A/N: I’m prefacing this chapter with an explanatory note. Some people didn’t get what was happening to Xander in the prologue and that’s fine. *grin* The questions will continue, I’m sure. But I want to clear one thing up… The prologue is the ending result of what happens from this point on. It is NOT the version of events that Chris will remember, as his original timeline is different from the timeline that will come from his deeds and sacrifices during the course of this fic…
The leather bound book that Chris held in his hand had seen better days. The spine was worn and cracking, the once supple leather now dried and inflexible. It had been a soft brown in its earlier days but time had darkened the color, obscuring what remained of the faint gold lettering on the front cover. Just one word, but it had struck him the moment he saw it, mixed in amongst the rubble left after the fight that had killed…
Chris shut his eyes, shaking his head. All of that was going to change if he had his way. If Wyatt never went evil then there was a good chance that those battles that had claimed the lives of everyone he held dear would never even happen. Not only would the world be saved… but he might not lose everyone.
It was that reason that he’d dug the journal out of his meager set of belongings, thumbing gently through the pages for an entry he’d all but memorized. Another set of hands, another set of eyes… another set of powers, even, to help them protect Wyatt and figure all of this out couldn’t hurt. Plus… he, the person that this journal spoke of on more than one occasion in sometimes tear-splotched entries, was family. And finding him had always been a part of his overall mission.
If only doing this wasn’t going to be so hard. Secrets that he’d done his best to keep were going to come out. There was no way to prevent it. No tricky spin that he could put on the explanation to make it anything other than what it was.
His cousin was somewhere in this timeline.
He looked down at the entry he’d found, reading through it as if to affirm the decision that he’d already made. This would change…everything. Whether or not he saved Wyatt from turning evil, this would change the future irreparably.
Still, he had to believe that doing this was a good thing. One of the best things he could do, given the circumstances. It wasn’t fair to just leave him out there, ignorant of his heritage. It wasn’t fair to deny the sisters another blood relative.
We did it… Right now, as I write this… my son is twenty-one years in the past…. My darling Alexander…
The words had haunted him when he first read them at the age of fourteen, bringing back memories of barely overheard conversations between his aunts, uncle, and mother. A cousin that had been sent back in time for his own good. Sent away from the hell that their lives were slowly becoming… to a place where he could grow up in safety, have a chance at reaching an age where he could protect himself before the world started to turn bad.
In his head he started to call him Alex, imagining the ‘good times’ that the two of them could have had if his cousin had been allowed to grow up there, with them, in that timeline. They would have been best of friends, he just knew it, if only they’d been given that chance.
We marked the inside of his wrist…the Triqueta for me and my family… and symbol that we will hopefully recognize as being a part of Cole when my precious Alexander surfaces at last… a grown man and able to take care of himself…… He’ll still always be my baby, though…
Chris looked at the picture drawn below the entry, the curves and lines of the ink ingrained in his brain. Hidden on the inside of his wrist with just a simple couplet to release it in the presence of a blood relative.
He fit that qualification. Which meant that, if he could get a pin on his cousin’s location, he could verify who he was before ever even telling the sisters.
Except… that wouldn’t work. Hadn’t he already figured that out? Wasn’t that why he had the journal in his hand right now, ready to give what little proof he could that this wasn’t just another lie or scam on his part? He had to tell them now or else risk problems later. He couldn’t very well just show up with a new relative under his wing and expect them not to blow their collective tops.
And for that reason he was going to speak with the one sister that was most likely to help him.
The kitchen smelled like fresh baked cookies as he orbed in off to one side of the counter, watching quietly as his mother bustled around the kitchen like one of the daydreams he’d indulged in from time to time. A happy housewife, making treats for the people she loved. He had relatively few actual memories of things like that and they were hazy at best, clouded in the simplicity of his childhood.
Piper’s smile as she turned was enough to make Chris feel good about calling her mom. It seemed so natural now that she knew, even though she was so much younger than the mother he remembered.
“Hey, there. Cookie?”
He took the proffered treat, unsurprised to find that it was still warm, the chocolate chips still gooey.
”So – anything new on the Wyatt front?”
Chris shook his head, savoring the mouthful of cookie before swallowing it. No need to treat every cookie like it would be his last. Not here, not now. Even if he failed to change the timeline there were still a few happy years left before Wyatt began to change. There would be more cookies filled with love and warmth. He popped the rest in his mouth, finishing it off quickly. “Nothing. Actually… I was hoping for a bit of motherly advice.”
She grinned toothily at him, tilting her head towards the kitchen table. “Well – I’m not very good at the whole motherly advice thing yet, but I can give it a shot. Tell me what’s wrong? It’s not girls or anything like that…right? Because I think your father –“
“Doesn’t know who I am and I’m happy to keep it that way, thanks,” Chris interrupted, fighting to keep his tone from turning cool. She didn’t deserve it. “Anyway – its not about girls.”
“Okay,” she nodded. “Shoot.”
He pulled the journal from his pocket, placing it on the table before him. His hands rested lightly on the small, worn book. How exactly had he planned on saying this?
“What would you say…” he sighed, shrugging his shoulders as all his planned words failed him. “… if I told you that you have a nephew here and now, in this timeline?”
“What?!?” Her startled cry filled the small cavernous kitchen, bouncing from one wall to another.
Chris glanced down at the journal, smoothing the cover out one final time before pushing it across the table to her. “The pages I marked explain part of it.”
