A/N: For readers of most of my fics - sorry. I really, really doubt I'll be continuing them. I want to. You have no idea how much I want to. There's a mild chance I'll rewrite a few of them (most likely I Never Knew I Could Fly and Sincerity), but there is next to no chance that I'll actually continue them. I think I've improved too much as a writer. They were fun to write, but I've lost sight of them. Except I Never Knew I Could Fly. That one is a bit sappy and convoluted, but the plot I had was sound, and I could try my hand at redoing it. Sincerity, however... I don't think I was thinking particularly clearly for any of that. Most of the plot doesn't make sense. Most of the characters actions don't make sense. I was about 12 when I wrote it... the list goes on and on...

However, after a fairly long respite, I'm almost definitely back in the world of fanfiction. And, better yet, updates probably won't take half as long. And they will be longer. And, hopefully, less convoluted!

Now that my little ramble is over - on with the fic. It takes place around Little Monsters, either after or before. Probably before, although it doesn't matter too much. Happy reading!

A-Bit-After-Midnight Chat

The Halliwell Manor was quiet, for once. No demons were attacking, the baby wasn't crying, and the sisters weren't even fighting.

All of that had already been done with, for the day. Even Chris had to agree, the girls had done good. Five potential threats had been taken down. For once, the sisters had decided to listen to him. Maybe they were bored, or maybe they were actually starting trust him. He fervently wished it was the latter, though he suspected the former was far more likely.

Everyone was in bed. Chris suspected they wouldn't be too pleased that he was hanging around, making himself a cup of tea. Granted, they hadn't told him to leave upon going to bed, but the inference was probably there. He just wasn't quite ready to go back to the club.

He was feeling nostalgic. It was times like these, when he was young and the day was done, that he and his mom had some of their best moments. She'd make them both tea – Earl Grey with just the slightest dash of cream, and a generous helping of honey – and they'd sit at the kitchen table and talk. The subjects varied, from goofy to speculative, from personal to gossip. Often, they were about Leo, and how he really did care about Chris, but he just… didn't…

When she died, he continued the tradition. On nights when he couldn't take it, he'd make two cups of tea, and drink one, watching the other slowly but surely go cold.

But then the house was turned to a museum, and you just couldn't find quality tea any more, and… well.

So much for that.


Chris jumped. "M- Piper!" he gasped, standing up quickly. Piper stood in the doorway, dressed in a light blue bathrobe, one eyebrow raised as her whitelighter floundered. "Hey! What are you doing – oh, I mean, of course you're here. I shouldn't be here. I should just go now." He started to orb, but her voice stopped him.

"Oh, calm down. You don't have to go. You do have to explain what exactly you're doing here at 2 in the morning, but you don't have to go right now," she said amusedly.

"Oh," he said dumbly, blinking a few times.

"You can sit down you know."

He sat down.

Piper snorted, and wandered over to the stove, where the kettle still rested, half full of hot water. It was still steaming, so she shrugged and fixed her own mug using that. She sat down next to Chris, who was still staring off into space.

"…so are you going to explain yourself, or do I have to boot you out after all?" Granted, she had no intention of doing so, but it was fun to see the boy squirm.

Sure enough, he flinched. She frowned thoughtfully as he stammered, "Oh. Right. Yeah. Um."

He cleared his throat. "I … P3 doesn't have good tea-making accommodations," he said awkwardly, scratching the back of his neck and taking a sip.

"Uhuh. Sure," Piper said, nodding, but not believing a whiff of it. She wasn't stupid, but she didn't feel the urge to delve into the matter.

They sat in silence for a few minutes. They were an odd pair, with Chris periodically taking sip, and inwardly panicking, and Piper bemusedly watching him.

Suddenly, a thought popped into her mind. "How did you die?" she blurted before she could stop herself.

He choked on his mouthful of tea.

A few more minutes passed, composed of spluttering and choking (Chris), and apologizing and stammering (Piper).

Finally, he took a breath. "Uh. No one's really asked me that before. Why?"

"Just curious."

"It isn't really pretty."

"Death never is."

He fidgeted, staring at the table, and picking at the hem of his shirt sleeve.

"You don't have to tell me, Chris. I was just asking because it's 2 in the morning, and I found you in my kitchen and it popped into my head. It doesn't really matter if you don't tell me."

"Yeah, but… but I want to. Kind of. It's… it's really not… normal. Though. Just, uh, give me a second? Okay?"

Piper fell silent.

Chris, meanwhile, was thinking. He was thinking very, very hard.

Technically, he did die that day. Leo had healed him, but he had been dead. He wasn't sure of the specifics, but it had taken Leo some major help in order to bring him back. Yeah, he wasn't a full whitelighter. And, yes, that wasn't what Piper was asking. But, to Chris, that was the end of his old life. He had died that day, and his life now had come after. His single-minded determination to save his brother. Everything. It had all come out of that. Out of his death.

Maybe it was just the lateness of the hour that compelled him to speak. Possibly, it was the familiarity of the moment. He was sitting with his mother-who-wasn't, talking about his feelings-that-hadn't-happened-yet. Or maybe he would've told her anyway, regardless of the situation. He didn't know. He also didn't care.

"I was killed. Murdered," he said quietly, eyes focused on his tea.

Piper didn't gasp, nor did she cover her mouth in surprise. She merely asked softly, "What happened?"

"A… A demon. Someone I once knew. He'd turned evil. Very, very evil. He wanted me to join him. I refused."

Chris took a deep breath, and looked Piper dead in the eye.

"So, he chained me to a wall in the underworld, tortured me for about two weeks, and then finally gutted me, and dumped my body in an alley in the human world."

Piper's eyebrows furrowed as an odd chill went down her spine. "All that because you wouldn't join him?"

"He also wanted information. Our friends and family had gone into hiding. He wanted to know where. I knew he'd do the same to them. It was better me, the unfavorite, to take the brunt of it. If he had done that to my little sister…" An odd emotion passed across Chris's face, but then his expression turned nonchalant once more. "But he didn't. He only got me. I guess Leo was impressed by my bravery or something, because when I woke up, I was… this."

Piper had a lot of things to say to that, but what came out was, "Leo?"

Chris sighed. "Yeah. He brought me back. Don't know why. He'd never liked me before. Not sure why he suddenly decided I was worthy, then."

"You knew us? You knew Leo?" She supposed it made sense. He acted too familiar with them. It was unnerving sometimes. But why hadn't he mentioned it before.

"Friend of the family, in a manner of speaking," he said vaguely, waving off the topic.

"Well," she said.

And she couldn't think of anything else to say after that.

She floundered for about thirty more seconds before continuing, "That's… horrible."

He shrugged. "I've had worse."

"You died, Chris."

"Everyone dies. At least I did it for a good cause."

"That's… that's not the point."

Neither of them spoke after that.

The next day, Piper woke up earlier than her sisters. It was a good thing, too, because when she went downstairs, she found Chris asleep on the couch.

She smiled sadly, and made no move to wake him up.