Charmed Role Reversal



The Eve of Destruction

Stuart got out of bed, slipped on his robe and walked over to the window. He looked out at the early morning sun, the start of a beautiful day. The eve of the solstice.

Would it be the last such beautiful day? he thought. What would it be like tomorrow if Argyris succeeds in reversing time?

He turned around and looked back at Phoebe still sleeping in bed. Whatever happens today in trying to stop Argyris - and tomorrow if we don't stop him - we'll have each other. We're going to face it together.

He came back to the bed and leaned over to kiss her on her forehead but changed his mind. I don't want to disturb her, he thought. Not yet.

He looked at the time on the clock, took something from his wallet, then silently opened the door and left Phoebe's room, closing the door behind him. He made his way down the stairs just as the doorbell rang.

"Good morning," the young boy greeted him. "They were just put together before I came."

"Thank you," Stuart said as he took the flowers from him. He took out the money from his pocket and handed it to him.

"Oh, thank you," the boy said as he looked at the large tip.

"Something extra for your having to come at such an early hour on a Sunday morning," Stuart said.

Stuart grabbed a vase from the table, filled it with water and went back up the stairs. He went to his room, took a small box and an envelope from a drawer and then went back to Phoebe's room.

He cleared the night table and placed the vase on it, placing the box and card to its side. He sat down on the edge of the bed, leaned over and lightly kissed her.

"Umm."  She was still asleep. He leaned over and kissed her again a little stronger.

This time he saw a slight smile on her face as she turned over onto her back. She slowly opened her eyes and the smile got bigger.

"Good morning," he said. Phoebe said nothing but just smiled back at him. She turned her head to see the clock but it wasn't there.

"What's this?" she asked, looking at the vase standing where the clock should have been.

"Happy Birthday," Stuart said.

"Birthday?" She sounded confused.

"Phoebe's birthday," he said. "The eve of the solstice. I didn't want to wait until your December birthday. It's too far off."

"Oh," she said, as she fully awoke. "I'm not sure I'm ready to be a year older." She thought for a moment as she looked up at him.

"Hmm...but since Phoebe is younger than me I guess it doesn't matter," she said, smiling.

"The flowers are beautiful, so fresh," she said as she sat up. "How did you sneak them in without my seeing them?"

"I used a flower spell I found in the Book of Shadows," he answered, smiling.

She reached over, took the envelope and pulled out the card. It read ‘Happy Birthday’ above a picture of a man waving a wand over a rhyme:

Because you're so special, kind and sweet
I'm so thankful for the magic that let us meet,
So I've cast a spell to make this day
The best for you in every way.

Below it was something handwritten:

Thank you for letting our 'relationship' continue

She leaned over and kissed him.

"Open the gift," he told her. Phoebe picked up the box and opened the wrapping. It was a small jewelry box and she opened it. Inside was a gold necklace.

"It's beautiful," she said.

"It's not as nice as what I should get for you," Stuart said. "But I wanted it to be from me. That's why I was working a couple of nights at the club, to be able to pay for it myself."

Phoebe put the necklace around her neck and closed the clasp. "I love it. Thank you." She threw her arms around him and kissed him again.

"I know that back in LA, you have much more expensive jewelry, as befits a TV star," he said. "I wish this was more and not something so small."

"A smart person once told me," she said, smiling at him, "that...caring about someone means doing something for that person even if it's only something small." Of course, when Stuart told her that, he had said loving not caring. But she was still wasn't ready to use that word in their relationship.

"Now I’m telling that smart person that nothing done for you by someone who cares about you is ever small."

She grabbed her robe and got out of bed.

"I'm glad you didn't wait for my December birthday," Phoebe said. "Today's the eve of the solstice, the day Argyris is going to try to use his plan to reverse time. We don't know what will happen after today. If...if I'll even have a December birthday."

She picked up the card again. "I hope this spell really works," she said. "We'll need it."



Click speaker for Opening Credits Theme Song

Prue glanced at the clock over the kitchen counter late that afternoon. Five o'clock, it read.

"This is getting to me," Piper announced as she came into the kitchen, upset and on edge, a small radio in her hand. She pulled a chair back from the table and sat down.

"I've just tried scrying for the third time today and nothing happens," she said. "And Morris called a few minutes ago. He's in the hot seat with police brass about his stepped up efforts checking on people born today and wants us to tell him that the danger is over.

"Then Leo orbed in and wanted to know why I wasn't out doing something to find Argyris. That I wasn't taking this seriously enough. Don't I understand that the fate of the world is resting on my shoulders? That the world as we know it won't exist tomorrow unless I do something now.

"And if all of that wasn't enough, listen to this." Piper turned up the volume on the radio.

click playbutton click playbutton click playbutton Click playbutton to hear the song on the radio

You don’t believe
We’re on the eve of destruction -
No, no - you don’t believe
We’re on the eve of destruction!

"The radio station is doing a '60s retrospective," Piper said, turning the radio off. "They've played Eve of Destruction three times in the last two hours. Three Times!"

Prue exhaled. She walked over to Piper and put her hand on Piper's shoulder.

"We're all on edge," Prue said. "It's Sunday afternoon on the eve of the solstice and we're no closer to finding Argyris than we were before.”

