"Daddy!" The cry from down the hall had Chris shooting up in bed but as he quickly sensed the state of kids he relaxed again, closing his eyes as a small grin flickered across his face. Waiting patiently for their arrival, Chris let his hand run across Bianca's shoulder to give his wife a moment of warning before Peyton landed on them.
Hearing the patter of socked feet through the house, he knew they were getting closer and let out a large snore just to play the part. Peyton and Parker's laughs echoed from the doorframe at the sound but it barely halted their steps as they continued to advance.
"Umph!" Chris' groan was out of his mouth without permission as the two landed solidly on his chest.
Peeking out from under an eyelid, Chris fought to stifle his laugh at the the state of his kids - they appeared to be caught somewhere between the pajama stage and school attire stage - apparently whatever it was just couldn't wait until they were dressed. Parker had his tie slung around his neck while his pajama shirt was half unbuttoned and while Peyton on first glance appeared closer to ready, he quickly noticed that she had her dinosaur slippers on and seemed to be missing her skirt though the shirt she had on was big enough to be a dress.
"Daddy, guess what." Peyton's voice echoed around the room, rousing Bianca from her light slumber as she too peered at their kids.
"Um, spongebob finally revealed the secret ingredient in the crabby patty?"
Parker shook his head at his father's joke wondering why it was that they were still making the goofy cartoon. Tugging on Peyton's pigtails as she looked at their dad like he may have finally lost his mind, he succeeded in getting her attention before she poked her tongue out at him and turned back to their dad.
Feeling an arm wrap around his stomach Parker let himself be pulled between his parents as he snuggled under the covers, shaking his head to clear his vision as his hair rested in front of his eyes.
"No. I got a new power." Peyton laughed at the excited but worried look on her parents face.
Spotting the water on her parent's dresser, Peyton felt her lips curl into a smile. Focusing her energy she watched as the glass moved shakily towards them, turning her head to see the proud smile on her father's face she heard the glass shatter as it hit the ground and immediately looked back to confirm her fear.
Chris smiled as he pulled Peyton down next to her brother and turned back over to go back to sleep, knowing his kids as well as he did, he knew it was very likely the sun wasn't even up yet.
Sighing as he thought back to the dream he had last night, he somehow knew this would be the last one. He recalled the blood that had matted his brother's hair but he quickly pushed it from his mind, instead focusing on the fact that Wyatt had gotten his wish. For all intents and purposes Wyatt was the best big brother a guy could ask for and given that his family had distanced themselves quite a bit from the elders he was able to be the twice blessed and still have a relatively mortal double life.
He knew his kids, Belle and Mel all had the same dreams - memories if you will of an alternate time line - but with the exception of Mel they were young enough that they didn't remember them in the morning. The only subconscious benefit that came from them was that they didn't freak out when they discovered they had a talent that was unusually developed for their age or gained and mastered a new power faster than anyone else in their family.
In a way it was a blessing, they got to live a better life without all the baggage but at the same time, he was well aware that the part of them that remembered the power or skill they had, occasionally reared it's head at the worst time. Like that day six months ago when Wyatt had dropped a plate and Parker, Peyton and Belle had immediately moved into defensive positions. He was just grateful they'd gotten past that with only a few visits to Enola - who had quickly adapted to her role as the family'd shrink.
"Don't think to hard or your face will freeze that way." Cole's voice drifted over to them and that was all it took to have his kids running.
"Uncle Cole!" Parker rushed up to his favourite uncle wondering why he was here. Scrunching up his nose as Peyton pushed in front of him, he pulled her back by her shirt and was once again in the lead.
Only a hair's breadth away from Parker, Peyton used her new found power to trip her brother and laughed as he quickly fell down. Distracted she didn't notice the barely perceptible shimmer until it was too late and quickly found herself on her butt beside her brother with Belle's tinkling laugh echoing back from behind her father. "No fair."
Belle inched around her dad and chucked the parcel she had in her hand at Chris. "Happy Birthday Cuz." Turning back to Peyton she bent down so she was nose to nose with the younger girl and let her smirk blossom across her face. "I'm fairly certain it was fair. You tripped Parks, I tripped you and I found it hilarious."
After pulling Peyton in to a hug she turned to Parker confused when she saw he was still lying on the ground. "Hey Parks, you okay?"
Easing him into a sitting position she held her gasp at the blood that was leaking from his hand and instead quickly moved him to the en suite bathroom. Washing the blood away with a hand towel, she pulled his hand away from his face surprised at the smile he was sporting as he refused to open his fist.
