Charmed Role Reversal



Witch Pitch

Piper felt so comfortable, so at ease, so secure. She slowly inched her head from the top of Leo's left shoulder across his bare chest, until her head was lying comfortably on his upper chest just below his chin. Lying next to him in the darkened bedroom, with his arm around her back and across her left shoulder, felt so good to her.

Any remnant of indecision and conflict about her relationship with Leo, and about who he really was...or really wasnít, had been banished from her thoughts and feelings. Leo had become her escape from the daily pursuit of, and pursuit by, the demons that now constituted her daily life.

Sleep. She could sleep next to Leo like this for days on end. No demons chasing her. Nothing to disturb her. Nothing to interrupt the bliss that she felt.

Leo...and me. Me...and Leo.

Calm.

Re-assuring. †††††††††††††††††††††††††††

Peaceful.

"Piper!" Leo shouted.

"Ummm," Piper said, dreamily.

"Piper!" Leo shouted again.

What...Piper thought. Why did it sound like Leo was shouting? He should have been speaking to her ever so gently in a low, warm tone. And his voice should have been coming from just above her head, lying as it was right underneath his chin.

But his voice wasn't coming from there. It was coming...from somewhere else.

"Piper!" Leo shouted a third time. This time she felt his hand shaking her right shoulder. The right shoulder that was nestled so comfortably underneath him. That's impossible, she thought. How could Leo reach her shoulder and shake it when he was lying on it?

Piper half opened her eyes. In the moonlight coming in through the windowís blinds she saw Leo wasn't in bed with her. Rather, he was standing beside the bed. Whereas she was lying on her back in the bed - all by herself.

She had been dreaming. But it was such a good dream. She wanted to go back to it, back to lying together with Leo, back to feeling him next to her.

She closed her eyes. Hello dream, I'm back, she thought. Leo will be in bed with me, again.

"Piper, wake up!" Leo shouted as he shook her again, harder.

All right, all right, Piper thought. Never mind, I'll get Leo back with me without the dream. She opened her eyes, slid her legs out from under her blanket, slipped her thighs around Leo's and started pulling him towards her.

"Hey, you're wearing clothes," she said sleepily as she felt his pants against her skin. "You can't go to sleep with your clothes on."

Leo wanted to go to sleep. He wanted to crawl in to Piper's bed and hold her the rest of the night. But he couldn't.

"I'm not going to sleep," Leo said. "And neither are you. Wake up, Piper. You have to get going. Now!" He leaned over to the lamp and turned it on.

"Oooo," Piper said, closing her eyes tightly against the sudden intrusion of light. She pulled her legs back onto the bed, pushed herself up against the headboard and with her knees drawn up and her arms around her thighs, slowly opened her eyes.

"Go...go where?" she asked, trying to clear her head.

"After Dalios," Leo said.

Hearing that demon's name cleared her head very quickly.

"Dalios?" she asked, hoping she hadn't heard right.

"He's gone back in time," Leo said. "And you and your sisters have to go after him."

"Back in time?" she repeated.

"Not just in time," Leo said. "He's also gone into some...other kind of...plane...or dimension."

"Other kind of plane...or dimension?" Piper repeated. It occurred to her that all she had been doing was repeating everything Leo was saying.

"I'm just saying a plane or dimension," Leo said, "because I don't know what to call it. Or what it is. The Elders would only say that it was where things were changed - but were still the same."

"Changed...but were still the same?" Piper asked. There, she thought, she had done it again. Repeated his words like a parrot. This was getting silly.

"What does that mean?" she asked. Umm...I finally said something intelligent, she thought.

"I don't know," Leo said. "I never heard anything described like that. And The Elders wouldn't tell me anything about it. Other than that your powers won't work once you're there."

"What?!" Piper exclaimed. She straightened out her legs and sat up straight. "We have to stay clear of Dalios here with our powers because we're not strong enough to go up against him. And now they want us to go after him without our powers?"

"I tried pushing them to explain it but they wouldn't," Leo said. "All they would say was that once you got there you would understand why you didn't have your powers. And why Dalios had to be stopped."

"No powers...what do they expect us to use against him?" she asked.

"Innovation - and your wits," he said.

"Wait a minute," Piper said. "What happened to the Infernal Council reining in Dalios? Especially after that last disaster he made for everyone, including the Infernal Council's demons, with that mixed-up parallel world."

"The Council's ruling was that he couldn't personally interfere here," Leo said. "He's not. He's gone back to the past to interfere. It's a loophole in their order that he's exploiting."

"And they're just letting him get away with that...legalese?" she asked.

"If they changed their ruling after the fact it would look like their first ruling wasn't thought out very well," he said.

"It wasn't," she said.

"True enough," Leo said, "but it would make them look bad to admit it. So they won't."

"So now we have to go back in time to this...this time that's both changed and the same, whatever that means, and stop Dalios from doing what he's planning on doing, whatever that is," Piper said. "And without our powers..." Piper stopped and squinted at Leo.

"Tell them we can't do it," she said, folding her arms across her chest.

"The Elders aren't giving you a choice," Leo said.

"What else is new," Piper said, and exhaled.

"Leo, even if we somehow manage to stop Dalios now...uh, or rather then, whenever then is," she said, "what's to stop him from just going back in time again and trying it again?"

"The Infernal Council is making a new ruling for the future to prevent that," Leo said. "But they're letting him get away with it this one time under the old ruling that they won't undo. Stop him now and he can't go back and try it again."

Piper exhaled again. This was not good, she thought. Not good at all.

"Hurry up and get dressed," Leo said. "You have to get there before Dalios does what he's planning on doing. I'll wake up your sisters and Stuart."

"They're willing to send Stuart with us?" she asked, suprised

"They said he may be needed in some places that you can't go to," he said.

"Uh...just when and where are we being sent to?" Piper asked.

"To two years ago," Leo said. "To 1998...and to Hollywood."



