Chapter Eight: Showdown
"What's the matter?" the man said, mockingly. "Don't you recognize me, Mom?"
"Wyatt," Chris said softly, dread filling every fiber of his being.
"Surprise, baby brother," Wyatt said, turning towards Chris at the sound of his voice. "Or, should I say, half-brother. You know, no one was more surprised than me to find out the truth about you."
"I honestly didn't know Dad had it in him to cheat on you, Mom," he continued, turning towards Piper. "Or that your own sister would help him, and then flaunt their kid in your face."
Piper involuntarily looked over at Paige, who'd gone as white as a sheet, and Wyatt let out a low laugh.
"How did you get back here?" Chris asked, his earlier dread replaced with a cold fury at the sight of Wyatt trying to rip his family apart.
"You didn't honestly think that taking a page out of the Book of Shadows erases the spell, did you?" Wyatt asked, derisively. "That Book is my heritage, Chris. It has no secrets from me."
"What are you doing here?" Chris asked, changing tactics, in the hopes of distracting Wyatt. "What could you possibly want that you can't get in the future?"
"This," Wyatt said, gesturing.
A swirl of orbs surrounded a startled Paige, who appeared a second later, standing next to Wyatt, his hands locked around her arm in an iron grip. With a cruel smile, he orbed away, leaving the shocked inhabitants of the kitchen to wonder just what the hell had happened.
"Let go of me," Paige snapped, somewhat fearfully, as she and Wyatt materialized in a deserted part of the Underworld.
Wyatt complied, sending her stumbling across the rough ground. She caught her balance with some difficulty, and stood there, glaring at the future version of her beloved nephew. She didn't try orbing away from him; she'd already done so when he'd grabbed her, with no success, and had determined that Wyatt had somehow neutralized at least one of her powers. She was, for all intents and purposes, defenseless and frighteningly mortal.
"What do you want with me?" she asked, trying unsuccessfully to keep her voice from quaking with panic as she folded her arms protectively around the mound that was baby Chris.
"You'll find out in time," Wyatt assured her, smirking as he noticed her efforts to shield her baby from him.
Waving a hand, he gestured grandly, and the large, incredibly comfortable rocking chair from her bedroom appeared in the center of the empty space. Another gesture brought other amenities from her everyday life into the cavern as well. Paige stared in amazement at her possessions, and then at Wyatt, wondering if he'd completely lost his mind.
"Feel free to make yourself comfortable," he said, his tone almost pleasant and cheerful. "But," he warned, indicating the glowing crystals set up around the only entrance of the cavern, "don't try to leave. You won't be able to get past the barrier."
He turned and started to walk away, but turned back after a second.
"Don't worry, Aunt Paige," he said. "I'm not going to harm you."
With those parting words, he walked through the entrance and reset the crystals before he orbed away, leaving her terrified and alone.
"What the hell just happened?" Phoebe shrieked, her shrill tone bringing Hugh and Paris running, Wyatt held safely in Paris's arms.
"Wyatt kidnapped Mom," Chris said, his tone radiating shock and amazement.
"What?" Paris demanded, looking instinctively down at the little boy she held tightly.
"Not him," Chris corrected automatically. "His future self. From my time."
"The one we were have supposed to have saved from being evil," Piper snapped, not really angry with him, but desperately needing to lash out all the same.
"I think one of you needs to call Leo," Hugh said, trying to remain calm while the rest of his newfound family went to pieces. "We're going to need his help."
"And Dad's," Paris said, regaining a bit of her earlier composure. "Wouldn't Mom have some way of contacting him?"
"His cell phone," Chris said. "The number would be in her address book, in her purse."
Eager to do something, anything, to come closer to finding his mom, Chris jumped up and snatched Paige's purse off the counter, rifling through it desperately. A few seconds later, he held up an address book, with a sense of triumph, and Phoebe tossed him the telephone.
"Hello, Demetri?" he said, when he got an answer. "It's Chris. You and Leo need to come home, right now. Mom's been kidnapped."
The only answer he received was the dial tone as Demetri hung up on him, presumably to rush back to the Manor from wherever he and Leo were.
"They're on their way here," he informed his family, shortly.
"Now what do we do?" Piper demanded. "We can't just sit here while Wyatt-"
She broke down, then, dissolving into helpless sobs as she remembered the look of malice on her son's face.
"This can't be real," she choked out, between gasping breaths. "We saved Wyatt from turning evil. Vanquishing Vicus should have stopped it from happening."
"Maybe Vicus just put a spell or curse on him, honey," Phoebe said, soothingly. "Then we just have to figure out what it is and break it."
"What if it's not a spell?" Piper asked, her tone helpless and defeated. "What if it's Wyatt? What if, after everything Leo and I do to raise him properly, he's still destined to become evil? What if it's just a part of who he is?"
"If I thought that for even a second," Chris snapped, startling her with the harshness of his voice, "I would never have come back here in the first place. Wyatt can be redeemed; you saw that when the Order tried to turn him evil."
