Chapter 29

Never Again

Leo orbed to the attic after he spoke with Gideon. He had explained to the Elder that the sisters and he were going to go after the headless horseman. They were going to leave Wyatt home with Piper's father figuring that the baby would be most protected in the attic. He went on to explain that it was a naptime for the little boy, so he was sure that if they could contain this problem quickly that Wyatt would be safe; Victor would be able to watch downstairs to make sure that nothing came in through the front door.

Leo had been amazed to watch the glee grow in Gideon's eyes. It sickened him to witness how twisted his former mentor had become. When Leo got to the part about Wyatt being alone in the attic he could see Gideon's face light up. He sent up a silent prayer thanking whoever it was that had allowed Chris to travel back in time, over and over again, until they had finally gotten it right. And this time, Leo felt, they were going to get it right!

Leo walked over to the pack and play and smiled at the sleeping Wyatt. He reached down to run a hand through the baby's soft hair and jumped back when his hand went through the slumbering form. It wasn't his son that was lying there but a hologram of him instead! Leo's head shot up and looked around the room as he called out, "Chris?"

Leo breathed out a sigh of relief when he heard his son's laughter. Suddenly both boys appeared before him.

Chris was still laughing as he said, "Man, Dad, you shoulda seen your face when you realized that wasn't Wy!"

Leo was tempted to admonish the boy but quickly figured out that it was actually a good test. If he couldn't sense that the sleeping baby was a hologram then Gideon wouldn't be able to either.

As if reading his father's mind, Chris said, "I figured if you couldn't tell the difference then neither could Gideon. Sorry to trick you."

Leo gave him an understanding grin, "It was a good idea," he said and walked over and tousled Chris's hair. "Now show me how you hid yourself so completely that I couldn't sense you when I tried."

Chris beamed up at him. He had been practicing this particular Elder magic and was pleased to see he was already so good at it. "Ok," he began, "I do this…"

/ CHARMED / CHARMED / CHARMED /

The three sisters were downstairs in the basement. They had already constructed wards to prevent them from being sensed by any form of magic. They had even tapped into the nexus to make sure that the spells were extra powerful.

Currently Paige and Phoebe were trying to make Piper more comfortable. They couldn't believe that she had been hiding the fact that she had gone into labor! They should have expected it, though. Of course Piper would do anything to keep her boys safe; and if she believed holding back that 'little fact' would keep them safe then that is exactly what she would do.

They left Victor on the first level of the Manor so that if Gideon tried to sense for him he would find Victor where he was expected to be. Victor kept himself busy by preparing the dining room for the impending birth. It was a good thing that he was there when Wyatt was born. He knew exactly what needed to be done.

/ CHARMED / CHARMED / CHARMED /

Chris had finished explaining the how he had used the Elder magic. Leo was suitably impressed. Apparently Chris had been unaware of this power until he had returned to the past but had mastered it quickly.

Now all they had to do was wait for Gideon. They didn't have to wait for long. They had been cutting things closer than they planned. Within moments of Leo and Chris cloaking themselves and Wyatt, Gideon orbed into the Manor.

The three watched as Gideon glanced around the room, presumable sensing for Leo or the Charmed Ones. Chris held his breath while silently chanting, 'stay quiet, stay quiet, stay quiet,' and hoping his brother could somehow heed the command.

The trio watched as Gideon stood over the playpen and with a disgusted look upon his face said, "This should have never been allowed to happen. You are an abomination that needs to be destroyed for the greater good." He held out his hand and an athame appeared in it. He raised his arm into the air, intending on striking the sleeping boy when Leo had decided he had enough.

Leo uncloaked, startling Gideon with his presence. "How could you?" were the only words Leo could get out. There was a brief pause as the two Elders stared at each other before Leo broke the silence saying, "You were the one that fought for me and Piper to be able to get married!"

"It was a mistake, Leo; you've got to see that now! There is too much power for one human to handle!" Gideon boldly stated. "He should have never been allowed to exist!" This time when Gideon raised his hand he quickly brought it down, striking the hologram. Once his hand went through the 'sleeping child' Gideon stared up at Leo and shouted, "What have you done! I could have ended this all! You don't understand," Gideon's voice dropped from the yell to matter of fact, "If you had not sent Christopher back, he could have told you himself… This boy becomes EVIL!"