Click speaker for Opening Credits Theme Song

It was barely ten minutes later when Prue and Phoebe came hurrying down the stairs and joined Stuart, Piper and Leo who were waiting for them in the living room. The clock on the mantel showed the time at one minute before two a.m.

"You have to tell us more," Prue said.

"There isn't time," Leo said, as he looked at his watch.

"How do we get there," Prue asked, "and without our powers how will we get back?"

"And what is Dalios planning on doing that we have to stop?" Phoebe asked.

Leo looked up from his watch and turned towards the living room wall behind Stuart and the girls.

"This is how you get there," he said as a yellow light appeared next to the living room wall. It was the shape of a medicine caplet with fuzzy edges. But it was very large, about eight feet long and some four feet wide.

"Oh, my goodness," Phoebe said as she recognized it.

"Oh...oh...we've seen that before," Piper said.

"Dalios went back in time to kill a woman," Leo said, as the yellow light began moving towards them. "Sometime before two o'clock Monday afternoon. You're being sent back one day before that. You have to find the woman, stop Dalios and save her. I don't know anything about her nor why Dalios wants to kill her. All I know is that her name is Constance Burge."

"What?!" Prue exclaimed as the yellow light engulfed the three girls and Stuart. "How?...Why?..."

But they were completely enclosed in the yellow light. They could no longer hear nor see Leo. Nor see The Manor, either. For the next ten seconds they could see nothing but themselves. And the yellow light.

And then in an instant the yellow light was gone.

They were standing in a living room, the furniture bathed in the late afternoon sunlight that was shining in through large windows behind them.

"I'm...I'm home," Phoebe said, startled at what she was seeing.

"You...are," Prue said, looking around her. "Uh, we are."

"This is your home?" Stuart asked.

"Oh my goodness, yes," Phoebe said, "and it's so good to be here."

Phoebe looked around the room, then ran her hands across her recliner and plopped down in it.

"Oh, this feels so good!" she proclaimed. "I'm home...I'm really home. I can't believe this."

"Before we get carried away," Prue said, "let's first figure out what this really is. Where and when we are."

"And what we are," Piper said.

"That yellow light..." Phoebe said, "that was the same light that brought us here. Uh, I mean brought us there. To San Francisco. And turned us into witches. But that time it was small. This time it was so big."

"Probably because they wanted to keep us together," Stuart said, "they made it bigger to cover all of us in a single light at one time."

Prue nodded her head in agreement then waved her hand at a picture hanging on the wall. The picture didn't move.

Piper picked up a throw pillow from the sofa, threw it up in the air and waved her hand. The pillow plopped down on the floor.

"OK, what we aren't are witches," Piper said.

"Just because your powers don't work here doesn't mean you're not witches anymore," Stuart said. "That's happened to you before."

"No...I think Piper's right," Prue said. "I think this time no powers means no witches." Prue sat down on the sofa and exhaled.

"Leo said that we're going to a place that's changed but the same," Prue said. "That's a definition of where we came from. Our reality, and the reality of anyone having anything to do with us, was changed when we became the Halliwells in real life. But the rest of the world's reality wasn't changed because the rest of the world wasn't changed at all. The rest of the world was the same as it had been before. The Elders changed us. Because it was the same real world - except for what touched us. So it was changed and the same together."

"And now?" Phoebe asked.

"I think it's happened again but in reverse," Prue said. "The world is still the same but our reality has changed back to what it had been before any of this happened. Our reality now is the same as everyone elseís."

"We've been sent back," Phoebe said. "Back to being our real selves again."

"To 1998," Prue said.

Phoebe picked up a remote control and turned on the television. She switched channels until she came to a news program. The time and date were displayed in the bottom left corner of the screen.

"March 29th, to be exact," Phoebe said.

"So we're back to being ourselves on March 29th 1998," Stuart said.

"We're our real selves sent back from the future," Prue said, "but are we our real selves from here?

"You mean are we in our bodies from this time," Phoebe said, "...or, because itís in the past, are there two of us here?"

"We're in your house," Piper said, "and there's only one of you here."

"Two years ago..." Phoebe said, and thought for a second. "I was in Hawaii shooting an episode of Fantasy Island. I went over there early for a little vacation. So I wasn't home at the end of March."

"And The Elders knew that," Prue said, "and that's why they put us in your house and not in mine or in Piperís."

"I don't know where I was on March 29th," Stuart said. "I may even have been in LA. But even if I was in LA, I definitely was not in Phoebe's home. Uh...I mean Alyssa's home."

"So am I Alyssa...or is Alyssa off in Hawaii?" she asked.

"There's one way to find out," Piper said. "I'll call my home and see if I'm there." She picked up the telephone and dialed her number.

"Uh...no...uh, this is too weird," she said, and handed the phone to Prue. "You see if...I'm there."

Prue put the telephone to her ear and listened for a few seconds, then quickly put it back in its cradle.

"You're at home," she said to Piper. "Uh....that is, Holly is at home."

"So there are two of us here in the past," Phoebe said. "We're going to have to avoid ourselves. Otherwise we can cause all sorts of timeline problems."

"OK...we know where and when and who we are," Prue said. "Now comes the why?"

"Did Leo really say we have to stop Dalios from killing Connie?" Piper asked.

"That's what I heard," Phoebe said.

"That doesn't make any sense," Piper said, sitting down on the sofa next to Prue and curling her legs underneath herself. "Why would Dalios want to kill her? And why do we have to be our real selves? Going up against Dalios, I want to be Piper Halliwell, not Holly Combs."

"Wow," Stuart said, "I didn't think I'd ever hear you say that you'd rather be Piper than Holly."

"Actually, I said it once before," Piper said. "The last time we went up against Dalios."

"The Elders had to make us into real witches to be able to stop the demons," Phoebe said. "And now they expect us to stop them after they've changed us back into our real selves?"