"And...no,that music is not helping us any," Stuart said.

Piper stared at the radio for a few seconds, took a deep breath, put it down and slid it across the counter. As if getting it away from her would somehow make things better.

"Have you tried scrying for Balin?" he asked.

"Twice," Piper said, "in between each time my scrying for Argyris failed. Maybe he's cast a spell on The Manor and it's blocking my scrying from working."

"Or on San Francisco," Phoebe said.

"Then maybe what we need is a different perspective," Stuart said. "Maybe we need to get out of the city."

"What do you mean?" Piper asked.

"There's a place in Marin County that has helicopter rides," he said. "If we hired one and took a ride way above the city, maybe we'd be above whatever spell Argyris cast and your scrying would work. Maybe it only blocks witches on the ground."

Piper gave Stuart a look.

"If witches were meant to fly, we'd have been given brooms when our Charmed roles became real," she said.

"Since when are you afraid of flying?" Phoebe asked.

"On Charmed, Piper is afraid of flying. So now, after being her for over seven weeks, I'm afraid of flying, too," she replied, annoyed.

"Spells don't work that way," Prue said. "They're cast on people, on witches, or on things. They're not affected by location. We have to come up with something else."

"I'm going to go through the Book of Shadows again," Phoebe said, as she stood up. "Don't be upset with Leo," she said to Piper. "He's under pressure too."

"I know," Piper said, with a small sigh. "We both have our jobs to do."

 

"It's seven o'clock," Stuart said, looking at his watch. "We're running out of time. We still don't know where Argyris is. Or have any idea of how to find him."

"When I spoke to Morris this afternoon," Piper said, "he said there hadn't been any more murders with pentagrams. So maybe Argyris won't have the last soul he needs."

"He has too much at stake not to get it," Prue said. "I don't think we can count on that."

"OK, I think I have an idea," Phoebe said as she came down the stairs. "Argyris focuses his power to Balin through Balin's ring. So, maybe we can use that connection to get us to Argyris."

"How?" Stuart asked.

"I've been going through The Book of Shadows," she said, sitting down on a chair. "I think I can come up with a potion that would make the ring point towards Argyris. If we immerse the ring in the potion it will glow when it's aimed in the direction its source of power is coming from. We can follow it straight to Argyris."

"And how do we get the ring?" Piper asked. "We don't know where Balin is, either."

"We don't have to," Prue said. "Balin knows where we are. We just have to make him come to us."

"Ohhh!"  Phoebe said, startled. "The ouija board. It's moving."

The board was on an end table next to Phoebe's chair and the pointer was moving around the board. Prue ran to get a pen and paper.

"S...I...X."  Phoebe called out each letter as the board pointed to it.

"T...H...S."  Piper looked over Prue's shoulder as she wrote.

"O...U...L.

"It stopped," Phoebe said.

"Sixth soul," Prue said, reading back what the letters spelled out. "That's a message. It must mean Balin has killed again. And Argyris has his sixth soul. He has what he needs to reverse time."

"And we're out of time," Piper said. "We have to do something now!"

"Prue, what was your idea about Balin," Stuart asked.

"Argyris must have a connection to these souls so that he can use them to give him the power to reverse time," she answered. "If we can cut that connection for a while, Argyris would notice it right away. He'd know we did it and send Balin after us. And Balin knows where to find us."

"How do we break the connection?"  Phoebe asked.

"By going onto the astral plane and finding those souls. You have to almost die to get there. I think there was an episode where I did that."

"I don't remember that," Phoebe said.

"I don't remember the details either," Prue said. "But if it did happen on Charmed there has to be a spell for it in The Book of Shadows."

"That was a script. There is real life," Piper said. "How do we know we can do it and get back without...really dying?"

"We don't," Prue said. "But if I made it back on Charmed...it should work here. Just like the other spells did. And besides, we don't have any other way to find Argyris."

"How do we know where the souls are on the astral plane?" Stuart asked. "Who knows how long it will take to find them?"

"We can find them because we have a connection to them," Prue said. "Phoebe. Her soul is linked to their souls through their birthday."

"That would put Phoebe in danger," Stuart said.

"Argyris has his six souls," Prue answered. "He doesn't need Phoebe anymore for his power."

"Prue's right," Phoebe said. "I have to do it. I'm the connection to them. But why don't I just stay there and keep the connection to Argyris broken until midnight when the eve of the solstice is over?"

"Because it's too dangerous to risk leaving you there, in that state, for more than a short time," Prue said. "And we'll need your power here when Balin shows up."

"Let's go find the spell," Phoebe said.

 

 Phoebe lay down on the floor as Prue prepared to say the spell, but suddenly she sat up.

"My dream," Phoebe said. "This is what I saw in my dream. Me, lying on the floor, dead."

"But you won't be dead," Prue said. "Only on the astral plane. Not really dead. That's your dream," Prue said.

"And it wasn't a real premonition, anyway," Piper said. "I'm not lying there with you the way you saw us. So don't worry about the dream really happening."

Phoebe lay down again and Prue began the spell.

      "Send her to the edge of the souls’ plane

       But make the link to her life in this world remain."

