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Epilogue: Happy Birthday
November 16th, 2027. 3:16 am.
Chris didn't really know how to describe the sensation of time shifting at first. When he had only been a passive observer of it, it was more like a solid tug and push. As if you'd just been in a slight fender bender, a little jostled, but altogether no worse for the experience. It was something that could be brushed off in a matter of moments.
When he was in control of it though... it was something entirely different.
The only comparison he could think of was the short drop between when the gallows's floor dropped out from under you and the snap of the noose halting the fall. Everything between those seconds was a free fall of instinct and adrenaline.
"What did you do?" The voice echoed above him, only then reminding Chris that he should open his eyes. The whiteness blinded him for a moment, leaving him only to cling on the sensation of smooth marble under his fingertips and the aching feeling of having recently hit the floor with his knees. If he didn't know better, he'd think that he was in the sigil room still, but the thing was he did know better.
Without even opening his eyes he knew where and when he was. That realization, that little peek into his powers, gave him enough of an adrenaline rush on top of his already rattled nerves that his muscles decided it was quitting time for the moment. He fell forward the rest of the way onto the floor, managing to catch himself on his forearms.
The owner of the voice allowed him a moment to take a breath, although Chris could tell he was getting impatient. The witchlighter let him, taking his time collecting himself, pulling his senses back close and willing the absolute rush of his new power to fade away. Only then did he open his eyes.
Brushing gently against the floor in front of Chris's face was the triquetra, glinting with a silent warning even in the low light. Chris smiled internally, not wanting to give the people around him the impression that he was mocking them, just himself. He inched up so that he was sitting uncomfortably on his knees, then, slowly, he made it to his feet. Every scratch, ache, and burn from the earlier fight protesting as he did so.
Then he turned his attention to the people in front of him. Elders. Gold robed and sour faced.
"I did what I had to." Chris finally answered, meeting the closest one's gaze.
His frown was beginning to curl back in on itself, he was so displeased, "You changed time. Again."
"Hey," Chris shrugged in a tired challenge, "If you liked being dead in that scorch mark of a timeline, feel free to get all your Elder powers in a row and change it back."
The Elder merely narrowed his eyes at him, but obviously didn't make a move to do what Chris suggested. "We sensed others with you, what did you do with them?"
"My family is back where they should be. Sleeping. It's three in the morning after all." Chris paused, eyes flicking to the side, "Three sixteen to be exact." The elders did not enjoy his joke, apparently. Chris just rolled his eyes and continued on to what they really wanted to know, "Time was already shifting back, I wanted it to be stable, so I just... nudged it back to the last point in time on this day where it was. The minute before the other Chronokinetic arrived."
It was 3:16 am. November 16th 2027. Everything was reset like a computer jumping back to his last known good configuration. The thing was, exactly like a computer, it didn't forget what had happened to it that easily.
"Anyone directly involved will remember as soon as they wake up. Others in the magical community might remember parts, I don't know. That's not one of my powers." Chris's voice flattened at the end of this. He wished it was, he really did. If he could have wiped the whole thing out of his family's minds and spared them having to think about it... he would have in a heart beat. The Elder could tell that, Chris knew, but he didn't say anything about it.
"...and the other?" He did say slowly, almost scared.
"Lost." Chris answered, "I left him in that timeline before it disappeared. He's not a threat anymore..."
But I may be... the unspoken end to that sentence echoed in everyone's minds. It didn't bear actually being said out loud. Chris shifted his feet slightly, making sure of his own balance. He didn't know what he'd do if the Elders took exception to his existence. He almost couldn't blame them, but the urge to survive wasn't something he could just turn off.
The Elder advanced a half step, mouth opening... The voice that echoed around the halls of the Overworld was not his, however.
"Stop it already," The bright room became almost impossibly brighter for half a second, momentarily blinding the occupants until a form came into shape. The Source stood between the Elders and Chris, semi transparent, but obviously her. She'd aged again, now an old woman.
The Elders could only stand stunned as she turned her head regally, a halting finger held out to them.