"Let's think about it," Prue said. "We know that Dalios can alter realities and can even undo them."

"He couldn't control reality the last time," Stuart said, "so I don't think he'd try it again."

"This is different," Prue said. "This time he didn't directly undo reality. He just went back in time."

"We've gone back in time before," Phoebe said, "without undoing our changed reality. And itís been to pasts within the changed reality."

"What if what Dalios wants to do can't be done in our changed reality past," Prue said, "the Charmed past that we've gone back in time to as Charmed witches. What if he has to do it in the unchanged past, the real past."

"Since he can change realities," Phoebe said, "and now we know that he can also travel through time, then that's where he would go."

"And if that's where he's going, then that's where The Elders would have to send us, too," Prue said. "Back to the real past, the un-changed reality past. Not the Charmed past. And to do that, The Elders would have to undo the changes they made to reality. And to us."

"Send us back with that yellow light in reverse," Piper said.

"To a past in which we're just actresses, not witches," Phoebe said. "Normal people without any powers."

"But also duplicates of our real selves from this past who are also out there," Stuart said.

"This is getting confusing," Prue admitted.

"OK...so we're back in the real past, our real past, not our Charmed reality past," Piper said. "And so is Dalios. But why kill Connie? What would he gain from killing her?"

"Because by killing Connie he'd be killing Charmed," Prue said. "At some point Connie brought a script and made a final Charmed pitch to Mr. Spelling. And then he green-lighted the Charmed pilot.

"And that was probably in March of '98," Stuart said.

"And maybe specifically on March 30th," Phoebe said. "Leo said Dalios came here to kill Connie before two o'clock tomorrow afternooon."

"That must be when the meeting with Connie's final pitch must be scheduled," Piper said. "He's going to try to kill her before she makes that pitch."

"Does anyone know for sure about this meeting?" Stuart asked.

"We shot the pilot in the last two weeks of April," Piper said. "So the timing would be right for that meeting to be around now."

"And Holly and I were signed for our roles in the beginning of April," Prue said. "That has to be what this is about. Charmed is Connie's idea. If Dalios kills her then Charmed will never get developed into a series. And if Charmed never existed..."

"Then there couldn't be any actresses who would know how to act like witches, whom The Elders could turn into real witches," Piper said.

"And so there wouldn't be anyone The Elders could call upon to stop the demons' plans of major destruction," Phoebe said. "They'd have a free hand. The Frubos, Donato...all of the demons we've vanquished would be free to destroy whatever and however they pleased."

"Not to mention the demon who's been killing those girls," Prue said. "The demon we still have to find."

"The Elders said we'd understand why we have to stop Dalios," Piper said. "I think we do."

"Where would the meeting have been held?" Stuart asked.

"I would guess that it would be at Mr. Spelling's office," Phoebe said. "At Spelling Entertainment."

"Where is it?" Stuart asked.

"On Wilshire Boulevard," Prue said. "Near Beverly Hills."

"At two o'clock tomorrow afternoon," Stuart said. "That gives us time to prepare."

"Leo said to use innovation and our wit," Piper said. "Any ideas how?"

"First we have to find where Connie lives," Prue said.

"You mean you don't know?" Stuart asked, surprised.

"No," Piper said, "I don't recall her ever mentioning it to us."

"Connie's a really sweet person," Prue said to Stuart, "but we didn't see her much off the set."

"Not knowing how to find Connie is bad," Piper said.

"Not knowing how to find Connie may be good," Stuart said. "If we don't know how to find her then Dalios probably doesn't know how to find her, either."

"I do know how to find her," Prue said. "I have a friend, Lisa Harmon, who works at the Writers Guild. She'll give me Connie's address."

"I assume The Elders changed our watches to 1998 time," Piper said, looking at her watch. "Mine says four-thirty. So you can still try to reach her."

"Telephone's in the kitchen," Phoebe said.

"I'll go call her," Prue said. She started to walk out of the room, then stopped.

"You know, just getting to Connie to protect her is going to be difficult," she said.

"They've already discussed casting Shannen," Piper said, "so you can't go to her. And it's too close in time to my being cast as Piper. If I go there'd be repercussions when she meets me later this week."

"That's why The Elders sent Stuart with us," Phoebe said. "He can go to Connie. But I can go, too. I've got makeup here that I can use to make me look different enough not to be recognized. And since I don't get cast until the middle of May she's not thinking about me now."

"I could try that too," Piper said.

"No, it's too risky," Prue said. "You're going to come with me at the end of this week, I'm going to talk you into reading for the part and then I'm going to convince Connie and Mr. Spelling that you're right to play Piper. We just can't take the chance of her recognizing you now and remembering it when she sees you later this week."

Piper nodded in agreement and Prue left the room to make the phone call.

"OK, Phoebe and I will go to Connie's home in the morning," Stuart said. "How do we get there?"

"With my car," Phoebe said. "It's in the garage. I have a spare set of keys that I keep...er, kept, in the house."

"Prue and I will wait here until we hear from you," Piper said. "Uh, how will we keep in contact?"

"Cell phone," Phoebe said.

"We don't have any here," Piper said.

"Maybe I do," Phoebe said.

"But you're...uh, Alyssa is...uh, both of you are in Hawaii," Stuart said. "I'm sure you took your cell phone with you."

"I think I had an extra one," Phoebe said. "I'll go look for it." She stood up to walk out of the room but then stopped. She looked all around her, a smile growing on her face.

"I'm home," Phoebe said. "I'm really home, again."

"So Connie lives in the San Fernando Valley," Phoebe said.

"Yes," Prue said, "and you and Stuart will have to get over there early in the morning and stay close to her. Piper and I will wait here until you call and tell us Connie's on her way. Then we'll meet you at Mr. Spelling's office."

"We just have to hope the meeting really was...uh, is going to be there," Stuart said, "and not somewhere else."

"You'll have to find out for sure," Prue said.

