Charmed -:- Borrowed Time

Summary:

The mission is completed. Wyatt is good and the future is saved. All that's left is for Chris to enjoy his much deserved Afterlife – all that's missing is his name on Death's List. A Chris-centric angst fest set after the Season 6 finale

Setting/Spoilers:

From It's a Bad, Bad World, with references to most of Season 6 set in a future based on what we glimpsed at the end of Forever Charmed. Basically, anything's fair game in terms of spoilers

Pairings:

Just the canon pairings with maybe just a hint of Chris/Bianca if it gets to that

Genre/Rating:

Rated T to be safe with dabblings in pretty much every genre but mainly Angst & Hurt/Comfort

Disclaimer:

Is this really necessary? Would I really be here if I actually had any ownership over Charmed? Nope, but there would be a spin-off series dedicated entirely to Future Chris and Wyatt :P

Author's Note(s):

Okay, this may look like a multi-chapter fic (once I get to adding more chapters that is...) but it's actually just a collection of one-shots based around the premise of What the Hell Happened to Chris? This is a futurefic that will span a year (just like the series) and will be made up of several episodes. Each chapter is essentially a story in its own right that will make up the overall season arc. Hopefully that made sense :P But let's just get started, shall we?


One -:- Displacement

The Halliwell Manor – 2003

It was just typical really. Terribly ironic. And, a bit of a relief.

Okay, so dying hadn't been on Chris's list of options as to how he was going to get himself out of his 'stuck in the past' problem, and no, it had not been fun. When time-travel had been the only option to save his wayward brother, the issue had been how he was going to get back to 2002, not how he was getting home again. Success was desired, obviously, but it hadn't been expected, so no contingencies for a safe way back had ever been devised. Gideon had solved that problem.

When he had left, the day wasn't quite saved, but Chris was confident that Leo…Dad…could finish the job now. His yet to be born mini-me was going to grow up in a completely different world than he had – he never would have fit in anyway. No, the mission was complete, and Chris had an Afterlife to enjoy.

Or so he thought.

The pain of being stabbed and slipping away faded into the darkness, leaving him in a void for an indeterminable amount of time. Eventually he opened his eyes to see the ceiling he had been staring at before his trip to the other side of the veil. Familiar with the Ghostly Plane from his earlier brush with non-existence, he recognised the greyed-out colour scheme with little surprise. Clambering to his feet his only concern came from the lack of the Angel of Death's presence. Maybe he had screwed up his own life so much that he was now doomed to stay in the Ghostly Plane for eternity. Come on…where's the Light already?

"Well, this is odd."

Chris spun at the sudden voice to find the much-awaited Angel of Death in all his ghostly glory. "What's odd?"

Death's brow furrowed in confusion as he summoned his trusty list and studied it curiously. He kept glancing at Chris as if it were his fault for making his day difficult. "You're not on my List."

Chris didn't know whether to be worried, relieved or both. Surely it was a good thing to not be on Death's List…but then again, he was pretty damn sure that he had most definitely just died. "What does that mean?" Death shrugged, completely perplexed, making Chris roll his eyes and remark with a smirk "Maybe you should call your supervisor."

Death made to scowl, then seemed to reconsider. His List disappeared in puff of smoke to leave his hands free. He spread his arms, palms facing skywards as if he were praying to the Heavens. Seconds later, a gold orb fizzled into existence and spun like yarn into the form of a wise-looking woman dressed entirely in white.

"Christopher," the Angel of Destiny greeted solemnly. She waved Death away and drew herself taller, her hands clasped before her. She gave an ill-practiced smile that didn't reach her sorrow-tinged eyes. "Happy Birthday."

That took Chris by surprise. He had never been one to celebrate his birthday, even before his ill-fated fourteenth, but with everything that had happened that day he had completely forgotten his twenty-third. It was distinctly odd to hear the salutation from the Angel of Destiny while they stood in the Ghostly Plane just a few minutes following his apparent death. "Thanks…?" he replied uncertainly. "So, am I dead?"

"That is complicated," she replied with a small nod. She then turned and began walking, not waiting to see if Chris followed. They strode out into the grey scale hallway followed by the odd echoing of their steps in the unnaturally empty space. "In a few hours, you are going to be born, so no Christopher, you are not dead… in the traditional sense at least. However, the Grand Design centres on an incredibly delicate balance and the presence of two of you threatens it. I'm afraid there is only room for one Christopher Halliwell."

He felt like the thick kid in class as he tried to follow what she was saying. "So what does that mean?"

"You cannot move on, and yet you cannot stay. I am afraid there is just no place for you anymore."

That froze Chris in his tracks at the top of the stairs making the Angel of Destiny turn to face him. This was beyond typical. After everything he had done, all he had sacrificed, he couldn't even die properly? He had just saved the freaking world from his brother's insane reign and now there was no place for him? He didn't know whether to be angry or resigned to yet another cosmic kick in the teeth. After a moment though, he sighed, and went for the latter – he was too used to being let down to expect anything different. "So…what now?"