Leo still hadn't had the chance to interrupt. Gideon was on a roll and not about to stop, "There is a saying about power, that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely! There is no way a child with the power of a Charmed One and a Whitelighter could be anything but EVIL!"

"That's where you're wrong, Gideon. It's about choices. Power may corrupt but if you raise the child to make the right choices then the power will not corrupt him!" Leo informed him.

"You don't know what you are talking about, Leo," Gideon told him. "If he is allowed to exist then he will be evil. I have heard proof of what your union with a Charmed One creates."

"Proof from Chris?" Leo asked knowingly.

Gideon was shocked by the question but answered, "Yes."

"But he didn't say that my progeny would be evil, did he?" Leo asked.

Gideon knew that the Chris that had told the alternate universe's Charmed Ones about the turn of Wyatt was a turn to good; but he was certain that the future for their Wyatt would be a turn to evil. He responded, "Those may not have been his exact words but the turn to evil is clear." Gideon was so sure he was right; there was nothing that could change his mind now.

"I am certain that it is all about choices. What you are doing now is going to affect Wyatt for the rest of his life. It is because of you that the he feels the need to obtain power. That stops now!" Leo stated.

"You know no such thing, Leo. I have heard from Christopher myself!"

Chris had been watching this exchange. He was amazed that his father felt the need to chit chat with the man that had already attempted to kill Wyatt! Chris set the little one down so he could say the spell to weaken the Elder; unfortunately he couldn't be sure the magic would be able to get through the cloak. He would have to let go of the shield to be sure the spell worked.

"As have I," Leo said, "And I know Chris made the right choices. I know he is good!"

Again Gideon was confused by a statement made by Leo, "Of course he is good! He is a whitelighter!"

"He's also my…" Leo began but when he saw Chris uncloak he yelled out, "Wait, don't!"

Gideon turned towards the direction that Leo was looking at. Since Chris was still cloaked to all Elders except Leo due to the sisters' spell he didn't see Chris. What Gideon saw was little Wyatt standing all alone.

Gideon took Leo's momentary distraction as an opportunity to attack the little boy. Gideon ran towards Wyatt, athame in hand.

Chris was looking down at the spell to weaken the Elder but looked up quickly when he heard the stomping of feet that the running Gideon made. Chris was too late to do anything; Leo had already raised his hand and had lightning shooting from his fingertips; electrocuting the Elder before he could reach his son.

Gideon dropped to the ground and took a shallow breath in to speak his last words, "You are making a mistake… absolute power…"

Leo didn't let him finish, "No, I know it's about choices, because Chris is my son too!"

Gideon's mouth dropped open as he heard those words. You could see the knowledge filtering through the Elder before his eyes closed and he faded away.

It was over, Gideon was dead. He had died at Leo's hand while Leo was protecting an innocent little boy; a little boy that would now stay innocent… and good.

Chris beamed over at his father and said, "Thanks, Dad." Both of them knew it was over what was said, not what was just done.

Leo smiled back and said, "I didn't say anything that wasn't true…"

He may have completed his thought but one word rang through the house; one word that was as much a name as a shout for help, "Leo!"

/ CHARMED / CHARMED / CHARMED /

Piper was stumbling up the stairs screaming, "Leo!" Her father caught her arm as she reached the top of the attic steps.

Her sisters were already behind her as she breathed in again saying, "It's time."

/ CHARMED / CHARMED / CHARMED /

Leo looked over at Chris and knew that he would take care of Wyatt so he orbed down to find out what was wrong with Piper.

Chris walked over to pick up his brother. Suddenly he wasn't feeling so well. Something felt wrong; he felt 'off' somehow. He decided to walk downstairs instead of orbing.

Chris took a few steps forward and looked down as Wyatt pulled at his shirt to get his attention. Once he was watching, Wyatt wiggled his fingers dramatically and said, "Dadee… lighs, fingwers…," then the toddler looked into Chris's eyes and sadly said, "No boom."

Chris chuckled a little and replied, "No boom this time, Buddy." And they continued down the stairs.