Shaking her head in annoyance Belle opened her mouth to berate him when he finally spat out enough blood to show her that the tooth which had been loose for months had finally been knocked out.
Ruffling his hair, she plucked the tooth from his now uncurled fist and put it on a tissue. "Okay kiddo, you finish up in here and then hurry up and get changed or we're all going to be late."
Cole watched as his daughter inched back into the room seemingly not aware that she was muttering out loud or shaking her head and couldn't help but recall the number of times he found Prue doing the exact same thing.
"Come on Pey, let's go finish getting you ready for school, the sooner we're there the sooner we can come home." Picking herself up off the floor, Peyton shuffled after Belle dejectedly. She'd caught sight of the bloody mess her brother had tried to hide and it made her feel terrible for laughing. Caught up in her thoughts she didn't start picking up her speed until Parker sent her a message through their link telling her what happened and then she reminded him that this meant that he owed her one.
Cole moved a bit closer in and smiled softly at his nephew's disheveled form. "You know Prue can only hold off your mother for so long right. I'm fairly certain if Piper had it her way your mother was going to be here with breakfast long before the sun rose." Cole's words were filled with a fondness that would have seemed so strange twenty years earlier but now everything was pretty much as it was supposed to be and he was proud of the bond he'd formed with the bossiest Charmed One.
Sitting up, Chris carded a hand through his hair as he looked over at Bianca who had somehow managed to fall back asleep and stay that way through all the commotion. Quickly moving around the bed, he pressed a soft kiss to her forehead as he pulled her from her sleep. Helping her sit up, he lay his hand gently over her rounding middle and smiled as their baby kicked back in response.
"Hey baby, you being good for mummy?" Feeling the responding kick, Chris smiled as he noticed it was a little softer than before.
Cole sighed as he watched Chris interact with his unborn baby. As he met his nephew's emerald eyes that were shining with innocent wonder it was hard to remember that he was no longer a little boy himself.
Hearing the chuckling next to him, Cole turned his head not surprised to see Paige next to him as she mockingly handed him a tissue.
"You big softy, who'd have ever thought that you were the Source of all Evil." Gently bumping her shoulder against his Paige looked over at her brother-in-law knowing sometimes it was harder on Prue and him to see Chris growing up than it was on Piper and Leo.
Slowly creeping up to the two who were still lost in their own little bubble, Paige pushed her hair behind her ear as she ruffled Chris' hair earning a look of frustration from the boy. Ignoring him, she helped Bianca rest against the pillow as she quickly fluttered around the room searching for an appropriate outfit for the tired, pregnant woman.
"Don't look at me like that Christopher. I thought you'd like to know Prue held your mother off as long as she could but they're on their way here now. Luckily Piper's insistence on doing things as 'normally' as possible sometimes is working in our favour. But that still doesn't give us much time. So vite, vite Birthday Boy."
Hearing another crash from down the hall, Chris groaned as he thought of all the ways his two little devils could have gotten hurt or broken something irreplaceable this time.
"I'm okay!" Peyton's loud call had Chris shaking his head as he glanced at Bianca knowing his amusement would be echoed on her face.
Even so, he frowned slightly as he knew he had to get Peyton under control before she ended up breaking half the house as she tested her new power. "Five minute time out!"
Feeling the magic coursing through his body, Chris welcomed the familiar swell of emotions that accompanied it and wondered how many other magical parents would kill to get their hands on a magical time out spell.
"But Dad-" Whatever else Peyton was going to say was cut off and Chris was happy Parker or Belle had managed to get her in time before he had to dole out more punishments. Bianca and he generally had a pretty relaxed punishment scheme as most of the time it was too risky if a demon ever showed up but given the number of people around the house at the moment he figured it wasn't too bad at the moment.
Helping Bianca into her clothes, Chris smiled as Paige chucked an outfit his way and told him to do something about his hair before his mother arrived. Watching as his wife waddled out of the room using Cole and Paige as walking sticks, Chris chuckled to himself before he moved into the bathroom and set about taming the birds nest on his head.
As he made his way into the parlor, he smiled at the sight of Paige and Cole trying to see if the baby would kick on command. Stopping to press his lips to the crown of Bianca's head, Chris ambled into the kitchen wincing at what seemed like an explosion of ingredients that lined the counter. The smell of burning tickled his nose and Chris quickly stepped in to make sure that whatever his kids tried to make would survive the cooking process.
"Oh no, you weren't supposed to see." Casting his eyes back towards the sad voice, he chuckled at the sight of Peyton with her brush hanging from her hair and moved to the side as Parker approached the sink and spat the rest of his toothpaste out his green eyes also downcast.