"You have fulfilled your destiny, playing your role in the Grand Design beyond everyone's expectations. You were born to save your brother and keep the Twice Blessed on the path of good." Chris rolled his eyes. "There is no longer a part for you to play, however, I believe that no good deed should go unrewarded."

The Angel of Destiny recommenced walking and descended the stairs, heading for the sunroom. Chris was left to follow as he tried to decipher the meaning of her words. It would be great to get a straight answer sometime soon he inwardly huffed as the pair of them came to a stop again. The muted colours of the Ghostly Plane washed away with an odd whistling sound. "What's going on?"

"You are about to merge with your current self," she replied matter-of-factly. "Your two souls from each timeline will take up residence in the same body and allow you to enjoy the new world that you have created."

"Is that even possible?" Chris asked, not quite believing that he really wasn't dead. The Angel of Destiny shrugged uncharacteristically, making him smirk. "Alright, what's the catch?"

A sad smile marred the lady in white's features. "You can only stay long enough for your two souls to truly become one before you will be removed from the Grand Design. You will only have one year. And then you will be on Death's List."

"A year?" Chris repeated in shock, and then smiled. It was more than he had dared to hope for. A stay of execution was better than ceasing to exist, right? And he would get to experience a timeline without an evil brother, a decimated family and a dystopian world. Only he could see his inevitable, and very real, death in a year's time as a good thing. To be honest, he couldn't believe that his luck had finally changed.

The Angel of Destiny watched his reaction with more sympathy than he felt he warranted. As far as he was concerned things were finally looking up for him – he had been through far worse than a pre-determined death date.

"So, how does this work then?"

"You close your eyes; and wake up."


P3 – 2026

"Well, I can't believe you survived this long," Wyatt Halliwell smirked as he cuffed his younger brother round the back of the head. He ignored the irritated glare he received and continued taking the chairs down off the tables. It would be a few hours before the nightclub opened but there was still some setting up to do.

"Thanks," retorted Chris, not in the slightest bit grateful. He stood behind the bar wiping down the glasses in preparation for a busy Friday night. Not that they would be there. Nope, they'd be at home for the massive family feast their Mom had slaved over for Chris' twenty-third birthday. The entirety of their extended family was to be in attendance, much to his chagrin. He loved his family and everything; he just didn't feel the need to celebrate his birthday like they did. And there would be the re-telling of embarrassing stories from his misspent youth.

Wyatt grinned at him as if he had read his mind (though thankfully, that was not one of his many tricks) and then passed the stage a glance. That night's band were just finishing their sound check, filling the empty club with a strange mix of broken melodies and bad chords. He then checked his watch for the twentieth time in the last five minutes.

"So… who you bringing tonight then…? Susan…?" Chris decided to change the subject from his own discomfort. He got his wish.

Wyatt scowled "It's Sarah, not Susan. Get it right."

"So we're still in the "S"s then?" he said teasingly. Sometimes Wyatt was worse than Aunt Phoebe before she met Uncle Coop. He seemed to have a different girl each week as he captured their attention and then lost them to neglect as he partook in his favourite pastime. Hunting down demons before they had the chance to hurt Innocents. He took his Twice Blessed duties very seriously. "Is she meeting you here?"

"Yeah, she said she wanted to try orbing or something," Wyatt shrugged, double-checking that the band wasn't likely to overhear. "She's taking the whole magic thing very well. Which is new."

"Wait until she meets the family – that might change her mind," Chris muttered under his breath, but his brother heard him regardless and gave him an irritated look, with just a hint of panic in his eyes.

But Chris was too distracted to decide whether he should continue playing on his brother's insecurity or console him. A strange feeling had suddenly come over him. His mind became all foggy and he blinked repetitively to try and clear the haze. And then as if he were being summoned, he just orbed out.

"Chris!" Wyatt hissed after his brother's dematerialised form. He then looked over at the band to see if they had noticed the magical disappearing act. Thankfully they seemed too caught up in apparently bad acoustics, but it had been a close one. Too close for his usually overly-cautious brother. "What the hell?"


The Halliwell Manor – 2026

The Angel of Destiny watched the light show with something akin to pride in her chest. The Chris who had died in the past had broken down into his Whitelighter orbs just as the Chris of this time had been summoned. Now the two sets of blue lights swirled indecisively as they tried to come up with the best way to reform. From the glow, the new Chris eventually took form. He then promptly hit the deck, unconscious.

"Good luck, Christopher," Destiny whispered to his sleeping form. "There may be more trials for you yet."