White. Phoebe was surrounded with white. No beginning, no end. Everything was white. But she felt there was something ahead of her and she moved towards it.

It seemed to be some sort of net. Its strands sparkled and shimmered, as if some energy was being transmitted through it. As Phoebe approached it she saw six women inside of it. They were standing still as if in a daze.

"What's your name?" she asked the girl closest to her.

"Jodie Robbins," the girl answered, speaking slowly. "Where am I?  What happened to me?"

Phoebe tentatively put her hand on the net. She could feel a charge going through it, the power being channeled through the strands. As she stuck her hand through the net it seemed to tear apart.

"Come with me," she said as she grabbed Jodie and pulled her through the hole in the net. The shimmer remained but the sparkles changed, becoming fewer and darker.

"I've broken the connection," Phoebe said to herself.

"Please tell me what happened," Jodie implored her.

"You...you're dead," Phoebe said. "You were killed by a demon who wants to destroy the world. He needs your soul, and the souls of the others, for his power. I have to break his connection to you - at least for a while."

"Dead??" Jodie asked. "I...no, I can't be!  My mother. I...can't tell her."

"Tell her what?" Phoebe asked.

"That...I love her," Jodie said. "I...was arguing with her. I...stopped speaking to her. I...ignored her.

"But I really love her. She was always there for me...and I know always will be. Or, would have been...if I was still alive. And now I'll never be able to tell her."

 

"The souls!  The power!  Someone has interfered with the souls."  Argyris closed his eyes and concentrated.

"That witch!  She's taken away one of the souls," he said.

"Go to her and kill her. Now!!" he commanded Balin. Argyris closed his eyes and concentrated again.

 

The shimmering net began to move. Phoebe was listening to Jodie and didn't see it coming. Suddenly, one side of the tear went around Phoebe and Jodie and joined with the other side. The two sides melded together and became whole again. Jodie was back inside the net. And so was Phoebe.

Phoebe tried to tear it again but she couldn't. The sparkles had returned to their brightness. As Phoebe ran her hand against it she could feel the energy flowing through it again. She tried again to tear it apart but it would not give.

Phoebe went around the whole inside of the circle but could not break the net open again. She was trapped inside the net with the six dead girls.

 

"She's not coming out of it," Stuart said after Prue finished the spell to bring Phoebe back. "Something's wrong."

"Phoebe!  Phoebe!"  Piper shouted. "Argyris must have done something to her."

"I'm going after her," Stuart said.

"No," Prue said. "You can't. You're a mortal. I don't know what would happen to you there. You might really die."

"That won’t stop me," he said. "Phoebe may die if I don't. I won't let that happen."

"You don't have any way of finding her," Prue said.

"But I do," Piper said, turning to Prue. "Say the spell and send me there  Phoebe could find the dead girls because she had a connection with their souls. I have a connection to Phoebe's soul. We're Halliwell sisters. That's the closest connection that can be between souls."

"Whatever Argyris did, he could do to you as well," Prue said.

"Phoebe's birthday connected her to the ones he killed," Piper said. "That must have given him some way of getting to her. He doesn't have that connection to me."

"We can't be sure," Prue argued. "And your powers won't work there."

"We're wasting time," Piper said. "Phoebe is in danger. Just send me there!"

"I'm coming with you," Stuart said.

"No, Stuart," Piper said. "Your being lost there won't help me get Phoebe out."

"Phoebe’s life is in danger," he said. "I’m not going to just stand here-".

"You can’t help her by coming along," Piper said firmly. "It will just put her in more danger if I have to spend time there looking for you, too."

Stuart stopped and thought for a second.

"Then hurry up and say the spell!"

"OK. OK...just...be careful," Prue said.

Piper lay down on the floor next to Phoebe. Prue took her hand and squeezed it.

"Phoebe's dream," Prue said as she looked at Phoebe and Piper lying next to each other. "This is exactly what was in Phoebe's dream."

 

White. All Piper could see was white. "Phoebe," she called out.

"Over here."

Piper walked in the direction of the voice. After a minute, she saw the shimmering, sparkling net that surrounded Phoebe.

"I was able to tear it and take Jodie out," Phoebe said. "But it surrounded us and mended itself. I can't tear it open from the inside."

"Probably because you're connected to them," Piper said and grabbed the net in her hands.

"OWWW!!" she screamed and let go. "There’s an electric charge running through it," she said.

"I felt a charge too but it wasn’t that strong," Phoebe said. "It must have gotten stronger with me inside."

Piper took a deep breath and put both of her hands on the sparkling net.

"OWWW!!" she screamed again but ignoring the pain she ripped it apart. She grabbed Phoebe, pulled her out and started running away from the net.

"I'm going to help you, Jodie," Phoebe shouted as the net quickly mended itself again. "I promise."

 

Phoebe and Piper opened their eyes. Stuart ran over to Phoebe as she started to get up and hugged her.

"Are you both all right?"  Prue asked.

"Argyris did something to trap Phoebe with the other souls, but we're OK," Piper said.

"When I took one of the souls out of the net," Phoebe said, "I saw the energy that had been flowing through it stop. That should have gotten Argyris to send Balin here, especially after Piper got me out.

