Connections At Work
Author's Note: And here's the epilogue. I may or may not consider writing side stories/a sequel. Except I've half-forgotten what's meant to happen after this... besides the obvious.
Epilogue: One Year Later
Chris wiped his sweaty palms on his dark jeans. He was going to do it. Things with Bianca had gotten off to possibly the weirdest start in the history of relationships. It had been uphill and downhill ever since then because of their differences and sometimes because of their similarities. Bianca would complain that he was trying to change her into a goody two shoes Halliwell. Chris tried to convince her that she already was.
Bianca had never killed a human being in her life. Not even a bad witch and even Chris couldn't attest to that. Bianca said that was because it was easier when you could pick and choose who to kill without emotional involvement. Chris pointed out that that was emotional involvement. Chris had to have emotional involvement before he killed someone... even the pregnancy demon. He still felt a little guilty over the fact that he'd banished the pregnancy demon when most of the time it was completely harmless.
But those were his morals. He had to live with them. But Bianca didn't like them and if they wanted the relationship to work she had to live with them too. She thought it was wrong of the Halliwells to only go after those who attacked them, or those close to them. It was selfish and not considering the bigger picture. Chris was starting to agree, which Piper Halliwell did not like one bit. Who was Bianca to tell them what was selfish? Piper and Bianca were two strong and stubborn women who couldn't help clashing, and causing a strain on Chris and Bianca's relationship. Piper couldn't get over her unwillingness to let her son go and take charge of his own life.
It was why Chris was finding this particular task so difficult. His mother was in her bedroom, though Chris wasn't sure what she was doing. But she was home and his father was out and this was really something he wanted to tell her without Leo around. She had to know first.
He knocked on his parents' bedroom door. A 'no orbing into bedrooms' rule had been established in the Halliwell house early on in Chris' life. It was one rule he'd never broken beyond the occasional cry for help.
"Come in," Piper called. She was sitting on her bed, brushing her hair out. It was no longer the dark brown colour it had been in her youth, but it was still thick and long. Chris had loved it when he was little, always running sticky fingers through her hair. Piper had hated it of course, but had never cut her hair. She'd even let it down more often just for him.
Chris watched her from the doorway for a moment and she let him.
"Still just as fascinated by my hair as you always were," she said. "I'm surprised you never grew your hair out yourself."
Chris shuddered at the idea. He'd inherited his mother's hair and it would likely look the same if he ever did grow it out, but it was just wrong. "Evil Wyatt's hair was long. I know I don't look like him but I've never wanted to."
"You and your brother look more alike than you think."
Chris had heard it before when he had teased Wyatt about not looking like a Halliwell when he was a kid.
"So what's up?" Piper asked, setting down her hairbrush and patting the space beside her.
Chris took the invitation to sit and stared at the family portrait hanging on the wall. It was new, with Wyatt's youngest barely born. There were Piper and Leo seated in the middle. Wyatt and Amanda behind and to their left. Chris in the middle. Mel was standing beside her husband to their right. Piper was holding Mel's daughter, and Leo Wyatt's newborn. Wyatt's toddler was standing between Piper and Leo, beside their knees.
"Thinking about Bianca?" Piper asked, seeing his gaze fixed on the picture. "She'd add a little more symmetry to the photo, don't you think?"
"Yeah," Chris found himself agreeing before the real meaning behind the question sank in. "Wait, how did you know?"
"You're my son," Piper said as she had so many times before. "And you've been living here so long I almost think I know you better than Wyatt and Mel."
"Don't let Mel hear you say that," said Chris. If he'd thought he'd had insecurities having Wyatt as an older brother, Mel's were doubled. She was a powerful witch but in the end she was only a witch. No matter how much the family tried to include her and keep from rubbing their other powers in her face, she still felt insecure, even with the spoiling being the only girl and the youngest gave her.
"I miss Mel," said Piper. "I think I'm finally empty nesting."
"I still live here," said Chris.
"But not for long, right?" said Piper. "It's what you wanted to talk to me about, isn't it?
"Yes," said Chris. "I'm going to propose and I'm hoping she'll say yes."
Chris hadn't confided in Piper what he and Bianca had learned from the seer a year ago. He'd only told Wyatt because he and his brother had never been closer in his life- his two lives if it came down to it. Piper only thought they were dealing with expectations of Chris' past life, not the predictions of a life still to come. It was hard to live knowing what was to come. How did you ever know what was real and what had to happen? What if you only went along with things because you thought you had to? When did you know when to fight against destiny? To argue until you worked out another way, no matter what everyone else said?
