sunlight hit the translucent sphere at just the right
Hanging in mid-air, the ball's
golden color combined with the sunlight, reflecting an image of an unknown but
Some two feet below it and to its left, the cobalt blue
sphere, projecting an aura of cold, hidden power, complemented it.
And two feet below the golden sphere to its right was a
fiery, red ball, its color proclaiming some raw, un-tamed power.
Not a sound could be heard as the three spheres, hovering
perfectly motionless, formed a balanced triangle nine feet up in the air.
"What are you doing?" Prue asked as she stood in
the parlor's doorway.
Piper looked up at the three balls suspended over her head.
"Juggling," she answered.
"Why?" Prue asked and came into the room.
"Whenever I saw a juggler as a kid, I wanted to juggle,
too," Piper said. "But I could never get the knack of it.
"Now that I have the power to freeze the balls, I
"That's cheating," Prue said.
"No, its using all of the skills that I possess,"
Piper said. "Just like the jugglers use all of the skills they
possess. I just happen to have a skill to freeze things."
"Uh, that's what's wrong," Prue said. "They're frozen. When you juggle balls, they're supposed to
"They do move," Piper said, "when I
throw them up."
"And they also move," Piper said, sighing,
"when they unfreeze...and fall down."
She kneeled down to retrieve the balls as Phoebe came into
"What's going on?" Phoebe asked.
"Piper is finding an outlet for her childhood
frustrations," Prue said, sitting down at the table. Piper squinted at
her, then glanced at Phoebe and shook her head slightly. Phoebe shrugged her shoulders and walked
over to join Prue.
"Did you see this?"
Stuart asked as he walked into the parlor.
"They're shooting a movie called Natural
Evil in the East Bay," he said, looking at the newspaper he was
holding, "and they have an open casting call for local people."
"An open call?" Piper asked, surprised.
"Yes," Stuart said, handing the paper to Prue,
"for a part as a young, innocent girl."
"Seems like it's a small walk-on," Prue said as
she read the article. "The movie takes place in the Bay area and they're
trying to drum up local interest and PR for it. It's an indie production,
directed by Laszlo Kovács. I don't know who he is."
"I don't either," Piper said.
Having retrieved her balls, she was about to
throw them up and freeze them again when she realized that she would be
freezing Stuart, too. She sighed
slightly and instead put the balls down on the table.
"I do," Phoebe said. "I worked with him. He directed an
episode of Who's the Boss in the show's last season."
"You remember a director of a single episode?"
Piper asked. "That was a long time ago. I'm impressed."
"He's Hungarian," Phoebe said. "I'd never
worked with a Hungarian director before. And...there was something odd about
him. When he was shooting a scene, he seemed to have something else on his
mind. It was as if he was looking at, or for, something that no one else could
"He's done some more television since then - he even
directed a 7th Heaven episode for Spelling - and two other
indie movies that were moderate successes."
"You've been following his career?" Prue asked,
even more surprised.
"I guess it was out of some kind of curiosity as to how
he would do," Phoebe said. "Hungarian directors in Hollywood are
rare, to say the least." She sat down at the table and took a bite from a
"Actually, Hungarians were major players in Hollywood
in the 30's and 40's," Prue said."Michael
Curtiz directed Casablanca and Adolph Zukor was both a director and the
head of Paramount."
"I know, but that was then," Phoebe said. "Things aren’t the same today - neither
for Hollywood studios nor for Hungarians."
"What's the movie's scenario?" Piper asked.
"Accidents and disasters that happen around the Bay
area," Prue said, "that seem at first to be natural. But after a
while they realize that they are actually the work of some evil force."
"An open call is unusual," Piper said.
"That's not the only thing that's unusual about this
movie," Prue said, reading further.
"Three days ago they shot a scene in which a warehouse burns
down. That same day, a warehouse burned
down in Burlingame.
"And yesterday, they shot a scene in which a boulder
falls down a mountainside and smashes a car on the highway below it. And the
same thing happened on a road outside of San Rafael. The driver managed to
swerve in time so that only the trunk of the car was smashed and he wasn't
"A movie about an evil force causing accidents and the
same accidents happening in real life," Piper said. "That's too much
of a co-incidence."