The gold orb fizzled away like a giant bumblebee, leaving the sunroom in silence. Day became evening as the sun descended through the sky outside. Hours passed, the stillness occasionally interrupted by the incessant ring of the present Chris's cell phone that fell only on deaf ears.

When Chris awoke he was struck by two distinct and contradicting thoughts. For one, he found himself still in the sunroom where he had been before; and secondly what the hell am I doing back home? It was odd as the two memories fought for precedence in his mind. Part of him totally understood that this was to be expected when two completely different lives occur in one body, while the other half was utterly confused. This was not going to be easy.

After a moment of trying, and failing, to sort out the jumble that was his head, both aspects of his persona decided that it was best to get up. They…he…clambered back onto unsteady feet and got his first good look at his surroundings. Not much had changed since that morning; but it was a lot different than twenty-three years ago.

There was a distinct absence of Wyatt's playpen; which made sense considering he was twenty-five and no longer lived at home. The furniture had changed, probably several times over the years, and someone had redecorated at some point. The biggest difference though, was the photos.

They were everywhere. Group shots, school photos, holiday snaps and family portraits. Chris found himself drawn to them as he studied them curiously. It was odd to see happy pictures from after the age of fourteen. Well actually, it was odd to see any photos from after the age of fourteen. Most of the people smiling from their frames weren't even alive anymore, let alone playing happy families. But at the same time, he could recall each and every moment every photograph had been taken.

The most prominent picture was a family portrait that couldn't have been taken that long ago. He recognised a happier version of himself, his parents; and even Wyatt in brighter clothes and a haircut. But he couldn't quite figure out who the teenage girl was. In the bad timeline, as he was beginning to think of it, there had only been him and Wyatt… "I have a sister…?"

"Chris!"

He jumped, accidently orbing in the process. When he reformed in the same spot, the angry yet worried voice of his mother was still yelling for him. Taking a deep breath, he walked out into the reception area. "I'm here."

"Chris! Why haven't you been answering my calls – both magical and technological? Your brother called to tell me that you had just orbed out of the club without warning. I know you didn't want to work on your birthday but that's no reason to…"

They both froze the moment they saw each other. Piper had caught his strange expression and the haunted look in his eyes. She hadn't seen him look like that since… since twenty-three years ago. Chris almost didn't recognise her. She was older and little plumper than he remembered, but then again, the last time he had seen her he had been fourteen. And she had been dead. "Mom?"

"Oh Chris, what happened?" Piper closed the gap between them in an instant, her hand on his cheek and tears in her eyes. She had been afraid that her little boy would remember his other life ever since he had been born. She and Leo had decided to not tell Wyatt of his divergent timeline, nor little Chris of his doppelganger's heroic sacrifice. It was easier to forget that that had even been a possibility that way. "Tell me, what happened?"

Chris's first instinct was to lie. It had been second nature for so long that the words were already on the tip of his tongue before he had even decided what to say. But the other half of him had been honest with his mother since day one and couldn't bear the thought of lying to her. So he told her. That a few hours ago he had been dead but the Angel of Destiny had given him this opportunity. That now there were two Chris's in one body and that the confusion was likely to drive him crazy.

He left out the part about only having one year though. He figured that might be a tad too much for her to handle.

"She said that there was no place for you? That bitch!" Piper cursed angrily, and then she wrapped her arms around her youngest son and murmured in his ear. "You know that there is always a place for you here. Grand Design or not, you're my son and this is your home. Don't you ever think otherwise, okay?"

"I know, Mom," he whispered, enjoying the comfort he had thought long lost from her hug. Sure, he had hugged Piper in the past, but she hadn't been his Piper yet and it hadn't been the same. Now it was nine years after the Event that had claimed her a lifetime ago, and she was still here. "I missed you."

She pulled away, a stream of tears on each cheek, and smiled softly. She studied him a moment, able to see both versions of her son in his light green eyes, and then sighed. "Everyone is going to be here soon, I should get cleaned up."

Chris looked confused for a moment, before remembering it was his birthday and that the annual familial assault was nigh. "Err…I don't know if I can… It's confusing enough…"

"Nonsense," Piper grinned, rubbing the tears away leaving only slightly puffy eyes as evidence. "You are not going to miss your own birthday; not after all the slaving in the kitchen I've done. Who knows, maybe this will be just the nudge you need to get the memories straight."

He wasn't convinced, but he didn't have time to argue before a shimmer of blue orbs materialised into that of Wyatt. "There you are! Why the hell did you bail on me at P3?"

No excuses came to Chris as he cringed under his brother's familiarly angry gaze, so he turned to his mother for help. She placed a hand on each of them like a mediator. "It doesn't matter now, Wy. Now both of you, go set up the dining room. The rest of the family will arrive in a bit."

Wyatt rolled his eyes and brushed past Chris as he headed towards the kitchen. He thankfully missed the flinch his younger brother made at the contact, but Piper didn't. She gave him another reassuring smile and then made her way upstairs to fix her make-up.