"My time is short and this trip is taxing, but if it strikes me dead, we will learn from history this day," The Source said sternly, "We have all made mistakes. We will not repeat them. Christopher accepted this power with full knowledge of what it entails and, knowing that, willfully entered into a contract with me. You will curb your thoughts this instant."
The Elders seemed almost cowed for a moment, the majority of them staring openly. "Lady," the front most Elder started clumsily, "You must realize the danger. This much power in one time, in one family."
"Saturation of power means nothing. It's the content of those who keep it. Besides, it's not unnatural for this to happen," The Source shrugged, "Every Arthur needs his Merlin, Elder."
The Elder fell into silence, obviously seeing no point in arguing. His gaze only flickered momentarily from the Source over to Chris before he nodded.
"Good? Good." The Source nodded and patted the Elder on the shoulder as if he was a small child, "Now would someone please heal Christopher before he bleeds all over the floor."
November 16th, 2027. 6:00 pm.
There were only five steps up to that door, but they were perhaps the most intimidating steps Bianca had ever taken. The stained glass door stared at her like a challenge, and really, she had never been one to turn down a challenge before. It barely took two knocks before the door opened, revealing Piper Halliwell in the door frame.
"Hi," Bianca started softly, clipping her thumbs into the back pockets of her jeans.
Piper leaned against the door, expression nearly unreadable besides the slight quirk to a scarred eyebrow. "Bianca. Chris isn't here right now."
"I know," The Phoenix shook her head, looking up at the legendary witch before her and half expecting to get vanquished on the spot, "I was actually hoping to talk to you."
She didn't know what she particularly expected, but the unguarded and slightly pleased smile that came to Piper's lips wasn't it. The Halliwell stepped back from the door, pulling it open enough for Bianca to follow in. Bianca traced her steps all the way back into the kitchen, a handful of pots and pans all emitting the most wonderful smells she could remember in a long time. It was enough that she couldn't stop the small wow that escaped under her breath.
Piper smiled again, going back to chopping a pile of vegetables on the counter, "Thank you. The kids have all gotten so used to my cooking these days I rarely get that reaction anymore. Do you know how to cook?"
"A little," Bianca admitted, peering curiously into a pot full of boiling potatoes, "Enough to make potions, at least. I mostly grew up on Hamburger Helper, my mom was always too busy. My dad though," Bianca smiled at the memory, "the smells that came out of the kitchen when he was around, it was heaven."
Piper's chopping hesitated only a moment. She'd seen Bianca as a child, and there had been a distinct lack of father. "...what happened to him?"
Bianca shrugged lightly, helpfully stirring a pot that was boiling a little too close to the edge, carefully not looking at the older witch, "My mom met him in Spain. We lived there for a while, but when she had to move back, he didn't come with us."
"He found out about the magic." Piper didn't really wonder, she just sort of knew. Bianca nodded, still watching the food instead of looking over at her. Neither really had to say anything more on the subject. They both knew how it felt. "...how is your mother?"
"Not dead." Bianca laughed without much humor, it was mostly just a stress relief. The shock of waking up in her own bed in the morning had been intense, and had only been compounded by her mother shimmering in, trying to figure out why she remembered being killed. Bianca had hugged her so hard that the blonde witch had barely been able to breathe.
They'd spent the next hour or so exchanging information, Lynn being weirdly the least surprised about the fact that Chris was involved. To the point where she commented that she "had wondered when he was going to show up again." She'd taken the whole thing extremely well...
"And your family?" Piper asked again, cooking merely on reflex now, barely looking at her work.
"They remember," Bianca started, looking over at Piper, "My mother is speaking with them now. They're... grateful, I think, but they don't know how to handle the situation. They'll come up with a decision soon, until then, I've been stricken."
Piper frowned a little at that, slightly offended on her own and Bianca's behalf, "Stricken as in, kicked out of your family? That's..."
"I was expecting it," Bianca shrugged, smiling at her response, "This is actually better than I imagined it was going to be. I'd actually rented an apartment out here for when they kicked me out of the family owned one."
"Seems harsh," Piper mumbled, adding vigor to her vegetable chopping in order to stop herself from saying more potentially insulting things.
"It's worth it."
