Disclaimer: Sadly, they are not, nor never will be mine but in my waking dreams … anyhow you know what I mean.
A/N: Well this is it. The last chapter, and only a few hours after I uploaded Chapter 18. That's just so awesome. It feels great to finally finish this fic. I hope you all enjoy the way I go with this.
Chapter 19: Sacrifice
"Why exactly are you letting him call the shots?" Dark Chris asked giving Zankou a scathing look.
"Because he has what I want right now," Zankou answered honestly.
"If he can touch the Book then so can I. We don't need him," the darker being said petulantly trying to gain control of the situation.
Chris snorted at that and went back to the scrap paper he was writing the spell on. "Can you do me a favor and when you start raising mini-me see what you can do about teaching him some humility. His cockiness is really getting annoying. And for evil's sake teach him hand-to-hand combat. If I hadn't been around he would have gotten our ass kicked by a girl in the future."
Zankou couldn't help but chuckle at that. He had to admit that even though having the powers of the Source at their disposal was a much-preferred bonus he really liked this version of Chris much better than the darker one. "I'll see what I can do about that."
Zankou motioned to the potion that was simmering in the cauldron behind Chris. "What is in that?"
"It's a potion that should allow you to better control the power of the Shadow when you draw if from the Nexus. It's very unstable and most beings that have tried to take it in haven't been able to keep it for long. This should solve that problem for you." With that Chris turned to the cauldron and acted as if he was putting the potion into a vial but instead pulled the source-vanquishing potion out of his pocket. "Now the only thing left is for you to bless it."
"Bless it?" Zankou asked not quite understanding what Chris wanted.
He turned around facing the demon and spoke up. "With your blood." Zankou looked skeptical at that notion but Chris rushed to convince him. "The potion has to be bound to you for the Shadow to take to it, otherwise you might not be able to keep it once you get it."
"Why are you doing this? You're other self there eventually trapped me because he didn't want to share power so why would you willingly give me more power?" Zankou asked not understanding at all.
"My other self there may be strong but he's very selfish, and that overrides common sense. His attempts at ruling the world in the future are admirable but I've seen better. But with you as the Shadow and me as the Source there is nothing in this world that could stop us from ruling it. I'm not just talking about the underworld and demons, but the entire world. Everything." Chris picked up a knife from the potions table and stepped around the podium. "So what do you say? Do we rule the world together?"
Zankou took the knife from Chris and stood very still for a moment trying to decide whether to go along with him or to just use the knife to decimate the astral projection. But finally he reached down and pricked a finger drawing a slight amount of blood and then held his hand out over the potion vial that Chris still held.
After the potion was blessed Chris handed the spell to Zankou and then glanced to his darker self. This would be the hard part.
"When you merge with him won't he gain control?" Zankou asked seeing where Chris' eyes were directed.
Chris' gaze turned thoughtful at that. "Your little speech at Magic School about Excalibur made me think. You see the spirit of the Source is a lot like Excalibur. It will only serve a strong will, and I'm willing to bet you that my will is stronger than my counterpart's."
A snort of derision came from the crystal cage and the words, "We'll see about that," came floating across the room.
"No better time than the present," Chris whispered feeling a slight tremble run through him.
Zankou stepped back and waited as Chris walked forward and orbed away one of the crystals then the astral projection disappeared leaving behind just one version of the demonic witchligher.
Once Chris reentered his body he felt the immediate oppressive surge of the Source and realized for the first time that he had interpreted the spirit's actions wrong. It wasn't trying to swamp him and destroy him. It sensed that he was the stronger of the two consciousness and immediately tried to latch onto his mind to become one with him. "You've already lost," he spoke internally to his darker self.
"I'm stronger than you," Dark Chris growled into his mind.
"If that is the case then why has the Source chosen me?" Chris asked in a mild slightly cocky tone.
His words silenced the dark presence inside of him for a moment but then in a small voice was heard again. "What happens to me?"
For a moment Chris felt a pang of guilt. His other self had been living in this body for twenty-three years, and had experienced life and emotions just the same as he had. In a sense he was destroying that, but he knew in his heart that it was never meant to be that way. "You'll be put to the back of my mind at first. I'll hear you at times but eventually you'll just fade away and we'll become one. You might effect my actions at times but not to the point where you would ever control me again."
