The late afternoon sun, hidden behind the hills of the Marin
Headlands, was no longer visible from the Golden Gate Bridge’s walkway, its
continuing descent to the horizon now left solely to one's imagination. The
waning rays of sunlight backlighting the silhouetted Headlands made for a
pretty sight. But they offered no more than a trace of illumination on the
bridge itself sitting on the eastern, bay side of the Headlands. And even less light on the city of San
Francisco, looking peaceful and quiet, across the bay.
"In all the times that I've been in San
Francisco," Stuart said to Phoebe as he looked down at the bay beneath
them, "I’ve never walked across the bridge at sunset."
On the bay side of the bridge, the side further away from
the Headlands, the walkway ran beside the orange, spun strands of wire that
held the bridge high above the Golden Gate waters below it. On the roadway to
the left of the walkway, cars and buses, a few trucks speeding to end their
day, an occasional motorcycle and a Bridge Authority van with a flashing speed
limit sign pacing them all, made for an eclectic mix of traffic. They whizzed past
Stuart and Phoebe and past the dozen or so other remaining bridge
To the walkway's right was a protective railing running the
length of the bridge. Only chest high, it did not obstruct the view and Stuart,
looking off to his right, could see the lights of San Francisco across the bay.
"This was a really good idea," he said. "I'm
glad you wanted to walk across the bridge now. You get a different perspective
in the evening than the one you get here during the day."
"We need a different perspective," Phoebe
said, "in more than just the view from the bridge. We haven't been making
any headway in finding those demons. And the solstice is getting closer."
The lights of Ghirardelli Square, just above Aquatic Park at
the end of Fisherman's Wharf, were becoming brighter as the twilight
surrounding the huge, twenty-five foot high Ghirardelli sign and the smaller,
path lights in the park below it, grew darker.
Stuart motioned to Phoebe to stop as he turned to admire the view of the
Square overlooking the water.
"I love this view of San Francisco," Stuart said.
"You love every view of San Francisco,"
Phoebe said. She zipped up her leather
jacket as the night air on the open bridge was becoming cooler.
"Honestly," she said, "if Connie Burge had
set Charmed some place else instead of San Francisco, I don’t think you’d be so
sanguine about our being stuck here chasing demons."
Stuart turned and gave Phoebe a look.
"No-o!" he said.
"Some place else...like, say, in Hollywood," she
"No-o...that wouldn’t have made a difference,"
Stuart said. "There’s nothing
wrong with Hollywood." He paused
for a few seconds. "Well, almost
nothing wrong. More or less." He half squinted his left eye and shrugged
his left shoulder. "Uh...maybe more."
Phoebe smiled as Stuart looked across the water at the city
he loved. He stood there for another moment, then took a deep breath and turned
back to Phoebe.
"Maybe we're just trying too hard to find these
demons," he said, as they resumed their walk towards the northern, Marin
end of the bridge. "Maybe if we let it go for a day or two, we'll be able
to look at it fresher and come up with something."
They reached the northern tower of the bridge, the three-quarter
mark of its span. The walkway veered right in a semi-circle around the tower,
widening enough to accommodate a small three-wheeled, patrol cab parked flush
against the tower's side. The vehicle's diminutive size - only three feet wide -
allowed it to be driven along the walkway without interfering with walkers and
bicyclists. As they came upon the cab a policeman was getting in to it.
"The bridge closes to pedestrians in half-an-hour at
nine o'clock," he said. "Be sure to be off by then."
"Thanks, we will be," Phoebe said. "We'll be
starting back across to the San Francisco side in a minute."
"You have a good night," the policeman said.
He started the motor and the cab's small headlights went on. He pulled the cab
out slowly, maneuvering around the corner of the tower to drive down the
walkway and alert the remaining strollers. As he did, Stuart noticed something
on the ground reflecting in the headlight. The cab gone, he pulled out his mini
Maglite and shined it at what he had seen. Phoebe knelt down to look at it.
a keychain," she said as she picked it up. "Someone
dropped...Oh!" She suddenly froze.
"Phoebe..." Stuart said. She remained like that
for a few seconds then slowly stood up.
"You had a premonition," he said, and Phoebe
slowly nodded her head.
"She...she was lying on the ground," Phoebe began.
"Piper was kneeling beside her and...and Morris was standing over her body. And...there
were pentagrams all around her. And...and one was on her chest."