"Thank you for saving me," she said, turning to Piper. "That was a big risk you took coming after me."

"Nothing was going to stop me from saving you," Piper said. "You're...you're my sister. That's what sisters do for each other."

"If this worked, Balin should be here soon," Prue said. "We'd better get ready for him."

 

"Piper and I will be watching the door. We'll be ready for him as soon as he opens it and comes in," Prue said, as they prepared themselves in the living room.

"I'd rather not be standing out in the open," Phoebe said. "Why can't we all hide?"

"Balin will be looking for you," Prue said  "and when he see's you he won't become suspicious and look for us. He's clever and I want to keep his attention on you so that we'll be able to surprise him."

"I'm here with you," Stuart said, trying to reassure her.

They waited quietly, hoping their plan was working.

Suddenly there was a noise behind them. Phoebe turned around and saw Balin on the staircase.

"EYYY!" she screamed.

Balin aimed his ring at her and an arrow of light came from it. Stuart saw it, grabbed Phoebe and pushed her down and out of its way. As he did the arrow of light hit him, instead.

"ARRGGHH!!" he screamed, as he fell down with Phoebe.

Balin quickly aimed his ring and sent a second arrow of light at Piper as she started to turn around. But Prue saw it and waved her hand at it before it could hit her, sending it back into Balin.

"ARRGGHH!" the demon screamed as a fire consumed him.

Phoebe felt Stuart’s grip on her arms weaken and go limp. She rolled him over on to his back and  grabbed him by his shoulders. Blood was running out of the corner of his mouth and down his chin.

"Stuart!" she shouted.

Prue knelt beside him and put her hand on his neck. "He's...dead," she said as she slowly turned to Phoebe.

"Stuart," Phoebe said, tears in her eyes. She lifted his head to her chest and held it tightly. "NO...no," she said, closing her eyes as the tears began rolling down her cheek.

"How did Balin get in?" Piper asked.

"He must have come through a window upstairs," Prue said, standing up.

"Did he climb the wall of the house?" Piper asked. "Or levitate himself up?  Can they could do that?"

"Demons that can reverse time are more powerful than any demons we've ever been up against," Prue said. "I don't know what other powers they have."

"Stuart was an innocent," Phoebe said looking up at Piper and Prue through her tears. "We're supposed to protect innocents, protect those we're close to, not get them killed."

In Prue's mind, she saw someone else, someone close to her that she wasn't able to protect from being killed by a demon.

"He saved my life...again," Phoebe said through her tears. "Only this time..."

Piper knelt down beside Phoebe and put her arm around her.

"We try to do what we're...supposed to do, to stop the demons," Piper said, gently. "But...this is real...this isn't Charmed...there’s no script. We can't control it and make it work out right."

"We were brought here to be The Charmed Ones," Phoebe said. "Stuart wasn't even supposed to be here. His dying is because of me, because of my becoming a real witch."

Phoebe gently laid Stuart down on the floor. Piper put both arms around Phoebe and held her.

"Stuart didn't have to fight demons the way we do but he wanted to save lives, too," Piper said. "That's why he chose to fight evil with you...with us. Why he chose to risk his life just as we do. He chose to try to save the world. He didn't have to but he did anyway. You can't blame yourself for that."

"And he chose to save you...because he...he cared about you," Prue said. "He cared about you as Phoebe...and as Alyssa." Prue hesitated for a moment.

"His feelings for you were much more than just 'caring'," Prue went on. "He was falling in love with you...as yourself. That had nothing to do with your becoming a witch."

Prue could feel every bit of the pain that Phoebe was suffering, knew the thoughts that were going through her mind.

"We didn't ask to become The Charmed Ones in real life," Prue said, kneeling down next to her. "But since we became them, we've done a lot of good. You've done a lot of good. You've saved a lot of lives."

Prue paused, trying to find the right words. "We want to save everyone...but we can't. We don't have that kind of power.

"But a lot of people have been, and will be, saved by you," Prue said to her softly. "Because you became a charmed witch in real life. Because you can, and do, fight evil."

Stuart fought evil and saved lives, too, Piper thought. He was part of us, part of the family. And now the evil had killed him. Tears came to her eyes and she closed them briefly.

I can’t mourn him now, Piper thought. We have to try to stop the evil. I’ll mourn him afterwards. If there’ll be an afterwards.

"We still have to try to save the world," Piper said, turning to Prue. "But now we don't have any way of finding Argyris. We don't have Balin's ring. And we're running out of time."

"It all happened so fast," Prue said. "I saw him aim his ring at you and I reacted to protect you."

"I know...you saved my life," Piper said.

"Let’s go back in time," Phoebe said, lifting her head. "We did it before. We know where the spell for it is. We’ll go back to...just before this happened. And we'll change it. We'll get the ring and Stuart won't die."

"We can't do that," Prue said. "We saw that going back in time is dangerous. The slightest thing we change can have unknown repercussions in the present and the future."

"We’ll be careful this time," Phoebe said.

"Prue died because we changed something when we went back in time," Piper said.

 "And we went back in time again anyway to save her," Phoebe said. "And we’ll do the same thing to save Stuart."

