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 3: The Rocky Road

They made their way down the street, where a local ice cream parlor was in a corner store three blocks away. Phoebe pointed out some locations and places that she used to go to when she was a child, having grown up and lived in the neighborhood since she was just a baby, except for the short time that she lived in New York for college and work. "I can't remember the last time I had ice cream," Payton mentioned as they walked, his eyes moving around all of the sights.

Phoebe moved her gaze over to him, raising a questioning eyebrow. "I thought you said rocky road was your favorite?"

"It is…well, it was, when I was a kid." Payton answered as they arrived at the small shop, which did not seem very busy considering the night heat. "When we were growing up, the grownups made sure we had as normal of a childhood as possible, and would sometimes give us ice cream. It wasn't much, but a few tastes were all we needed sometimes. I'm pretty excited for this, not going to lie."

"I'm glad," Phoebe smiled and held open the door to the store, allowing Payton to walk in first. There was a short line, so they waited, all the while looking at the various flavors that the store had to offer.

After a few minutes, they were at the front of the line and the store worker was smiling at them as she waited to take their order. "Can I have a scoop of rocky road on a cone with chocolate sprinkles, please?" Payton asked politely, after making his decision and sticking with his favorite.

"Make it two scoops," Phoebe corrected, rubbing Payton's back, wanting him to enjoy as much as he could while he had the opportunity. "And I'll have two scoops of butter pecan."

"Right up," The woman nodded, rushing over to the basket of sugar cones and grabbing two, before heading over to the freezer to scoop the ice cream. A few minutes later, she brought the two cones over to the mother and son pair, handing them their respective desserts, while ringing up the order at the cash register.

Phoebe paid the small sum, and they turned to walk out of the store, planning on eating their ice cream as they headed back to the manor. "Is it any good?" Phoebe inquired with a smile, watching as Payton took his first few licks.

"Delicious, thank you," Payton nodded, too busy eating his ice cream to say anything more. Phoebe watched him for a few brief seconds, and immediately understood that her son had been denied the simple pleasures in life, things that many people took for granted, which was a fact that broke her heart like no other.

As they exited the parlor with their ice cream cones in hand, Phoebe looked up at the night sky and saw the North Star twinkle. Payton, meanwhile, silently ate his ice cream, before a shadow across the street caught his attention. He looked over to what he saw and noticed two men, one dark-skinned and one light, who were each wearing all black, staring straight back at him, a curious look in their eyes. "Before, when you said it was a touchy subject, does that mean that you lost someone close to you that you loved romantically?" Phoebe questioned softly, earning Payton's attention away from the two men.

Payton shifted his gaze over to his much shorter mother, before looking back at the shadow, where he saw that the two men were gone, disappearing in a beam of darkness. Shaking his head, wondering if they were actually there, he bit his lip, surprised by the question from his mother. "Yes, yes I did."

"I'm sorry." Phoebe sighed, wondering just how awful the world that he came from was exactly. Was it really the hellzone that they implied it was? Was there any goodness in it or was it something made completely from the darkest, deepest nightmares of humankind?

"Me too," Payton replied, a small frown taking its place on his handsome face. "You would have liked her, she was truly amazing. Not only was she smart, funny, and very beautiful, but most of all, she understood me. I could talk to her for hours without even trying, without needing to think up different things to discuss. When I was with her, I didn't have to try, I was just myself."

"What was her name?" Phoebe asked, wondering what the name was of the woman who stole her son's heart.

"Kyra," Payton answered quietly, his heart aching as he thought about her, feelings long since buried rising to the surface. "She was killed before the Hollow could absorb her in order to protect us. She was a demonic seer, but she wanted so badly to be human. She would have practically given up everything to be a human; her powers, her eternal youth, everything to be human, save perhaps her love for me." He went silent for a few moments, enjoying his ice cream and the peaceful night air. "Many people don't understand me—a demon/witch hybrid with the exact powers of not only the Source of All Evil, but a Charmed One, as well? They don't understand that I can suppress my demonic side, that I'm more human than I am demon. Outside of Matthew and Wyatt, they all distrust me, it's…wearisome."

"Can I be honest with you?" Phoebe asked, hoping that her son would appreciate her honesty and see the lesson that it would show. She knew that what she was going to say would not be easy to hear at first blush, but there was a reason for her saying it.

"Sure," He nodded in the affirmative, continuing to eat his ice cream, knowing that there was really nothing his mother could say that would upset him.