"Chris is right," Phoebe spoke up, quietly. "If Wyatt was really destined for evil, we never would have gotten him back from those demons. There is a way to save him, we just have to find it."
"What about Mom?" Paris asked, drawing everyone's attention. "Is there a way to save her, too?"
"Chris," Phoebe said, turning to her nephew. "You know Wyatt best. What is he likely to do to Paige?"
"Right now," Chris said quietly, filled with his earlier dread, "he's capable of anything."
"Wyatt!" Paige yelled, furious, now that she'd gotten over her initial bout of terror. "I know you can hear me. Get down here!"
She waited, but there was no answer. Frustrated, she huffed out the breath she'd been holding and starting pacing the confines of her prison. While she traced a path in the dust, she flung out a hand at the nearest wall. When no beam of energy left her hand, she determined that Wyatt had neutralized all of her powers, and not just orbing, like she'd hoped.
Suddenly, she stopped dead in her pacing, as she felt a twinge of pain that rippled across her abdomen. A very familiar pain.
"No," she whispered, suddenly more scared by that pain than by anything Wyatt had done so far. "I'm not going into labor. I can't possibly be. It's too early."
But another shot of pain, this one sharper than before, quickly proved her wrong. Lacing her hands over her abdomen, Paige anxiously focused on the baby inside her. Dimly, she could sense big Chris, his panic and fear mirroring her own. More immediate was the sense of the baby inside her shifting, readying himself to come into the world. A world not yet ready for him.
'Please stay in. It's too early; it's not safe,' she begged silently, knowing it did no good.
In answer, another contraction washed over her, sending her reeling into the comfort of her rocking chair. And she wept, bitterly, as she thought of her son's untimely impending birth.
"Mom," Chris gasped, suddenly, drawing the undivided attention of everyone in the kitchen.
"Chris, what's wrong?" Leo asked, worriedly.
"It's Mom," Chris repeated, distantly, his attention focused elsewhere.
"You can sense Paige?" Phoebe demanded eagerly.
"Just barely," Chris replied, distracted. "She's panicked and scared, and in pain."
"Wyatt hurt her," Piper said, hearing her worst fears confirmed, but Chris surprised her.
"No," he corrected. "It's not Wyatt. It's…something else."
"Can you tell what's hurting her?" Demetri asked, his voice tight with worry.
"No," Chris said, shaking his head with frustration as he lost the tenuous connection he'd established with Paige.
"And now I can't sense anything," he continued, angrily.
"Don't worry, buddy," Leo said, quietly. "We're going to get her and you home safe and sound."
"Leo's right," Phoebe piped up. "Everything will be just fine; you'll see."
Chris dredged up a weak smile at his aunt's enthusiasm, before he stood and walked out of the kitchen. After a moment, Leo stood and followed him.
"Chris?" he said, quietly, seeing his son standing slumped by the window.
"This is all my fault," Chris said, after a moment, not looking over at his father. "I should have known that Wyatt wasn't going to just sit back and let me run amok here in the past."
"Even you couldn't have known that he was going to go this far," Leo countered. "How could any of us have anticipated him kidnapping Paige?"
"That's just it," Chris said. "I didn't see this coming. I mean, why go after Mom; why not attack me, directly?"
"He is," Leo said, the color draining from his face as the truth suddenly hit him like a ton of bricks.
"What?" Chris asked, confused.
"He's not attacking you because he's going to stop you from ever coming back in the first place," Leo whispered, horrified.
"And the best way to do that is to kill me as an infant," Chris finished.
Paige groaned, in agony, as another contraction hit her. They'd been coming faster and stronger for the past half an hour, and she knew only too well what that meant. Her baby wanted to be born, and nothing was stopping him. Certainly not one exhausted, powerless witch.
"Things are certainly happening faster than I expected."
Paige jerked, startled, as Wyatt's voice intruded on her thoughts.
"What do you want?" she whispered, feeling drained of her energy.
"I just want everyone to leave me alone," Wyatt replied, sitting down in the chair facing her. "I'm tired of people trying to change me."
"Chris," Paige murmured to herself, as realization dawned.
"You're not touching my baby," she snarled, a second later, as anger flooded her veins, giving her a new surge of energy.
"And how do you plan on stopping me?" Wyatt asked, sardonically. "I've bound your powers, Aunt Paige."
"I don't need powers to fight you," Paige snapped, gritting her way through another contraction.
"I don't want to have to kill you," Wyatt said, patiently, "because I don't know how the future will change if I do, but I will if I have to. If you don't cooperate with me."
"And by cooperate, you mean handing my newborn son over to you so that you can kill him," Paige said, coldly. "Over my dead body."
"You're being stubborn," Wyatt told her. "I don't want to have to kill Chris, either. If he would just stop opposing me-"
"He's trying to save you, Wyatt," Paige insisted, cutting him off. "We all are."
"Don't you see?" Wyatt said, becoming agitated. "I don't need saving. All I've done is become what I was born to be."