"It’s not the same," Piper said. "We went back in time to restore time to what it had been. Not to change time."

"And if something got changed it might even help Argyris," Prue said.

"Then let Argyris reverse time," Phoebe said. "We can wait until time goes back to a point before this happened. And then we'll stop him."

Piper took Phoebe's hand in hers. "The spell won't work once time's been reversed," she said. "We have to stop Argyris before that happens."

Phoebe looked down at Stuart lying on the floor and felt his lifeless hand as she took it in hers. She was Phoebe Halliwell but this wasn't a Charmed episode. This was real. All too real.

Her mind flashed back to an image of Stuart lying on the ground after saving her from the demons' car when they first met in Beverly Hills. When she was still just Alyssa Milano.

Then to another image. She was standing next to him looking out at San Francisco from across the bay. And she was reliving how comfortable and happy she felt then being with him.

Her thoughts jumped to a walk together at night. In her mind she heard him telling her what love really meant to him. And she could feel how her heart had reacted to his simple sincerity.

And then they were on Fisherman's Wharf and he was telling her that he loved her. And she was not telling him what she was feeling. And her not being ready to make the commitment that he was ready to make.

She could feel his arms around her, feel him kissing her, feel the happiness he brought her.

Now, all of that was over. It was all gone in the flash of a demon's ring.

Her fears of being vulnerable to hurt and pain had been realized.

Phoebe closed her eyes as the tears kept coming.

Was there something, she thought...some kind of spell...cast on Phoebe that wouldn't allow her to have happiness? Or was there a spell cast on Alyssa?

After a moment she opened her eyes, leaned over and gently kissed him.

Piper took hold of both of Phoebe’s hands and squeezed them tightly. She looked up at Prue and saw that she was deep in thought.

"Balin's ring was our only link to finding Argyris," Prue said after a minute. "We can't go back in time to get the ring. But we can accelerate time forward. I think I saw a spell for it in The Book of Shadows."

"Move time forward?" Piper asked. "That would get us even closer to what Argyris will do."

"No," Prue said. "Think back to the last Demon Dimension. Samantha was saying how time is like a movie reel. When the projector is going, it looks like a continuous flow. But it's really made up of individual frames. The 'present' is whichever frame is being projected through the lens. But the past still exists. All of the frames that make up the past are still on the reel.

"If we accelerate the time of the past we can move it into the present. We can re-thread the film from the take-up reel so that the past is also passing by the projector's lens at the same instant as our present is.

"And if both frames are there at the same time, what will we get?" Phoebe asked through her tears.

"An...overlap of the two frames," Piper answered.

"Exactly," Prue continued. "Both are being projected together. Both are now in 'the present' at the same instant. And if we're together then we can talk to each other.

"We can warn them about where Balin's going to come from," Phoebe said.

"But if the past frames are on the film, so are the frames that haven't been projected yet. The future is already there," Piper said.

"Those future frames can be changed," Prue said. "Remember what Keir told us when we made the Time Box to contain the witch Abigail. The present can always change the future because that's the prerogative of the present. And since they'll be the present again, they can change the future without damaging the future."

"So they can stop Balin without vanquishing him and get the ring," Piper said.

"And Stuart won't die," Phoebe added.

"What happens to us?" Piper asked.

"We'll have to leave them in the 'present' for this work. We'll use the spell to accelerate our time to the future," Prue said. "If they succeed, we'll have the ring. And Stuart will still be alive."

"We can't keep this overlap for long," Piper said. "The past-Balin may sense that the present-Balin was vanquished and change how he comes in."

"We'll have to take that risk," Prue said. "And there's another risk. If something goes wrong the second time...we could die, too."

"We don't have a choice," Piper said. "It's the only way we can get to Argyris."  She paused for a second. "And save Stuart," she added.

"Phoebe, you have to modify the spell to specify which time to accelerate, both for them and for us," Prue said.

Piper helped Phoebe up as she tried wiping away her tears. "Show me the spell," Phoebe said.

Prue went up the stairs with Phoebe. Piper took a blanket from the closet, came back to Stuart and knelt down next to him. Tears came to her eyes again as she slowly covered his body with the blanket.

 

"I've written today's date with a time of one hour ago," Prue said as they sat in a circle. "I don't know how precisely this spell will find the right frame from the past. So this should give us enough leeway."

Phoebe glanced over to Stuart's covered body. A solemn, determined look on her face, she took hold of the paper with Piper and Prue.

    "Time that flows in a seamless stream

      Past, present and future joined as one,

      Speed up its pace, move their past time forward

      Set the temporal clock to more quickly run."

"Piper and I will be watching the door. We'll be ready for him as soon as he opens it and comes in,"   past-Prue said.

"I'd rather not be standing out in the open," past-Phoebe said. "Why can't we-"

"Eyyy!!" past-Phoebe screamed.

"Demons!" past-Piper shouted.

"We're not demons," present-Prue said. "We're you."

Past-Piper threw up her hand to freeze them but they didn't freeze.

"You can't freeze us because we're you," present-Piper said. "Your future you."

"This could be a trick," past-Piper said. "The demons may have made themselves look like us."

"Holly Combs," present-Piper said to her. "That part of us doesn't exist here. The demons couldn't know about it. Only we do."