The voice of his darker self was silenced with that and Chris pulled down his final barrier letting the spirit of the Source flood through his entire body and soul. For a moment he felt the heady thrill of power ensnaring him and the temptation to revel in the feeling was unbearably tempting. Many times during his original timeline he had wondered how a good soul such as his brother's could ever be corrupted by evil so easily, but now he finally found understanding in his own attempted corruption. It would be so easy just to embrace the evil and let it rule his world.
He turned dark obsidian eyes towards Zankou and smiled wickedly. "Now, lets say we go get that Shadow for you."
Zankou matched his smile and they both shimmered into the basement.
"I hope Chris knows what he's doing?" Paige spoke up after they had discussed with Leo what they'd need to do to destroy the Nexus.
"We just have to have faith in him, Aunt Paige," Wyatt said giving her an encouraging look. It was quite different to see the way these versions of his family thought of Chris. In his timeline there had never been any doubt in any of them that Chris would be able to fix the situation if he was the Chris they had remembered from the past. But now being in the past they weren't quite as confident as they would some day become. Time surely did work to fade old transgressions.
"But even if we can vanquish Zankou what happens to Chris?" Piper asked in fear.
Leo had been thinking of the same thing. "Even though he'll have all of the memories of the other Chris he should revert back to a good version of himself but…"
"But what?" Phoebe asked hearing the worry in Leo's voice.
"I'm not so sure what will happen to the spirit of the Source. It is timeless and exists at all times in the world. It sometimes lays dormant for years in the underworld but it still exists. Right now it is residing inside Chris in this timeline and in the future. I'm not sure if changing Chris back to good will drive it out or not," Leo explained his fear.
"Are you saying that our son may always be the Source of all Evil even if we change what made him that way?" Piper asked angrily. Hadn't Chris taken that into consideration? What was he thinking?
"If he went back to the future before we vanquished Zankou, he'd have a chance. The Source would have never gotten into him in the first place and wouldn't search him out." Leo knew that there was little hope of getting Chris back to his time before that happened though.
"Fine, Wyatt, you let us handle Zankou. I want you to find a way to get your brother back to his own time before we vanquish the Nexus. I don't care if you have to drag him back there kicking and screaming, just do it," Piper demanded of her oldest son. "We won't vanquish Zankou before you find a way."
Wyatt nodded in understanding. They had already figured out that his future father was no longer in this time since neither he nor Leo could sense him but Wyatt was hoping that Chris still possessed the time travel potion.
"So, we distract Zankou while Wyatt corrals his brother and you Leo are going back 'up there' to watch over the little ones. If anything happens to us, it's up to you to keep them safe and away from evil," Piper said standing ready to put the plan in action.
Wyatt also stood and got ready to orb to the Manor, but Paige stopped him. "Aren't you forgetting something?" She asked motioning to Excalibur, which was leaning against the couch she had just stood from.
Wyatt shook his head and frowned at the item. "It's no good against Zankou and there is no way in hell I'm using it on Chris, so what's the use?"
"It's your birthright, Wyatt," Phoebe pointed out.
"It's worthless, Aunt Pheebs." He didn't bother to wait for her reply as he orbed away.
The sisters glanced at each other and a large sigh left Piper's lips. They really would have to work on his confidence issues, but now was not the time. So they gathered together and readied themselves to Astral Project to the Manor.
Wyatt orbed into the Manor's kitchen deciding not to orb directly into the basement or the attic. He knew he'd find his brother and Zankou in one of those two rooms but he wanted a chance to observe before he let them know he was there. He immediately heard voices coming from the basement and inched towards the open door. He could see Zankou and Chris standing in the middle of the room over a hole in the floor.
"So how exactly do we do this?" Zankou asked Chris wanting to know in advance what would happen. He still wasn't completely confident in his knew protégé's trustworthiness.
Chris smiled understanding the demon's fears. "First you say the spell and take in the Shadow. Then I hit you with the binding potion. It will permanently bind the Shadow to you. Then even if the sisters say the spell to banish the Shadow it won't work. Then we take over the world."
"You make it sounds so simple," Zankou commented. "But what of the sisters? Will you be able to kill them when the time comes?" Chris' refusal to banish Leo earlier had made the demon suspicious.
