Charmed: Hollowed Lives

Disclaimer: I don't own charmed, but the WB does.

Summary: AU After Season Five- This is a one shot about the troubles of three travelers, whom battle the Hollow in their own world in order to survive. The Seer foresaw this, the Avaters warned of it, Good and Evil both agreed to forgo its usage, but no one listened. From a world that has been nearly destroyed by the Hollow's insatiable appetite, three travelers roam from realm to realm, plane to plane, collecting the magic that is needed in order to seal the Hollow back in its box, but who are they? And what secret does one of them harbor?

A/N: This will be a collection of Charmed one shots that I have written over the last few years, which are mostly about Cole and Phoebe. Review and tell me what you think!

Chapter 1: Travelers

The demon Zankou swished his hand through the air, forcing the fireball that Paige had orbed at him the other way, where it smashed against the attic wall. Swishing his hand once more, Zankou sent Paige flying across the room, where she crashed into a bookshelf with a loud bang. Grumbling, Paige returned to her feet, and went to attack Zankou another time, but was again thrown into the bookshelf with a flick of the demon's hand. Zankou looked between the three Charmed Ones, smirking when he saw that they were down and near death—Phoebe had a broken arm, while Piper had a large, gaping gash across her forehead, just above her right eye. Confident that his plan had worked flawlessly, Zankou walked towards Piper and Phoebe, charging up two energy balls into his hand, ready to exterminate the greatest force of good in the world, which would pave the way for his conquest and rule.

Slowly, he moved towards the downed sisters, a sinister smirk lacing his face. He had prepared himself for this since he was let loose, having been released by the other demons when the Titans had begun their hostile takeover of the world months prior. Once he killed the Charmed Ones, he would take his rightful place in the world and be crowned as the Source of All Evil, king of the demons and ruler of the Underworld's legions. As he toyed with the sisters, internally deciding on which one to kill first, a blue portal opened on the other side of the attic, and three male beings walked out. "What the…?" He stammered in confusion, clearly perplexed by what was transpiring, not knowing who the intruders were.

Before he even knew what was happening, Zankou was sent flying across the room by one of the men from the portal with a simple flick of his hand. Zankou had never seen such power come from such a flippant gesture before. Stumbling to his feet, Zankou met the gaze of a man with long black hair, weary blue eyes, and dirt-riddled cheeks. The man stood a few feet away, staring directly at Zankou with his arms crossed, as if he didn't have a care in the world. Scanning the area, Zankou noticed a second man with golden blond hair was circling around him, while the third and final newcomer was guarding the downed sisters from attack. All of them, it seemed to Zankou, appeared eerily calm, not worrying about if they were going to live or die.

"Who are you?" Zankou sneered, hoping to stall long enough to think of a plan. He could feel the power that the newcomers possessed, and knew that he would hardly stand a chance without a clever scheme or strategy. Instead of waiting for an answer, Zankou swished his arm wildly, pushing the man—who the sisters did not recognize—a few feet, but the attack had no effect other than that.

"Is that the best you got?" The man mocked, his crystalline eyes showing nothing but contempt for the demon. He was stronger than the demon by such a large margin that the fight was actually starting to bore him, a fact that enraged Zankou even more. Watching as Zankou summoned a ball of flames into his hands, he gave Zankou an admonishing smirk. "A flame ball? Really, how quaint." He mocked, summoning up a much more powerful fireball, one which was exclusively used by upper level demons. Zankou hurled his flame ball straight at the man, who, in turn, flicked his hand out as if he had a twitch, and gazed upon his fireball as it flew towards Zankou. When the two powerful balls met in midair, the man's more potent fireball went straight through the flame ball, continuing on its path towards Zankou, while the flame ball fizzled out into a puff of smoke.

Zankou dodged from the ball, not allowing it to hit him and then rolled across the floor. He quickly flung an energy ball at his opponent, which was dodged masterfully and allowed to harmlessly crash against the attic wall. Zankou quickly used the distraction and made to retreat, knowing he could not win against the current odds, but before he knew what was happening, before he realized that another of the newcomers had appeared directly behind him, he was stabbed in the back with a long, sharp athame. As Zankou began to erupt in flames, a blue electrical current washed over the hilt of the athame, transferring all of Zankou's powers through the athame and into the man who stabbed him. Moments later, Zankou was vanquished for good in a torrent of flames and an explosion in his wake.