"The movie is set to wrap the location shoot within
three weeks," Prue said. "Just before the solstice."
"If the disasters they shoot get worse, and they are
causing the real disasters, then the real ones will get worse, too," Piper
said. "This looks like it's part
of the demons' plans of major destruction by the solstice."
"It would seem to be," Stuart said.
"We're here to stop those plans," Prue said. "But we won't know for sure if this is
part of their plan unless we get on to the set and find out what's really
"How will we do that?" Stuart asked. "Its
probably as much of a closed set as Charmed is."
"By going to the open call," Prue said.
"We're professional actresses. One of us shouldn't have a problem getting
the part over amateurs."
"I suppose not," Phoebe said. "But an audition in the midst of
hundreds of neophytes is cruel and unusual punishment. Who's going to do it?"
"You are," Prue said."
"Nooo," Phoebe said.
"Yes," Prue said. "Kovács is looking
for an innocent girl. It's been a long time since I've been able to play an
"Hmm..." Stuart said. "Knowing you, Prue, I
didn't think there ever was a time that you could have played an innocent."
Prue turned to Stuart and gave him a very long look.
"Phoebe projected innocence in the beginning of
Charmed’s first season," Prue said, turning back to her, "so use that
as your starting point."
"And besides," Piper said, "you've worked
with Kovács before. You know how he
works, what he expects. That will make it easier for you to snoop around while
on the set."
Phoebe looked back and forth between Piper and Prue, then
hopefully turned to Stuart for support.
"They, uh, have good points," he said, making a
slight face as he told her what he knew she didn't want to hear.
Phoebe gave them all a stern look, then sighed.
"Where...and when?" she asked, with resignation.
"Phoebe Halliwell," the voice called out. Phoebe jumped up from her seat with relief,
then thought better of it, regained her poise and walked calmly towards the
open door. She had been waiting for
close to two hours for her turn. During
that time, she'd been asked by at least a dozen girls if their hair was OK, by
at least two dozen more if she thought they were wearing innocent enough
clothes, and by at least fifty girls as to whether she was as nervous as they
"This is the scene you'll be doing," a woman said
to her, handing her a small sheet of paper. "This is called 'the sides'.
It will be just a minute until we're ready for you."
Phoebe quickly read the sides, concentrating her mind on the
dialogue. She had almost read through it a second time when the woman
"This is Mr. Kovács," the woman said as a man who
had been standing with his back towards them turned around. Broad in built but
not at all heavy, he was a good half a foot taller than Phoebe, even with the
heels she was wearing. His reddish-brown
hair fell slightly down on the forehead of his wide and handsome face. He looked hardly any older than when she
last saw him nine years before, Phoebe thought, though by now he must be in his
"How do you do, Ms. Halliwell," he said, his
slight but clearly Hungarian accent lending a bit of charm and sophistication
to his words. "Please read from the top of the page."
"You don't understand," Phoebe began, "or you
"Just because you're an engineer, and I'm..." Phoebe stopped for a second, inserting a
pause that wasn't on the page.
"...I'm just a plain college girl. That doesn't mean that you're
right. That doesn't mean that you know better.
"People are dying all around us." Phoebe looked
quickly down the rest of the page, then, obviously deliberately, let it drop to
"I don't want to die, too," she said, continuing
the lines from memory. She turned her
eyes upwards to Kovács, her face now radiating both innocence and terror. "This...all of this...is not natural.
There's...there's something else at work here." She took two steps closer to Kovács, her eyes not wavering from
"You have to save us." She swallowed very
deliberately. "You have to save me," she added on her own, her
voice barely audible, her head moving ever so slightly.
There was silence in the room. Kovács looked at her
intently, seemingly not quite believing the reading that had just been made by
an inexperienced novice.
"Where have you acted before?" he asked her, his
eyes fixed on her.
"I, uh, haven't really," Phoebe said. "Just,
I've, uh, watched others. At, uh, college."
Kovács took a deep breath and smiled.
"Ms. Halliwell," he said slowly, his eyes still
locked on hers, "welcome to the production of Natural Evil."
"What happened?" Stuart asked as Phoebe walked
into the living room?
"Did it go well?" Piper asked.
"Too well," Phoebe said.
