
"I don't really know" Phoebe admitted. "I can't really get a read on Chris, but sometimes I can and…" she struggled to express what she was feeling before shrugging helplessly.
"I don't really know what to think about him either" Paige tugged her hair in exasperation. "He's an annoying obsessive neurotic pain in the ass but I can't figure him out. Until today I didn't think he was a danger to us."
Prue hummed thoughtfully as she surveyed her younger sisters. It was painful at times, sitting on the side lines. Unable to do anything but occasionally watch her sisters live their lives without her. She often just followed them around the house when she could, cooing at Wyatt, laughing at her sisters' antics sympathising with their issues and yelling at them when they were stubborn or lazy in demon fighting. There were times she actually sympathised with the hybrid from the future. But that sympathy was limited if he were to harm her family.
Piper made an excellent matriarch of the family but she had always struggled with it. Prue would never be the matriarch but she had been the family protector since their mother had died and while she was here she would take up that title once again. Christopher Perry would likely to be very sorry he summoned her after all.
Prue grinned evilly and her sisters' noticed. Paige tilted her head curiously. "Ok what are you scheming about?"
Prue grinned mischievously. "Well since I'm here, I'm going to help you figure out what our dear friend Perry is up to."
Paige's answering smirk was identical to her own and their sisters who copied the motion. Phoebe frowned though.
"How're you going to do that? Chris isn't stupid I think hell avoid the Manor for a while."
"We could summon him into a crystal cage and interrogate him" Paige suggested.
"He wouldn't say anything you know that Paige" Piper interjected. "And since he's only half Whitelighter, I'm not sure he'd reform if I blew him up."
Paige cringed involuntarily.
"Truth spell?" Phoebe suggested.
"Maybe" Prue conceded. "But I'm thinking more along the lines of casting a spell instead of relying on Chris. If there's one thing I know about him, he's crafty. He probably knows who to avoid truth spells.
"What if" she said slowly, allowing her thoughts to form and coalesce "we cast a spell to find who Chris is? Is he an enemy or a friend? And" her eyes met Piper's "is he being truthful or not."
Piper stiffened at that, but both Paige and Phoebe were nodding thoughtfully.
"If we word it right there shouldn't be any consequences" Phoebe squinted, staring at the attic wall. "We're trying to figure out if Chris is a threat to us not about the future."
"You said it sister" Paige said brightly. She gave her oldest sister a considering look. "Chris is so going to regret summoning you isn't he?"
Prue grinned at her. She really liked her baby sister.
A flurry of blue white lights condensed to form a battered young man who collapsed in the well placed chair in P3, which was thankfully closed by now. Groaning softly, he let himself slump into the hard chair, and sprawled out in a manner that would have appalled his mother.
Damn it he hurt all over. A couple of the demons got a few lucky shots in before he vanquished them. He'd been hit with at least two energy balls and had a long slash across his abdomen from an Athame. Fortunately it wasn't poisoned nor was the cut deep but it stung like a bastard. The rest of his injuries were just scrapes and bruises from rolling and slamming into rock. His head ached a little but he didn't have a concussion thank God. His arms and fingers tingled from exertion.
He sighed deeply. He'd underestimated the tribe's size big time. He'd run out of potions fast even with the extras he'd brought and had to use his more offensive powers to get out, something he'd tried to avoid since coming to the past. In the end he had killed over 20 demons he estimated. Not a bad haul considering. And he had come through relatively unscathed to boot.
"Salve" he said aloud. In a flurry of blue white lights, a small dark jar appeared on the table closest to him in a flurry of orbs. He narrowed his eyes tiredly at the jar sitting on the table. Obediently, it took flight into his waiting palm. Since he didn't have regular access to anyone that could heal, he made a point to make some simple salves and healing potions. It certainly made up for the unnecessary hassle of calling for Leo.
He reluctantly swung himself upright, grimacing as his body protested and started to undo his shirt.
A chill suddenly went down his spine and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. His discomfort forgotten immediately, he swung himself to his feet, tense and alert.
Something was wrong.
When another of those intuitive feelings shrieked at him to get down now, he didn't even hesitate.
Chris threw himself forward, vaulting over the table as an energy ball struck his chair, causing it to explode. Chris rolled to his feet, sending a second energy ball back to its castor, blowing him to bits. He settled into a defensive crouch as the air shimmered and one side of the room was filled with a myriad of different demons, some human looking, others looking like rejects from Davey Jones crew from Pirates of the Caribbean.
Why does this crap always happen to him?
He ducked an energy ball that came his way before bracing himself and flexed his fingers. Three of the attackers instantly exploded, which made the others falter slightly.
Sweet. He didn't waste time, swiping violently and sending others flying. Chris threw himself down, avoiding a fire ball, and blew the offending demon up.
He rolled to his feet only to yelp as his internal warning system was too late in alerting him and a fireball struck his shoulder, knocking him over. Cursing fluently, he rolled behind the bar, leaning back against the hardwood, cringing at the sound of energy balls hitting the sturdy bar.