/ CHARMED / CHARMED / CHARMED /

Paige and Phoebe helped Piper get on the dining room table. Leo orbed in and went to stand behind Piper, supporting her.

Chris rounded the corner of the stairs and realized what was going on. This must be why he was feeling funny. He quickly took Wyatt to the sun room. Neither of them needed to be scarred for life witnessing the birth of baby Chris. Chris set Wyatt down. He tried to get his mind off what was going on in the other room. He looked at the baby and said, "It's ok, Big Brother. Now I know the future will be fine. All we gotta do is get Mom and the Aunts to send me back and…"

Chris had reached up to card his hand through Wyatt's hair but noticed his hand was transparent. "Guys," he yelled as he ran into the dining room just in time to see his mother give the last push.

Blue lights strode down from the ceiling looking almost like they came from the chandelier itself. Suddenly a wave of calm washed over him and he smiled.

Phoebe was helping to deliver the tiny baby but Paige glanced up at him, "Chris!" She shouted as she noticed he was completely transparent.

This just couldn't be happening! They had saved the future; she couldn't lose her nephew now.

The baby appeared in orbs swaddled in a blanket in Phoebe's hands but all eyes were on grown up Chris.

"No!" Piper yelled as she saw her son disappearing before her eyes.

Chris looked at her with all the love in his heart and said, "It's ok. I'm going back, I can feel it." He gestured to the new baby, "This is his time now. Don't worry; I think you will be seeing me again." His eyes went from Piper to Leo and back to Piper as he said, "I love you all…" and then he vanished.

There was silence for a beat then the room reverberated with a tiny newborn cry. Baby Christopher was making his presence known. Wyatt immediately orbed to Paige and she was barely able to catch him. He looked around the room for a moment before his eyes settled on the baby.

Phoebe stepped closer and said, "This is baby Christopher, your little brother." Wyatt stared at the baby for a moment and Phoebe could swear the newborn was looking right back at his big brother. Wyatt gave a huge smile.

Paige said, "Looks like we didn't lose Chris after all."

Victor rubbed his daughter's shoulder and said, "You did good, Honey."

Piper smiled and looked to her dad, then to Leo and finally rested her eyes on baby Chris before saying, "Welcome to a wonderful future, Christopher Victor Halliwell." She looked back into Leo's eyes and knew he agreed with the name. This Chris was never going to be Chris Perry again. This time she knew they had succeeded.

She then glanced at her father; he had tears in his eyes. Phoebe handed over the baby and Piper cooed at him saying, "Well, we had to name you after your awesome Grandpa, now didn't we?"

Leo reached out to touch the baby just as Phoebe took a family photo. Leo said, "You did it Son, thank you."

/ CHARMED / CHARMED / CHARMED /

November 16, 2019

Chris stood still staring at the dining room table wondering what was going on. He was so lost in thought he didn't hear the person come up behind him and say, "Happy birthday, Peanut." He whirled around on his heel and looked straight into Piper's eyes, his mouth open in shock.

"Wow, did I scare you?" She laughed as she placed her cup of coffee down on the dining room table, "That doesn't happen very often, now does it." She was smiling as she turned back to face Chris but soon her look turned to concern.

Chris was still staring but was taking in the differences between what he just left and what he saw now. His mother looked older. She had some grey hair that framed her lovely face and a few more wrinkles that didn't take away from her beauty. He pulled her into a bear hug.

Piper hugged him back but was confused, "What's wrong, Baby?" she asked him.

He stuttered out, "It, it's just… It worked." Piper's confusion went to concern again as she let Chris go out of the hug.

She stood staring at Chris for a moment before Wyatt ran down the stairs and lightly punched his brother in the shoulder saying, "Hey, you just about ready? I want to talk with Trinity before we head to class."

Chris looked at his brother in awe, not saying anything.

Wyatt was getting his books together and said, "Come on Birthday Boy, we're going to be late for school." Wyatt looked up at the twin shocked expressions his mother and brother were wearing before his dad came down the stairs.

Leo didn't notice the tension instead saying, "Hey how's fifteen feeling, Chris?" And he patted him on the shoulder as he continued on towards the kitchen. "Make sure you look surprised tonight, you know your aunts planned this party for ages."