"And what would that be?" Paige asked, eyeing her nephew warily.
"All-powerful," Wyatt responded, the smile that lit his face scaring her like nothing before had.
"You aren't meant to be all-powerful," Paige said, softly.
"When three planets burn as one over a sky of dancing light, magic will reston a holy day to welcome a twice blessed child," Wyatt quoted. "Sounds pretty all-powerful to me."
"That's not what that means," Paige protested, weakly.
"And then there's Excalibur," Wyatt continued, overriding her. "Only the ultimate Power can wield it, remember?"
"I remember Piper being corrupted by it, and only caring about power," Paige told him. "Just like you seem to be."
"I haven't been corrupted!" Wyatt exploded. "How many times must I repeat myself?"
"This isn't what you were born to be!" Paige yelled right back. "You're supposed to be a source of good, Wyatt. Not evil."
"I've had people saying that my whole life," Wyatt said, smirking. "Tell me, Aunt Paige, what would you say if you knew that it wasn't an illness that killed you in my time, but a curse?"
"And how would you know that?" Paige asked, afraid to hear his answer.
"Because I'm the one that cast it," Wyatt told her, still smiling.
Paige closed her eyes, as grief overtook her.
"You murdered me," she said, finally.
"Very good," Wyatt said, mockingly. "Like I said earlier, I have no idea what will happen if I kill you now, as opposed to later, so I'd like to keep you alive, if possible."
"Then that's not going to be possible," Paige told him. "Because you're not touching my son unless I'm dead."
"Don't be such a martyr," Wyatt told her. "It's not like you'd even remember Chris. I'm going to erase your memories, afterward."
"And that means I should just give him over to you, to die?" Paige asked, in disbelief. "Go to Hell."
"Such language," Wyatt tsked. "You're going to want to stop that, once you're back home around all those impressionable children."
Paige closed her eyes in pain, both physical from the contractions, and emotional from Wyatt's deliberate cruelty.
"I'm not giving you my son," she whispered.
"Don't you understand that you don't have a choice?" Wyatt explained, patiently. "Either you give me Chris, or I'll take him from you, forcibly."
"I don't think you understand," Paige retorted, glaring at him. "I will not give Chris to you. And you'll have to kill me to take him from me."
She would have said more, but a sudden contraction, more painful than the ones before it, had her doubling over in agony. At the same time, the chair she was sitting on suddenly felt very wet.
"I don't think it's going to be very long, now, do you?" Wyatt asked, conversationally.
He helped her off the chair to lay down on the mattresses he'd orbed off her bed. Paige tried to pull away but she was helpless in the face of Wyatt's strength.
She cried out, weakly, as she was overcome by another contraction and Wyatt grinned.
"Not long at all," he repeated. "Don't worry, Aunt Paige, my memory spells are the best. You won't remember a thing about Chris."
At his words, a tear crept down Paige's cheek, but she couldn't talk, as her energy was rapidly being drained.
Then, she was overcome by a sudden, stabbing pain, and when it cleared, she saw, to her immense horror, her newborn son cradled in Wyatt's arms.
"I think I know how to get Mom back!" Paris burst out, running into the living room, startling Chris and Leo.
"How?" Chris demanded, spinning to face his sister.
"The blood-to-blood summoning spell," Paris told him, grinning triumphantly.
"It wouldn't be strong enough," Chris said, tiredly. "Not against Wyatt's magic."
"It will be if it's Wyatt who summons her," Paris said, still excited, and Chris's eyes lit up with comprehension.
"That's perfect!" he exclaimed.
"What are you two talking about?" Leo asked.
"If we just did a standard summoning spell," Chris explained, "it wouldn't be powerful enough to get through whatever defenses Wyatt's erected around Mom. But if we add baby Wyatt's blood to the mix-"
"-It'll be like Wyatt was casting the spell, himself," Piper joined in, having heard the last bit of the conversation.
"Especially if the four of us," Phoebe added, nodding at Chris and Paris, "are the ones casting the spell. Two Charmed Ones, and the children of the third ought to be powerful enough, don't you think?"
"I think it's worth a shot," Leo said, and Chris grinned, suddenly.
"I'll get the-" Paris started to say, but she trailed off as Hugh shimmered in, the Book of Shadows cradled in his arms.
"-the Book," Paris finished, lamely.
"I figured we'd need this sooner or later," Hugh explained, handing the Book to Chris so that he could find the appropriate summoning spell.
"Good instincts," Leo said, and Hugh beamed at the unexpected praise from his uncle.
"I found the spell," Chris said, drawing everyone's attention. "Piper, we're going to need-"
"Already ahead of you," Piper said, showing him a silver chalice filled with various herbs. "Ironically enough, this spell that we're about to do is the same one that brought Paige to us in the first place."
"That makes it even more appropriate," Demetri remarked, quietly, from the kitchen doorway looking drawn-out and haggard.