"Then you got the part," Prue said.
"Not exactly," Phoebe said. "Kovács said that
I'm a talent waiting to be discovered. And he's going to do just that. He made
changes to the script and is giving me a different part, a bigger part. It's
not going to be just two or three days of work but for the rest of the three
weeks of the location shoot. And then afterwards, back at the studio."
"I didn't anticipate that," Prue said.
"No, you didn't," Phoebe said. "Nor
that Kovács is a real demon."
Stuart heard the annoyance in Phoebe's voice. Or was it
annoyance? he thought. Could he be hearing not annoyance but betrayal? And
directed not at Prue but at Kovács?
"Oh, come on, Phoebe," Piper said. "You
worked for him before. And we've all worked for some very difficult directors.
But they aren't demons."
"No, no," Phoebe said. "I'm talking about the
Charmed kind of demon."
Stuart said. "Are you
saying that Kovács is...a demon...the kind that you have to vanquish?"
Phoebe nodded. "They were setting up a flood scene on
the set. And then the camera started to roll.
"You know with my power I can see things, sense things,
that others can't. What I saw was that just as the flood was released,
everything changed. For a split second,
we weren't on location. We were someplace else, someplace where the water was
real. And the flood became real. And then we were back on location with the
special effects flood.
"Driving home, I turned on the news on the radio. The San Joaquin River suddenly overflowed
its banks outside of Stockton today. At
the very instant that Kovács was shooting that scene."
"Phew," Prue exhaled.
"The same thing must have happened with the other
scenes he shot the past few days," Piper said.
"Kovács is somehow transporting, and transforming, the
movie's scenes to real places to cause major destruction," Stuart said.
"And tomorrow, they're shooting a scene in which a
building with people inside of it falls down," Phoebe said.
"Then we have to stop Kovács by tomorrow," Stuart
said. "But how?"
"I don't know," Phoebe said. "We'll have to
get Piper onto the set to freeze that building during the scene. That will buy us some time to figure out how
to stop him before he transforms the rest of the movie into reality."
"How do we do get Piper there?" Stuart asked.
"It's a closed set."
"I have an idea," Prue said, "if I work
fast. I'll call the production company
and tell them that as my sister has a part I want to profile the movie in Four
One Five. They'll jump at the exposure
that would give them.
"I'll get a magazine ID made up for Piper as my
assistant. I'll tell Frank it's a gag
prop. He owes me a favor so I'm sure
he'll do it for me."
"It's much too late for that tonight," Stuart
said. "You'll have to work pretty fast early in the morning to arrange
"I know," Prue said. "I will."
"And I have to be up early in the morning, too,"
Phoebe said, a little irritated.
"I have a 6:00 a.m. makeup call!"
"You're used to that," Stuart said.
"No, on Charmed I get to come in at 7:30," she
"Well," Stuart said, "since I won't be able
to go with you, I'll see what I can find about similar things happening during
the shooting of Kovács' other movies."
"I'll start to look through The Book of Shadows before
I go to sleep," Piper said. "But we don't have that much to go
"This has been very interesting," Prue said, as
Kovács escorted her and Piper from his office back to the set. "We'll get a good feature from
"Then we'll get some good publicity from
it," he said, with a small smile.
"We'd like to stay around and watch some of those
special effects, if you don't mind," Prue said. "And maybe our
sister's scene, too."
"I don't mind at all," Kovács said. "Please
be my guests."
"Thank you," Prue said. Kovács left them and
walked over to the crew.
"It feels good being back on a production set,"
Piper said. "At the same time...it makes things harder. We're on the
outside of this production. The wrong side."
"I know," Prue said. "It makes me miss being
home even more."
"There's the facade that's going to fall down,"
Piper said, pointing to the rigged fake building on the far side of the
set. "I'll have to get closer to
it to freeze it. But then I'll be too
far away form Kovács to hear when he calls for it."
"You can see me if I stand here," Prue said.
"I'll signal you when to freeze it."
"OK," Piper said and headed towards the building.
"Prue," Phoebe called and walked over to her. She
was in costume, wearing a black pants suit, white blouse with its top three
buttons open and sunglasses raised above her eyes on her forehead. With her
hair done off to the side, she conveyed the image of a self-confident and
"You don't look very innocent," Prue said, superfluously.