"Finally," The golden haired man quipped once Zankou was completely gone, looking over to the original man who had been fighting Zankou. "I can finally lose the athame. I have the power of absorption now." He said, tucking the magical athame under his belt, knowing that it could still come in handy one day in the future.

"I figured as much," The black haired man nodded, apparently having previously known that Zankou had the power to absorb powers from others. "His father was Dogan, which is where I got my absorption power from, so it makes sense that he would have it, too. It's probably why he was so powerful in the first place. Did you receive anything else from him?"

"Yes," The golden haired man nodded affirmatively. "Zankou had prescience like I have never felt before. It's as if…as if I can be sense everything in the world. It feels like nigh omnipresence—if I concentrate on a place, my mind goes there; if I concentrate on a person, my mind travels there. This is unbelievable; it's intuition of the highest degree."

"That should come in handy," The third man said, coming over to the other two. He had short black hair and a lean, thin body, being a few inches shorter than the other two.

"Ah, hi," Piper interrupted the conversation, thoroughly confused by what was transpiring. Her voice caught the attention of the three as they all turned to her, looking at her expectantly. "Who are you?" Piper questioned suspiciously, wondering just who the three men were. Were they demons? Were they warlocks? Were they all there to kill them?

"You don't recognize me, mom?" The golden haired man who had been the one to vanquish Zankou smiled, looking over at Piper. He allowed Piper to study him for a few moments, moving his long hair back and showing his resemblance to his father, Leo.

"Wyatt?" Piper gasped, realizing it was her son all grown up, rushing over to envelop him in a hug.

He hugged her, and then pulled back to look her over, making sure that she was alright. "Here, let me heal you," Wyatt ordered, raising his hand and healing the large gash that was above her right eye. "Here, I can heal you too, Aunt Phoebe." He said, showing impressive abilities by healing Phoebe from a few feet away, much further than any whitelighter had ever shown Phoebe before. "Where is your whitelighter? He should be here."

"We don't really know," Phoebe answered with a shrug, having not seen their new whitelighter Chris in a week or so. "He disappeared a few days ago and he hasn't answered any of our calls."

"And dad hasn't come down?" Wyatt asked, turning his gaze back to his mother.

"I haven't called him," Piper answered, looking down, not wanting to call Leo away from his Elder duties. She had just gotten over the fact that he left her; to see him now would be devastating to her chances of moving on, to being able to raise Wyatt without him.

"You need a whitelighter," Wyatt reprimanded, taking his mother into another hug, wanting her to be safe and protected from the demons that he knew would attack her and her sisters.

"Hi, I'm Matthew." The third man that was protecting the sisters while Wyatt and the other guy were fighting Zankou said as he came over to the youngest sister. He reached his hand out to Paige in greeting, a large smile on his face. He had short black hair, milky white skin, brown eyes, and like the other two, was dirtied and unkempt.

"Nice to meet you," Paige said, shaking his outstretched hand. "Are you a friend of Wyatt's?"

"You could say that," Matthew nodded with a smirk, clearly hiding something. "Most would say I'm his cousin, but you could say that we're friends."

"Oh, brother, you're not my future son, are you?" Paige questioned, realizing the hint he was giving to her. While there was a resemblance between them, Matthew looked incredibly like Prue, whom Paige had only seen from distances before she died and from pictures after learning about her Halliwell heritage.

"Smart lady," Matthew replied sheepishly, giving her a hug. "No, I'm not going to tell you who my father is, so don't ask."

"What about you?" Phoebe asked, looking over to the man with long black hair, who was lurking in the background. "What's your name?"

"No one," He replied quietly, giving her a small sad smile that reminded Phoebe of someone long since dead. "Go and enjoy the family reunion, because the three of us will have to be leaving to get back to our world in a few minutes."

When the introductions were finished, Piper sat down on one of the older couches in the attic, looking up at her son. "So why are you all here, Wyatt? Surely you didn't come to just beat Zankou for us, right?"