"Ohh-K," past-Piper said, cautiously. "So, you came back to the past."

"Not exactly," present-Prue said. "We're actually in the present. We accelerated time to bring you from the past to be in the present with us so we could talk."

"I don't understand," past-Prue said.

"Remember the last Demon Dimension," present-Prue said. " Think about time and the movie reel for a minute and you'll get it. Just like I did."

"Why are you here?" past-Phoebe asked.

"Because our plan didn't work," present-Phoebe said. "Balin didn't come through the door. He came down the stairs."

"How'd he get up there?" past-Piper asked.

"We don't know, we think through a window upstairs," present-Prue said. "He may have some levitation power."

"We didn't get his ring," present-Piper said. "He surprised us and we had to vanquish him before we could take it from him."

"It's too dangerous for us to try to change the past," present-Prue said. "We know what happened when we did. But it's not dangerous for you to change it. Now that you're in the present again you can change it. Because it's not your past - it's your future. And the present can always change the future."

"Why aren't I with you?" Stuart asked.

Present-Phoebe went over to Stuart and slowly stroked his cheek twice with the back of her hand.

"Oh!!" past-Phoebe cried as she spotted the blanket covered body on the floor.

"You died saving Phoebe from Balin," present-Piper said slowly.

Stuart looked into present-Phoebe's eyes. "I don't - and I won't - regret it."

"No. That has to change, too," she said to him, tears in her eyes. "Don't let him die again," she said to past-Phoebe.

"We have to go," present-Prue said, "before Balin figures out what we've done. We're leaving you as the present. We'll accelerate our time to make us the future."

Present-Piper gently pulled present-Phoebe back from Stuart.

"This paper has a time on it that's thirty minutes from now," present-Prue said as they held it and formed a circle.

     "Time that flows in a seamless stream

       Past, present and future joined as one,

       Speed up its pace, move our present time forward

       Set the temporal clock to more quickly run."

 "I got it," Prue said, after their other selves had disappeared into the future. "I think I understand what they - what we - just did and how."

"We'd better get ready," Stuart said.

"Piper and I will stay hidden on the sides," Prue said. "You and Phoebe stand behind the sofa. Face each other and you can see the stairs and the door, just in case Balin changes what he does."

"Tell me again why I have to be out in the open."  Phoebe said.

"Balin will be looking for you," Prue said  "and when he see's you he won't become suspicious and look for us. He's clever and I want to keep his attention on you so that we'll be able to surprise him."

"I'll do whatever I have to," Stuart said to Phoebe. "I couldn't live with myself if anything happened to you."

She was about to say something but from the corner of her eye she saw someone on the staircase.

"Now!" Phoebe shouted.

Prue jumped out, waved her hand, and sent Balin flying down the stairs. Piper raised her hand and froze him before he hit the bottom step. As Piper un-froze Stuart, Phoebe ran over and pulled the ring from Balin's finger. She took it in her hands and closed her eyes.

"It's a room with a big arched window," Phoebe said. "I could see the sky and some tall buildings so he's pretty high up. I think it was downtown."

They went into the kitchen where Phoebe pulled a vial from a drawer. She poured it into a bowl and dropped the ring into it.

"OK," she said after a few seconds. Piper lifted it out and slowly turned around the kitchen until the ring lit up. "The potion's working. And you're right. Downtown is that way."

There was a sudden noise from the living room.

"Balin," Prue said. They ran back into the living room just as Balin, having un-froze and fallen down the last step, was getting up. He saw his ring in Piper's hand and lunged at her. But Phoebe was closest to him and tripped him and Prue began the spell.

   "Servant of evil who kills as he's told,

    Be consumed by fire so hot and ice so cold."

Ice crystals formed along Balin's body as a fire engulfed him. He screamed and shook for a few seconds and then he was gone.

"Now let's find Argyris," Phoebe said.

They started to run out of the house when suddenly they stopped and looked at each other.

"Ah...did you just feel something?" Piper asked.

"I think we just merged with our other selves," Prue said.

Phoebe looked at Stuart, threw her arms around him and kissed him.

"Let's go," she said, smiling.

They ran out to the car and Prue got in behind the wheel. Piper jumped in next to her in the front seat. Phoebe and Stuart got into the back seat and they backed out of the driveway.

"Turn right," Piper said. She kept looking at the ring, directing Prue in accordance with it's glow.

 

Prue pulled the car into a side alley downtown. "We'd better go on foot from here," she said. They got out of the car and followed Piper as she watched the ring's glow.

"That must be it," Phoebe said. She looked up at a building across the street, arched windows on it's highest floor. They ran across the deserted street and into the building.

"Here," Piper said, pointing to an elevator. They got in and pushed the button for the top floor.

"This is the right floor," Piper said as they got out. The ring glowed still brighter as they walked down the corridor and stopped in front of a door.

Piper tried the door knob and it turned. "This is it," she said. "Be careful."

She opened the door slowly and they walked in. Argyris, tall with long gray hair down to his shoulders, stood on the other side of the room in front of the windows, concentrating. In one hand, he held something that was a bright white. A cylinder about six inches long, a handle on something round, the size of a grapefruit. Its edges fuzzy, it was pulsating, with thick vapors, coming from every inch of its round surface.