"This other role Kovács gave me is quite the opposite
character," Phoebe said.
"And what happened to your hair?" Prue asked.
"They've turned you into a blonde."
"Actually, I rather like it," Phoebe said. "Maybe I should become a blonde on
Charmed next season. Is Piper
"Yes," Prue said. "I'd feel a lot better
about this if we would have found a spell in the Book of Shadows."
"Maybe after today we'll have more to search
with," Phoebe said.
Piper stood as close as she could to the fake building while
still keeping Prue in view. Suddenly she saw Prue's hand rise to signal her and
she raised hers to freeze the building.
"Well!" Kovács shouted, impatiently. "Where
The assistant director hurried over to the special effects
"I set it off but nothing happened," the man told
him. He pressed his button again but still the building did not fall.
"CUT!" An irritated Kovács started walking over to
the assistant director but just as he reached him there was a loud noise and
the facade came tumbling down.
"What happened?" the director demanded.
"I don't know," the assistant director replied.
"I'll find out."
"I'll find out myself," Kovács said, upset. As he walked towards the fallen set he saw
Piper hurrying away from it and joining Prue.
Kovács changed his direction and went over to them.
"What were you doing back there?" he demanded of
"She was there because of what's happening with this
movie," Prue replied.
"The accidents and disasters that have co-incided with
every scene you shoot," Piper said.
"And what - you think somehow this movie is making
those accidents happen?" Kovács
"Each one has been exactly the same as the one in the
scene you shot, and happened at the exact time that the cameras were
rolling," Prue said.
"And you're going to make this into a story and destroy
this movie," he said.
"We're going to stop you from causing any more
disasters," Prue said.
"Causing them?" he asked. "You think I'm
making them happen?" Kovács shook his head. "You don't understand
anything about this."
"Then explain it to us," Phoebe said as she joined
them. He looked at her with surprise
then shook his head.
"There are secrets that exist in the Hungarian
Carpathian Mountains," he said slowly and deliberately, "secrets that
ordinary people cannot possibly understand."
"We're not ordinary people," Prue said. She
flicked her hand at a piece of wood lying to their side and it went flying
across the set. "Try us."
Kovács stared at her. "What are you?" he asked.
"A witch," Prue said. "And one way or another
we're going to stop what is going on here."
"All three of you are witches?" he asked, though
his voice showed little amazement. Prue nodded.
"How did you delay the facade from falling?" he
"I froze it," Piper said. "Until you stopped
shooting the scene."
"You can freeze things in time," he said, and
paused silently for a moment. "That will not make things better."
"No?" Prue said. "It already has. It stopped
your shooting of this scene from making a real building with people inside of
it somewhere fall down."
He looked at them one by one, taking the measure of each of
them anew, then exhaled.
"In the Carpathian Mountains, where I come from, there
is evil that lives but is not human.
Evil that can hurt, that can destroy - and that can do other things even
worse. We call them ördög.
"My mother angered one of them and he vowed revenge
upon her. When my mother became
pregnant with me he cast a spell on her.
And when I was born, I was not born alone. An evil was born with me."
"A twin?" Phoebe asked.
"No, not a twin," he answered, emotion showing.
"Much more than a twin. A doppelgänger." He stopped and looked
briefly at each of them.
"Do you know what a doppelgänger is?" he asked.
"I've heard the term," Phoebe said. "But no,
I don't know what it really is."
"It means a double of me," Kovács said. "A double of my very existence, a
double of my very being. A double made from the very essence of what makes me
who I am. A purely evil double.
"He doesn't live in this world. He exists in another
world, on another plane...a plane of evil. But he can cross over. And he does.
Briefly, for a just a little bit at a time. But that little bit is enough for
him to cause destruction in this world."
"How and when does he cross over?" Piper asked.
"Our plane and his evil plane keep moving forward, out
of synch with each other. Except for
when the camera is rolling. Our plane,
our world is meant to keep going forward.
But the camera stops it. It captures the part of our world that the lens
sees and freezes it. That instant will
always exist in this world, on film, just as it was. The camera stops that part of our existence from going forward,
from continuing, from changing.