"Oh, no," Wyatt responded, shaking his head in the negative. "Do you want to tell the story?" He questioned the nameless man with black hair, who continued to stand in the background, out of view from the others.

"No," He scowled, reacting as if Wyatt was taunting him. "I'll get the portal ready." He finished, before taking a large piece of white chalk out of his pocket and walking over to the empty wall of the attic, where he started to draw a large triquetra.

Wyatt grinned, and looked over to Matthew, who just rolled his eyes at Wyatt's antics. Then, turning his attention back to his mother, Wyatt began to tell the story about why they were all there. "Around the time that all three of us were born, a being, we don't know who exactly, released the Hollow on the world, apparently in an effort to gain power. It attacked the Underworld first, absorbing most of the warlock and demon powers that were used against it, before the one who released it eventually brought it to the human world. Before long, witches were dying, and then things changed for the worst and the world was on the brink of global destruction."

All three of the sisters turned to each other, their expressions showing the same horrified look that they all felt inside. "What happened?" Paige asked, pressing Wyatt to go on.

Wyatt's gaze moved over to Paige, and his voice underscored the seriousness of the situation. "Somehow, some way, the Hollow gained consciousness, gained sentience, and it wasn't neutral anymore in just doing the being's bidding, it was amoral: completely destroying everything, regardless of the controller's wishes. Everything in its path was absorbed or killed, and not even humans without magic were safe anymore. It infected armies, terrorists, everyone who had some power and scattered itself to the four corners of the world."

"That sounds terrible." Phoebe whispered, completely mortified by what she was hearing. She recalled the danger that the Hollow posed, with it at one point stealing the powers of her sisters when the Source had released it nearly a year and a half prior.

"Those of us who could fight, fought against it and continue to fight to this day." Matthew continued with the story, shaking his head in sadness, knowing the impact that their life story had on people. "About a year ago, we were able to conjure the box of the Hollow from its possessor and tried to put it back into its place using our powers."

"It didn't work?" Piper questioned, remembering how Phoebe and the Seer were able to contain it when the Source had released the Hollow.

"We were not powerful enough," Wyatt answered honestly, admitting that they failed in containing the Hollow because they were too weak. "We could not call it back to contain it because it had absorbed too much power for us to overcome. After that failure, we were back to where we started, and then Pay came up with a plan. He decided that we should travel to the different planes and worlds, and absorb as much power and magic as we could, me and him," He gestured to the black haired man that was preparing the return portal. "In an effort to gain enough power to contain the Hollow and put it back in its box. We sensed Zankou's release from our world and then came here to absorb his power, and here we are, talking to you."

"But if Zankou was destroyed, won't that change your world? Perhaps beating Zankou would prevent the Hollow from being released." Paige supposed, wondering what impact Zankou's defeat would have on their lives.

"No, we come from a different timeline, not from the future." Wyatt said, shaking his head in the negative. "You see there are two different dimensions, or rather universes: this dimension and the parallel one, which flips morality. Within each dimension, however, there are certain subcategories, pocket worlds so to speak. There are realms like Earthly realm, the Heavens, and the Underworld. There are also planes, as in the Ghostly plane, the Astral plane, the Enchanted plane, and Void. And finally, there are different timelines, where different scenarios and choices are played out that substantially change the fates and destinies of people. The fact that we vanquished Zankou has no effect on our timeline, just yours. This isn't the first time that we've traveled into a different world to absorb another demon's power; this is just the first time you've personally seen us in this timeline."

"Well, what's the difference? Why is our timeline different than yours?" Piper questioned, wondering what had made the two timelines stray away from one another. What made their timeline such a dystopia, compared to their own relatively peaceful world?

"Um," Wyatt started, awkwardly looking back and forth between his mother and the man that was now drawing a triquetra on the attic wall. "There were a few changes in our timeline that didn't happen in your time."

Piper followed Wyatt's gaze, and then studied the man as he drew a triquetra. He looks familiar, she thought to herself, before her breath hitched in her chest. "What changes?" She asked, narrowing her gaze, wondering if her suspicions were correct.

"A few here and there," Matthew mentioned, trying to end the conversation, sensing the direction it was taking. "So, don't mind us, but do you have any food? I'm famished."