"I was hoping that you'd take care of that for me. I'll distract them for you, if you like, but I'd prefer you do the deed," Chris explained in a hopeful voice.
"And what of their future progeny?" Zankou asked not at all surprised by his reaction. After all Chris was still part human with human emotions. He'd have to work with the child version of him to stamp that out in the years to come.
"I've actually never lived in a timeline where we've been all that close. I'm sure I could manage that. Then you can raise his younger counterpart to be like us. By the time I get back to my own time he should be quite the ally for both of us," Chris commented not even sounding the least bit upset about trying to kill his future brother.
"Thanks, bro," Wyatt whispered in disgust at what his brother appeared to have become. Time was running out. He had to get this done, so as Zankou started to say the spell to draw out the Shadow he orbed into the basement just a few feet from his brother.
Chris glanced at Wyatt and then called to Zankou, "Keep saying the spell. I'll take care of him."
"No, Chris. I'll take care of you," Wyatt said grasping his brother's arm just as he saw his mother and aunts appear on the other side of the room. Then he orbed them away back to Magic School. He needed to get Chris away from Zankou to be able to use the time travel potion, if Chris still had it.
When they appeared in the school Chris glanced around the room and saw his mother and aunts' bodies slumped on the couches. "Well I see Dad showed them Aunt Prue's trick." Then he swung around and faced Wyatt. "It's about time you came. I was beginning to worry that you hadn't figured out my message."
Wyatt stared in surprise at his brother, obsidian eyes and all, who sounded just like the brother he had been trying to save a few hours before. "What, you didn't think I was really going to help Zankou, did you?"
"Well I… but you said… you were gonna kill me," Wyatt blustered trying to put together a coherent sentence.
"Wyatt, I'm the best liar you know," Chris answered giving his brother a devilish grin that looked even more evil with those dark eyes peering at him.
"Fine, so what's your plan?" Wyatt asked giving up on understanding his brother's mind.
After Chris explained his theories to his brother Wyatt looked at him in complete shock and denial. "No, no, no, Chris! I won't do that."
"Wyatt, yes, yes you will," Chris answered.
"I can't!" Wyatt denied vehemently.
"Wyatt, you can. If you don't I'm destined to be this way forever and you know it," Chris reasoned.
"When do we get to say the spell," Phoebe called out from behind the furnace where she was hiding from the continuous blasts of energy that the Shadow possessed Zankou was sending at them.
Paige had orbed across the room and back again as Zankou tried to blast her and Piper was sending blasts back at the demon even if they barely even staggered him. She dove to the side as an energy blast came in her direction. "Whenever Wyatt gets back."
"What if Wyatt can't convince Chris to go back?" Paige asked orbing again as an energy blast shot through the spot she had just orbed from.
"He'll get it done. Have confidence in him, okay?" Piper called out blasting Zankou again.
Just as her words faded away Wyatt and Chris both orbed in together behind Zankou and Piper gave Wyatt a dirty look. He just shrugged.
Zankou turned at the sound smiling thinking it was his young protégé but frowned as he saw Wyatt with him. "I thought you were going to kill him."
Chris smiled deviously. "I was just about to do that," he said turning towards Wyatt. "It's been nice knowing you, bro," he held his hand up with a fireball on the palm but did not let it fly. Instead Wyatt's arm came up holding the item that none of them had noticed yet. Within seconds before anyone could object he plunged Excalibur into Chris' stomach wincing as he heard the grunt of air leave his brother's lungs.
He pulled the sword out, letting it drop to the floor as he grasped his brother who was sliding to the floor himself. Wyatt eased him down kneeling next to him still grasping him tightly in his grip. Chris made a choking pain-filled sound and breathed deeply. "God, that hurt more than I thought it would."
Piper had been standing frozen by her sons' actions but reality slipped in and she screamed out, "Chris!"
Wyatt pulled his eyes from those of his dying brother's and faced his mother. Though his eyes were awash with tears they were determined as he shook his head trying to keep her from rushing to them. He glanced across the room at Paige and motioned to his mother. Paige immediately orbed to Phoebe and then orbed them both next to Piper.
"Wyatt, damnit he's your brother. Heal him!" Piper screamed in distress as Paige and Phoebe each grabbed one of her arms. She was shocked to see Wyatt doing nothing but holding his brother as he died in his arms.