"I was like that," Phoebe admitted, thinking back to a time when she and Cole were at their strongest, a time when Prue was still alive and Paige hadn't entered their lives just yet. "When I first heard that your father was a demon, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that it made him evil automatically. That, while he might have wanted to be good, and that he might have even been good in his heart, he was still evil somewhere deep inside."

Payton stared off into the distance, thinking over what his mother had told him. "How did he handle it?"

"Same way you seem to be doing it," Phoebe answered in a tone that was reminiscent of pride. "He was always himself, regardless of what people told him or thought of him. I remember when my sister Prue threatened to vanquish him the first time he came to see me after we faked his vanquish—no one wanted him there, not even me, but he stayed and helped us solve a problem, even though he felt awkward and unwanted and very well risked death by doing it. And, in the end, he won his place in our lives, and eventually, our trust, even Prue's somewhat."

"I guess I'm more like him than I knew," Payton said, missing his father dearly at that moment. "Before he passed in my timeline, he always said that I reminded him of you."

"I can see that," Phoebe smiled in appreciation, knowing that Cole would never speak ill about her, no matter what she did to him. "But you really are like him, it's amazing. He was a little…scratch that, a lot more cocky than you are. He was annoyingly confident sometimes, that's what attracted me to him at first, but you? You're more of a quiet confidence kind of person, rather than outright bravado like him."

"Like you?" Payton returned, giving her a sideways grin that showed his youth.

"Like me," Phoebe nodded in agreement, recognizing the personality similarities that they each had to one another. "Tell me more about your life, what was it like growing up?"

"Well, you died when I was three, and my father raised me until he died when I was seventeen, leaving Matthew, Wyatt, and me all alone." Payton started, inwardly thinking back to the time when he and Wyatt had to take care of the younger Matthew. "Generally, though, I was happy. I was taken care of, and dad always managed to keep me fed, clean, warm, and safe even with the Hollow, so I have nothing to complain about."

Phoebe furrowed her brows in confusion at what he had said, not understanding something. "Where were Paige and Piper? Leo even?" She asked, wondering what had happened to her sisters. Surely they wouldn't just ignore him like that, abandon him in his time of need, would they?

"They died when I was eleven, seven, and three, respectively." Payton answered forlornly, having not wanted to tell her about it. It was something that, in his opinion, didn't need to be divulged—he didn't want his mother to know the morbid details of his life or the fates of her sisters. "Uncle Kyle and my father took Wyatt in as their own son, and all five of us lived together until, well, Kyle and dad died protecting us, giving us the time to escape from the Hollow."

"Who is Kyle?" Phoebe asked, not daring to think about the deaths of her sisters or brother in law. She had gone through the pain of losing a sister and a husband before; it was a pain so awful that she didn't want to go through it again, even if it was a hypothetical situation.

"Paige's future husband and Matthew's father," Payton answered, only giving the bare minimum of information necessary to answer the question. He didn't know if he could say something that would change his mother's world, so in order to avoid any negative repercussions, he tried not talking about things that hadn't happened yet in terms of his family's personal lives.

"Interesting," Phoebe smiled, silently wondering what Kyle would be like, who he was, what he did for a living. "So are you close with your cousins?"

"Very," Payton nodded in the affirmative, revealing that they were his two best friends. "We complement each other all so well."

"How so?" Phoebe inquired, wanting to see what he meant by that. She had to admit herself that she and her sisters complemented each other a lot, as well, especially when Prue was still alive, but she knew that sometimes they did butt heads and step one each other's toes.

"Matthew's the heart, Wyatt's the brawn, and I'm the brains," Payton replied easily, knowing and understanding each cousin's place in the circle, the triquetra of power that they formed together. "Our skills, personality, and abilities all complement one another."

"Wyatt is more powerful than you, then?" Phoebe asked, a little surprised by that fact. She had witnessed both Wyatt's and Payton's powers in the womb, and in her opinion, they were both pretty much equal, with Wyatt making Piper indestructible and Payton vanquishing a nigh-invincible demon on his own.

"I guess," Payton shrugged indifferently, not really caring one way or the other. "I have to suppress half of myself, so my powers are dampened as a result. We'd probably be equal if I didn't have to do that," He paused, thinking of what he was going to say next, before he saw where they were. "We're almost back to the manor," Payton suddenly realized, having not previously noticed that they had walked all the way home already.

"I wish I had more time with you, I have so many questions." Phoebe sighed in disappointment, not wanting her time with her son to end. "I want to know you more."

"Perhaps I can come back when it's all over, maybe by then I'll have a half-brother or half-sister in this world." Payton suggested, knowing that it would be good for him to look forward to a time where he could visit his mother without the threat of the Hollow around anymore.