"Ah, sure," Piper replied easily, drawing her gaze from the third man over to Matthew, before getting up from the couch and walking towards the attic door. "I'll make you guys dinner."

"Pay, you coming?" Wyatt asked back as everyone headed for the door, making everyone pause to hear his answer.

"No, I'm okay; I'll see you guys when you're done." He answered, not taking his eyes off of the wall.

"You sure?" Phoebe inquired, knowing that he was probably hungry just like the other two.

"I'm positive," The man returned, giving her a smile that didn't quite reach his soul. Phoebe nodded and followed the rest of the group out of the attic and down the stairs, never hearing or seeing the man give out a loud sigh or drop his head in defeat once they all had left.

The group made their way to the kitchen, where Piper had been preparing the family meal before Zankou had attacked them. After finishing up the meal's preparation and setting the table, they all sat down at the dining room table, intent on enjoying a nice, peaceful meal together. "So who is that guy up there?" Phoebe questioned, trying to make conversation with her nephews. "Pay, I think you called him?"

"He's…" Wyatt started, before pausing as Matthew grabbed his arm.

"It's not our place to say," Matthew warned Wyatt, giving his cousin a stern look.

"He won't say it, what difference does it make?" Wyatt retorted, believing that he had to admit to his mother and aunts who the man was, regardless of Matthew's beliefs on the subject.

Piper cocked an eyebrow, wondering what they were hiding from them. "Okay, what's going on?" She asked, hoping nothing was wrong, though she couldn't be sure by the way they were acting.

"All three of us are cousins." Wyatt said simply, not fully admitting who the man was like he had wanted, but not staying quiet like Matthew had asked. "Matthew's my cousin, and the other guy is my cousin, as well."

"So he's your brother?" Paige asked Matthew, wondering if he was her son as well. It was odd to her that he wouldn't come and introduce himself like Matthew had if he was her son, but she didn't express it, instead wanting to learn more first.

"Nope," Matthew shook his head in the negative, knowing that it would probably reveal who the man was, but unable and unwilling to lie directly to his mother about it. "I'm an only child. We're all only children."

"Wait," Phoebe muttered, furrowing her brow, realizing that by process of elimination, that man was either her son or Prue's. "Is Prue still alive in your time? Is that one of the changes?"

"No, she is not, unfortunately," Wyatt replied, frowning slightly at the suggestion that his aunt Prue was still alive. "I too am an only child, if that helps your train of thought."

Phoebe's face went white, the realization of what Wyatt and Matthew were saying dawning on her fully for the first time. "That means…" She whispered, looking between Matthew and Wyatt with wide eyes.

"Yes." Matthew replied simply, giving her a small, quick nod in agreement.

"And he doesn't want to talk to me?" Phoebe inquired, a bit hurt by the fact that her own son didn't come to say hello to her like Matthew or Wyatt had their own mothers.

"It would be very, very awkward." Matthew answered quietly, having discussed it previous to coming into the timeline.

Phoebe looked at Matthew confusedly, not understanding what he meant by that. "Why?" She asked, wondering what would make it awkward between a mother and a son.

Wyatt gave a small grin, knowing the supreme difference between their world and the one that he was currently in. "Because of whom his father is."

"Do I know him yet?" Phoebe asked, wanting to know who the father of her future child was.

"It's Cole," Piper whispered knowingly, having just remembered where the familiarity with the man's appearance before had come from. He looked like a younger, taller Cole Turner, dirtied and wearied from life, but just as handsome.

"Impossible," Phoebe replied, nearly appalled by the suggestion.

"He does kind of look like Cole, hunny." Paige noted, thinking back to what the man looked like and mentally comparing him to Cole.

"I knew my ears were burning," Phoebe's son said, coming into the dining room to join the rest of the family. "I see you have let slip my secret, huh, cousin?" He grunted, staring straight at Wyatt, clearly perturbed by Wyatt's revelations.

A/N: This plot was originally going to be in my "Charmed: Essence of the Demon" story, but I've restructured it to be something else entirely. This Payton is basically the same Payton as the one from that story, but not exactly. This will be a quick three chapters, but it's really just a long one shot.