Chapter 1 of 1
Phoebe turned the CD in her hands again. Two weeks ago she had celebrated her birthday. Her family had a huge celebration and she had eagerly opened her presents saving what she thought would be the best for last. Ever since her first gift from her nephew she had always looked forward to his gifts. The whole family did. Chris put a lot of thought in every gift he gave and it was always special. Even when he was little and he had made the gifts they were especially attuned to each person. And that was pure Chris. Because the first gift she received from him had been twenty-two years ago and he had been the exact same age he was now.
So when this year she unwrapped a CD of a band she didn’t even like that much she knew something was wrong. Piper said he had been going through some stuff and probably didn’t have the time, and yet Henry, whose birthday was just a few days before Phoebe, received a present for which Chris had to have gone through lot of trouble to find.
She had noticed he’d been avoiding her lately, but she had no idea what she could have possibly done to hurt him. And hurt him she knew she had, because the faint glimpse she got from him at her party, in the less than ten minutes he stayed before he fabricated a weak lie, was enough for her empathy to feel deep hurt from him.
She inhaled deeply and got out of the car. She walked to the front door of the manor and put her keys in and walked in. She heard noise from the kitchen and decided to check if Chris was there. Chris had not only inherited his mother’s temper and mannerism but her love for cooking too. He had gone to business and cooking school and become a chef as she was, and worked with her both at the restaurant she opened and at P3. She cautiously opened the door but met the wrong chef. Faced with Piper she dangled her arms.
“Hi,” Piper said as she brought a pan out of the oven and smiled at Phoebe. “What brings you here?”
“Nothing much, hum, is Chris around?” and her suspicions that Piper knew what was going on with Chris were confirmed as her smile dropped.
“Hum, he’s in his room. Why?” Piper asked cautiously and Phoebe felt a little peeved since Piper looked ready to pounce as if Phoebe was a threat to her cub.
“I just want to talk to him about something.”
“This,” she held up the CD and Piper flinched as she had when she saw Phoebe unwrap the gift. Everyone had been dumbfounded by the gift, while Piper, Leo and Wyatt had flinched. Which just let Phoebe know they knew. And while during the course of the years the sisters learned to respect the fact that even though they were a close family each smaller part of the family had their right to privacy. Each couple had the right to deal with their children without having to broadcast every little issue that might arise in the household. This issue obviously involved Phoebe and therefore Phoebe had the right to be on the loop.
“Hum,” Piper tried to cover. “I told you. Chris has been dealing with some stuff. Maybe he didn’t have tim-“
“His stuff!” Piper bristled. “That he asked us not to broadcast.”
“Well whatever he is dealing with obviously made him angry at me and for the life of me I can’t remember anything I might have done lately that warrants-“
“It might not have been recent.”
“Look Phoebe, please! I promised him. He asked us not to tell anyone until he had time to process it all. The only reason Wyatt knows is because he needed to understand why Chris was going to mute their bond at times,” Piper said in a begging tone, a tone Phoebe hadn’t heard in years, not since Leo had killed Zola and Piper was trying help him deal with that without telling Phoebe and Paige.
This was serious, especially if Chris was muting his bond with Wyatt and not because he was with some girl. Chris and Wyatt always made a point of keeping their bond open because it was the best and fastest communication way in the family. Especially since the duo was the most preferred target for demons and through the bond one always knew when the other was in trouble. Now she was worried. What could possibly be happening with her nephew?
“Piper,” she said slowly. “I admit, I was a little peeved with him at first, but I was mostly concerned. Please let me help Piper. You don’t know what I felt from him-“
“I know. I mean,” Piper sighed and rubbed her temple tiredly, “He didn’t say anything. Not in words. But one day he came down while Leo and I were watching TV and he just silently lied by my side and on the couch putting his head on my lap like when he was a child Phoebe! And I knew there that whatever happened hurt him a lot but I also knew that we promised to let him process everything and tell us on his time!”
“Process what Piper?” Phoebe asked desperately but one look at her sister’s pained eyes and she knew. Chris was turning 22 in two days. This secrecy thing had been going on here for about a year. And then she knew. She knew why Chris was hurt by her, because she didn’t hurt him now. She hurt him 22 years ago when she found out her neurotic Whitelighter was her nephew. “No,” she begged her sister to tell her he didn’t. To tell her their Chris was still untainted an innocent from the horrors of the other Chris’s life.