The third acknowledgement of Chris's birthday finally woke Piper up. She looked over to her eldest and said, "You go ahead to school. Me and Dad need to talk with Chris first."

Wyatt looked at his mom then at his brother. He wanted to stay! Something was going on. Before he got the chance to protest Piper said, "And take Mel with you."

Chris didn't acknowledge that last statement. This was all too much to take in.

Wyatt opened his mouth to object but Piper interjected again, "NOW, Wyatt Matthew!"

Wyatt snapped his mouth closed. His mother would rarely, as Chris called it, 'invoke the holy middle name'! "Yes, ma'am," he replied to Piper. He glared over at his brother and said through their telepathic bond, 'We are going to talk about this later,' before heading up to gather his baby sister, Melinda, and heading out of the house.

Chris was still staring at the spot Wyatt had vacated. Did he just hear Wyatt's voice in his own head?

He was still staring as he felt his mother pull him back into a hug. "Oh my God, Chris; we never thought we were going to see you again," she told him.

Chris was coming out of his stupor and his sarcasm was actually a few steps ahead of him, "Oh sure, like you haven't been seeing me every day for the past fifteen years!"

Leo walked back into the dining room with a cup of coffee in his hands. He had heard the statement. He stood confused and looked to Piper and then to Chris before asking, "Chris?"

Chris gave him a wide grin and said, "Yep, the same Chris from 2004." Leo pulled him into a hug. Once Leo released him Chris said, "Sooo, what did I miss? I see my parents are still together, and Wyatt seems to be good… Did I hear the name Mel?" He paused again as he looked closely at his father. He saw the graying hair and wrinkles, he quickly blurted out, "And, uh, Dad, you're old."

Leo ignored the last comments and asked him, "What do you remember?"

Chris shook himself mentally, pressed his lips together and said, "I only remember the past, my past that is. Do you think that I will get the memories of the Chris you raised?"

Leo shrugged and said, "We don't know."

Chris dropped his shoulders at that but Piper said, "I am sure everything will come in time… We are so happy to have you back." She pulled him into another hug and whispered, "Thank you."

Chris smiled and said, "Anytime, Mom, anytime."

When she let him out of the hug Leo pulled him into one. Chris wasn't sure about any of this. He had total recall of a childhood without his parents; he could only pray this present childhood would catch up with him.

Piper suddenly said, "I have to call my sisters."

Leo let go of Chris and Chris took one step forward to stop Piper, "Why don't we just wait until…" Was all he got out before the room started spinning. He could distantly hear his parents calling for him but everything was moving and colors were brightly blurring everything from his view. He didn't know how long he was like that before the room stopped its psychedelic interpretation and came to a halt.

He looked around the room he was lying in, hmm, his bedroom. Well that was a weird dream. He looked over at his side and saw his mom was sitting next to his bed with her head down. He reached up and put his hand through her hair.

Piper jumped up and looked at him with great concern, "Chris, are you ok?"

He gave a cocky smile and said, "Yes, why are you in here?"

Leo came bounding into the room at that moment. He had heard voices. He was bringing a wet wash cloth and he dropped it as he knelt down to be closer to Chris.

Chris looked at them with confusion, "What's going on?" Did he call out to them? It was a weird dream, maybe he had scared them.

Piper brushed his hair out of his eyes and said, "What do you remember, Peanut?"

He looked from his mom to his dad and said, "I had this dream." He paused because it was really strange and vivid, but come on; his parents were completely out of character. No one spoke as they waited on Chris to continue. He again looked to Leo and then to Piper again, they were so concerned. He hadn't been sick, had he? He didn't feel sick. "Mom, you're scaring me. What happened?"

He glanced up to the alarm clock and noticed it was eleven in the morning and he exclaimed, "Man, I am so late for school. How could you let me sleep so long?"

He started to get up but Piper was in his way. He paused and said, "Mom?"

She had tears in her eyes. He looked to his dad and Leo eyes were shiny too. He thought back over to everything that had just been said and asked, "It was just a dream, wasn't it? I mean, I didn't time travel, Wyatt was never evil… You guys didn't leave us… Wyatt didn't raise me…"

Piper's tears fell as he continued. She glanced once at Leo while Chris was speaking but when he tapered off she pulled him into a hug.