"How?" Phoebe asked.

"By using your wit," Piper said. "Like Leo said."

"Well, I guess that's all we can do tonight," Stuart said.

"There is one more thing that I can do, tonight," Phoebe said. "I'm going to go to sleep in my own bed."

The air seemed clearer to Piper, clearer than it had felt to her in some time. She took a deep breath, closed the jacket she had taken from Phoebe's closet against the cool night air and looked up at the stars.

"The stars are bright here," she said. "Brighter than they are in San Francisco."

"They just seem that way," Stuart said, as he walked slowly with her across the lawn. "Because you're back, you're close to home."

"Not close enough," Piper said. "I can almost feel it. I can almost reach out and touch my ranch." She thought about home, her home, for a moment, then sighed.

"It's really here," she said. "It really exists again. Not like when we were in San Francisco, when it didn't exist anymore in the changed reality." She stopped again and exhaled.

"But I'm still not there," she said. "We've been sent back but I'm still not home, again. Heck, I'm not even Holly, again. I'm just...a TV character who's not even in her character's reality...and not even in her real world's reality, either. I've...I feel so alone. So lost."

"So without Leo," Stuart said.

"There's no Leo here, either," she said, "just Brian." She exhaled again.

"It's not your time," Stuart said. "It's in the past. In all of our pasts. We've been here once but we don't belong here anymore." He put his arm around Piper's shoulder and gave her a supportive squeeze.

"I feel out of synch, too," Stuart said. "It is strange being ourselves again...and not being ourselves at the same time. But one day soon we really will be ourselves again. In the future, where we belong."

"You know, you're not bad at giving support," Piper said. "Thanks."

"Don't think I couldn't use some support just now, myself," he said.

Piper stopped walking and turned to him.

"I think Phoebe is waiting inside to do just that," she said, with a smile.

The white clouds half-filling the otherwise blue sky did not block the morning sunlight from shining past them onto the attractive house and the manicured lawn that fronted it. With the temperature approaching seventy, the morning coolness was gone and Phoebe, feeling warm, wiggled out of her jacket and handed it to Stuart sitting next to her. He turned around and placed it on the back seat of her car.

The makeup Phoebe applied earlier that morning had indeed changed her appearance, as she said it would. But not as much as Stuart had expected it to change. Thereís something about her looks, he thought, thatís still very much Alyssa.

Getting bored, Phoebe leaned against the steering wheel. They had been parked beside a large sprawling tree outside Connie Burge's house for over forty-five minutes, watching and waiting. Phoebe switched on the car radio and a music station came on.

"Hmm...that music sounds vaguely familiar," she said.

"That's Waltzing Matilda," Stuart said. "It's an Australian song. It was used as the theme song for a movie so maybe that's why they're playing it."

Then Phoebe realized that the music could be heard through the open window and might draw attention to the car so she turned the radio off.

"Now I know what those TV cop stakeouts feel like in real life," Stuart said. "Boring."

"Yeah," Phoebe said. "And we have to really sit through the whole thing, not just the short takes they edit into TV episodes to make it seem like they've been sitting there for hours." She exhaled.

"But it's better-"

The opening of the front door of the house interrupted Phoebe and they saw a woman come out. Her not quite shoulder length blonde hair brushed the jacket of her dark blue pants suit. A white, crew neck blouse was visible between the jacket's lapels. Her bright, softly oval face with high cheekbones was caught in the sun's rays.

"There she is," Phoebe said.

"Wow," Stuart said. "She's really pretty. And much younger than I thought. I always pictured her to be in her mid-fifties but she can't be much more than thirty."

Three of the tree's large branches, each about eight inches in diameter, extended halfway across the house's front lawn. Connie started down the house's flagstone walk to retrieve the newspaper that was lying halfway up the walk, just beneath the tree's branches. As she knelt down to pick up the newspaper, Stuart got out of the passenger's door on the curb side of the car and took a few steps onto the lawn. Phoebe got out too and started around the front of the car.

As Connie stood up, looking over the front page of the paper, Stuart heard a noise from above. Reacting quickly, he dashed for Connie, tackling her and rolling them both out of the way as the three huge branches came crashing down beside them. Phoebe rushed towards Connie, tripped over the fallen branches and fell head first onto the lawn.

"What...what?" was all a stunned Connie could say as she lay on her back looking up at Stuart lying on top of her.

"Are you all right?" he asked her.

"I...uh...yes...I think so," Connie said.

"Hi...I'm Stuart," he said, with a smile, looking down into Connie's eyes. Wow, he thought. This is just like in a James Bond movie when Bond saves a beautiful girl's life, winds up on top of her in the process, looks down into her eyes and introduces himself. And now...it really happened to me!

"Ugh...ugh," Phoebe groaned as she picked herself up.

"Phoebe, are you OK?" Stuart asked.

"Yeah," she said, brushing the leaves off of her blouse. She looked down at Stuart still lying on top of Connie.

"Uh...uh...right," he said, reluctantly getting off of Connie and helping her up.

Standing, Connie stared at the fallen branches, then looked up at the tree.

"How could they suddenly fall off like that?" she asked, bewildered. "This tree is in good condition. And...where did you come from?"

"Uh...we were...uh...just nearby," Phoebe said.

"You had to be more than just nearby," Connie said. "You grabbed me before I realized the branches were even falling. It was as if...as if you knew something was going to happen."

"Knew...hah...how could we know that?" Phoebe laughed.

"I'm Connie Burge. You...you just saved my life." She stared at the branches lying on her lawn, shaking her head.

"You said your name was Stuart, right?" Connie asked. "And you...you're name is Phoebe?"

That wasn't good, Stuart thought. I shouldn't have let her name slip out.

"Uh, yes," Phoebe said, unable now to deny it.

Connie stared at Phoebe for a minute.

"I'm a writer," Connie said. "I just finished a script for a new TV series. One of the characters in the script is named Phoebe."