Piper was going to be so pissed off.
He crouched behind the counter, his mind racing. He had caught a few glimpses of the demons as he counter attacked and hadn't liked what he'd seen. Demons of different species, with a couple of upper level demons thrown into the mix. This didn't seem to be the work of one faction of demons, but more likely the work of someone powerful pulling the strings. This attack was organised. But by whom?
Closing his eyes for a split second and concentrated. His eyes snapped open as he sprang to his feet, sending the incoming attacks back. Then he threw his hands out.
A Brute demon didn't have time to scream before he was incinerated by a bolt of brilliant blue-white lightning. He exploded along with two bounty hunters, a Manticore and a Trak demon. The others scrambled away from the knot of unfortunate demons, swearing.
Then his neck prickled and he heard all too familiar sounds of demonic shimmering behind him.
This was just great.
The sudden twang of a crossbow had him diving back to the floor in a lunging forward roll as he hazardously flung his arm out, sending demons flying indiscriminately. He orbed out reflexively, ducking behind a pillar as he reformed and threw a lightning bolt at the incoming Darklighter, incinerating him instantly. He felt a thrill of foreboding at the still large number of demons itching to eradicate him, his mind racing with possibilities. Why were they after him?
He yanked his head back sharply avoiding an energy ball to the face, before throwing his hands out and blowing two demons to dust. He took a deep breath, gathering himself; he only had one shot at this.
He hurled himself out from behind the pillar, his arms up and palms outstretched, his eyes flashing white as he combined his two offensive powers into a brilliant blue destructive wave. The demons didn't have time to react before the wave was on them, obliterating them and every stick of furniture in its path.
He almost fell over, exhaustion kicking him in the gut. He grabbed the railing beside him to stop himself collapsing as the fading screams and falling debris quietened.
He let his head rest against the railing, his chest heaving. He closed his eyes feeling his stomach churn violently, protesting against too much magic in such a short time.
He groaned and pushed himself upright, one hand on the ground hoisting him up while the other clung desperately to the railing. He squinted at the destruction and cringed.
Jesus Mom's gonna be pissed…..
He had to fix this. He was pushing it, he knew it, he was heading dangerously into complete exhaustion. But the expression on Piper's face when she saw the state of her club was something he didn't even dare contemplate, especially given how she was already angry with him.
He hauled himself to his feet, shuffling forward towards the centre of the mess. First clean up. Then pass out for a couple of hours, then figure out who had sent half of the Underworld after him and vanquish them and then he'd follow up on that new lead he'd heard on who was after Wyatt, replenish his stock of vanquishing potions while avoiding the Manor for as long as possible….
"Let the object of objection be"
He felt the warning on the back of his neck, too late for his sluggish mind to comprehend. Pain exploded at the base of his skull and he fell into blackness.
Very quietly, Prue followed her sister into what used to be her bedroom so very long ago. The room was very different these days, conforming to her little sister's taste of course, which had always been different to her own. But the real difference was in what was in her closet, which once upon a time had contained her rather large collection of designer clothes.
But not anymore.
Piper eased the door open carefully, glancing over her shoulder, reassuring herself that her big sister was still with her. Carefully, she stepped aside and let her sister walk beside her.
Prue swallowed hard, a thick lump in her throat as she took in the small nursery and the small crib at the wall.
"C'mon" Piper said softly, stepping further into the room. Hesitantly she followed.
How many times had she peered down into this very room Up There? Why was she so nervous now?
Very carefully, afraid to make even the smallest of sounds, she stepped over to where her sister was staring into the cot, a tender, loving expression settling over her face. She looked radiant in the pale moonlight coming from the window. Prue stepped beside her and her breath caught.
She blinked hard, her eyes moistening rapidly. Her brief glimpses of her nephew didn't do him justice. He was beautiful. His golden hair and serene visage gave him the look of an angel, his thumb close to his mouth, as he slept contently on his stomach, his small body rising and falling with his breathing.
How could something so undeniably perfect be anything less than goodness personified?
"Piper, he's gorgeous" Prue breathed, awe shining in her bright eyes as she stared into the crib. She had never felt so completely ineloquent. No words could describe the emotion gripping her.
Piper smiled, her hand reaching down to stroke her baby's soft curls, reassuring herself that her baby was fine. He was whole, he was safe. He was good. And she would do everything she could to keep it that way.
"You can touch him" Piper prompted her uncharacteristically hesitant sister. The air was quiet between them, laden with powerful, tender emotion. She had often daydreamt about her big sister meeting her baby, picturing her as an auntie. She would have been a great one; she'd always known that; her big sister's cool and composure completely absent when she'd gleefully play games with Wyatt, cooing at him and giggle at his adorable antics. The thought had always been bittersweet and made her smile wistfully.