"And that's when his evil plane, his world, can be
synchronized with ours. And that's
when, if he has a means to bridge the two worlds, he can come across. And once he's here, as each image is being
captured by the camera he can use his power over what the lens is seeing. He can transport things, blend things
together - even people. Until the
camera stops freezing them.
"That's the 'when'.
And 'how' he does it...is through me.
Because I am his doppelgänger.
I am his bridge to our world."
"What does he look like?" Prue asked.
"I don't know," Kovács answered, "I've never
seen him. He's not a part of this world
so he has no form, no shape in this plane.
But I can feel him when he's here.
And sometimes I can feel when he's trying to come across, too."
"And...you're always looking for him," Phoebe
said, thinking back to his seeming distraction on the set nine years earlier,
"looking for whether he's come across, with every scene you shoot in a
movie...or in a television series. Aren't
"Yes, I have to," Kovács said. "He is always
on my mind."
"What do you when you feel that he's here?" Phoebe
"I try to send him back," he answered. "There
is something I say, something my mother taught me to say -
Parancsolom neked, a néveben a magyar jóság: menj vissza hogy a világ most,
"I don't speak Hungarian," Prue said, with
skepticism. "Stick to English. What does all of that mean?"
"In English," Kovács said, "it translates to
‘I command you in the name of Hungarian goodness:
go back to the other world now, evil doppelgänger!’"
"You have the power to cast a spell?" Piper asked,
"It's not a spell," Kovács answered. "My mother told me that because I am
his connection to this world I have some power to force him back to his
"Does it work?" Phoebe asked.
"Usually," Kovács answered. "But only if I can feel him before he
can do anything."
"But it hasn't worked on this set," Prue said,
"He's managed to come across, do his damage, and return
before I can even say it," Kovács said.
"And you haven't shutdown production," Prue said,
her tone showing that she wasn't fully convinced of his innocence.
"It's not mine to shutdown," he said. "I'm not the producer. And I can hardly
tell them about the doppelgänger. They would neither believe me nor
"Then let them get a different director," Prue
"And then what happens to me?" Kovács asked.
"My career is directing."
"Maybe you should get a different career," Prue
"No," Phoebe said. "We've had demons come after us on Charmed...uh, I mean in
our past. We haven't given up what we
do and gone into hiding because of them.
And we have no right to expect that of Laszlo, either."
"And even if I did," he said slowly, "then
what? He can come across while anyone who is around me is using a camera. Even
someone walking in the street nearby. And he has.
"When I was a child we went to visit cousins in
Nyíregyháza, a town in Hungary not far from where we lived. One of them had an
8mm movie camera and started to film the family. He was shooting my ten year-old sister sitting on an old toy
rocking horse when suddenly my sister was transported onto a real horse in a
neighbor's barn. The frightened horse
threw her and almost trampled her. We
were fortunate that the neighbor was in the barn when it happened and was able
to save her."
Kovács paused, a far off look on his face. Then his
expression returned to normal and he looked directly at Prue.
"I was six years old when that happened. Since then, I am always...always on my
"You've carried a heavy burden your whole life,"
Phoebe said as she turned to him. "But we're going to help free you from
"How?" he asked.
"We're witches," Phoebe said. "We just need some time to come up with
a plan. Don't shoot any more scenes
today. We'll be back tomorrow with
confidence was well placed," Prue said to Phoebe. "Here's a spell to vanquish a
doppelgänger." Piper looked over
Prue's shoulder to read the page in The Book of Shadows that Prue had found.
"Maybe it wasn't so well placed," Piper
said. "It says that you have to be looking at the doppelgänger when you
say the spell. As we can't see him when he comes across into our plane we can't
use the spell."
"Let me see that," Phoebe said. She read the page
twice then looked up from The Book.
"There has to be a way," she said.
"What we need is a way to make him visible,"
doppelgänger truly exists," Prue said.
"This still could be just a story Kovács made up to divert us from
"This is too elaborate for that," Phoebe said.
"If he was trying to mislead us he could have made up something much
"After all the different kinds of demons we've seen the
past few weeks," Piper said, "I'm willing to believe that a Hungarian
doppelgänger demon exists, too. So
let's try to deal with his invisibility.