"Oh...what a co-incidence," Phoebe said, un-comfortably.

"One thing about the series' characters," Connie said, "is that there are no co-incidences with anything that happens to them."

"Hmm...just like Prue always says," Stuart said.

"Like who?" Connie asked, thinking she might have heard a familiar name.

"Uh...just like you...and, uh, your sister always say...about the two of you," Stuart said, hurriedly improvising to try to cover up his name slip-up.

"You have a sister?" Connie asked, with a curious look.

"Yes...uh...uh...Matilda," Stuart said. Having just heard the song in the car it was the first name that popped into his head.

"The Phoebe in my script has sisters and gets premonitions," Connie said. "About things that will happen to people." She looked up at the remnants of the branches still attached to the tree trunk. "Like trees falling on people."

"Uh...premonitions?" Phoebe asked. "Uh...no...uh...I don't get premonitions."

"Uh...I'm sorry," Connie said. "You just saved my life and I'm standing here asking you all of these questions. Please, come inside. I need a coffee...and I'll make some for you too."

"Thank you," Stuart said. "That would be nice."

Yes, Phoebe thought. Those falling branches means Dalios found Connie and is here. Going inside for coffee will let us stay close to her to protect her.

"So, you're a TV writer," Stuart said, putting down his coffee cup on the saucer. "I've never met a real writer before. This is a real thrill for me."

"There's nothing special about writers," Connie said, smiling. "There's a lot of work and often not a lot to show for it."

"But it's so exciting," Stuart said. "Creating characters...and being involved in bringing them to life."

"You sound like you have an interest in writing," Connie said.

"Uh...yes...I guess I do," Stuart said. "But I've never tried it though I've gotten a little encouragement lately." He glanced over at Pheobe as he said that.

"If you have a feeling for it you should try it," Connie said. "So I'll add my encouragement, too."

"Thanks," Stuart said. "Uh...maybe I will...one day. So, what's your script about?" Stuart saw hesitation on Connie's face.

"Oh...sorry," he said. "I read somewhere that in Hollywood writers don't talk about their scripts because they're afraid someone will steal their ideas. I shouldn't have asked."

"Uh...that's OK," Connie said. "Yes, there's truth to that. But it's also because the ideas aren't always completely fleshed out. And we don't want to talk about them prematurely."

"So that's the case with your script?" Stuart asked, trying to get a confirmation about the day's events.

"Actually, this is its final draft," Connie said. "I've had discussions about the concept with Aaron Spelling but today I'm making the final pitch for him to approve it."

Thatís it, Stuart thought, the confirmation about the meeting.

"Aaron Spelling?" Phoebe asked, feigning awe. "Wow, he is so famous. He's done all of those TV series. Like 90210."

"You liked that show?" Connie asked.

"Yes," Phoebe said, "especially Shannen Doherty."

"Well...then if this show gets picked up, I think you'll like it, too," Connie said, ambiguously. "In fact, I need to be leaving soon. I'm pitching this to him at two o'clock."

"We don't want to keep you from such an important meeting," Phoebe said, standing up.

"Hmmm," Connie said, looking at Phoebe, "you remind me of someone. But I just can't place who it is."

"Really," Phoebe said, un-comfortably.

"Thank you for the coffee," Stuart said, standing up.

"No," Connie said, "thank you again for saving my life."

"We're just glad we could be of help," Stuart said. "Good luck with your pitch."

"Yes, good luck with getting your pilot green-lighted," Phoebe said, her concern about it showing.

"My pilot green-lighted...that's Hollywood language," Connie said, suspiciously, taking note also of the concern in Phoebe's voice. "I'm surprised you're familiar with it."

"Oh...uh...it must be something I read once in a fan magazine," Phoebe said.

"Umm," Connie said, sounding not entirely convinced. She looked at Phoebe again. "I wish I could remember who you remind me of."

 

The way from Connie's home was on a two-lane road passing through the Santa Monica Mountains. Phoebe kept a little distance behind Connie's car, hoping Connie wouldn't notice that she was being followed. The road had lots of blind turns and Connie would slow down as she approached them. But cars were speeding past them in the opposite direction, paying little heed to their inability to see around the bends.

Another blind right curve was coming up ahead of them. Phoebe, knowing that Connie would slow down before it, prepared to do the same when suddenly a dozen large rocks came tumbling down the hill on their right. They were on a collision course to where Connie's car would be in another two seconds.

Thatís Dalios trying to kill Connie, Phoebe thought.

Seeing them, Connie jammed on the brakes and turned sharply left. She went across into the oncoming lane, which at that instant was empty, spun around on a slight angle to the road and hit the hill on the side of the opposite lane with the front right corner of her car.

Phoebe also hit her brakes and pulled her car over perpendicular to Connie's car as the rocks bounced and landed just past them off to the far side of the road. Stuart jumped out of the car and ran to Connie but Phoebe stayed behind the wheel. Connie's car was just before the blind curve and Phoebe realized that cars speeding in the opposite direction around the blind curve would not see Connie's car and not have time to stop. They would go right into Connie. And kill her.

Phoebe put one hand on the horn and held it down. With her other hand, she steered the car over the double yellow line, straddled the two lanes and drove around the curve. Phoebe saw a truck coming down on the left lane. She turned her car sideways to block the lane, jumped out of the car and ran around the curve back to Connie.

She could hear the truck's horn honking behind the curve and the sound of brakes being slammed on. She reached Connie's car just as Stuart was helping Connie out from behind the wheel.

Connie was stunned, breathing heavily and clutching Stuart's arms. He and Phoebe helped her slowly walk further down the left lane, then sat her down on a rock along the side. Connie started to tremble and Stuart put his arms around her and held her close to him to calm her. They could hear the sound of a siren off in the distance. The siren was getting closer and after a minute, a Highway Patrol car pulled up along side them.