"We can give them our energy for the spell, can't we?" Hugh said, suddenly, looking at Demetri, who visibly brightened at the idea.
"That's right," he said, slowly. "I remember reading somewhere how a witch can transfer magical energy into another witch through a spell. I don't remember it, though," he said, frustration evident in his voice.
"But I do," a new voice piped up. Everyone whirled around to see three strangers materialize suddenly in the middle of the living room.
"I'm Jolene," the woman said, before Piper could demand an explanation. "This is Greg," she continued, gesturing to the men, "and Duncan. We're Paige's future in-laws."
"That is," she said, a moment later, to Demetri, "if you've actually proposed to Paige, this time."
"I haven't had the chance," Demetri admitted sheepishly, looking much better than he had minutes ago.
"Mr. Forgetful here never actually proposed to your sister the first time around," Duncan said. "He realized it right after they exchanged vows."
"That's all well and good," Chris snapped, impatiently, "but can we please get back to saving Mom before Wyatt hurts her?"
"Right," Greg said, briskly.
"The power transfer will be good for an hour," Jolene told them, "during which time you'll have our magical strength bolstering yours. We'll also be fairly useless during that time, so we won't be able to help you beyond that spell."
"Witches, let's do this," Phoebe said, and they all trooped up to the attic.
Piper, Phoebe, Chris, Paris, and Wyatt arranged themselves in a rough circle around the chalice, linking hands as they formed the points of a pentagram. Demetri, Hugh, Greg, Duncan, and Jolene stood behind them, placing their hands on their shoulders in preparation for the spell. Taking a deep breath, Jolene began to speak, the others following a heartbeat behind her.
"What's ours is yours,
We give to thine.
Let our power cross the line.
We offer up our gifts to share.
Send our power through the air."
A wave of light passed from the outer circle to the inner, and then faded. Demetri and the others stepped back, as everyone focused on the five witches around the chalice.
One by one, the four older witches solemnly pricked their fingers, allowing their blood to drip onto the herbs. Piper pricked Wyatt's finger, next,and the toddler watched his blood mingle with the others without a single outcry. Leo quickly healed the cut on his finger, and then stepped back, as they began the spell.
"Power of the witches rise,
Course unseen across the skies.
Come to us who call you near.
Come to us and settle here.
Blood to blood, we summon thee.
Blood to blood, return to me."
A breathless heartbeat passed, and then a swirl of bright lights filled the attic. As they cleared, Paige collapsed, exhausted, into Chris's arms. He was horrified to see the blood that covered her legs, but even more so by her first words.
"We have to go back there!" she cried. "Wyatt's going to kill you!"
Without a word, he grabbed Piper and Phoebe, as Paige clung weakly to him, and he orbed down to the Underworld.
"I hate waiting!" Demetri exploded, from where he'd been pacing a hole in the rug ever since Chris and the sisters had orbed away.
"We don't have any other choice," Leo pointed out, diplomatically. "You four are next to useless after the spell you cast, and I'd be more of a hindrance than a help to them down there."
"Your son is down there," Demetri growled. "Don't you care at all?"
"Of course I do," Leo replied. "But I have faith in the sisters, in Chris, and in Hugh to take care of things down here, while we take care of things up here."
"What things?" Demetri demanded.
"Like finding out how to reverse whatever it is that Vicus did to Wyatt," Leo told him. "If we can change his toddler self back to good, his future self will change as well."
"And how do we go about doing that?" Demetri asked, quieter now.
"I have no idea," Leo admitted, reluctantly.
"Trust," Paris said, slowly.
"What was that?" Demetri asked, as everyone in the room turned to face her.
"Trust," Paris repeated. "Vicus kept saying how Wyatt would only be one of us when we'd gained his trust."
"It makes sense," Leo said. "Hugh turned good when he trusted Phoebe to save his life-"
"After Vicus betrayed his trust by trying to kill him," Paris interjected, and Leo nodded in agreement.
"And then you came back to us after you attacked Vicus to save Paige," Demetri noted, and Paris turned bright red.
"Mom said she wasn't going to tell you that," Paris muttered.
"But how did Vicus get Wyatt's trust in the first place?" Leo asked, puzzled.
"Through a focus object," Paris replied, immediately. "For me, it was my picture of Mom and Dad. Hugh's was the locket he wears that his grandmother gave him. Vicus convinced us to give him the objects and then he put his spell on them, cursing us."
"And when you placed your trust in someone good, the spell was broken," Demetri observed. "That doesn't help us with Wyatt, though. I mean, we can't put him in a life-threatening situation and hope he trusts Leo to save him."
"No, but if he willingly gave me the object Vicus cursed, it should reverse it as well," Leo said, slowly.
"We just have to figure out what he cursed," Jolene spoke up. "Which could be anything in his life."
"Not necessarily," Duncan told his sister. Turning to Leo, he asked, "Has Wyatt been clinging to one of his toys more than usual, lately?"