"The problem with that," she continued, "is
since he's not from this plane we don't have a way to make him visible."
"Then let's make him a part of this plane," Stuart
"Yesss!" Phoebe said. "What if we forced him
to stay in this world. If he was a part of this plane then its logical he'd
have to have a form in it."
"We'd need a spell to do that," Prue said. "But I don't know how we'd even look
for that kind of spell in The Book of Shadows."
"There has to be one in here," Phoebe said.
"And I'll stay up all night if I have to to find it."
"You really care about what happens to Kovács, don't
you," Piper said, as she turned to her.
"I...I suppose I do," Phoebe replied, not sure
herself just why.
"We have a spell to vanquish your doppelgänger,"
Phoebe explained to Kovács. They stood
on the location set, which, at her request, had been cleared of everyone. "But first, we have to get him here and
transform him into a part of our world that we can see. To do that, we're going to use my power as a
witch to say a spell that will use your power as a bridge to him."
"And you're confident these spells will work?" he
"The spell to vanquish him comes from...our
resource," Phoebe said. "The
spell to transform him...I had to join pieces of other spells and make a new
spell on my own. But yes...I'm confident it will work, too.
"We'll hold hands and Prue will start the camera
rolling to synchronize the planes and open the bridge."
"Do you know how to use a professional movie
camera?" Kovács asked Prue.
"I have experience working on both sides of the
camera," Prue said.
There was a slight surprise on Kovács' face but it quickly
disappeared. These were formidable
women, he thought, and he would no longer be surprised by anything revealed
"Tell me as soon as you feel his presence," Phoebe
said. "I'll say the spell and Piper will freeze him. Then we'll say the
spell to vanquish him."
Kovács shook his head slightly.
"No," he said.
"Frozen time is what he feeds on, what he uses to do his evil. You cannot freeze him."
"He's right," Piper said. "Frozen time is
when he causes destruction. I should have anticipated that."
"We'll just have to hope that stopping the camera will
be enough," Prue said. "And
that with no new images being frozen he won't be able to use his power."
She looked at Kovács for his agreement but he just shook his head slightly.
"If he becomes a part of this world there's no way of
knowing if his power is changed with him," Kovács said.
"We'll have to chance it," Piper said, clenching
her mouth and exhaling. "We don't have a 'Plan B'."
"Let's get ready," Prue said.
Phoebe took Kovács' hands in hers and looked into his
eyes. Suddenly she felt something, an
electrifying sensation, shooting through her body.
Was it...was it his European sensuality that she was
suddenly reacting to? Was it something
in his Hungarian masculinity that she was feeling as their hands held each
And then she remembered...
She remembered something about Kovács' direction of that Who's
the Boss episode that she had forgotten.
He had held her hand before. On the set of that episode. When he wanted her to make a certain
gesture in a scene, he had taken her hand and turned it the way he wanted her
to turn it.
And, unexpectedly, she had felt something electrifying when
he had held it. The sensation had surprised
her...and excited her.
And now, she realized, that her interest in following his
career had been more than just her curiosity about a Hungarian director in
Hollywood. What she had felt when he
held her hand on that set had sub-consciously kindled her interest in following
what happened to him. And that sub-conscious
feeling was also why she cared about what happened to him.
What eighteen year-old Alyssa Milano felt on that set nine
years earlier when Kovács held her hand was the same sensation, the same
excitement, that Phoebe Halliwell was feeling on this set now as he held her
"Are you all right?" he asked her, seeing that her
mind seemed to be somewhere else.
"I'm...all right," she said. "Start
shooting," she told Prue.
As the camera started rolling, Kovács moved his eyes from
Phoebe and looked off to her right, then stared for a moment above her.
"He's here!" he said and Phoebe began the spell.
doppelgänger from another plane
To a being of this
world with a form that will remain"
As Phoebe finished saying the spell there was a burst of
energy and both Phoebe and Kovács fell down, letting go of each other's hands
as they did. Phoebe quickly got up and
they all stared at Kovács. At the two
"There are...two of you," Phoebe said slowly.
"He's an exact double," Stuart said.
"Once he was transformed into a being of this
world," Prue said, "his form had to be the same as Kovács'. A
true, exact doppelgänger."