"Surprise!" Turning to the other doorway he was surprised to see Wyatt exiting from the laundry buttoning up a fresh shirt that Chris recognized as his own. Chris knew Wyatt must have had a hand in this as well.
"Uncle Wyatt, it didn't work. You let it burn." Parker's lips twitched downwards as he glanced at the somewhat charred cake.
Chris smirked as the messy kitchen made much more sense now. Watching as his kids interacted with Wyatt as they all cleaned up and tried to place the blame on one another, the ball of worry that had been steadily growing since his kids were old enough to start carrying an echo of their dreams dissipated. This was how things were supposed to be.
The bright smile that crossed Wyatt's face as he scooped his niece and nephew up was a sight for sore eyes. Over the last few months in particular, it had been hard to continue making up excuses as to why his two favourite kids had stopped responding to him. Yet as he picked them up now he knew it was going to be alright.
"I tried to talk them out of it, but it appears all three have the Halliwell stubbornness ingrained in them." Mel shook her head mockingly as she wrapped her arms around her brother in a breath squishing hug. "I don't know how Bianca handles you all."
Catching sight of the engagement ring on her finger, Chris smiled as he recalled the fact that Derek - despite being one of his best friends - still blanched at the threats both Nate and he had thrown out when they'd discovered his intention to propose to Mel. Of course he then recalled dragging Nate off of the bar stool at P3 at four o'clock in the morning when his other best friend had finally realised that Mel was serious about Derek and he was never going to stand a chance. Finally he chuckled as the expression that had crossed Nate's face when he'd finally introduced Nate to Natalie and Jake's daughter Lacie.
Wondering when his life had turned into an after-school special, Chris shook his head and reminded himself to express his thanks to his friends when he saw them today. No one could ever claim that his life - even when magic wasn't involved - was boring.
Reaching into the fridge he quickly pulled out his kids lunches and looked up to see that they had finally finished getting ready and were now holding out a lit, if somewhat slanted birthday cake.
"Make a wish dad."
Blowing out the candles, Chris made a show of closing his eyes and when he reopened them he found Peyton with her nose basically touching his.
"What'd you wish for daddy?"
Shaking his head, Chris put his fingers to his lips fighting to keep his resolve in place when Peyton pouted slightly.
"Pey, you know he can't tell you or else it doesn't come true.'
Peyton looked up at her aunt, skepticism heavily sketched onto her face even as she nodded and back away from her father.
Chuckling at the look on her face, Chris bent down as he beckoned Parker closer. Placing a hand on each of their shoulders he smiled softly. "I'm so proud of both of you. This has been the best birthday breakfast yet." Catching sight of the confused expression on Parker's face, Chris simply smiled again. "Yes, I know it's burnt and I haven't actually tasted any of it yet but it's the thought that counts."
Straightening up he pushed them in the direction of the parlor. "Go say bye to your mother and then Uncle Wyatt will take you to school."
Watching as they rushed to do exactly what Chris said, Wyatt shook his head in amusement. "You know little bro, if it wasn't for the fact that you look like you haven't slept in years I'd call you on that."
Mel scoffed as she walked closer to the pair, snacking on the frosting from the cupboard as she did so. "Oh come on, we all know you were going to do it anyway. It's right up your gift alleyway. Honestly your almost as bad as Aunt Phoebe."
"Hey!" Hearing the indignant call from the doorway, Mel had the decency to blush. "I think I'm getting better, last years Christmas gifts were alright, weren't they?"
Chris quickly stepped forward and took the fruit platters from his aunt's arms, smiling slightly even as she pinched his cheeks in the way she'd been doing since he was a baby. Looking back at the fruit he eyed the sliced banana with a bit of wariness. Even after all these years a fruit platter was the only thing the family felt alright assigning to Phoebe - it was particularly difficult to mess up a fruit platter. Not that she hadn't managed in the past.
Seeing the out he needed as Mel continued to stammer under their aunt's expectant gaze, Wyatt quickly sidestepped his Uncle Coop with a clap on the shoulder and stopped to give his aunt a welcoming kiss on the cheek before he moved out of firing range.
Coop stopped next to Chris as he tried to help the younger man salvage what was left of the cake but there was only so much they could do. "She's really backed herself into a corner this time hasn't she."
Laughing at his Uncle's words, Chris took pity on his sister. Quickly moving over to Phoebe, he wrapped her arms around her shoulders and proceeded to distract her long enough that she didn't protest when they moved from the kitchen.