"His bear," Leo said, after a moment of thought. "Paige gave him a teddy bear for his birthday, since his last one was impaled. He hasn't let that thing out of his sight for weeks."
"He had a teddy bear with him when he was in the Underworld," Paris recalled, suddenly. "I never saw if he took it with him, though."
"You mean that bear?" Greg asked, pointing. Everyone turned to see Wyatt sitting in his playpen, possessively clutching a small, brown bear.
"Hey, Wyatt," Leo crooned, walking over to his son. "Is that your bear?"
"Wuvey," Wyatt declared, hugging the bear tighter.
"He sure is a handsome bear," Leo continued, calmly. "Can I see him?"
"Mine," Wyatt insisted, stubbornly, not releasing his hold on the stuffed animal.
"I know," Leo said. "I just want to give Wuvey a hug, like you're doing. What do you say, Wyatt? Can I hug Wuvey, too?"
Wyatt looked uncertainly between the bear and his father for a long couple of seconds. Then, he smiled brightly and handed the bear to Leo. As soon as Leo clasped the toy, it and Wyatt were surrounded by a bright light. It faded a second later, and Leo sighed in relief.
"You did it," Demetri said, as Leo swept Wyatt up into his arms.
"Let's go tell the others," was all he said.
Chris and his passengers materialized in front of a doorway to a cavern, each side of the entrance surrounded by crystals. Seconds later, Hugh shimmered in behind them, and Phoebe whirled around as she sensed her son's presence.
"What are you doing here?" she hissed, furiously. "Your powers-"
"I'm half demon," Hugh interrupted her, quickly. "Those powers weren't affected by the spell we cast."
"We'll need his help to face Wyatt," Paige told them, leaning heavily on Chris to keep herself on her feet, and Hugh shot his aunt a grateful smile.
"I don't like you putting yourself in danger like this," Phoebe protested.
"And I don't like feeling useless," Hugh retorted. "Mom, I've spent most of my life down here. I know how to handle myself in a fight."
"We could use all the help we can get," Chris said. "Even with our temporarily enhanced powers."
"Fine," Phoebe conceded, unhappily, and Hugh kicked the crystals away from the entrance in reply.
They stormed into the cavern in time to see Wyatt bending over baby Chris, an athame clutched in his upraised hand.
"NO!" Paige screamed, wildly, as she saw the danger her son was in.
Her outcry startled Wyatt enough that he paused for a second. In that moment, an energy ball flew over their shoulders to obliterate the athame he held, just as baby Chris orbed into Paige's arms.
Wyatt shook his hand in irritation, as though the energy ball had merely stung him, rather than causing damage.
"I should have known that none of you would leave well enough alone," he growled.
In answer, Chris wordlessly flung out a hand, hitting Wyatt with a blast of telekinetic energy that threw him across the cavern. Wyatt climbed to his feet, laughing.
"You always were weak, Chris," he said. "Never could go in for the kill."
"I don't want to kill you, Wyatt," Chris said, his face impassive.
"Your loss," Wyatt responded.
He threw an energy ball at Chris, who flinched reflexively, but it never touched him. Instead, another energy ball hit the first one, causing an explosion in midair.
"I love being a demon," Hugh said, conversationally, as he stepped up beside Chris. Wyatt shook his head in disbelief at what he considered to be a token resistance.
"None of you are strong enough to stop me," he said. "I don't know why you even try."
"Because we're your family, Wyatt," Piper said.
"We're not giving up on you, Wyatt," Phoebe added, supporting Paige as they stood beside the others.
"I can't believe I come from such do-gooders," Wyatt said, rolling his eyes.
Suddenly, he threw another energy ball, this one striking Hugh in the chest. He flew backwards to hit the wall, and slumped to the ground, groaning.
"Hugh!" Phoebe cried, turning to her son.
Wyatt attacked her while she was distracted, and Chris tackled her to the ground, watching as the energy ball scorched the far wall.
"That's it," Chris muttered, standing up.
He telekinetically flung Wyatt away, putting all of his borrowed energy behind the blow, as Piper unleashed a burst of her explosive energy. Wyatt crashed into the ceiling and hit the ground hard, rocks tumbling around him.
Everyone waited, anxiously, as Wyatt lay still. Then, amazingly, he stood up and started towards them. But before he'd taken his first step, he glowed with a brilliant white light.
Wyatt staggered slightly as the light receded, and he shook his head as if to clear it. Then he looked, confused, at his family standing assembled before him.
"Chris?" he asked, his voice and attitude completely different than it had been seconds before. "Chris, what happened? Where are we?"
"You don't remember?" Chris asked, guardedly, walking cautiously towards his brother.
"I-" Wyatt began, and then his voice trailed off as his eyes widened. "Oh, God," he whispered, horrified, as the memories rushed back to him. "Oh, God, what have I done?"
"Piper!" a new voice shouted, startling everyone. They turned to see Leo, Demetri, and Paris running breathlessly toward them, Wyatt clasped safely in Leo's arms.