A large grandfather's clock stood off to his right. A loud noise, like gears moving out of order, assaulted their ears.

"The witches!" he shouted, seeing them. "You should all be dead. But it doesn't matter now. There's nothing you can do. It's already begun. That noise you hear is time slowly moving backwards. And this time bomb will insure that the reversal of time will be permanent."

Prue threw up her hand at him but he just laughed. Then he thrust his arm, moving it in an arc in front of them and they went flying against the wall behind them. Argyris went back to his concentration as they started to get up.

"Arrh!" Prue and Phoebe groaned.

"Are you OK?"  Piper asked.

"Yes," Prue said as she helped Phoebe up.

Piper tried to freeze Argyris but her power had no affect on him.

"The spell to vanquish him won't work now," Piper said. "Time has already been reversed."

"But we have the spell to accelerate time," Prue said, thinking quickly. "We can pull time in the opposite direction even if we can't stop the reversal of time. If we pull hard enough one way while Argyris is pulling it the other way, maybe we could rip time apart. There'd be a hole in time."

"Throw Argyris into time," Phoebe said. "The Book of Shadows said that's the only way to stop him now. If there's a hole in time we could throw him into time."

"But how do we throw him in?"  Piper asked. "Our powers have no affect on him."

"Yours don't," Stuart said, "but mine do. I'll grab him and push him in."

"That's too dangerous," Piper said. "He could pull you in with him."

"It's the only way," Stuart said. "You need the Power of Three to say the spell, so I'm the only one who can do it."

"No," Phoebe said.

"The other Piper said I died tonight at the hands of a demon," Stuart said. "Maybe that's my destiny. You can't change destiny even if you can change the future."

The sound of time reversing suddenly got louder.

"It must be picking up speed," Prue said.

"You've got to do it now," Stuart said. "If it gets any faster the spell won't be strong enough to pull time the other way."

Stuart turned to Phoebe, his eyes peering deeply into hers.

"I love you, Phoebe."  He took her head in his hands, pulling her slightly forward, and kissed her.

Then he turned and, crouching, circled around to Argyris' side of the room.

Phoebe looked after him as Piper grabbed her hand. Phoebe turned back to her and slowly nodded.

       "Time that flows in a seamless stream

         Past, present and future joined as one,

         Speed up its pace, move this time forward

         Set the temporal clock to more quickly run."

The sound of time moving backwards continued but seemed to Piper to be strained.

"Keep saying it," Prue told them.

       "Time that flows in a seamless stream

         Past, present and future joined as one,

         Speed up its pace, move this time forward

         Set the temporal clock to more quickly run."

There was a loud bang and suddenly a ten-foot wide black void appeared between them and Argyris. A wind was blowing out from the darkness, sweeping around the room and blowing back into it.

The three sisters held on to each other tightly, their hair blowing across their faces, as they continued to say the spell.

Argyris ignored the hole and continued to concentrate. The sound of time reversing became louder.

Stuart, still crouching, was behind Argyris. He jumped at him and tried pushing him forward into the hole. But Argyris grabbed onto a railing and held fast. He turned around and waved his arm, sending Stuart flying off to the side.

The sound of time reversing became lower and then stopped. "No!" Argyris shouted, and ignoring Stuart, went back to his concentration. The sound of time reversing started up again.

Stuart was off to Argyris' left. There's only one way to do this, he thought. He stood up and lunged at Argyris. But instead of trying to push him and stop himself from falling in with him, he grabbed Argyris tightly and let his full momentum continue.

Argyris reached for the railing with his free hand and started to raise his arm that was holding the time bomb to send Stuart flying to the side, again. But Stuart's momentum was too strong and it carried them both sideways into the void. The momentum continued and Argyris twisted under Stuart as they fell together into the darkness.

Piper pulled her hand away from Phoebe's, leaned over and threw it into the void. About a dozen feet down in the blackness, Stuart froze. But Argyris, immune to Piper's power, continued to fall, a blood curdling cry coming from him until he was so far down he could no longer be heard.

The wind sweeping back into the void was blowing Piper and it was all Prue could do to hold onto her other hand. Phoebe quickly threw her arms around Piper's chest and held her tightly.

The sound of time reversing stopped. But now from the other side of the room where Argyris had been, the void began to close.

"Because of our spell, time is moving forward again, trying to repair the hole," Prue said. She tried to lean into the void to see Stuart but the wind was too strong and it pushed her back.

"Ahh!" Piper shouted as Stuart un-froze and started to fall. She raised her hand and froze him again. But now, he was almost thirty feet down.

Prue stuck her hand into the void and tried to raise Stuart. The void was half closed now. Their side of it was still open, but it was closing quickly as he slowly rose.

"Hurry Prue," Phoebe shouted, "the hole's closing."

Prue could see Stuart now but he was still far down. She turned her hand sideways and gave a fast flick of it upwards in his direction. Stuart came flying out and across the room to the other side, slamming hard into the wall. Just as he did, the hole closed.

Phoebe ran over to Stuart and fell to her knees beside him. "Stuart!" she called to him.