"That was quick thinking on your part to protect that woman," the Highway Patrolman said to Phoebe, finishing writing his notes. "Most people wouldn't have thought of blocking the curve that way. You probably saved her life from that truck. It's a good thing you kept your wits about you."

"My wits," Phoebe said, remembering what Leo had told her to use to save Connie. "Yes, I guess it is."

She left the policeman and walked back to where Stuart and Connie were standing, watching the tow truck hoist Connie's car. Connie had snapped out of her shock and had come back to being herself.

"It isn't that bad," Stuart said to Phoebe, "but just bad enough that it can't be driven."

"I have to thank you," Connie said, "for saving my life again. I don't understand what is happening to me today. I was almost killed twice.

"And I still don't understand how you were there both times to save me."

"I guess we just have a knack for being at the right place," Phoebe said.

"Or you know where the right place will be," Connie said. "Your name is Phoebe and you've twice known just where to be to save me. The Phoebe in my script knows where to be to save people, too. As I told you, there are no co-incidences in the script."

"Uh, well...this isn't your script," Phoebe said, with a nervous chuckle. "Real life is, uh, different."

"Maybe," Connie said, looking carefully at Phoebe. "And maybe there's something more to what I've written than just a fictional character with fictional powers."

Uh oh, Stuart thought. This isn't good. We can't affect Connie's ideas for the Charmed characters and her Charmed script. Any change to Charmed from what it had been could affect the timeline and change the future of the show - and of the real-life Charmed-modified reality.

"I wasn't sure how much emphasis to put on Phoebe's premonition power," Connie said, interrupting his thoughts. "But after what's happened today, I see it could be quite believable if I made her power stronger."

"Good, the stronger Phoebe is the better," Phoebe said. Connie gave her an odd look.

"I mean, uh, stronger is probably better," Phoebe said, trying to recover. "Your Phoebe has my name so I, uh, want her to have a strong power."

"Now I know," Connie said.

"You do?" Phoebe asked, nervously. "Know what?"

"Who you remind of," Connie said. "Alyssa Milano. Hasn't anyone ever told you that?"

"You mean Alyssa Milano, the TV star?" Stuart asked, feigning ignorance

"She's not a star yet," Connie said, "but one day she probably will be. You have more than a passing resemblance to her."

"Uh...really," Phoebe said. "I, uh...no, no one's told me that."

"Uh, about your meeting with Spelling," Stuart said, re-directing the conversation. "You're going to be late for it."

"Uh, yes," Connie said. "Worse than that, I'll have to cancel it. I'd be late now even if I had my car. Without it, I don't have a way of getting there at all."

"Yes you do," Phoebe said. "We'll take you. You'll be a little late but you'll still be able to pitch Charmed." The word was barely out of Phoebe's mouth when she realized what she had said.

"How did you know the name of the show?" Connie asked, surprised.

"Uh...you mentioned the name," Stuart quickly said. "When you were stunned after the accident. You said something about having to get to Spelling to pitch Charmed. That was on your mind before the accident so you, uh, said it to me. People say what was last on their minds when they're in shock."

"Oh," Connie said. Stuart couldn't tell if she had bought his explanation. He thought he sensed a little suspicion in her voice.

"Look, you've done enough for me today," Connie said. "I can't ask for anything more and take you out of your way."

"We're happy to do it," Phoebe said, "aren't we Stuart."

"Of course we are," he said. "We wouldn't want you to miss this opportunity for you to get your Charmed series."

"And maybe you could," Phoebe said, "well, maybe I could go up with you for a minute just to meet Mr. Spelling."

"After everything you've done for me today I'm sure I can get him to see you," Connie said. "I'll call him and tell him I'm going to be about twenty minutes late." She pulled out her cell phone and was about to open it when she stopped and turned back to Phoebe and Stuart.

"And I'll also tell you about Charmed," she said. "It's the story of three very different sisters who find out that they happen to be witches. It's about the relationships and the conflicts between them. And about their reluctance, and sometimes resistance, to accept the responsibilities that come with their powers. And the conflict those powers bring with their wanting to lead normal people's lives."

"That concept sounds really good," Stuart said.

"Yes. It sounds realistic and quite believable," Phoebe added.

"You think so?" Connie asked. "It's good to hear a regular person's take on it. On the way I'll tell you more about it."

"We'd love to hear it," Stuart said.

As Connie opened her cell phone and dialed Spelling Phoebe took Stuart aside.

"Regular person?" Stuart repeated. "More like regular witch." Phoebe gave him a shush, thensmiled.

"Going up with Connie to Mr. Spelling will let me protect her until she gives him the script," Phoebe said.

"Good thinking," Stuart said. "Call Prue and tell her we're on our way."

A handful of people were passing by the entrance to the parking garage, which was connected to the office building housing Spelling Television on busy Wilshire Boulevard. But no one was paying attention to who or what was inside the garage.

"It's the only way," Prue said, standing a few feet inside the garage near the car entrance gate.

Piper looked at her and hesitated.

"Are you sure?" Piper asked.

"Do it," Prue said, in a resigned but firm tone.

Piper took a deep breath and turned towards the sidewalk beside the garage entrance.

"Hey, look who's here," she shouted into the street. "It's Shannen Doherty."

"The Shannen Doherty," Shannen shouted, too, in her mind changing from thinking and being Prue to being her real self, again. "The best rising star in television."

Two teen-age girls walking by turned and looked inside.

"That's Shannen Doherty," one of them said. "From 90210."

"Wow," the other said. "Is it really her?"

"You bet it is," Shannen said.

"Hey, is that Shannen Doherty?" a passing young man asked his friend.

"She's supposed to be wild," his friend said.

"I'm not wild," Shannen said. "I just don't like being told what not to do." She climbed up onto the machine that dispenses the garage tickets and sat on it.

"What's going on?" a couple passing by asked.

A small crowd started to form inside the garage entrance as a garage attendant came running over.

