As she walks through the dining room, Parker braces herself for the unexpected visitor. She'll smile, hold small talk and be welcoming; still, she can't help feeling a sting of irritation. (We need to be spending time with Wyatt...) Whomever this stranger is, Parker is going to be firm — and polite — about keeping their interaction short.
Her heels click against the hardwood floors as she makes her way into the foyer.
Walking in locked step, the two sisters enter the dining room as they trail after Parker and her blonde beau to the kitchen. She wonders if they will be moving the meal to the dining room now that the guest list has grown.
"At the very least a good-looking one," Patience quips in response to her sister's earlier statement about Teddy being a good guy. Truth is, they don't know him very well yet as Parker kept their initial courtship a secret. They also can't be sure how quickly Theone's interference is waning. Time will tell though.
Patience is hopeful that Teddy brings her sister some happiness.
"Definitely off to a good start," she adds as the pair approach the kitchen.
Teddy’s been to Parker’s house before, but the memories of the actual house are hazy and he takes it all in as she leads him through the dining room. It’s a beautiful old house and he remarks so as they walk. It evokes a sense of nostalgia for him, too, for the days when he lived with his family in their family home. It was nothing like this, but it was home and filled with the people he loves. Part of him envies Parker and her sisters that; mostly he’s just happy that they have it, and each other.
Piper is very proud of herself for only bristling slightly when Paige mentions that they are less than twenty-four hours away from never seeing her oldest child again. Sometimes she looks around at the ones that she's lost over the years - most far too soon - and worries that she's meant to bear witness until she's the only one left. It's silly, she knows. Wyatt isn't dying, he's Ascending to something greater. Still, logic and emotion don't always coexist peacefully.
As the sisters come into the dining room, Piper notices that there's no place settings at the table. Some quick math indicates that they will have to move whatever meal here. In addition to the smells of breakfast, chatter can also be heard coming from the kitchen.
"Must be Parker," Piper says, referring to the food Paige had commented on. "The other two... well, they're gifted in other ways." She smirks. Phoebe wasn't much of a cook either, and Parker had been the only one interested enough to learn from her.
Piper had taken the long route behind the dining room table and now comes to the kitchen a step behind her sister. She pauses and motions for Paige to go ahead.
Once they’re in the dining room, Teddy feels himself relax a fraction. Not that he was tense in the other room - he was surrounded by Parker’s family after having crashed what’s clearly an important family event, though, so perhaps he should have been - but it was just a little intense. He didn’t mind it, now and then, but he’d been so thoroughly unprepared for it this morning.
That’s what you get when you go for a surprise, instead of calling ahead, he reminds himself, not for the first time.
He places the dishes down on the table, moving to place hand lightly on Parker’s arm. “Hey,” he says quietly, “I get that this is a family thing, and I’ve interrupted. I’m sorry for that. I solemnly swear I’ll call first next time.”
Assuming there’s a next time, one tiny dark corner of his mind thinks.
He ignores it. How can he not, with Parker standing in front of him. Beautiful, thoughtful Parker, who’s made space for him in this part of her life.
“I know you keep saying to stay, but maybe I should go. I know how important family is and I get the feeling that I’ve walked in on something that maybe I shouldn’t have?
Parker sweeps her surroundings with both eyes, tapping into her empathic sensing abilities. There's no warlock hiding, gripping an athame, waiting with bated breath to attack; good, that. She catches a glint of blond hair at the corner of her eye and cranes her neck, turning a look at Teddy.
She tilts her head, wondering what he'll say.
"I get that this is a family thing, and I’ve interrupted. I’m sorry for that. I solemnly swear I’ll call first next time.”
Parker touches Teddy's shoulder with encouragement. "No, you're not-"
“I know you keep saying to stay, but maybe I should go. I know how important family is and I get the feeling that I’ve walked in on something that maybe I shouldn’t have?"
Her eyes widen like saucers.
Drawing her hand back, Parker closes both eyes, realizing she over-reacted. (Get a grip, Parker...) She takes a breath and opens her eyes. At this moment, she decides there are two ways to go about this day. She can soothe Teddy with half-lies, forcing him into a position he's uncomfortable with. And, Parker recognizes, there's honesty. Why doesn't she just tell him her secret? It's not like he'll freak out; he's hiding one from her, too. Also, it'll make protecting him a lot easier. Parker's grown tired of freezing him.
"Okay, my voice just got really high," she chuckles, sitting down. "But there's something I'd like to tell you...
A diplomat, Parker stares long into his eyes and considers her next words carefully. She can never take this moment back. This is her heritage, her destiny, her livelihood. Is confessing worth it? She glances at the kitchen door; will Prue and Piper be upset? Her secret is the entire family's secret.