Henry sighed in relief as he finally made it up the steps of the Chris' house. Letting himself in using his key, he shuffled into the parlor and spotted Cole and his wife in another one of their standoffs. Pressing a kiss to her hair, he reassured her that the kids had made it to school alright before he dropped into one of the armchairs and was dead to the world.
Shaking his head at the sight his son-in-law made, Victor wrapped Paige into a warm hug as they both peered over at her sleeping husband. "Joey finally gave in and helped us out. Marco's going away for life, the rest of his gang died in the fire and Joey's agreed to get help. Your man really gave it his all this time."
The proud smile that blossomed across Paige's face was undeniable. Sure she'd be the first to admit that sometimes like last night she gets lonely. And at times she struggles to explain to the kids why, once again, daddy wasn't going to be home for dinner and that hopefully they would get to see him before they had to go to school the next day. However despite all that there was no one who would be able to deny the fact that Henry loves his job and the fact that he still helps the kids that come into the station instead of climbing the corporate ladder were the reasons she was still in love with him despite the unpredictable hours.
Hearing three sets of feet running down the stairs accompanied by yells of goodbye the adults all held back their laughs knowing that there was no way Peyton, Parker or Belle were going to make it on time especially with Wyatt driving. Still they wished them luck.
"Grandma!" Piper looked up just in time as she found her legs tangled up with two small arms wrapped around them. Ruffling Peyton's hair, she smiled as Parker waited for her to regain her balance before he too gave her a hug. Running her hand through Wyatt's hair, she tuttered at the length but allowed him to give her a quick kiss before rounding the little trouble makers up at heading to the car.
Preparing to take another step, it was only Prue's quick reflexes that kept Piper on her feet as Belle blew right past them.
"Sorry Aunt Piper, sorry Mum. Got to go, we're already late." Waving her daughter away, Prue picked up some of the bags she'd put down to steady her sister and followed Piper into the house.
"Look at him, my baby, all grown up." Piper had tears filling her eyes as she placed her things down and scooped Chris into the mama bear of all hugs.
Prue nodded in agreement as she looked over her brave charge and saw a peacefulness in him that had been missing for the last few years. It seemed that whatever it was that they had all known had been building was either fixed or finally dealt with. And it made her breathe a little easier seeing him so at ease.
Sitting on top of the Golden Gate Bridge, far away from prying human eyes a slightly older and mortal Leo sat, tears streaming down his face as he read the letter Paige had left him up there with, two hours ago. Reading over it again, he ran his hand across the page, wincing at the smudged ink that had resulted from his tears. As he recalled the things said in the letter, the events recalled, the harsh words re-spoken, Leo wondered how it was possible that Chris had it in him to forgive him, how he had been able to hope for a better relationship between the two of them when it was obvious his counterpart had been an evil, soul sucking bastard who'd gotten the Elders killed and been the turning point in Wyatt's war. Chris' pain had been visible in the harsh lines of the neat script and it was taking everything in Leo to not go running to his boy right now. As it was he stayed put knowing he needed to sort everything out before he tried to contact Chris, after all his son had been successful in giving them the second chance they needed and he wasn't going to ruin that just to ease his guilt.
Chris' eyebrows furrowed as he felt a dull sadness was over him. Shaking his head to clear it, he quickly scanned the room making sure everyone was alright before dismissing it as part of his paranoia and re-focusing on his mother's warm, concerned gaze.
Grasping both his upper arms tightly, Piper looked into her boy's eyes and smiled. "There you are." Smiling warmly at him, she pressed her lips to his forehead recalling that first day back in the hospital and what she'd said once she'd finally been alone with her emerald eyed boy. "I promise everything is going to be alright." And just as he had back then, Chris' wandering eyes flicked back to hers and he smiled as he allowed her faith to fill him with ease. "And if it's not, I know two - soon to be three - little devils that would go to bat for you without a second thought."
Smiling at his mother, Chris stepped back slightly and let his hand rest on Bianca's swollen midsection as a snore from Henry cut through the peaceful silence. Chris was unable to help his laugh and as the entire family gave in alongside him, Chris knew things were going to end up fine in the end.
- THE END -
A/N Hoped you all enjoyed it, it was definitely wonderful to be able to go through this with all of you loyal readers and reviewers. Sorry it took me so long to get the end out but I wanted it to be perfect.
I'll eventually be going through and cleaning it up in terms of grammar, storyline (though that won't change too much), consistency and continuity but that will be a slow process but I'll let you all know when I finish it.
Anyway as I said I hope you liked it and yes this is the end. Thanks for everything