Before following his mother's standing order, Chris closed his eyes a moment and tried to recall a memory from the good timeline of his brother. It would do no good if all he could see when he looked at Wyatt was the evil overlord who had gone out of his way to traumatise Chris. After a few minutes he was slightly more confident that he could be alone with his sibling without the urge to run away being too overwhelming. It was easier when Wyatt's irritated shout carried to the hall

"Hey! She said you should be helping too!"


He really wanted to run away.

There was no argument against that from either side of his new personality. Neither half of Chris really wanted to celebrate his birthday, let alone be drowned in the oppressive presence of his entire family. It was a confusing and emotional rollercoaster as he tried to sit and smile for the duration of the massive dinner. Ghosts from the bad timeline were now in the living flesh while cousins, and indeed a sibling, that had never existed before knew him better than he knew himself.

Piper had apparently told Leo and her sisters as they all kept passing Chris concerned looks. He avoided talking beyond what was necessary to avoid putting his foot in it by referencing things that had never occurred. His silence was apparently quite unusual and soon the concerned looks were coming from everyone.

He couldn't do it anymore.

During a course change he managed to subtly excuse himself and he barely managed to refrain from actually running up the stairs. He followed his memories from the good timeline to lead him to a sanctuary away from the circus of Halliwells downstairs. He found himself in what had once been the nursery that had been turned into his and Wyatt's old bedroom. It obviously hadn't been redecorated since they were teenagers, but as both of them had moved out a while ago the room only served as a place for them to crash while they were back home.

Chris sat down heavily on the edge of his bed and buried his head in his hands. This wasn't how he had imagined it was going to be when the Angel of Destiny had explained his new fate. How was he ever going to fit in when he couldn't even handle a simple family dinner? He was just too broken to do the Happy Family thing – he wasn't made for it. And now he had to stick with it for a whole year.

Suddenly that sounded like a very long time.

There came a rapping on the door but he ignored it. However, the person on the other side apparently didn't require his permission and came right in anyway. The light flicked on, revealing what Chris could only describe as a miniature version of Piper. He really wasn't ready for a confrontation with a sister he had never even met yet.

"Hi, I'm Melinda, you're little sister," she introduced herself brightly, even extending a hand as if to shake. Chris looked up at her even more confused – if that was even possible for his disarrayed mind. "Don't worry, Mom didn't tell me, she didn't have to. I'm a telepath. I know all about the whole two timelines in one body and that obviously your previous life wasn't very good. Although, for the first time in my life, I can't read you. Where did you learn to shield your thoughts like that?"

"The Resistance," Chris replied without thinking. At this point it wasn't like there were future consequences to think about, but that didn't mean he really wanted to talk about the bad timeline. Melinda cocked her head curiously.

"Against Wyatt? Because he was evil, right?" she continued to press. "Did they use telepaths then? Wow, I never figured my ability would ever actually be useful. It just seems to get me in trouble now, oh, and give me really bad headaches. I don't like not being able to read you, its really odd. Maybe I can help? Try letting me in."

Well, she wasn't like Piper in the manner of actually being coherent. She spoke at a ridiculous pace, her train of thought changing tracks every other sentence while her deep brown eyes constantly stared into your own. "Err…I don't think… My heads enough of a mess right now. Maybe another time, Mel."

"Oh." She muttered dejectedly as she suddenly felt awkward. When she spoke again, she was a lot slower and quieter. "You are still my big brother aren't you? You remember me, right? Because I really don't want to lose you."

Something about her vulnerable voice struck a nerve inside Chris. He remembered when they were kids at Magic School and she had come to him when she had picked up on another girl's negative thoughts towards her. It had been the first time she had discovered her powers and she had been in floods of tears. He had given her a hug and promised that he would always protect her and he would never, ever leave her alone. How could he have not recognised her?

"Come here," he beckoned, and she was by his side in an instant. He wrapped her up in a hug like he had back then, her head tucked neatly under his chin. "I'm sorry. I promise you, I'm not going anywhere."

Well, not for another year anyway. It was probably a very good thing that she couldn't read his thoughts just then. Instead, they just sat like that for a while, until Piper had to call them down for the cake. It was Chris's birthday after all.

It got easier after that. The good timeline's memories seemed to come to him quicker, although there were moments where he would get stuck in bad and suddenly go all quiet again. He struggled to keep things natural when he was asked what he was going to do for his birthday next year, but he was pretty sure he had managed to keep his secret safe.

Eventually, the family dispersed with everyone going their separate ways. Wyatt went back to his apartment with the new girl he had brought with him to the party, and Piper offered for Chris to stay at the Manor that night. He lay in bed, staring at a ceiling that was both familiar and alien to him, wondering what he was going to do with his last year of life.

And that was the first day of the new Christopher Halliwell.