Seeing Prue's wonder at the sight of her nephew made her ache with emotion, both good and bad. Good because she was finally seeing her big sister with her son. Bad because she only was able to witness it now and probably wouldn't see it again.
Damn it if it was difficult to hate Chris at this very moment in time. Something that bugger had probably been counting on.
She shook her head as her baby stirred a little, willing her thoughts away as Prue froze, her hand inches from Wyatt's blonde hair.
Piper nodded encouragingly. Hesitantly Prue gently caressed her baby's soft locks, carding her fingers through the curls with incredible gentleness. The wide eyed wonder brought tears to Piper's eyes again.
Wyatt's sky blue eyes opened and he blearily looked up at the two women standing over him.
"Ssh baby, it's alright" Piper crooned, almost inaudible, it was said so quietly. She stroked his hair again, while Prue stared frozen, her hand still on his downy covered head.
"Mommy's here baby, its ok" Piper murmured soothingly, still running her fingers ever so gently through her baby's hair. Prue watched as Piper half hummed, half sang and her baby's eyes blinked once, twice, before closing and his little body relaxed again, breathing evening out as sleep pulled him down again.
Emotion gripped her hard, and for a moment she her heart ached with loss, for never having been able to experience this miracle herself. She had been so young when she had died. There had been so much she'd yet to do, so much to finish, before it had all been ripped away.
But if she hadn't died, Piper would have and this little miracle would never have been born.
She would always have regrets, she knew that. But looking at the loving mother beside her, Prue felt her resolve strengthen. Life wasn't fair. She hadn't deserved to die so young. But given the choice, she was glad that it had been her. She would have made the decision herself without a second thought. Better she had died than her sisters.
There was nothing she wouldn't do for her family, alive or dead.
Prue reluctantly withdrew her hand from her precious nephew's head, loath to break this moment. But she had work to do.
Piper gently tugged the blanket higher up her baby's body and smoothed his hair down one last time before stepping away to face her sister who promptly pulled her into a tight hug.
"Thank you" she whispered.
Piper wrapped her arms around her sister's waist and rested her head in the crook of her neck, savouring the familiar embrace, and vowing to treasure this one perfect moment forever.
"Do we have to do this now?" Phoebe asked plaintively as her sisters returned to the attic. Phoebe knew she was exhausted, her eyes were itchy and her head was beginning to ache that way when she pulled an all-nighter again. Which was kind of what she had done; staying up with Paige to make the 'Perfect Man' for Piper's birthday. All of that had been tiring, especially with the disaster Piper's birthday had turned out to be.
But tiredness wasn't bothering her now with Prue here. Prue was here. Who cared about sleep and bothersome Whitelighters?
"I mean, we don't know how long you're going to be here Prue" Phoebe glanced up warily at the ceiling, half expecting a shower of orbs to appear any second. "Chris has nowhere to go; he can wait a while."
"Better to do it before he gets time to come up with excuses" Prue breezily countered, visibly unmoved. But Phoebe knew better; could feel the myriad of emotions running beneath the surface of the composed face and stormy eyes. She wanted to take Phoebe's suggestion, was strongly tempted. But her family came first. It was oddly comforting, sensing this.
"I want to hang out and catch up" Prue added, her grey eyes lingering on Paige. "But I'm going to find out whether or not you guys are in danger first. If I can't stay long, I'm going to make sure you guys are safe before I go."
Paige's eyes met hers and nodded.
"Let's do it" Piper said firmly, steel lacing her words.
Phoebe conceded defeat and got up to join her sisters, feeling a pang of pity for her Whitelighter. The guy didn't stand a chance.
"Spell. Not our finest, but it should do the trick" Paige held up the piece of paper she and Phoebe had been poring over for the last half an hour. It was longer than usual; showing their diligence. When it came to their family and particularly their nephew's safety, they would not take any risks.
"I'll read it" Piper held out her hand for the page.
"So let's get cracking with the 'Power of Four'?" Phoebe swung her arms back and forth, anticipation building in her gut.
Prue smiled and reached out to take Piper's hand, gripping it firmly. She glanced at Paige and offered her youngest, almost unknown sister her other hand awkwardly. Paige felt rather shy as she grasped Prue's hand, emotion making her avert her eyes as a blush stained her cheeks.
Taking pity on her sister, Phoebe took Paige's other hand, almost about to start crying again in response to the feelings coming from her sisters. The four of them together at long last.
Piper squeezed Prue's hand and felt her return the gesture. She cleared her throat.
We can upon the ancient power
To guide us in this witching hour
When tricks and lies have been wrought
Understanding is now what is sought
Our family's safety we must ensure
No more deceit we will endure
Seeking answers to our fears
We need knowledge from future years
To learn the truth from the lies
About the facts hiding in disguise
We Halliwell witches need to know
Who is Chris Perry, friend or foe?
A/N: So long overdue, it's not even funny. I have no idea when the next update will be. Life's a bitch and is trying to run me over. But this story is NOT abandoned.