Chris looked over his shoulder at the father that had always been there for him and asked, "Dad?"

Leo joined the group hug. When they all parted Leo said, "I think we have a lot to talk about. Why don't we talk downstairs?"

Piper seemed to find her voice again and said, "I can make you your birthday breakfast, you haven't eaten yet." And with that she jumped up and went down the stairs.

Chris looked up at Leo with questioning eyes and said, "You know how she is, I think we better hurry up." He smiled and helped Chris to his feet.

By the time the two joined Piper in the kitchen she was already making the blueberry pancakes. Chris sat at the table and Leo went to make himself a cup of coffee. Piper stopped working at the griddle long enough to pour Chris a glass of milk before busying herself with the pancakes again.

Chris worried as he sipped his milk. He looked over at his dad and then his mom, wondering why they were behaving so weirdly. Piper finished the pancakes and began to serve them. Finally with nothing left to do she sat and stared at Chris. Chris cut some of the food in front of him before finally pushing it away and said, "Ok, tell me what is going on. Did I say something when I was sleeping?"

Piper looked at Leo and then back to Chris as she softly said, "It wasn't a dream."

Chris gave up all pretenses of eating as he sat staring at his mother open mouthed; how could it not be a dream? "But," he started, "But I remember growing up with you and Dad and Wyatt and Mel," he explained to his mother. "And you both were there, not like in the dream… the dream was so real…"

He looked back at Leo and then to his mother and said to himself as he looked down at his plate of food, "not a dream…" He thought about that other life, a life without his parents one where his aunts died and Wyatt became so… so… then he said quietly, "I like this life much better."

Piper couldn't hold back any longer, she reached out and pulled her son into a hug saying, "We did it this time. There was no seed of evil planted so there will be no trigger. You, Wyatt and Dad saved us all. Do you remember that?"

Chris smiled as he looked up at his mother and said, "I remember everything, but this life is so much stronger. Really, the other feels more like a dream or remembering a story I was told."

Leo looked over at Chris and explained, "Apparently two things always needed to happen. You needed to come back and claim Excalibur and we needed to stop Gideon; without both those things occurring then everything would somehow repeat itself."

Chris thought about that for a moment. Two things needed to happen to stop this 'time loop'. Somehow the other Chris's didn't do both things? That seemed odd. Well, of course it was odd, but just… TWO things needed to happen. In this family you would have thought it had to be THREE things. Everything seemed to occur in three's. The three sisters each having three children. Oh! That was new. He had a baby sister! Chris grinned at that thought. His precious baby sister Melinda; the little girl Mom saw when she went to the future the first time. But something else was niggling at his mind. His little sister couldn't orb. She was just a witch…

He stopped and looked over at Leo; he remembered Leo being an Elder. He again took in the wrinkles and grey hair as he said, "Dad, your older… and here… so… not an Elder?" His eyes looked longingly at his father, hoping he was correct.

Leo smiled and patted Chris's arm, "Just like I promised. As soon as you and your brother were safe, I fell from grace." He gave the arm he was still touching a slight squeeze, "I wasn't going to miss out on your childhood."

Chris stared at his father for a moment before reaching over to hug him saying quietly, "Thanks, Dad."

Leo didn't answer but held his son tighter as his reply.

Chris leaned back from the hug, paused then asked, "What does Wyatt know?"

Leo and Piper exchanged glances and Leo said, "No more than you did yesterday."

Chris nodded and began to eat his breakfast. His mind was whirling thinking up a way to meet up with his brother though.

Chris gave a mischievous grin and said, "He will now."

Piper saw his grin and asked, "What do you mean, what are you going to tell him?" She worried now that this would hurt her son's relationship. They were closer than brothers, they were best friends.

She didn't need to worry as Chris said, "Over the bond, he will know." He paused and put his hand on his mother's arm and said, "Don't worry, Mom, we'll be fine. He knows now, I will always save him just as I know he will always take care of me."

/ CHARMED / CHARMED / CHARMED /

Epilogue

June 2026

Chris was standing in front of Wyatt straightening out his tie as Wyatt said, "I hate this thing."