Piper bit her lip, “He started having vivid dreams about a year ago. We figured that his soul must have traveled back to when he left for the past. For the last year he has been receiving information, feelings from 22 years of life. He was doing well. He was shaken up but he was able to discern that those where different people, and even when he started remembering everything we did to him when we didn’t know who he was. He managed to understand, he said the other Chris understood why we were so brutal, that he was hurt but he knew we did that because we thought he was a threat. That he had expected that. And even his animosity with Leo hasn’t been a problem, he said the other Chris hadn’t managed to separate Leo from his father and so Chris was okay with him because to him Future Leo and his dad are different persons. But then, I don’t know what happened, Phoebe. After that day he didn’t want to be around you. He started avoiding you like the plague. What happened, Phoebe? Please tell me what happened?”
“I-“ how could she explain what she had done? How she had reacted. She felt guilty, ashamed to this day of how she had acted towards him after she found out who he was. While the rest of the family had tried their best to make up for their past behavior she started attacking him, as if he had become the enemy instead of family. She had done it because she was scared, she was scared he’d hate them and attack is the best defense right? Apparently not. “I need to talk to him.” and she fled the room She practically ran up the stairs and to what once had been Paige’s and Prue’s room. She opened the door and startled Chris who had obviously been taking care of work. He looked back and stood facing her. One look at him and she knew he was realizing she knew.
“Aunt Phoebe, not now-“
“No!” she said firmly. “Now, I have to talk to you now. I have to explain-“
“That you hated me so much you wanted me to die!” he asked his voice choked. “To never be born. You didn’t just not help me Aunt Phoebe. You didn’t just not move one finger when I begged your help, you acted against me. Even Aunt Paige didn’t give up until I disappeared! But you- you- you were working against me all the time. Did you hate me that much? Because I- he didn’t understand. Before you found out you were actually the one who always gave him the benefit of the doubt and suddenly, when you found out he was family you were all angry at him, working against him.”
“I- I- I didn’t know how to react,” Phoebe cried. “Please Chris, you have to believe me. I love you so much! And I regret how I reacted so much, but I was scared then. Scared because all that time he had been family, he was trying his best to save all of us, risking everything and we were treating him as if he was the Source reincarnated. I was scared he’d hate us and for a second there I didn’t know what to do. I thought that maybe- maybe he wasn’t meant to be and then there would be no nephew who would hate me and I would wake up and that would have been a bad dream. But it wasn’t, and when you disappeared- when we thought we were too late and Piper had missed her chance to conceive you I realized I was wrong, you were my nephew and I already loved you and I was so happy when you appeared again. But I was ashamed of how I acted and I- I ran,” she shrugged. “I avoided you or was short with you because I didn’t know how to start apologizing. But I’m so so sorry. You have to believe me. I never hated you. Please!”
Chris shook his head and Phoebe could see he was holding back tears, “I need time- I need time to sort my feelings. Please Aunt Phoebe, just give me time.”
Phoebe nodded and was about to turn when an intense feeling of resignation filled her. She had been an empath long enough to be able to separate herself from others’ feelings and she knew this resignation didn’t belong to her and once she realized why he was feeling this way she once again felt ashamed. But this time she wouldn’t let her shame make her run. She would stay, she would pass this test her nephew was putting her through and show him how much she loved him. She turned back and looked him in the eyes. Meeting pain filled green eyes she also saw a glimmer of hope in them.
“I’m not leaving. Not this time. I’m staying. And we’re going to talk until we can both forgive what I did, because I love you Chris,” she said her voice husky with emotion. She cautiously walked towards him and pulled out from her blouse a necklace that had hung over her neck for the last 22 years. It was a simple white gold chain with a small triquetra pendant. And in one of the loops of the tiquetra, almost imperceptible to those who did not know the jewel as well as she did, there were small entwined hearts engraved.
“Because mom is the glue, Aunt Paige is the wits and you’re the heart of this family,” he said when he gave it to her, two weeks before he had left them. Two weeks before he was born, on her birthday.
“I am so sorry for what I did. It was one gigantic mistake which I have always regretted and have always thanked God that I didn’t screw it up. That Piper and Leo’s love was stronger than that,” she said showing him the pendant as she continued walking towards him, “Because I always loved you and you’ve always been in my heart,” she closed the distance and embraced him. She held him firmly waiting for him to embrace her back.
At first he was stiff but eventually she was rewarded by him returning the embrace and by the shear relief and love emanating from him. She knew they had healing to do but the first step was taken, by who had to take it: her.