"We reversed Vicus's spell," Leo said. "Wyatt 's not evil, anymore."
"We know," Piper said, softly, indicating where Wyatt and Chris stood in the center of the cavern.
The two young men were talking quietly, too quietly for anyone to hear them. Then, Chris suddenly seized his brother in a hug, a move that cleared shocked Wyatt. They talked for a few seconds longer, then Chris led the way over to the group.
"How can you possibly forgive me after what I've said, what I've done?" Wyatt asked, plaintively, as he stood nervously before his family.
"That's what brothers do, Wy," Chris told him.
"That's what families do," Paige corrected, gently, and Wyatt looked, ashamed, at her.
"I'm so sorry," he said quietly.
"It's okay," Paige said, surprising even herself. "You're not that person anymore."
"Come on," Phoebe said, into the silence that followed that exchange. "Let's go home."
"Hey, Leo," Phoebe said, as she saw the Elder standing at the foot of the staircase. "Putting off going to the good-bye party?"
"What?" Leo asked, turning distractedly toward her.
"What are you doing?" Phoebe asked, simplifying her earlier remark.
"Oh, I was just thinking," Leo said.
"About what?" Phoebe prompted, hoping to get him to open up to her.
"About how complicated everything's gotten, with Piper and Paige," Leo admitted.
"I love Piper, with everything I am, and nothing will ever change that," he continued. "But I can't help feeling something for Paige, even if it's just because of our son. And then there's Chris and my unborn daughter to think of as well."
"No one ever said that life in this family would be simple," Phoebe joked, but Leo frowned slightly.
"It could just be a lot easier, though, you know," he remarked wistfully, and Phoebe shook her head in confusion.
"What could be easier?" she asked, suspiciously.
"This whole situation. If Chris really were Piper's son," he told her.
"But he's not," Phoebe said, immediately, deeply concerned. "He's Paige's son. A son that she loves very much. And it would kill her to lose him."
"I know that," Leo replied. "But, at the same time, he's a reminder that I've betrayed Piper by being with Paige. No matter how much I love him, I can't get away from that."
"Leo," Phoebe began, but her brother-in-law was already walking up the staircase to the attic.
After a moment, Phoebe followed, an uneasy feeling settling in the pit of her stomach. She arrived to find Wyatt and Chris arguing with Piper and Paige.
"What's wrong?" she asked, still disconcerted from her conversation with Leo.
"The future," Chris told her, and she frowned in confusion.
"How do we know it's safe?" Piper asked, clarifying the issue. "I mean, I'm not sending Chris and Wyatt back to the future unless we know everything is right again."
"Ditto," Paige echoed.
"How are we supposed to know that?" Phoebe asked, exasperated.
"Oh, come on," Paige chided her, gently. "Your power is seeing the future. If anyone can find out, you can."
"Right," Phoebe said, sheepishly. "Give me your hands," she instructed, stepping toward Chris and Wyatt. "Both of you."
They did as she said, and Phoebe closed her eyes in concentration. Then, she heard a child's laugh, and she opened them, startled.
"Anyone home?" a man yelled, entering through the front door, holding a squirming toddler tight in his arms. "Mom, Aunt Piper, Aunt Paige?"
"In here," a familiar voice called out, and Phoebe watched her future self walk out of the kitchen. "How are you, honey?"
"I'm great, Mom," Hugh said, and Phoebe gasped, seeing the man her son would become.
Future Phoebe smiled and hugged her son, and then looked over his shoulder. "Didn't Steven and the baby come with you?" she asked.
"Steve's parking the car and he's got your grandson with him," Hugh replied. "Said something about how I seemed to already have my hands full with this one-"
His voice broke off with a grunt as the little girl in his arms succeeded in wriggling out of his grasp and sprinting eagerly across the room, only to be scooped up by a young woman in her twenties with honey-blond hair.
"Where do you think you're going, huh?" she asked, tickling the girl until she screamed with laughter.
"Prue!" Hugh exclaimed, seeing her. "You're back from college!"
"Of course I am, you doofus," Prue said. "I wanted to see the family, and besides, Mom would kill me if I didn't show up for Thanksgiving dinner."
"I heard that," Piper called from the kitchen. "And you're absolutely right."
"You're the first ones here, you know," Prue continued, pointedly ignoring her mother.
"Not anymore, he's not," another voice spoke up, from the entryway. "Thanks, Steve."
A woman with long, dark hair entered the foyer to join the group, and Phoebe wouldn't have recognized her as Paris unless Prue hadn't called her by name as she was hugging her. The aforementioned Steve entered as well, greeting future Phoebe with a kiss on the cheek, before joining Hugh. He wrapped an affectionate arm around the other man's waist as he shifted the baby in his arms to a more comfortable position.
Then, the front door opened yet again and a grinning teenage girl came into the room.
"Gimme my nephew," she said, eagerly, as Steve handed the baby over.
"What?" Hugh said, feigning hurt. "No hug for your big brother?"