Prue knelt down next to him and put her hand on his neck.

"He's alive. Hitting the wall knocked him out," Prue said as she stood up.

"It's not your destiny to die at the hands of demons," she said looking down at him as Phoebe gently stroked his head. "One Andy is enough."

"Andy?" Piper asked. "Andy didn't-"

"Exist. No," Prue said, "just a role on Charmed. But we've seen that when our roles became real, everything that happened on Charmed became real, too. Charmed's past...is our past."

Prue paused. "Since we came here, Prue's feelings inside me have been growing...they've become my feelings. Feelings for you. For Phoebe."

"And for Andy," Piper said.

Prue was silent for a moment. "Somehow, there was an Andy here. And he did die."

"And you're feeling the loss," Piper said.

"And the responsibility," Prue added. "I didn't want that to happen to Stuart. Or to Phoebe."

There was a gentle 'bong' as the hands on the grandfather's clock struck twelve.

"The eve of the solstice is over," Prue said. She turned and looked out the window.

"We've done it," Piper said and exhaled.

"The world has been saved," Prue said. She stared at the city's night lights for a long moment. Then she turned back to Piper and Phoebe. "It's time for us to go home," she said.

 

The bay fog was still in the morning air as the doorbell rang. The door partially opened and a woman, pain etched in her face, peered out.

"Yes?"

"Mrs. Robbins?  I'm Phoebe Halliwell. This is my sister Piper. We're here about Jodie. Can we speak to you for a few minutes?"

The woman hesitated but then opened the door. "Come in, please."  She ushered them into a small living room.

"Jodie was a student at the college where I'm taking courses," Phoebe said.

"Was she in your class?" the woman asked.

"Uh, no. She wasn't," Phoebe said. "But...I did get to know her. We spoke about things."

"What kinds of things?" Mrs Robbins asked.

"Things that were important to each of us," Phoebe said. "Jodie spoke to me about you."  Phoebe could see the woman become tense.

"She told me how you had some arguments and how she said, and did, some things that hurt you very much. And separated you from each other.

"But she didn't really want to hurt you. She didn't want it to be that way. She told me how you were always there for her. And how much she really loved you."

"She...told you that?" the woman asked, tears forming in her eyes.

"Yes," Phoebe said. "And that she wanted to find a way tell you.

"I know Jodie didn't get the chance to tell you," Phoebe continued. "I know how important it was for her that you know this and that's why I came. To tell you. For her."

The woman put both hands to her eyes and then brought them down over her mouth. Phoebe extended her hand to her and the woman took it.

"At least, before she died, I was back in her heart," the woman said.

"You still are," Phoebe said. "Even though Jodie's not here, you're still very much in her heart."

"How do you know that?" the woman asked. "Are you a psychic?"

"No, not exactly," Piper said. "My sister is something else. But sort of like it. When she...'feels' something, she's always right."

"The police told me they have no idea who killed her," Mrs. Robbins said. " I don't think they'll ever find who did this. He's free to live while my Jodie..."

Phoebe looked at Piper then turned back to the woman. "The one who killed your daughter...has paid dearly. He will never hurt anyone again."

"You know that from your...psychic 'feeling'?" the woman asked.

Phoebe nodded.

"Believe her," Piper said. "Phoebe wouldn't say that if she didn't know that it was true. Jodie has been avenged."

"How?  You know who it was-" the woman said.

"Mrs. Robbins...I can't tell you any more," Phoebe said. "Please...just trust me. The evil that took Jodie is gone.

"I can't bring Jodie back. I can only try, by telling you how much she still loves you, to ease some of the pain. For you...and for her."

The woman saw the sincerity in Phoebe's face. She leaned over and hugged her. "Thank you," she said through her tears as Phoebe embraced her.

 

Piper and Phoebe stood on the sidewalk in front of Mrs. Robbins' house. The sun had finally burned off the fog and was shining brightly. People were walking across the street, doing what they normally do, unaware of the catastrophe that almost was.

"We saved the world last night," Piper said, looking around. "And now...we brought some consolation to a mother, and re-connected her heart to her daughter's heart." She looked at a woman wheeling a baby carriage across the street.

"When they created Charmed as a TV show," Piper said, "they had no idea of what they had really created."

"And we had no idea either," Phoebe said. "We were just actresses, trying to play our roles as best we could."

"We've played our roles here better than any of us could have ever imagined," Piper said. She looked at a child happily playing with a ball down the block.

"If someone would have asked me a month ago what I've accomplished," she continued, "I would have listed the shows I've been on and the parts I've had. Now..."

Lost in thought, they silently walked to the car, opened the doors and got in.

"I could never have done...any of this, as my real self," Piper said, staring out the windshield. "I've done more important things in six weeks as Piper than I did in twenty-six years as Holly."

"I've done things that really matter," Phoebe said. "I've saved lives. This isn't anything I ever thought of doing, not something I ever planned to do. And now, the feelings I have about saving innocents are exactly how Phoebe was supposed to feel on Charmed. Only they're real. I've never felt anything like this in my life."

"I've accomplished things as Piper that have really mattered," Piper said. "Holly...is from another life. A distant, past life. I am Piper Halliwell."