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
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.
"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
"Hey, you're wearing clothes," she said sleepily
as she felt his pants against her skin. "You can't go to sleep with your
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
"After Dalios," Leo said.
Hearing that demon's name cleared her head very quickly.
"Dalios?" she asked, hoping she hadn't heard
"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
"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
"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?"
"To two years ago," Leo said. "To 1998...and
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
"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
"Oh...oh...we've seen that before," Piper
"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
"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
"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
"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
"Just because your powers don't work here doesn't mean
you're not witches anymore," Stuart said. "That's happened to you
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"Send us back with that yellow light in reverse,"
"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
"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
"And that was probably in March of '98," Stuart
"And maybe specifically on March 30th," Phoebe
said. "Leo said Dalios came here to kill Connie before two o'clock
"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?"
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"So Connie lives in the San Fernando Valley,"
"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
"Well, I guess that's all we can do tonight,"
"There is one more thing that I can do,
tonight," Phoebe said. "I'm going to go to sleep in my own
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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,"
"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
"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."
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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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,"
"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
"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,
"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.
"Wow," the other said. "Is it really
"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,"
"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
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 be† thrilled 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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
"Aw, we just wasted ten minutes for nothing," the
teenage girl said.
As the crowd started to disperse a man with a camera came
"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?"
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
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,"
"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
"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.
"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
"Everyone's invited over to my place," she said
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,"
"You're not," Piper said. "You're off
enjoying yourself in Hawaii."
"Oh," Phoebe said and smiled at Piper. "I
"We can't leave the garbage in the house for you
to find when you come home," Stuart said to Phoebe.
take it outside," Phoebe said. "The trash will get picked up before I
"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
"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
"I know," Piper said. "It was just a
"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
"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,
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.