Parker’s question isn’t unexpected, although Teddy’s not sure he can run out the same answer he gave to Nic.
But why can’t he?
Well, except for the fact that he might have done it in part to pursue their relationship, which may have been a tad premature on his part, given the information he’s found out today. That part? He might leave out.
“Lots of reasons,” he replies, shrugging. “I’ve done it for a long time. Longer than anyone else on the team, and it’s been… difficult, with everything that’s happened.”
Teddy tilts his head back towards the kitchen, where Parker’s family are. “They’re family to me,” he says, drawing the parallel, “and they’ll go looking for Vanessa’s killer. For a long time, I wanted - needed - to be a part of that, but I know what was fueling that need.” He shakes his head. “I can’t go into a fight with that kind of rage, backed up by powerful magic, Parker.”
He knows his limitations, after all. Knows the potential outcome. “I want justice for Vanessa, not vengeance, and it’s taken me a while to realise that I might not be able to tell the difference when the time comes.”
Teddy smiles, and this time, it’s sadness reflected in it. “I need the space to at least try and move on."
“Lots of reasons. I’ve done it for a long time. Longer than anyone else on the team, and it’s been… difficult, with everything that’s happened.”
At this moment, Parker thinks of Wyatt. The similarities between her cousin and Teddy are fascinating. Strong, occasionally inscrutable, blond-haired, shouldering a unique destiny. Yet the similarities end with Wyatt being stuck in his current position and Teddy leaving it willingly. Then again, perhaps Teddy can't pick up and leave because the Collector wants him dead? The Grand Design frustrates and intrigues her.
“They’re family to me and they’ll go looking for Vanessa’s killer. For a long time, I wanted - needed - to be a part of that, but I know what was fueling that need.”
Parker nods thoughtfully.
“I can’t go into a fight with that kind of rage, backed up by powerful magic, Parker.”
She doesn't quite understand Teddy's reluctance, to be honest. Phoebe raised her to be a confident woman, unafraid to vanquish the sorry ass of any warlock who dares threaten her family. Also, she doesn't believe there's any shame in stopping evil. Patience enjoys it, and she's one of the best souls Parker knows. Nonetheless, Parker knows everyone is different. What's true for her family doesn't need to be true for the man standing across from her.
“I want justice for Vanessa, not vengeance, and it’s taken me a while to realize that I might not be able to tell the difference when the time comes. I need the space to at least try and move on."
Parker wants to be gentle. She really does. Even now, she feels supportive words forming in her brain; Parker knows exactly what to tell Teddy to make him feel better. She knows what to say to give him comfort and make him feel less alone. But, to her surprise, she dismisses all her usual tact for honesty. Parker's in love with this man and he's not making all the sense in the world.
"This isn't about justice or vengeance anymore. It's self-defense. He's threatening you and, on a level..."
"He's threatening me, too."
She rises from her chair, closing the distance between them. "If anything were to happen to you? If he were to hurt you more than he already has? I'd take that very personally. So, pardon my French when I say this but..." The Charmed One cups his face in her hands, looking deep into his eyes.
"We killing the fuck outta him."
Parker's expression sharpens, growing resolute. The look of a warrior, a woman willing to defend what's hers, flickers to life.
It’s not a particularly happy thought and Teddy’s tempted to reply that she’s only in danger now because of him, and his past, but she’s not done and her tone of voice doesn’t brook interruption. It’s a completely different side to Parker that he’s in the middle of processing what he thinks about it.
"If anything were to happen to you? If he were to hurt you more than he already has? I'd take that very personally. So, pardon my French when I say this but… We killing the fuck outta him. To-day.”
Teddy’s first instinct is to say no, to play the protector, but even he knows it’s a bullshit excuse, because he knows more than his fair share of strong, capable women, and most of them would (and could) kick his ass. That he tried to keep his knowledge of the magical world separate to his relationship with Parker is now also a moot point, because he’s technically out, and apparently she’s neck-deep in it, so where does he stand on it?
Teddy holds Parker’s resolute gaze. “You’re kind of terrifying,” is the first thing that comes out of his mouth, and while it might not have been his first choice, it’s not inaccurate.
He gently moves Parker’s hands, giving him space to stand, because he needs to move; sitting still just isn’t cutting it. “Hell,” he mutters to himself, running his hands through his hair, before turning back to Parker.
Strong, capable, terrifying Parker.
“I hope you’ve got one hell of a plan, Parker,” Teddy says grimly, “because the last time my path crossed with this guy, Vanessa died," and part of me with her, "and I don’t want that for you or your sisters.”
He wants to start swearing, but with Parker’s aunts in the other room, he holds his tongue. For now. That familiar mixed feeling of fear and rage he carried for so long, and was looking to bury’s back. “I don’t regret giving up my athame and abilities, but that puts me at about the level of bait in whatever you think you’re going to do."
“I hope you’ve got one hell of a plan, Parker, because the last time my path crossed with this guy, Vanessa died."
She stares at him for a long moment.
He's in so much pain.
Although she lacks her mother's empathic powers, Parker feels Teddy's heartbreak; his trauma's bright as steel. For a moment Parker looks away. Does she have the energy to provide space for him? Parker, grieving the loss of her mother, struggles to keep her head high most days. Most days it's melancholy. Some days it's hard to get out of bed. Parker searches Teddy's eyes, making a decision...
(Let's do this.)
"Follow me," she says, nodding her head toward the kitchen. She takes Teddy's hand and goes back into the kitchen.
The last thing in the world Teddy wants is for Parker to get involved in his problems.
Hell, he left his friends to try and build something new, a life away from it all, and it still follows him around. If he wasn’t so conflicted, he’d walk out the door and leave Parker and her family out of it. He can tell from the look in her eyes, though, that it wouldn’t matter. She’d still try and do something about it.
He takes her hand and follows her back into the kitchen.