"We should have anticipated this," Piper said.
"We haven't anticipated a lot of things the past two
days," Stuart said.
"We can't tell which is which," Piper said.
"The spell will work on any doppelgänger,"
Prue said. "Kovács is also a doppelgänger - of the demon. If we look at
the wrong one when we say it we'll vanquish Kovács."
The two Kovács stood up and looked at each other carefully,
then glanced briefly at the camera that now had stopped.
"Finally, after all of these years, I get to see
you," one of them said to the other.
"But you have seen me all of these years. Every
time you crossed over and caused destruction," the other said.
"Let's ask them some questions," Stuart said.
"That won't help," one of them said. "Now that he's been next to me as a
part of this world, as a doppelgänger he has absorbed all of my memories."
"What do we do now?" Piper asked.
Phoebe stared at the two Kovács for a second then walked
over to the one on the right, took his hands in hers, and looked into his
eyes. After a moment she let go of him
and stepped back. She suddenly turned
to the other Kovács and pushed him away, making him fall down.
"This is the doppelgänger," she said, pointing to
the one standing whose hands she had just held. "Look at him and say the
Prue and Piper glanced at Phoebe. Seeing the look on her
face, they didn't ask her if she was sure.
of the doppelgängers
Is all that
To set the
other one free."
The Kovács who was standing started to shake. He started to
scream as his image began fading. He turned and stretched out his arms towards
the Kovács on the floor. But before he could go to him his image faded away
completely and his screams were no more.
The Kovács Phoebe had pushed down slowly got up and came
over to her.
"You are an amazing woman," he said to her, his
Hungarian accent somehow giving the words more emphasis.
"How did you know that the other one was the
doppelgänger?" Piper asked.
"I could tell," Phoebe said, taking Kovács hands
in hers again.
"There are some
intrinsic things that make up a person, that another person reacts to, that
even a doppelgänger can't have.
I didn't feel....what I'm feeling now. "
"He...is really gone," Kovács said, with a mixture
of relief and disbelief.
"I told you I'd free you from your burden," Phoebe
said to him.
He lifted her left hand towards him, bent over, and gently
"A burden which I thought I would carry all my
life," he said.
"Én mélyen eladósodott -valamennyi te.
Önnek köszönöm...nagyon sokat."
He turned to the others.
"That means I am deeply indebted to you...to all of
Thank you...so very much."
Kovács took a deep breath then slowly looked around the set.
"We still have a picture to finish," he said to
Phoebe, looking again into her eyes, "with you. You're the most special
part of it."
"Uh...no, I don't think so," Phoebe said.
"You have to," Kovács said. "I've never seen any new actor take
direction, and know instinctively what to do, the way you do. And when the cameras rolled you were so
natural in front of them. You belong in
front of the camera."
I do belong in front of the camera, Phoebe
thought. It felt so good shooting that
scene yesterday. I don't know how long we're going to be kept here by The
Elders. Acting would put some normalcy
back into my life. To be back on a
And then there was that electrifying excitement he caused in
her when he held her hands...and he looked into her eyes.
She started to say yes, then stopped and exhaled.
"I can't," she said, a touch of sadness in her
voice. "I can't let people find
out that I'm...a witch. In Hollywood,
actors' lives have little privacy.
Everything about...about them is dug up and written about in one
magazine or another. I couldn't keep my
secret. People would find out about
"You speak as if you have been through that
yourself," he said, staring deeply into her eyes. "And the way you seemed completely at
home on the set yesterday. It's all as
if you have been acting all of your life."
"The Hungarian Carpathians are not the only place that
has secrets," Phoebe said.
"San Francisco, and Hollywood, have them, too. Secrets that, also, few can understand."
"And...one of those secrets is that our paths have
crossed before," he said, no trace of doubt in his voice.
"They have," she said, the memories of nine years
ago coming to her mind. "But
please...don't ask me to tell you when and how. There are some things that...have to remain secrets."
Kovács didn't protest but just looked at her silently.
"Someday," he said, with assurance, "you will
find a way to get back in front of the camera again."
"I will," Phoebe said to him, a glint of
determination in her eyes. "You can count on it."
As Prue walked by the parlor something caught her eye. Three
red, blue and gold balls were going up and down.