"Hey, get off there," he said to Shannen. "You can't sit there."

"No?" Shannen asked. "OK." Balancing herself, she carefully stood up on top of the machine.

"You can't stand up there, either," the attendant shouted at her.

"I said I don't like being told what not to do," Shannen said.

"That's Shannen Doherty," a man on the street said to his friend. "The bad-girl of Hollywood."

"The papers say she gets high and acts wild," his friend said, loud enough for everyone to hear.

The crowd had now gotten much larger. Shannen had succeeded in getting lots of peopleís attention and drawing them inside the garage. Now, from the corner of her eye, she saw Phoebe's car drive into the garage and pull over into a space marked Reserved for Spelling Television.

"I'm high because I'm up here," Shannen said, turning to the crowd, her back towards Phoebe's car. "And I act only when I'm on television."

The crowd started to laugh.

"If you don't get down I'm calling the police," the attendant said.

"I like it up here," Shannen said. "Anyone want to come up and join me?"

"What's going on there?" Connie asked as she got out of Phoebe's car.

"Can't be anything important," Phoebe said, blocking Connie's view. "Certainly not as important as your meeting with Mr. Spelling that you're late for."

"Hmm...you're right," Connie said. They started to walk from the car towards the elevator off to the right side of the garage entrance.

Getting out of the car after them, Stuart carefully looked around the garage. Standing beside a column, un-noticed by the crowd, was a figure he recognized. Tall, with grayish black hair and a smug, powerful look on his long, somewhat triangular face. And wearing a full-length, black cloak. A figure he had last seen surrounded by fire in Prueís bedroom in The Manor. Despite the immediate fear Stuart felt in seeing him again he quickly walked over to him.

"There's a lot of people over there," Stuart said to him, pointing to the crowd Shannen had drawn into the garage.

The figure ignored him and started off in the direction of Connie and Phoebe.

"A lot of people who would see a demon use his power," Stuart said, "and who would know the truth about the existence of demons. And a world that would be alerted to and then be on the lookout for demons. Even though this is Hollywood, I don't think the Infernal Council would bethrilled with that kind of publicity."

The demon stopped. He wanted to continue towards Connie but, it seemed to Stuart, his words had registered and the demon was now using all of his self-control to hold himself back. He stared at them as they reached the elevator door and Connie pressed the button.

Stuart saw the evil anger on his face. The anger overtook the demon's judgement and he took a step towards Connie and Phoebe but the elevator door opened and they went into the car. The door closed and the demon turned his gaze and his anger at Stuart.

Stuart saw fire literally burning in both of the demon's eyes.

"I will kill you right now for this," Dalios said.

"It won't stop The Charmed Ones," Stuart said. "He has the final version of the script."

"No...he doesnít...not yet," Dalios said slowly as he realized something. "The elevator." The demon started to raise his hand.

"No!" Stuart shouted and pushed Dalios backwards. Stuart's impurtenance angered Dalios and distracted the demon from Connie.

"You dare to touch me, mortal!" Dalios said, the fire burning in his eyes again.

"Yes," Stuart said. "To save the future."

"It will be a future without you," the demon said as he raised his hand over Stuart. There was no place for Stuart to hide and no time for him to run. There was nothing he could do but submit to the demon's wrath and power.

Shannen looked over her shoulder towards them and saw that Stuart was in trouble.

"Hey, look at that guy all decked out," she said to the crowd, pointing at Dalios. "Looks like a typical movie demon from central casting. Or maybe he's just a weirdo who came over from his hangout at Hollywood and Vine."

"These Hollywood people are all crazy," one guy said, looking at the demon.

"Come join us," Shannen shouted at Dalios. "There's room up here with me."

"Yeah, come on over," someone in the crowd shouted at him.

Shannen had gotten everyone's attention focused on Dalios. Fuming, the demon realized he could not do anything to Stuart without the crowd seeing him do it.

"I will still kill you and the witches," he said to Stuart as he lowered his hand. "Our paths will cross again." He looked up and stared at Shannen for a long moment, the fires still burning in his eyes. Then he turned and ran behind a car, out of sight of the crowd. Stuart hurriedly followed him and just managed to see him become a blurry image and disappear.

Stuart closed his eyes, took a deep breath and tried to calm himself down. He had come so very close to being killed by Dalios. Only Shannen's quick thinking had saved him. He took another deep breath, turned around and walked over to the crowd.

"What happened to the weirdo?" a man asked him. "We want to get him up here with Doherty."

"Hah," Stuart said. "That isn't Shannen Doherty. She's an impersonator. Her name is...Matilda."

"Hey," Shannen said. "Don't ruin my little gig."

"You mean this isn't really Shannen Doherty?" one of the teenage girls asked.

"No, she's a fake," Piper said, making her way through the crowd. "I've seen her do this before. She's just acting like she's Shannen Doherty. Tell them...Matilda."

"Now why did you have to tell them that," Shannen said, acting upset. "I had a good thing going here. I had them all convinced I really was Shannen Doherty. Maybe one of them was a talent agent and this would have been my big break."

"Man, I knew all along you weren't her," a young man said.

"Aw, we just wasted ten minutes for nothing," the teenage girl said.

As the crowd started to disperse a man with a camera came running over.

"I'm with the Hollywood Reporter," the man said. "What's going on with Shannen Doherty?"

"That's not her," a middle-aged, slightly heavy man told him. "Just a Hollywood impersonater named Matilda trying to find some suckers who'd believe her that she's Doherty."

"Was she any good?" the photographer asked.

"I saw through her right away," the man boasted, lying. "She's a terrible actress."

The photographer shrugged his shoulders and walked away. Shannen, still standing on top of the machine, put her hands on her hips.

"Terrible actress?!" she repeated, staring and squinting at the middle-aged man as he walked away.

"Actually, you were pretty good," Piper said. She extended her hand to Shannen and helped her down from the machine.