Wyatt shook his head looking back down to his brother's eyes, watching as the obsidian color faded from them to be replaced by the normally bright green he had grown to cherish in them during the little time he had been good.
Zankou watched the whole event out of dispassionate eyes but did take into consideration that his plans were now going up into smoke. "Heal him," his voice thundered through the room.
Wyatt wanted so desperately to do just that but as he inched his hand out to the wound Chris grasped it and shook his head. "Not yet," he whispered feeling the dark spirit within slowly disentangling itself from his soul.
Instead he reached out his other hand holding the potion vial and forced it into his brother's grasp. Wyatt saw the action and closed his eyes feeling pain grasping at his heart as he clasped the vial. Only seconds later Chris' eyes closed and a swarm of dark energy poured from his body and out into the air surrounding them. Wyatt looked up to the energy cloud and watched as it descended upon Zankou pressing into every pour of the demon's body.
With one hand Wyatt tossed the potion vial at the demon, while the other poised over his brother's wound desperately trying to heal him.
Zankou gained a look of pure utter joy as the spirit of the Source entered his body but just a moment later turned into a look of pain as the potion burst into flames eating away at his flesh. "The spell," Wyatt called out to the sisters as he placed his other hand on his brother and orbed them both away.
Piper was nearly unable to think about the spell as she stared in shock at the place her sons had just been, but Phoebe and Paige drew her attention back as they started saying the chant to vanquish the Nexus.
"Please, Chris! Come on, you can't die," Wyatt said through tears as he worked furiously to try to heal his little brother. He had orbed him back to magic school and onto the couch sitting across from where his mother and aunt's bodies were still unconscious.
"Come on, little brother. I can't do this without you," he pleaded, not exactly sure what he was referring to but guessing that it meant living period. "Could he live knowing he had murdered his only brother?" He didn't think so. Chris would still be in his time when he returned there but it would be the new Chris that was formed from changing time. Not the one he had come to love so dearly in this time. "Please, Chris! You can't leave me," he whispered in complete heartache seeing that there was no change.
"Dad, help!" he screamed at the top of his lungs doing the one thing he'd always been taught to do if he ever found himself in a situation he couldn't handle himself.
Bright white and blue orbs shown through the room and Leo appeared just a few feet away. His mouth gaped and a low moan left his lips as he saw a sight that reminded him too much of the day Gideon had tried to kill his son. "Chris, oh god no!" he called out moving forward and kneeling next to Wyatt adding his own healing touch to his son's.
They could both feel the healing at work but it was sluggish at best and reminded Leo too much of the effect Gideon's atheme had had on his son. "What did this, Wyatt?"
A strangled sound came from Wyatt's throat as he thought too late that it might be harder to heal such a wound. "Excalibur," he whispered out in pain.
Leo's eyes widened at that. "Wyatt?" he asked in confusion.
Just at that moment the sisters began to come around behind them and Piper was on her feet immediately and hovering over them. "How could you do that, Wyatt?" she asked in fear-invoked rage.
Leo realized what she meant and fear gripped him too. Had Wyatt tried to vanquish his own brother? How could he?
"I don't need this right now, Mom," Wyatt said tearfully as he stared again at his unmoving brother.
Leo nodded understanding how the stress was probably affecting his son's healing power. "Paige, come help us," he called out remembering that she had helped Wyatt heal Chris when Gideon had stabbed him.
Paige moved forward and did the same as she had done the last time, again hearing her nephew's advice on how to heal echoing through her head. After only seconds the tide seemed to turn and soon the wound began to knit back together and the blood disappeared all together.
To all of them the sweetest sound in the world was the gasp of life coming back into his lungs and after only seconds those brilliant green eyes opened and he stared up at his family that was surrounding him.
He sat up unsteadily and took in a deep sigh of relief feeling that the dark spirit of the Source was completely gone. It was almost as if he had been trapped under water for such a long time and finally after such a hard struggle he had made it to the surface and gasped in a refreshing lungful of pure clean air. He glanced to his mother and asked the only thing that still had him worried. "Zankou?"
Her eyes were still filled with tears of grief over what she had witnessed her oldest son do moments before but she was able to answer him anyway. "Gone, for good this time, I think."