"Elbows at your sides," Leo said. "Aim for a
spot opposite your forehead. The balls should form a triangle going up from one
hand and falling down into the other."
"That's very good!" Prue said. "Where did you
learn how to juggle, Leo?"
Leo caught the three balls, stopped juggling and put the
gold ball down on the table.
"When I was a kid during the Great Depression, there
wasn't much in the way of entertainment that we could afford," he said.
"We had a neighbor who knew how to juggle and he taught me. It gave me
what to do on a lot evenings."
The Great Depression, Prue thought. She had forgotten when
Leo had really lived.
Leo gave the blue and red balls to Piper, went behind her
and with his arms around her positioned her hands to begin the juggle.
"What made you change your mind about using your 'witch
skills'?" Prue asked Piper.
"I decided that it would be more fun if I learned to do
it the real way," she said.
"Uh, huh. That...and getting Leo's personal attention
to teach you," Prue said with a smile and walked away.
"How about going over to Pier 39?" Stuart asked, his blue jacket casually slung
over his shoulder. "It's only a little after eight o'clock so the shops
will still be open."
"Hmmm..." Phoebe hesitated.
"I'll treat you to some ice cream for dessert," he
"OK - you convinced me," she said, with a small
smile. "But let's drive over. I'm not up to a long walk tonight."
Phoebe grabbed her sweater and they went out to the car.
"Before we go," Stuart said, "there's
something I want to tell you." He took hold of her right hand with his
left hand. With his right hand, he pulled her tightly to him and kissed her.
"Well," Phoebe said after almost twenty seconds,
"you certainly had something to say. That was quite intense." She
looked down at his left hand, still squeezing her right one tightly. He looked
at it too, taking a few seconds to realize that it was unusual to keep holding
hers that way.
"Umm," he said and released her hand. "That's
what competition does."
"Competition?" she asked, then smiled
slightly. Her mind wandered off for a
moment and then she exhaled.
"I'm not going back to the Natural Evil
shoot," she said. "So you don't have to be concerned about
"I still better keep my interests...clear," he
said, opening the car door for her.
"That's not something you have to worry about,
either," she said. "They've been...very clear. Since the first
day we were here."
Pier 39 jutted out into the waters of San Francisco Bay from The Embarcadero.
There was no shortage of tourists milling about the shopping and entertainment
center. Stuart and Phoebe made their way to the hand-crafted Italian carousel,
its eighteen-hundred lights twinkling, and stopped for a moment to admire the
San Francisco landmarks hand-painted on it. The children who weren't riding the
carousel's horses and chariots were watching the comedian perform at the Center
Stage just behind it.
Stuart and Phoebe listened to him briefly, then walked out
through the back exit of Pier 39 and stood at the pier's railing facing the
water. The barking of the sea lions lying on top of each other
the K-Dock off to the left punctuated the spot's otherwise quiet. The waning
rays of the sunset were barely visible above the Marin Headlands on the far
side of the bay.
"I'm glad your hair is back to normal," Stuart
"Piper made me wash it out," Phoebe said.
"She said it wasn't how my hair was on Charmed so I can't keep it like
that. But Kovács showed me the dailies and I really like the way I looked in
them. That color hair projects a different image of me. I'm definitely going to
ask Brad about becoming a blonde next season. That is, if we stop all of the
demons' plans of destruction before the solstice and we make it to the
Phoebe finished the last licks of her ice cream and threw
the cup into the garbage bin. She opened her wallet, pulled something out and
held it under the light.
"What's that?" Stuart asked.
"My SAG card," she answered.
Stuart gave her a quizzical look. "How can that be here?" he asked. "Nothing of yours as Alyssa can exist
here." Phoebe handed him the card.
"Oh," he said. "It's Phoebe Halliwell's
"A memento of two days of shooting," she said.
"So now you belong to the Screen Actors Guild
twice," Stuart said, handing it back to her. "Does that mean you get to vote twice in SAG
She took the card back and stared at it quietly.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I shouldn't have joked
about it. Your real SAG card is important to you. If you had it here it would
be a reminder of who...and what...you are."
"This SAG card is real enough for me," she
said. "And it does remind me...of who I still really am."