The two of them shared a spare moment of companionable silence, each automatically attending one of the slew of pots and pans as they went until eventually each thing finished, one by one.
"Could you grab those plates? We need to get this place set up before the rest of the family gets here and turns the house into a zoo." Piper asked easily, brushing past Bianca and laying a comforting hand on her shoulder, "Don't worry. It will seem intimidating at first, but you'll get used to it. Just wait until Christmas. Woo! That's always an apocalypse and a half..."
Bianca smiled at the offhand invitation, accepting the task given to her and, with it, acknowledging the hidden message the Matriarch had knowingly slipped in.
"I look forward to it."
November 16th, 2027. 8:00 pm.
"Best. Spot. Ever." Melinda stretched her fingers up to reach at the stars above them before letting her arms drop back to hit her two brothers where they were stretched out on either side of her. It would probably be the weirdest sight ever if someone managed to get a look up on top of the Golden Gate Bridge. The three of them, lying side by side on one of the massive girders at the top, feet dangling easily over the traffic.
"Thought you were scared of heights," Wyatt poked her in the arm, forcing her to tuck it closer in to her own side.
"I got over that when I was eight," Mel said proudly, before switching to sarcasm, "Thanks for keeping track. I see how much you love me now."
Chris didn't bother covering the snorted laugh though he probably should have. Mel rewarded him with a sharp elbow to the side again.
"Hey, you're in the dog house too!" She frowned.
"What?" Chris shifted out of each of her elbow, "Why?"
Mel and Wyatt managed to laugh near in unison, they both tossed each other a look and rattled off exactly why, alternating between them.
"Secret girlfriend." Mel started.
"Secret demon flavored girlfriend." Wyatt emphasized.
"For two years."
"With multiple demon attacks you didn't tell us about."
"Not taking me into the evil time with you."
"Dropping us off in our beds and disappearing until noon."
"Secret awesome time powers."
"Stop, stop, stop." Chris rolled his eyes and held up a hand, "I get it, but you can't really be mad at me for most of those. I had no control over that." Yes, he did have a secret girlfriend, who was not a secret anymore. His siblings hadn't missed a spare second to tease him about that. The disappearing until noon thing, well... yeah, he didn't show back up at the house until then, but he just needed a moment. He figured Wyatt and Leo could explain everything to the family well enough and Bianca needed some time with her mother...
"Excuuuses," Mel carried the word out with good humor, wiggling over farther so she was back into elbow range. Soon as she was though, her face took on a more somber tone, "Chris, just... no more secrets, okay?"
Chris looked over at them, noting the utter seriousness on both of his siblings' faces. It was still there, the urge to lie, to manipulate. It was ingrained so far into him he hadn't even noticed that it was there for the majority of this lifetime. Yet he'd used it on the two people he really shouldn't have to.
"Okay." He answered seriously and turned back to look up at the stars. They joined him for a moment, Mel leaning into Wyatt's shoulder with a sigh. He let it drag on, wanting the bit of peace before he kept his promise. Only after a few minutes of small jokes, the wind making their fingers numb, did he press on.
"Since I'm being honest now, I should probably mention something."
Wyatt twisted over to frown at him, "What now?"
"I'm getting married."
Mel lurched in her spot so suddenly that Wyatt reached out to make sure she didn't flop over the edge, "No way!"
Chris shrugged nonchalantly, pushing himself to sit up, "That is if my future in-laws don't start a feud and try to kill us." He flashed a sharp smile at them and orbed out, leaving the two of them to stammer behind him.
"Why does he do that..." Wyatt whined.
"Jerk," Mel agreed, leaning forward to yell at the sky, "Happy birthday you ungrateful brat!"
Yet again. Thank you all for sticking with me throughout this whole thing. There is going to be a lull before anything of the sequel comes out as I like to get about five chapters or so in at the start. If you're reading this far past when I last updated, please don't be shy about leaving reviews even then. It makes me smile and spurs me on.
If you guys would like to keep track of me in the meantime. You can find me here: Vylla (dot) deviantart (dot) com and here: Risahulett (dot) Blogspot (dot) com.
Until next time!