Chapter 1 of 19
Long time no see
Piper watched as he expertly tackled the cooking appliances and couldn’t shake the feeling of familiarity. She shook herself, of course he was familiar, he had been around them for almost a year now, but he had never cooked. Had he? How would his cooking feel familiar?
They had been once again trying to figure out who turned Wyatt and hunger had settled, Piper had started cooking but even as early as less than two month pregnant the raw food was making her nauseous and with extreme expertise Chris just took over for her while she joined the others at the table for ideas. And she had watched him move, as if he’d been in that kitchen all along, never asking where to look for something.
“Piper,” Leo prompted.
“Uh?” she said eloquently.
“What do you think?”
“Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.”
He smiled sympathetically probably thinking she was still queasy, and turned back to her sisters. Leo, he almost left after the whole Darklighter incident but then he decided to stay. Said Chris said something that changed his mind. Chris again. What did he say?
She watched as he sprinkled the Chicken with her special mix of condiments, and frowned, she was sure she came up with that mix and she never told anyone, she always wanted that to be a secret ingredient only imparted to a daughter. She smiled, maybe this time…
Everyone’s head came up as all of them felt a shift in energy, a shift they had already felt once before, when Bianca left and then Chris came back, Piper frowned, not when Chris first arrived.
“What the-“ Paige started as they followed Chris who was already moving his hands raised on another familiar gesture, an attack gesture Piper often made.
They heard noises upstairs and some muttering. Chris looked at Leo and signaled for him with his head to Piper’s direction and Leo seemed to understand because he came closer to her and Piper fumed inside at the treatment, as if she was an invalid.
“Paige and I will orb upstairs,” he whispered, “if we need you we’ll yell.” And so the two orbed out and Phoebe and Piper glared at Leo.
“Yeah, right,” Phoebe snorted and made her way upstairs followed by Piper.
“Piper, the baby!”
“I can take care of myself!”
As she approached the attic among the crashes she could also hear Chris’ yells:
“STOP! PAIGE! PAIGES! STOP! I KNOW THEM!”
“They attacked us!” Paige yelled.
“We defended ourselves!” an indignant voice yelled and Piper’s heart missed a beat as Phoebe whispered entering the attic:
“Yes,” Chris said firmly positioning himself between the two newcomers and Paige with his arms held in a defensive measure, trying to stop both sides.
“They are from my future on our side,” he insisted.
“What sick sort of game is this?” Leo fumed as he entered. “Impersonating-”
“Oh for crying out loud I am not impersonating anyone, or do you think you are the only one that gets to die and become a whitelighter? I’ll have you know that I was a very good soul too when alive!” Prue fumed.
“Not helping,” Chris said desperately.
Prue, just like she looked the last time Piper had seen her glared at Leo, huffed and crossed her arms like a petulant child.
“We have important information,” the other woman said, “That’s why we came.” And for the first time Piper looked at her and startled a bit. There was no mistaking her, the voice, the eyes, she was Paige, a much older and hardened Paige. She looked so business like, no impish smile, no jokes but Piper knew as she knew herself that that was her baby sister. What happened to her?
“I vouch for them, they are my Paige and Prue, I swear I can sense them, Leo please sense them, you’ll know,” Chris begged. Leo looked reluctant but closed his eyes, after a few moments he smiled, “Prue.”
“Humph, now you’re chummy chummy,” Prue huffed.
“Are we good now?” Chris asked wearily. Paige narrowed her eyes and looked at the others for help, Piper looked back and she knew her younger sister wanted to deny, she didn’t know Prue after all and she must be in a big denial over her older self, she saw the fight go out of her when she got no backup.
“Fine!” she let out.
Chris dropped his arms and turned to the new comers. Thankfully they were positioned in a way that Piper could still see his face and what she saw for some reason made her heart constrict. His features softened, his usual impassive scowl, his fierce bossiness left his face and Piper appreciated for the first time how young he was. Older Paige moved towards him and raised a hand to his cheek tenderly and Piper saw a flicker of her sister but not enough, her hardness was still there but there was no mistaking the fondness, the love, that this person had for Chris, she engulfed him in a hug and Chris let himself be drawn and hugged her fiercely as if she could protect him from all that was hurting him and Piper felt lost. Chris was always so sure of himself and here he was, he was… a lost little boy, that was what he looked like.
“I missed you so much,” he heard him whisper into Paige’s neck and was sure he never meant for them to hear, “I hate it here.”
“I know,” Paige whispered back and she released him giving him a watery smile, the movement was repeated with Prue and by the time Piper looked back at Paige she would have sworn nothing happened, the hard woman was back.
She was recalled to Prue and Chris when Phoebe let a small gasp and she watched as Prue tenderly healed the cuts Chris had over his face from whatever had happened in the attic when her Paige got there and attacked the intruders.
“You said you had info?” her Paige reminded them annoyed.
“Yes we do,” older Paige said with a light smirk at her younger self’s impertinence, “We came across new information that we thought you ought to know. Shall we go somewhere…less clustered,” she finished pointing at the broken pieces of furniture that were scattered around.
“I’m not apologizing,” Paige huffed and left.
“I need to learn proper manners,” her older self remarked and Prue and Chris smirked as if enjoying a private joke. That startled Piper, Prue enjoying private jokes with Paige, who only came to the family after she had died, and Chris, Chris being so familiar, so easy going with them. Somehow that made her jealous of the two women, and she scolded herself, why would she be jealous of Chris?
“Let’s go?” Prue asked.
“Yeah,” Piper nodded unsure of what to do, she wanted to hug her and yell at her for dying, but was this her Prue? This Prue knew Chris, and Paige and obviously knew more than her.
“I need to learn proper manners,” Paige was muttering to herself in a mocking way when Phoebe entered the room still a little dazed and not knowing how to react. She thanked her sister for that, because she managed to get her out of her stupor with her antics.
“Paige,” she said calling her baby sister. The last time she saw Prue she was the baby, and now… Prue had acted more like the baby then older Paige had. Being stuck in her thirties forever while older Paige was obviously in her fifties must have something to do with that, Phoebe thought. Must be hard to think of her sisters as younger then them when they looked older.
“Oh, hi,” Paige said. “Are they coming?”
“Yes,” Piper said briskly as she entered the living room followed by the others and Phoebe noticed that Paige’s glare wasn’t solely dedicated to her older self but she was giving Prue a calculated look too and Phoebe didn’t need to be an empath to know she was feeling threatened. Paige had come after Prue and in a way she had replaced Prue, she never did get over her insecurities.
Prue on the other hand seemed more wary of her and Piper than of Paige, or Leo for that matter. She seemed to be avoiding looking at the both of them and now that she noticed so did older Paige. Phoebe remembered what Chris said when he came, no Charmed Ones in his future. He obviously lied about Paige being killed by the Titans but what if he wasn’t lying about one or two of them being dead, Paige and Prue came, where were her and Piper? And why was Chris so close to them? There had been affection in their reunion. Loads and loads of affection. Chris was right now being led to the room by Prue by the hand and they had been trading looks as if they’d been talking silently. Chris had even shaken his head and Prue huffed and sent an exasperated look at older Paige who just shrugged.
Once they were all seated, and Phoebe couldn’t help but notice that they were separated into present and future groups, Leo asked calmly.
“Oh, yeah, er…” Prue started unsure “how can we say this?”
“We found out recently that Wyatt had been assigned a whitelighter but before he reached the age to meet his whitelighter the whitelighter was reassigned to someone else and he never got another one, which proves Chris theory of him being turned instead of born an egotistical, megalomaniac genocide dictator,” older Paige stated in a matter of fact tone.