(This isn't about them.) Locking back into Teddy's stare, Parker smiles. This man is someone she wants in her life. If she hopes to earn his trust, she'll need to be upfront with him. Also, being around her comes with unique risks. Making anyone aware of those risks is more than fair.
She bundles Teddy's hands into her palms, resting her chin on his knuckles. "I'm a witch."
Parker takes her time in answering, and Teddy doesn’t rush her. Whatever’s going on - whatever it is she has to say - he’s willing to wait for the answer.
When the answer comes, it’s unexpected and almost… funny, in it’s unexpectedness.
"Well… I'm a witch.”
“Okay,” Teddy replies slowly. “Not what I was expecting.”
Knowing Parker, he figures that when she says witch, she doesn’t mean in the fad-fashion sense. No, she’s the real deal, someone who knows this side of the world, the magical one superimposed on top of the mundane. He shakes his head. It figures; he pulls himself out of the magical game and suddenly there’s a new tie to it.
Teddy nods his head towards the kitchen. “Is it a family thing?” he asks. “I mean, it’s cool, and I won’t say anything.” He’s more than aware of the importance of keeping something secret, especially something like this. He won’t betray that trust.
He pulls their joined hands closer, pressing a kiss to Parker’s hand. “And thank you, for telling me,” Teddy tells her. “But why now?"
The grandfather clock's ticking, suddenly, becomes thunderous. Parker's heart pounds in her ears. (Goddess...) She searches Teddy's eyes, searching for any indication of rejection. At any moment, Teddy could pull his hands back and leave. That possibility makes this moment more real. Frightening, even.
“Okay, Not what I was expecting.”
Parker snorts laughter, glancing away.
“Is it a family thing?”
She takes a breath, hesitating. "Yes," she replies quietly. In the dining room, she can hear the faint bustle of movement; her sisters and aunts are devising a plan to save Teddy's life.
“I mean, it’s cool, and I won’t say anything.”
Parker frowns, nodding her head emphatically. "I know that," she says. "That's why I'm telling you this." Obviously, she leaves out the part of him having a secret, too. That's something he'll have to do on his own.
“And thank you, for telling me. But why now?"
She drums her fingers on his knuckles. Not for the first time, Parker realizes how calloused his hands are. Now she knows this, partly, due to him socking demons in the face. "Because someone's after you." Her eyes flick up to meet his. "My sister had a premonition of you being killed in your apartment.
"By a Collector."
Parker narrows her eyes. (Ok, it's your turn to open up, babe.)
"Because someone's after you. My sister had a premonition of you being killed in your apartment. By a Collector.”
Parker’s words hang in the air while Teddy processes them. Then,
“Oh, hell,” he mutters, pulling his hands away gently and standing up. Sitting down and dealing with this is not going to work for him. He turns away from Parker, head in his hands, emotions coming hot and fast, upon the realisation of who was coming after him. Most likely.
If he wasn’t in Parker’s dining room, he might be swearing right now. Or hitting something. All that anger that comes from spending too long thinking on Vanessa’s death, and the consequences of his recent actions.
Get a grip.
When he turns back to Parker, his face is grim, but he’s got a clamp on the anger. For now.
“He killed Vanessa,” he tells her, “Although you might have figured that out by now. We worked with a group of people granted gifts - powers, I guess - through magical objects, and she was killed for it.”
Teddy laughs, and it’s a hollow sound, the irony of his next words not lost on him. “I quit, yesterday."
Already, his mind was working on overtime. He needed to get out of Parker’s house - just because Patience saw the attack in his apartment, didn’t mean the Collector couldn’t find him elsewhere. He could head to the Dojo; he might have left the group but they wouldn’t turn him and it could be a safe place until he figured out a plan.
Parker's heart breaks, just a little, when Teddy pulls his hands away. She watches him turn his back. Her instinct is to wrap both arms around his shoulders, and maybe kiss his head. But this isn't Parker's first time dealing with grief; she's lived it a couple of times. Grief is an old friend, in some ways. She sees it closing in around the man she loves.
And resists the urge to play the hero.
(Just be the rock.) With a cool expression, Parker watches Teddy gather his bearings, turning back around to meet her eyes. The anger, the hate, in his eyes doesn't surprise her. Not really. This is very personal for him.
“He killed Vanessa."
Parker says nothing and holds his stare. She holds space for him because she has a strong idea where his train of thought is headed.
“Although you might have figured that out by now. We worked with a group of people granted gifts - powers, I guess - through magical objects, and she was killed for it."
A beat. "I know."
“I quit, yesterday."
Parker frowns. "Why?" The question is innocent, erred by curiosity.