She raised her eyebrows but took the journal, pushing it open to the first of the pages he’d marked. His eyes glanced over her face as she read the first part once, then again, her eyes going from the top to the bottom of the entry as a myriad of emotions played over her features.
“Keep going,” he instructed quietly.
She turned to the next of the marked entries, but now her face didn’t shift from one emotion to another as she read, it stayed fixed with shock almost equal to that of the day she found out that he, her Whitelighter, was actually her future son.
“Oh God,” she repeated, shutting the journal gently.
“Yeah, that sums it up pretty well, I guess.”
“Phoebe has a son? That is Phoebe’s journal, right?”
Chris nodded. “And, yes, -technically- she has a son, even though he won’t be conceived for another four years or so.”
She shook her head. “I don’t understand. Why would she send him away from her? Much less back in time? It just doesn’t make sense.”
“To make sure he stood a chance,” Chris explained as gently as he could. He sighed, running a hand back through his hair. “I heard the whole story only once – one night when you guys thought I was sleeping. So this might not be completely accurate –“
“Just tell me.”
He nodded. “They did it to protect him. Between me and Wyatt... Leo hardly ever being around… it was too much for the three of you and Alex’s dad to handle. Things were already starting to deteriorate and evil had begun to get a foothold…” He paused, searching his memories for the fragmented words he had heard that night. “I don’t remember who supposedly suggested the whole thing – but once it was out there Phoebe and…the father… latched onto it. Their baby would stand a chance. He could have the opportunity to grow up without the kind of fear we all had…”
“So they sent him back,” she breathed, her hand coming down to rest on her abdomen, In her eyes he could see questions swirling around, contemplating the decision that her sister had made… a decision that she obviously had –not- made for either of her own sons.
“He’d be just a little younger than me by now.”
“And he’s half witch?” she gasped. “His powers! What if he’s already turned evil?”
The Whitelighter shook his head. “They bound his powers before sending him back. Evil would have had no reason to touch him, Mom. He should be clean…”
His mother narrowed her eyes. “I hear a ‘but’ somewhere in there.”
Chris sighed. There really wasn’t going to be any way to keep this from her if they brought Alex into the family. Future consequences be damned, wasn’t he changing the timeline irrevocably just by doing this? “He’s half witch… one quarter human… and one quarter demon.”
Her eyes widened in shock, then even more as understanding rocked through her. “No – not possible, Chris. Phoebe wouldn’t date another demon – not after Cole.”
O-kay, Chris rolled mental eyes. Maybe that hadn’t been understanding in her eyes, after all. She obviously hadn’t put two and two together to get four, even with the clues staring her right in the face.
Or maybe some part of her just didn’t want to accept what he was trying in not-so-specific terms to tell her.
“That’s right,” he nodded slowly. “Aunt Phoebe could never be with any demon other than Uncle Cole.”
“…Cole,” he finished for her.
“Nuh uh,” his mother shook her head from side to side, hair swinging wildly in its loose ponytail. “You’ve made a mistake… somehow, Mister. We vanquished his sorry butt.”
Chris raised an eyebrow. “Yeah – like that’s worked so well in the past, mom. The man has more lives than a cat.”
“Noooo,” she moaned. “Pheebs is over him. She said so. Even if he came strolling back into her life right now she wouldn’t take him back.”
“Denial ain’t just a river,” Chris smirked. He grabbed the journal from her hand, flipping to the very front. “She started writing in this off and on right after that ‘final’ vanquish. And, I quote, ‘I’ll never stop loving him. He is a part of me and now… I’ll just be empty. I know that he had to be stopped but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt… doesn’t mean I don’t feel his loss every single solitary day… I know I’ll see him again one day…be it this life or the next…’”
He shut the journal, meeting his mother’s eyes.
“You two made her feel so guilty that she forced herself to stop showing that she cared. Instead she showed you just the opposite – instead of love, hatred.”
“Oh…” She groaned, softly, sinking her forehead to the tabletop in front of her. “And Cole is this kid’s father?”
“Cole and Phoebe…” she sighed. “…and now a nephew who’s got a touch of the demonic in him. Great.”
“Just a little,” Chris reminded her. “There’s another entry in there about a conversation Aunt Phoebe had with Uncle Cole. They didn’t think that the demonic part of him would be that strong at all. Maybe enough for shimmering but no great powers unless he actively sought them out. Which he wouldn’t know to do…because his powers are bound.” He leaned over and took her hand. “We still can get to him first, make sure he is good and stays good.”
He bit his lip, watching the emotions play over her face. This was a lot to take in when things were already pretty rocky in her life.
But he trusted her to make the right decision. Just as he always had.
“Well,” she shrugged after a few long minutes of silence. “We have to find him. He’s a Halliwell.”
”Also a Turner.”
“Yeah,” His mom shook her head. “Might be best not to remind me of that right now. Part demon in the family… God help us.”
“There’s still the possibility that he’s evil… that the binding spell broke and he got turned.”
His mother snorted softly. “All the more reason not to tell Phoebe until we figure all of this out. And to find him as soon as possible. If he hasn’t been turned yet we need to make sure it doesn’t happen. I swore to myself when Prue died that I would never let another family member slip out of reach again – and that includes family members that haven’t been born yet. Just… we do this without Phoebe’s help until we know if we’re going to have to sway him back from evil, okay?”
Chris couldn’t have agreed more. He gave her a tight smile. “So – where do we start?”