Chris smiled and laid back on the couch again fully intent on resting for as long as they'd let him. When was the last time he really slept, he wondered. "Finally."
Leo saw his son's relief and ruffled his hair smiling broadly. "Get some rest, Chris. I think you earned it."
Wyatt had sat back on the floor near the head of the couch and was relieved just to watch his brother talking and breathing, and most of all not dieing.
But the sisters were not at all ready to just enjoy the moment. "Uh, excuse me, but what exactly convinced you that you should kill your brother instead of following our plan," Paige asked staring pointedly at her oldest nephew.
Wyatt flinched at the statement. "I didn't kill him. He's alive," he defended.
"See that doesn't get you out of trouble, Mister," Piper said in the calmest voice she could manage at the moment.
"Mom, it worked. He's alive and the Source and Zankou are gone," Wyatt came back. He looked to Chris hoping to get some sort of support from his brother. Chris glanced back at him with an impish grin. "Chris!" he said in exasperation seeing it.
Chris couldn't hold back his laughter and managed once again to sit up. He could see the incredulous looks his family was giving him and tears of mirth streamed from his eyes as he took in their faces.
"What exactly are you laughing at, Chris?" Phoebe asked in complete shock. His brother had tried to kill him and all he could do was laugh uncontrollably.
He glanced again at Wyatt and then reached up to dry his tears as he got the laughter under control. "Wyatt was only doing what I told him to."
"What?" Piper nearly squeaked in surprise.
"I knew that if the spirit of the Source thought it's host body was dying that it would move on to the nearest and strongest willing host. Which was Zankou and I convinced him to bless that vanquishing potion with his blood by saying it was a potion to bind the Shadow to him," he explained as if it was the simplest thing in the world.
"Oh, well is that all? And how the hell were we supposed to know you were doing all of that?" Piper seethed.
"I told Wyatt," he said shrugging. "Listen, I knew that it would take more than either the Nexus spell or the vanquishing potion to destroy Zankou, but with both… well it worked didn't it?"
"But your brother stabbed you!" Piper just could not get that vision out of her mind. She knew it would haunt her nightmares for a long time to come.
Chris looked at Wyatt and smiled happily. "Yes he did, and I'm proud of him for it." Wyatt had to grin back at that as they shared a knowing look.
Piper growled in frustration and walked away from both her sons thinking they had lost their minds.
Chris seeing the distress his mother was suffering stood and crossed the room to stand behind her. "Mom," he called out willing her to turn and look at him, which she reluctantly did. He reached out and took her hand. "What Wyatt did, he did to save me. Not little me. Not the new me that is forming in our new timeline but this me. If he had sent me back through time I wouldn't be the same. I wouldn't have any of my former memories at all." He saw that she was about to interrupt him but he stopped her by squeezing her hand. "Please, let me finish."
When he saw her comply he continued. "I know that was the original idea. But that was before I fully merged with my other self. We were all so worried that he'd overtake me and it would cloud my judgment, but look at me. I'm still that crazy, neurotic, demon hunting Witchlighter who traveled back through time to save his brother and drove you all nuts doing it. I'm the one who overtook him. And I don't want to lose what I am. Yeah, some of my memories are hard to deal with but they made me into what I am, and they made me love all of you more than life itself. I don't want to lose that. So for me the risk was worth it."
Piper thought for a moment about what he said and considered what her new son might have been like without this Chris to influence him. But she had to admit. "I don't want to lose you either, Chris."
Chris smiled seeing the acceptance in her eyes and pulled her into a hug.
Wyatt had stood and was lost in the image of his fully-grown and completely good brother hugging their mother. It was a sight he had wanted to see for so many years now and he felt a weight lift from his shoulders that had always been there. Leo reached over and wrapped his arm around his oldest son. "Feels good doesn't it, knowing you had it in you to save your brother all along."
Wyatt nodded never taking his eyes from his brother. He had exactly what he needed now to be the witch he was meant to be. "Everything is gonna be good now. This is the way it was supposed to be."
The End for now
A/N: I do realize that some of you probably expected me to show them back in the future but that is going to be saved for the sequel, Third Existence, which is still in planning stages. This is the first Charmed fanfic that I ever started to write and it has been a long journey to get it to the end but I wish to thank all my readers who stayed with me for the ride even though I managed to get derailed a few times. I hope you enjoyed it.