Chris smiled and said, "I know, but you only get married once."

Wyatt smiled back.

Chris could feel the excitement and nervousness flowing over their bond and he said, "Don't sweat it man. I know she is the one for you. She was the one always meant for you." He had no idea why he just said that. Even Wyatt gave him a strange look.

He brushed the shoulder of Wyatt's jacket and said, "Come on. I need to go and seat Mom."

Both men walked to the back of the church. Chris walked up the aisle and took his mother's arm leading her to the front bench.

She whispered to Chris, "I am so proud of both of you. You both grown to be such fantastic men." Piper dropped her voice even lower so only Chris could hear her as she said, "And good witches." She smiled and paused a moment and continued with, "And now with Wyatt getting married…" She trailed off as happy tears started to build in her eyes. Chris gave her a kiss on the cheek before helping her to the pew; he gave his dad a manly half hug as he passed him then reached down and ruffled his baby sister's hair. He paused in thought for a moment thinking how little Melinda wasn't in his original timeline. So many things had changed since he vanished from the past. Whatever time loop he had been in was completely destroyed when they completed the two tasks. He gave a mental snort at his thoughts it should have been three things. Like somehow his family operated on an actual power of three!

He smiled and waved at the rest of his family. Aunt Phoebe was sitting with Uncle Coop and their daughters, Prue, Peyton and Polly. Aunt Paige with was with Uncle Henry and their kids Henry Jr and the twins Patty and Penny. Grandpa was up with Mom, Dad and Mel. He couldn't be happier to see everyone waiting for his big brother to finally say 'I do' with Trinity. Those two had been together for as long as Chris could remember, and Trinity was so good for him. Chris swore she kept Wyatt on the side of light sometimes when things got bad.

Chris winked at his own fiancée, Bianca before he walked up and stood behind his brother giving him a reassuring grin and saying over their telepathic bond, 'Relax, you're doing fine, Big Brother.'

Wyatt could feel the calm rushing over him through their bond and he gave Chris a grateful look and sending him the thought, 'Thanks Chris… for everything'.

The two men looked at each other for a long moment before Chris sent the thought, 'Anytime, Wy… EVERYTIME.' Both of them knew he meant every word of it, too.

Wyatt took in a deep breath and finally felt he was ready for the next step in his life. He and Chris had finished their Bachelor's degrees; him in business and Chris in culinary arts. Now he was managing the new family restaurant, 'Charmed', and Chris was the Top Chef.

Wyatt looked back at his baby brother and smiled, he knew that Chris was the reason that he was here now. If Chris hadn't gone back in time to save him… well, let's not go there. The bridal chorus began and everyone stood and turned to watch a beautiful young woman dressed in white walk down the aisle between her two parents.

Chris had been paying attention to his brother and his family before now but looked over to Trinity walking down the aisle. He smiled as he thought how perfect that girl was for his brother. He glanced over at her mother and his breath caught. He had never noticed before but that was Evangeline. She was the witch that he saved when he came back to stop the evil. His eyes were wide as he realized Trinity was the baby that Evangeline was carrying.

Wyatt's feelings of love that flowed over the bond completely overshadowed Chris's shock, as he listened to the "Do you Wyatt Matthew take thee Trinity Christina…"

Suddenly Chris's mind went back to the past and he remembered the vision that Aunt Phoebe had of Evangeline. She envisioned that the new baby was named after the three women and one man that had saved her. Trinity Christina…

He gave a mental shake of his head. It had been THREE things that he had to accomplish before the future could be set straight! He had to come back in time early enough to save Trinity too.

Chris looked back at his mother and wondered if she knew. The young woman he saved over twenty years ago would give birth to the daughter that would keep Wyatt good. He smiled as he realized there was a full circle being completed. Now all the pieces were finally together. This is why Wyatt would stay good. This is why the failed every time before. But if at first you don't succeed, try try again. He smiled proudly as the minister pronounced the couple Mr. and Mrs. Wyatt Halliwell. He was sure everything was going to be alright. They had finally succeeded.

The End

A/N: Thank you all for reading, this has been so much fun for me. I am so sad to see it end! I appreciate the support of my faithful reviewers, without you the muse may have stayed on vacation.