Disclaimer: Characters and situations were created by Constance M. Burge and are the property of Spelling Entertainment and AOL Time Warner or whatever they're calling themselves these days. No copyright infringement is intended.

Spoilers: Mostly Chris Crossed, but anything prior to it is considered fair game. Anything else is pure speculation.

Author's notes: First, special thanks to Mandi Ohlin for beta reading and general Charmed discussion. And to Meg Freeman for making me defend my Chris Theory. Any remaining mistakes are my own. Second, I wrote a Christmas story? I'm not sure how that happened.

Home for the Holidays

by Beth Epstein

Even in the attic he could hear them. Laughing... cooing over Wyatt.

*I wonder if they ever cooed over me like that,* Chris thought. *Maybe this time around they'll have time.*

He closed his eyes, trying to picture them around him. Some strange melding of the people he knew in this time, and his family from the future. It was tough-- Aunt Paige had died before he was even conceived, but he could hear her teasing Pheobe and Jason from downstairs.

And he could hear Mom and Dad, their joint amazement at Wyatt being able to take a few tentative steps.

Again, Perry Christopher Halliwell wondered if they'd ever been so amazed with him. He tried to picture a Christmas in the future, one spent after he would finally be able to use the spell scribbled on the back of the one he'd used to get here. The two way one Bianca had used to bring him back to Wyatt.

Wyatt. He didn't want to dwell on Wyatt. The beating he'd taken on that trip was the tip of the ice berg sometimes. Black eyes, broken bones... and the Darth Vader-esque choking that lasted until he passed out. Not that he wasn't expecting headlocks and noogies-- when he was little, he had friends with older brothers who weren't evil-- just... not such... brutal... roughhousing.

A kind, gentle Wyatt, who used the powers lent to him by Excalibur in the service of good. Truth, Justice, and the American way. Chris shook his head. He needed to lay off the Superman comics.

And the rest of the family, Mom, Dad, alive, healthy, and genuinely interested in the world around them. Aunt Paige-- Chris wished, not for the first time, that his memories would adjust with the history books, that they could somehow realign themselves with whatever had transpired-- that way, he would know what would become of her. He liked Richard. Other than the convincing her to move out, he seemed a perfect match for her. Caring, and someone who had grown up with the Craft; she didn't have to keep her secret, and he understood the duty that came with her bloodlines.

He could see Richard as part of a warm, loving, Halliwell Family. One that loved him and knew who he was.

*Don't tell them anything. Just stick to your cover story. The less they know about the future, the better,* Bianca's words made him sick to his stomach.

Chris couldn't help but wonder what Wyatt had done to turn her back to evil. Or if his own absence from her life had drained her strength to fight against everything she'd been raised to be.

Chris would never know. If everything went well, he'd go home to her, alive and well. Hopefully still engaged to him, but Chris knew that the circumstances of their meeting might never occur in the altered timeline.

He could hear his family laughing downstairs.

Followed by Leo's sharp words from a few months before, *You're not family.*

Chris gulped, trying to fight down his emotions, contain them. Before his powers acted up, or his emotions swelled beyond the barrier the potion had provided him and Aunt Pheobe came running up to the attic to see who was so upset.

*You're not exactly easy to explain to Jason. And Pheobe had told him it was going to be just the family,* Dad had explained.

Chris found it highly ironic that he'd have likely been invited if the Morrises had been invited as well.

He'd pretended to go back to the little nest Piper had set up for him in the storage room in P3. The same storage room in which he used to build himself forts among the boxes, trying to hide from Wyatt.

He was concerned that those memories hadn't changed. Then again, he still couldn't remember Aunt Paige. He wondered, absently, if his parents would get back together in this new timeline. He assumed they would; he hadn't ceased to exist. And that, at least, had happened in Back to the Future, even if Marty had mostly remembered the original time line. Not that he could count on his life paralleling the movie.

At least he knew that if he ever got to go to his own time, he would go to the right house.

Chris stared down the stairs, seeing his mother carrying Wyatt. He tried not to sigh, not to give himself away.

He closed his eyes, crossing his legs, trying to clear his mind for silent meditation. His emotions still washed over him in a storm. He took deep, cleansing breaths.

*You have to empty your mind, focus on the positive,* Aunt Pheobe had told him when she was trying to teach him to meditate. *Pick somewhere you feel safe, so you don't have to worry about your surroundings.*

"What are you doing here?"

Chris started out of his meditation, shocked at the tone of Leo's voice. Hadn't they gotten past the not trusting him thing?

His father-- _Leo_ he corrected himself sharply-- stood before him, scowling with his arms crossed.

Without thinking, Chris reacted as if he'd been found trying to sneak an Oreo.

"I wasn't doing anything, I swear! I was just..."

"Meditating?" Leo asked.


"Why?" Leo's voice softened, concern crossing his features. His eyes, however, examined Chris with such acuity that Chris felt his father was looking into his very soul.

He wanted to tell Leo everything. Who he was, why he'd sent his father to Valhalla, what he had to stop Wyatt from becoming. Everything. But it could compromise the time line. And then Leo might decide to ground him or something. "I'm homesick," Chris said, opting for the smallest amount of truth he could muster.

"And being here helps how?" Leo asked.

"It's better than the club," Chris said.

Leo looked at him sympathetically. "I know it can get lonely there when it's empty. I stayed there for awhile too-- but you probably know that. But while we're on the subject of things you should know, do you know what would happen if Jason found you up here?"

"What's going on?" Piper asked from the doorway, baby Wyatt balanced on her hip.

"Nothing, Chris was just leaving, weren't you, Chris?" Leo asked.

"I don't suppose I could borrow a radio?" Chris asked. Even incessant Christmas carols would be better than the silence.

"Feel free to use the stereo and CDs in my office," Piper said.

"I'm sorry, I should've suggested that," Leo added. "It should help."

"Hey, you two, Pheobe and Jason are going back to their hotel," Paige called up to the attic as she climbed the stairs.

Chris hoped this Pheobe living in Hong Kong stage would pass before the end of the lull of demon activity that always occurred around the holidays. He didn't want to have to talk some sense into her-- or to be forced to let a demon teach the sisters a lesson the hard way.

Paige reached the top of the stairs. "What are doing up... oh, hi, Chris. What brings you here?"

"Apparently the club got lonely," Leo said.

"Well, let Leo, Piper and me go back down and say good night to Pheobe and Jason and then you can come down," Paige said cordially, ushering her sister and former brother-in-law down the steps.

Chris smiled wryly. It would be weird, but it was better than going back to the club and trying to find something decent in his Mom's CDs.

The End

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