A/N: It's been a long time, I know. But I saw half of this written on my computer and had the urge to finish up the chapter. For fair warning, there is a smack on the ass, which serves its purpose and won't be repeated because this isn't a kink fic (nothing wrong with kink fics, mind you.) Haha, it also kind of loses its voice halfway through because there was a long time between writings. I will hopefully continue. I guess you can't really trust me since it's been months and months and months since the second chapter and cheers to anyone who actually reads this. That said, here's a present.
I need you to not lie.
Chris tries to keep his eyes on the scars. He'd rather they not stray. When they stray, they find other eyes in the mirror. Leo's eyes. Piper's eyes. Eyes asking that question, over and over again, while already knowing the answer and he's not ready for this. They're not ready for this. What are they thinking? He hasn't even been conceived. He isn't a thought or an idea; he has no base, no roots, no nothing.
Chris does not exist.
"Chris," Piper prompts.
Chris knows. Chris remembers what she said. The clarification on honesty. When I ask you a question, I need you to not lie to me.
But Chris does not exist. Of course he's not their son.
"It's okay, Chris," Leo says, his voice honey warm, his hand sending something akin to an electric shock when it squeezes Chris's shoulder. There's a jolt to the tender nerves in his head. Chris jerks away.
Everything's still the same. These two months were just a moment of he-doesn't-know-what. Leo is Dad and Dad sets Chris's blood on fire. He lost it for, like, two seconds there at the end, but it's here again now, now that they're looking at him like he means something. Piper. Not Mom, because she knows now. Because she's looking at him like she usually looks at Wyatt. Like he's Wyatt with Two Heads. And she can't look at him like that, she can't touch him like she used to, or make him feel like he's worth something because then she'll be gone. And Chris will be nothing again.
Dead feet on the attic floor.
It's not her.
He tries to tell himself that it's not her, that it's changed, but here she is and he sees her face and he can't look away. He can't even just look down at her feet because her eyes are telling him that he's confirmed what she already knew just by standing mute and shirtless with his secrets spilled in scars.
Chris is Wyatt with Two Heads. Chris is his mother's baby, and a mother is a baby's universe until she goes away and then there is Nothing. Chris is Nothing. Chris does not exist, and things that don't exist don't have mothers.
"No," he lies, even though she said she needed him not to. It wasn't need. She doesn't fall down dead at a simple word that lacks truth. Not yet, anyway.
"Chris," she says, her voice firm, her eyes are on his in the mirror.
"No," Chris repeats, this time out the back of his throat and through his teeth. A snarl. Chris remembers not too long ago in the distant future, a stray dog with a bloody leg limping in the street. He remembers reaching out with a sure hand, and that same noise that he just made ripping through the dog's mouth. Get away. Get away from me.
"I think you need to rest," Leo says, in a voice unlike Piper's. It's a suggestion, not an admonishment. Chris wants to give into it, but they know now, so he knows now, even though he knew all along. Leo is Dad and Chris's blood is on fire.
"I'm fine," he snaps.
"You're shaking," Leo counters.
Chris is shaking. He didn't notice it before, but now he glances down at his hand and has to will it to stop.
"You should rest," Leo says again, and Chris sees his eyes as they meet Piper's in the mirror. Something transfers in that moment, a kind of silent communication that cuts through the space between them like a knife, cuts right through Chris, leaving his nerves raw and scars open. Blood comes in little drops, seeping through the ragged T's.
"You should lie down on the – oh. Crap." Piper somehow manages to look sad and horrified and not-at-all surprised at the same time. She takes things as they come, always has, and this is just another thing of the endless things that keep on coming. She pulls her eyes away from her son's blood, and Chris sees the resolve in them. She's going to mean whatever she says. Whatever she says is going to happen. "You should," she says again. "You should and you're going to lie down on the bed, Chris. I'm going to clean you up and your dad is going to-"
"Don't. Don't do that." Chris's heart is a drum beat against his ribs. It came out of her mouth so easily. Your dad. She takes them as they come, these things, and she accepts them. Even wayward neurotic children from the future who lie and lie and lie.