It felt right to Chris, to be with Bianca. He could only hope that she felt the same way.
"The world may not be ending," said Piper. "And I know that even if this doesn't work out you'll have more chances at happiness, but I am also sure that Bianca is going to say yes. I also know she'll probably never consent to live here, which means I'll be losing you."
Chris was vaguely amused by his mother's ramble, though he had no idea what brought it out. "You won't be losing me."
"She'll say yes," said Piper again. "I know it. She'll be reluctant, but she'll say yes because she wants to be with you and she wouldn't do anything to jeopardise that. But you still won't be living here."
"I hope you're right," Chris said.
Piper wondered what she could do to give her son a little extra confidence. In the past year she'd fought with Bianca and didn't agree with half the things she said, but she was good for Chris. He remembered himself more often, and by extension his family. She wanted the two of them to work out even if it meant giving up a little of Chris herself. "Do you have a ring?" she asked.
Chris shook his head and Piper stood, going to her jewellery box. "I think Bianca would want to pick out her own," he said, seeing what his mother was doing. "She wouldn't take something of yours."
The idea was vaguely offensive to Piper, but she hadn't been intending to give up anything of her own. She slid open the secret compartment and removed a ring she hadn't touched since she'd placed it there thirteen years ago. "It isn't mine," Piper said as she handed the ring to Chris who examined it intently.
"What is this?" Chris asked. It felt familiar, but he didn't know how.
"Do you remember how a bunch of stuff reappeared on your twenty-third birthday?" It hadn't been much, only the clothes and pocket junk Chris had had on him when he arrived in the past.
"This is from then?" he asked. It was clearly an engagement ring. "But did that mean...?"
"It was Bianca's engagement ring. He proposed. She said yes."
"Then why was it in the past?" wondered Chris. He was keeping things from his mother, but he'd never guessed there were things she was still keeping from him. "Was Bianca here? Did she leave it behind?" But if she'd left it behind...
"Chris told me she gave it to him to remind him of what would be waiting for him in the future if everything went to plan."
Chris let the words sink in. This was what his other self had wanted... for him to propose to Bianca.
But Piper wasn't finished telling the story. "She came back to get him on Wyatt's orders."
Chris' head shot up. "You met Bianca?"
"Briefly," said Piper. "Your Bianca wasn't lying when she said she saw me try to kill her mother. Except that I wasn't exactly trying to kill her. We were looking for future Bianca because of what she'd done to the other you."
"Wait. What? I think you need to tell this story from the beginning."
Piper nodded. "I guess it first started when I saw future Bianca attack future you..." She told the story from the club to Bianca's mother's apartment to the future and Wyatt's murder of Bianca. Bianca's last act was to give Chris back the ring. "So I can't say it will bring you luck either way," said Piper.
"Whatever it is," said Chris. "It will be right." This one time he was going to see what destiny had to say about Bianca.
x x x
Chris had Bianca meet him in their spot, a small part of the garden at the Golden Gate Bridge by the maze where they'd really first met on the bench where they'd nearly first met. Since then they'd visited here on more than one occasion, drawn to the spot. Chris had wondered if there was something actually magical about the place but as far as he could tell the only magical thing about it was the two of them. In a way it made it more special for them.
Chris had Bianca's ring in his pocket and had stuck his fingers in so many times to check that it was still there that he feared poking a hole in the fabric and losing it. If Bianca noticed how nervous he was, she didn't say anything.
"I know we've had our troubles," Chris began. Why hadn't he practised this part? He'd only practised the words, not the set up. "But I like to think that the good outweighs the bad."
"So do I," said Bianca. "Or I would have been long gone."
"I love you. Part of me always has, but after the past year the rest of me fell in love with you. I don't want to live my life without you." He paused. Here came the hard part. "I want to marry you. I want you to marry me." He pulled out the ring and held it up for her to see, going down onto one knee. "Bianca, will you marry me?"
She looked stunned. "I wasn't expecting this, Chris." She was almost angry. He could see it in her eyes. "You're asking me here? You're asking me now?"
"What's wrong with here and now?" He looked up at, eyes wide.
Bianca opened her mouth but shut it again when she couldn't find anything wrong with it.
Chris looked into her eyes pleadingly.
"Okay," she said. "Yes, Chris. I will marry you."
Chris smiled as he slid the ring onto her finger and sat down on the bench beside her again.
"Perfect fit," she said, looking at it. "It's perfect."
Chris guessed the ring was lucky after all.
x X X x
A/N: Thanks to everyone for reading and reviewing. You made it easy for me to post this.