"Or your own mother?" future Phoebe asked, pointedly. "You know, missy, just 'cause you went away to college early…"
"I'd hug you," the girl replied, cheekily, "but my arms are full of baby."
"You definitely take after your father," future Phoebe told her, with mock sternness, as Hugh choked on his laughter.
"Speaking of, will he be joining us?" a new voice chimed in, and Paige poked her head out of the kitchen. "I need a head count if I hope to set the table sometime before Piper finishes dinner."
"He's caught up at work again," future Phoebe said, as Phoebe burned with curiosity about who her future husband could possibly be. "But he said he would be here."
"I'll help you set the table, Mom," Paris said, extricating herself from the knot of people and heading towards her mother. "Hey, have you heard from Uncle Greg lately?"
"Just this morning, as a matter of fact," Paige said. "He and I spent nearly two hours talking about your dad."
"It's hard to believe it's been fifteen years since he died," Paris said softly. "I really miss him, Mom."
Phoebe gasped in shock, but couldn't hear any more, as Paige and Paris disappeared into the dining room, their voices growing indistinct.
Then she got another shock as a dark-haired boy left the kitchen, covered in flour head to toe. To her amazement, Phoebe recognized the toddler she'd seen in her earlier vision in the teenager that stood before her future self.
"Do I even want to ask what happened?" future Phoebe asked, stifling her laughter behind her hand.
"Or what condition Aunt Piper and the kitchen are in?" her daughter asked, not bothering to hide the grin on her face.
"Dinner will be late," the boy said, his tone serious. "And I'm going upstairs to take a shower."
"Josh, sweetheart," future Phoebe called out, as he stalked silently away. The boy turned toward her, quizzically, and she gestured at the carpet.
"You're leaving footprints," she told him, finally giving into the laughter.
Josh grinned sheepishly, finally seeing the humor in the situation, before retreating upstairs. He was passed by Chris and Wyatt coming down, who stared at him in amazement.
"Not a word," Josh warned them, glaring darkly at his cousins.
Wyatt shook his head, holding his hands up in capitulation.
"Wasn't going to say a word," Chris assured him. Josh nodded and continued up to the bathroom.
"To his face, anyway," Wyatt said, snickering. Chris elbowed him, playfully.
"Where have you two been all day?" Piper asked, emerging from the kitchen, as Paige came out from the dining room.
"Uh, well," Chris stammered, looking at Wyatt nervously.
"We were just up in the attic," Wyatt temporized quickly.
"Doing what, exactly?" Paige asked, suspiciously.
"Er, that's a long story," Chris hedged.
"Luckily for you two, we've got all night for you to tell it," Phoebe said brightly, as the two exchanged worried glances.
Phoebe opened her eyes, for real this time, and smiled at her family.
"What'd you see?" Piper demanded, when she was silent for a long moment.
"I saw the most beautiful future," Phoebe said, softly, ignoring, for the moment, her knowledge of Demetri's fate. "A future you helped create," she added, looking at Chris.
"So I guess we don't have any reason not to send them back," Paige said, sadly.
"There's just the matter of how we're going to do that," Piper said.
"I was thinking that we'd use the spell that Grams and Mom used to send us and Prue back to our time," Phoebe spoke up. "I think Grams wrote it in the Book."
"She did," Piper said, after she'd flipped through the Book's pages. "Here it is. You guys ready to do this?"
"No," Paige said honestly. "But I guess we don't have any choice."
"Well," Phoebe said, suddenly, smiling brightly to cover the tears that had sprung to her eyes, "how about a goodbye hug from my two favorite nephews?"
"Bye, Aunt Phoebe," Chris said, hugging her tightly, Wyatt following his lead.
"Bye," she whispered, hugging them both. "Take care and have a safe trip back."
"Of course we will," Wyatt responded. "You're sending us."
Chris hugged Piper next.
"Thank you for coming," she told him. "You saved my baby boy, and I'll always be grateful for that."
"Aww, Mom," Wyatt muttered, embarrassed, from where he was saying goodbye to Paige.
"I'm allowed to get a little sappy," Piper retorted.
"It's a mother's prerogative," Paige informed him.
"Yeah, I know," Wyatt replied, his tone affectionately resigned. "Bye, Aunt Paige."
"Take care, sweetie," she said, hugging him. "Stay good."
"Count on it," he told her.
"See ya, big sis," Chris said to Paris, kneeling to hug her.
"Not for twenty-three years," she replied, cheekily. "And don't worry, I won't be too bossy when Mom and Dad leave me in charge."
"With a disclaimer like that, there may be less opportunity for that than you think," Demetri told her.
"Take care, Chris," he said, approaching his stepson. "You too, Wyatt."
"Bye," Hugh said, shaking hands with both of them.
"See you, squirt," Chris said, to baby Wyatt, as the toddler squirmed in Leo's arms. Laughing, Leo let him down, and he staggered unsteadily over to Chris to wrap his arms around one of his legs.