"I know how hard that was for you to act like the press makes you out to be," Piper said. "Are you OK?"

"I suppose it re-inforced the misconceptions the press spreads about me," Shannen said. "At least I was able to say that who they saw wasn't really me."

Piper put her hands supportively on Shannen's shoulders.

"No, that isn't you," Piper said.

Shannen gave Piper a small smile then turned to Stuart.

"Matilda?" Shannen asked. "You could have given me a sexier name."

"Uh..." Stuart said, "that's what I told Connie was the name of Phoebe's sister. Uh... never mind why I had to tell her. So...it was the first name that came into my mind now."

"Well, I think you can go back now to being Prue," Piper said. "Dalios is gone."

"He warned me that he'll be back to kill us," Stuart said. "And speaking of that, thanks for saving me, Prue," Stuart said.

"We take care of each other, even if we don't have any powers," she said.

The elevator door opened and Phoebe came out.

"Connie's safe?" Prue asked.

"She gave Mr. Spelling the script," Phoebe said. "It will all happen as it should...or, uh, as it did." She paused for a moment.

"It was weird seeing Mr. Spelling like this," Phoebe said. "Having to act like a wide-eyed TV fan who doesn't know him."

"What did he say to you?" Piper asked.

"He said I reminded him of Alyssa," Phoebe said, "just like Connie said."

"So much for your makeup hiding who you are," Prue said. Phoebe shrugged her shoulders.

"When Connie told him my name is Phoebe," she continued, "he looked me over very carefully. You know, with that experienced eye that he has. Then he told Connie that if for any reason Lori Rom didn't work out, I...uh, that is Alyssa, would be perfect for the part of Phoebe."

"Life imitating...life?" Piper asked.

"Spelling's selection of you, in May, to play Phoebe," Stuart said, "is going to happen because you came back from the future and gave him the idea today. A future in which you already were Phoebe because he had already selected you to play her before your giving him the idea today ever happened."

Stuart shook his head and squinted his eyes.

"That's circular temporal cause and effect," he said. "There are rules to time and that's got to break them. Logically, that can't possibly happen."

"Well, somehow it did happen," Prue said. "Or...will happen."

"Enough, don't go there," Phoebe said. "That's too much for me to follow, let alone try to understand."

"Well, what we can understand is that we pulled this off without causing a conflict with two Shannens," Piper said.

"Yeah, it worked," Stuart said to Piper. "It's a good thing you're not so well known. It would have been hard to come up with another believable cover-up for Holly Combs, too."

Piper squinted at him.

"Uh...I mean, you're not as famous as Shannen," Stuart said. "Uh, that is, you're not recognized by most people. Uh, no...what I mean is-"

"Stop," Prue said. "Whatever you say keeps making it worse. Just...let it go."

Stuart gave Piper a small smile and shrugged his shoulders.

"Let's get out of here before anyone does recognize you," Phoebe said. She looked over at her car parked off to the side.

"Everyone's invited over to my place," she said happily.

 

"Those fajitas were good," Piper said, as she threw her paper plate and plastic cup into the large brown bag.

"Make sure anything we touched is back in its place," Prue said. "We don't want anything changed for Alyssa when she comes home."

"You're talking about me as if I'm not here," Phoebe complained.

"You're not," Piper said. "You're off enjoying yourself in Hawaii."

"Oh," Phoebe said and smiled at Piper. "I am."

"We can't leave the garbage in the house for you to find when you come home," Stuart said to Phoebe.

"I'll take it outside," Phoebe said. "The trash will get picked up before I come back."

"Did you...uh, are you having a nice time over there in Hawaii?" Stuart asked.

"Yes, I am. Or did," Phoebe said. "Especially when I got the call in Hawaii to come read for the part of Phoebe as soon as we finished shooting that Fantasy Island episode."

"You know, it felt good seeing Connie again and saving her life," Piper said.

"And saving Charmed," Phoebe said, "and our careers, too."

"And we did it without any powers," Piper said.

"Not true," Stuart said. "You used your powers of innovation."

"And our wit," Prue added. "I guess Leo - and The Elders - were right, after all."

"They really do know what the three of you are capable of doing," Stuart said. "Charmed or not."

"It felt a little strange hearing Connie tell us in the car all about Charmed," Phoebe said.

"That's because you had been part of it almost from the beginning and knew everything," Stuart said, "but for me it was quite interesting. I hadn't realized how much of an afterthought Leo's development was. When I asked her about your having some special help she had only a vague concept about his character.

"But she did have an idea what you might evolve into over time, Piper," he added.

Piper became quiet for a moment, seemingly lost in thought.

"What's wrong?" Prue asked.

"We're here, we're ourselves," Piper said. "Maybe...I could...we could...stay for a while...and go..."

"Home...here?" Prue asked. "Like Alyssa was able to. I'd love to go to home, too. But we can't. There are two of each of us here."

"I know," Piper said. "It was just a thought."

"And we have to go back and vanquish the demons planning major destruction," Prue said.

"We already vanquished most of them," Phoebe said.

"But maybe they'll get un-vanquished if we stay here," Prue said. "Not going back to the future in the Charmed-modified reality may make everything that we did in that future not happen."

"This is why I don't like going back in time," Phoebe said. "It gets confusing about what happened and what didn't happen...or what won't have happened in the future even though it already did happen."

"What it comes down to," Piper said, a trace of sadness in her voice, "is that there is a world of innocents to be saved. Like the people born on the eve of the solstice that Argyris and Balin still want to kill. And we're the only ones who can, and still have to, save them." She exhaled.

"OK," Piper said looking up towards the ceiling, "take us-"

Before she could finish the sentence, the large eight-foot long medicine caplet shaped yellow light appeared beside them. Piper stared at it for a moment with an ambivilant feeling of acceptance and destiny.

"Take us home," she said calmly, as the yellow light slowly wrapped itself around them.