"Here, sit," Phoebe pointed to the stairs, taking a seat on the stoop before they walked into the house. She knew that both Wyatt and Matthew probably weren't done taking their showers and changing just yet, so they still had some time to converse. "Let's finish our ice cream and then go inside."

"Okay," Payton said, sitting down on the cement next to his mother.

They both looked up to the sky, apparently a trait that Payton had inherited from his mother. "For the brief time that I was pregnant with you, I was scared." Phoebe started, keeping her eyes on the stars. "I didn't know if I was going to be a good mother or if Cole was going to be a good father. But after I told Cole that I was pregnant, he lavished with me with balloons and gifts, he was so excited to have a son, which immediately assured me that he would be nothing but the best father in the world."

Payton bit his lip, wanting his mother to expound on what she had said. "Why were you scared?"

"Back then, I wasn't exactly the most responsible person ever." Phoebe admitted to her son, knowing full well the person that she was just a year or two prior. "I was flighty, absent-minded, and selfish; all qualities that don't make a great PTA mother candidate, if you know what I mean. I had previous experience with a baby, a boy named Matthew, ironically enough, that my sisters and I had to take care of while we fought off a ghost a few years back, but I wasn't very good at it. Now Piper, she has all the motherly qualities you could want—she can cook, she's smart and pragmatic, has homemaking skills, and is very nurturing."

"I wasn't one who needed nurturing," Payton whispered honestly, recalling what he had required from the people around him as a young boy. "I needed goodness, pureness, fun, things to help me contain my demonic side, which is something that you would have given to me in spades. Not every mother is perfect for every child, but every mother is perfect for their own child. And you would have been perfect for me, a great balance to dad's seriousness."

"Are you sure someone didn't send you to talk me up?" Phoebe questioned, shifting her gaze over to him, her expression showing her happiness. "I was starting to believe that I would never find love, that I would never be a good mother, that I wouldn't actually ever be a mother, and then the Zankou fight begins and my life flashes before my eyes and you three appear from seemingly out of nowhere."

"Magic has a funny way like that," Payton replied, chomping the last piece of his cone. He used the napkin in his hand to clean off his hands, though they were still sticky once he was finished. "I would actually argue that it was you that was sent to me, to get me back on the right track."

"What do you mean?" Phoebe asked, cocking a curious eyebrow. What track was he talking about and why did he get off of it in the first place?

"I've lost faith; I have lost my will to try anymore. Sure, I would fight for what is right, and fight to protect everyone, but finding happiness? I lost faith in that. But now? Now it's back and it's all because of rocky road ice cream." Payton grinned, a renewed confidence in his ability to find happiness forming deep inside of him. "Thank you."

"The feeling is mutual," Phoebe smiled back, wrapping her arm around Payton and giving him a tight hug. "By the way, do you know why Cole and I chose the name Payton?" Phoebe asked, wondering how her son received the name that he had.

"Ironically enough, Aunt Piper told me the story many times." Payton laughed, knowing that it was a story that Piper liked relaying to him before she passed away. "You wanted Clayton and Dad thought it would be funny to continue the tradition of naming Halliwell children with a P. Clayton, plus a P is Payton. She said that you guys fought about it throughout your entire pregnancy basically, until you just blurted out Payton after I was born."

"Why would I ever want to name you Clayton?" Phoebe questioned herself, confused about why she would want to name her son Clayton. Sure, it was a nice name in her opinion, but not one of her absolute favorites.

"Something about it being the name of a friend who risked his life to save you one time or another, and it being the last name of the gypsy who served as your doctor, Eve Clayton, I think." Payton shrugged, unsure about it, having never known exactly why himself.

"Clay? Clay Muniz?" Phoebe laughed mirthlessly, having not thought about her ex-boyfriend Clay in years. "Why would I ever name my son after him of all people?"

"Either way, I'm glad my name is Payton and not Clayton." Payton smirked, liking his name. "Can I ask you something?"

"Anything," Phoebe nodded, wiping her sticky hands with a napkin she had taken from the ice cream parlor, similarly to the way that Payton had just moments before.

Payton's gaze moved to his mother's face, wanting to see her reaction as the question he was going to ask was one that wouldn't come up in normal conversation. "Did you really think that I was never yours?"

A/N: The woman who died was originally my character Selia, as seen in Essence of the Demon, but because the canon character Kyra is basically the same person (mine was first!), I've changed it to Kyra to allow you to visualize her more easily. This ends after the next chapter.