"Bye-bye Cwis," he said, clearly, and Chris swept him up into a fierce hug.
"You know," he remarked conversationally to Wyatt, "you were so cute at this age. What the heck happened?"
"Oh, shut up," Wyatt said, exasperated.
"Behave," Paige and Piper said, immediately, causing everyone in the room to laugh.
"Do I get a hug?" Leo asked, or would the two of you rather just be manly and shake hands?"
"Hug," Chris and Wyatt chorused, a second before they enveloped their father.
"Bye, Dad," Wyatt said, disentangling himself first.
"Love you, Dad," Chris said, surprising Leo with the endearment.
"I won't screw up this time, Chris," Leo said, gazing earnestly at his youngest son. "I'm going to be a good dad, the right way."
"I'll hold you to that," Chris told him.
"So will the rest of us," Phoebe called out, shooting Leo a look.
Wyatt, meanwhile, had gone over to where Piper stood and embraced her tightly.
"Love you, Mom," he whispered, as he held her.
"Love you, too," Piper told him. She brushed a hand lightly over his long hair before giving him one last squeeze and stepping back.
"I've always known that this day was coming," Paige said gently, gazing at her son, "but now that it's here, I don't want to say goodbye."
"You'll see me again in twenty-three years," Chris said lightly, but Paige shook her head.
"It just won't be the same," she replied. "But don't worry, I have no intention of comparing you to him," she added, nodding at the baby sleeping peacefully in Demetri's arms.
"Goodbye, Mom," Chris said, at last, hugging Paige. "I love you."
"Love you too, angel," Paige told him, her voice choking with tears.
Reluctantly she ended the embrace, stepping back to join her sisters.
"A time for everything," Phoebe began the spell, her voice wavering ever so slightly.
"And to everything, its place," Piper continued, tears glistening in her eyes.
"Return what has been moved," Paige finished softly, speaking around the lump in her throat, "through time and space."
Glowing white lights surrounded Wyatt and Chris, blinding the other occupants of the attic. Then, they cleared and the two were gone.
"Well, that's it then," Phoebe said, looking at the spot where they'd stood. "They're back in their own time."
"Who wants tea?" Piper asked, swiping the tears away from her eyes.
"I'll help you with it," Hugh offered, as they started downstairs.
"Paige?" Demetri turned back to his fiancee. "Honey, are you coming?"
"In a minute," she said, absently, staring out the window. Then, Chris started to fuss, and she turned around.
"Give him here," she said, holding out her hands. Demetri handed him over, and Paige smiled reassuringly at the baby.
"I'll be down in a minute," she repeated, all of her attention on her son.
Demetri nodded and exited silently, leaving her alone with her thoughts.
For the longest time, Paige simply stood at the window, gently crooning to Chris, and rocking him, to quiet his fussing, while her thoughts raced through time to dwell on the young man who'd just left.
Then, her focus shifted to the baby she held in her arms. Smiling down at him, she jiggled him gently, causing him to squeal with joy.
"You're going to grow into quite a remarkable young man, Christopher," she told him, as her son watched her curiously.
Then, she left the attic to join her family downstairs, shutting the attic door behind her as she went.
Chris and Wyatt materialized in the attic and looked around at distinctly unfamiliar surroundings.
"Are you sure the spell worked?" Wyatt asked, uncertainly. "I mean, it's the same attic, but none of this stuff is ours."
"Only one way to find out," Chris said. "Let's go downstairs and see who's home."
Wyatt nodded, going over to the window and looking outside, curiously. What he saw had him paling.
"Wy?" Chris said, noticing his brother's reaction. "What's wrong?"
"Come take a look at this," Wyatt said, his voice quiet and strained.
"What is it?" Chris asked, worried now. Moving quickly over to the window, he peered outside and got his answer.
"Oh my God," he gasped, chilled to his core.
A group of people was shuffling slowly down the street, the chains around their wrists and ankles clinking loudly in the silence. That, by itself, was shocking enough. What was worse, however, was the hulking, menacing demon stalking behind the people, clearly herding them along like cattle. Other demons walked the streets, seeming to be on patrol.
"That wasn't there when I left," Wyatt said, softly.
"And unless Aunt Phoebe's got a really sick, twisted sense of humor, I doubt that this is the beautiful future she saw," Chris remarked.
Then, acting on instinct, he moved away from the window, shoving Wyatt to the other side of the room, just as one of the demons looked up at the Manor. After a second, the demon moved on, and Chris dared to breathe again.
"I don't think he saw us," Wyatt said, quietly, staying away from the window nonetheless.
"That's good," Chris remarked, "because I don't want to have to vanquish that guy when there are a dozen more like him within yelling range."
"Agreed," Wyatt told him. "Now to figure out just what the hell happened."
Chris was about to reply, when he heard the unmistakable sound of the front door slamming shut…
A/N3: Yes, I'm cruel for leaving it like that, and yes, this means that there'll be a sequel. See you there. :)