"Why not?" Piper asks. "He is. We know, Chris. If we didn't know before, we definitely know now."
Chris peers down at her, tries to keep his eyes steady on her face, but they dash down to her still-flat stomach and he says, "I'm not in there, yet. So you don't know anything."
Piper doesn't flinch. Her gaze holds steady. "When's your birthday?"
"Why do you think?"
Chris actually does have to think about it for a moment. He irritably bites the inside of his cheek and thinks through the pain. The answer is. Well. "Ew." He blurts out, too disgusted to contain the childish indignation. "You're not going to schedule my conception, Piper."
It's her turn to look irritated. "I damn well am, young man. And you're going to get your butt on that bed so we can clean up your wounds, are we clear?"
Chris isn't his mother. He does flinch. It's all he can do not to hang his head and shuffle over to the bed and sit down like a scolded puppy, maybe mumble a "Yes, ma'am," because she hates not being listened to and he knows it and she's a fierce little thing, his mom. Even when she's like this. Even when she's young.
"I can orb out of here, you know," he replies instead, crossing his arms, smearing the blood leaking out of his side with his elbows and the tips of his fingers.
"You shouldn't," Leo cuts in, and Chris snaps his head in his father's direction, notices the lines of discomfort on his face for the first time since they started talking about conception. "You're weak, Chris."
Fury. Blood on fire. No time for reason. "I am not weak."
Leo holds up two innocent hands. "I meant that you've been weakened, buddy. You shouldn't orb with that injury. It'll take the energy right out of you and we don't want you falling off any cliffs or bridges or wherever you end up. Okay?"
"No. Not okay."
He doesn't orb, though. He turns on his heel, tries to walk out the bedroom door with his dignity in tact, but he doesn't quite make it. He feels a small hand catch his elbow, discovers that he is, in fact, weakened. Or maybe just weak, because his mother is much too small to be able to handle him this way when he's grown.
"On the bed, Chris. You're not going anywhere until your side stops splitting open. And even then-"
"Get away from me," Chris snarls, because he's not a puppy. He's a war-torn street dog with the blood to prove it.
Piper and Leo practically gape at him.
They should. They should because Piper's stomach is flat. Because Chris is not a puppy, or a dog. Chris does not exist. He doesn't exist. He's back to this place where he's a non-existent non-thing that doesn't have a mother because mothers are necessary for existence. Chris does not exist and he's not theirs and-
It comes out in an unmanly squeak. That's okay in that Chris has never been one to tout his masculinity like Wyatt touts his powers. It's not okay in that the exclamation was caused by his mother's hand smacking him on the ass.
"Piper!" Leo sounds like he can't believe it. He also sounds like he doesn't approve, and for once in the past twenty or so years, Chris finally agrees with him. Chris doesn't approve, either. Chris doesn't approve at all. "Piper, he's hurt."
Chris is also still, shocked, his hand rubbing his right buttock. It doesn't hurt that much, not after the initial impact, but he can finally feel the blood seeping out of the carved words in his side, and it's hitting him now, hitting him harder and harder with each passing second that he stands there with his parents staring at him. It's over. The ruse is over and his brother, while still tiny and safe from corruption, has finally laid his lasting mark. Chris is here. Chris is here and this is happening.
He doesn't notice he's crying until his mother wipes his tears away, until his father manages to sit him down on the edge of the bed, and he hears whispers, feels breath against his cheeks.
"I'm so sorry, baby. It was…I reacted."
Mommy's sorry. Chris remembers her sounding like this when he was five and wrongfully sent to the corner for a time-out.
"Lay down, kiddo. Let us…" Leo's voice trails off. Maybe it's still there, still in the room, maybe he's still talking but Chris isn't listening anymore. He's numb, allowing hands to push him down on the bed, to tend to his wounds, to heal him. He closes his eyes.
"Mommy's sorry," Piper says, her finger brushing Chris's hair back, and it's real because she takes them as they come, all these things. All these shitty things. Even kids. Even a Wyatt with Two Heads, or a neurotic child from the future who lies and lies and lies.