She held the keys to Stuart's light. A plastic
California license plate, with a name engraved in blue below the trademark
California golden sun, was on the keychain's ring.
"Crystal," Phoebe read and then looked up at
"Finding a keychain's owner is next to
impossible," Stuart said.
have to find her," Phoebe said. "Whoever Crystal is...she's
the pentagram demon's next victim."
"What did she look like?" Prue asked, as they all
sat together in The Manor’s living room.
"I couldn't see much of her face," Phoebe
answered. "Her head was turned away from me. But I'd say she was somewhere
in her late twenties to early thirties."
"And I knew her?" Piper asked.
"You did," Phoebe replied. "I heard you say
to Morris “that's her”. And then Morris
said “what a horrible Thursday this turned out to be”."
"So who do you know named Crystal?" Prue asked.
"Phew," Piper exhaled. She thought silently for a
"Crystal Gayle," she said. "And uh...Crystal
Duggan. You know her, too. She worked for a while on Charmed in makeup last
"I remember her," Phoebe said. "She was
maybe...twenty. The girl I saw was older. And even from the side I'm sure I
would have recognized her if it was her."
"I don't think Morris would need you to ID Crystal
Gayle," Prue said. "But I'll check on where she is at the magazine
"That's it," Piper said. "I don't know any
"There's got to be someone you're forgetting,"
"Or...someone you haven't met yet," Stuart said.
"Maybe between now and when she's killed...uh, when she's supposed
to be killed you're going to meet her."
"So nothing can happen to her until I do meet
her," Piper said.
"If Stuart's right," Prue said. "But
if it's someone you just don't remember, it could happen anytime."
"The premonition I saw was at night," Phoebe said,
"and Morris said it was Thursday. Now it’s Sunday night. So we have four
days to find her."
"Less," Prue said. "You saw Piper at the
murder scene but we don't how much earlier the police found Crystal's body. Nor
how long before that she was actually killed."
"I think this is as much as we can do tonight,"
Stuart said. "Let's all get some sleep. We'll get a fresh look at it in
the morning. Maybe by then you'll remember someone, Piper."
"Maybe," Piper said, hopefully.
Piper took a deep breath of the clear, mid-morning air as
she stood on The Manor’s porch. It had come to be very special to her as it
reminded her of the fresh morning air on her ranch. It was the only
thing she had that reminded her of home. And she missed her home so very much.
She took another deep breath, gave a sigh and took the mail inside, closing the
door behind her.
She looked at the first two envelopes, which were bills, and
then looked at the third one. She stared at it for a moment, then tapped it
back and forth against her other hand as she walked back to the living room.
"This was with the mail," she said to Phoebe.
"It's addressed to A.J.M. There's no return address." Phoebe's
expression changed as she and Piper looked at each other.
"What's up?" Stuart asked as he came in to the
"This letter addressed to A.J.M. just came in the
mail," Piper said.
"So what's wrong?" Stuart asked. "Who's
A.J.M.?" He looked back and forth
between Phoebe and Piper before he made the connection.
"Oh," he said. "But there must be hundreds of
people in San Francisco with the initials A.J.M. There's no reason to think
that its your initials for Alyssa Jane Milano."
"It has our address," Piper said.
"They could have made a mistake in one of the
numbers," Stuart said. "And
anyway, no one can know about you here."
"There's Dalios," Phoebe said.
"You think that demon mailed you a
letter?" Stuart asked. "I doubt the Post Office has a mailbox
outside The Infernal Council. And besides, Leo said The Council was restraining
"Leo also said that Dalios wouldn't stay restrained
forever," Phoebe said.
"Look," Stuart said, "we're building demon
mountains out of...uh..."
"Demon molehills," Phoebe said. "But anything
with the word demon in front of it is dangerous. Especially if it’s a
demon named Dalios. Leo said we aren't strong enough to go up against
"OK," Stuart said, "let's just open the
envelope and see what it is."
"We should x-ray it first," Phoebe said.
"X-ray?" Piper asked. "How would we do
"I could work on a spell to make Superman real,"
Phoebe said, "at least for just a few minutes. Then he could use his x-ray
vision to see what's inside it."
Piper and Stuart glanced at each other, both hoping they
hadn't really heard Phoebe say what she said.
"Why don't you just use your premonition power,
instead," Piper said, trying to inject some sanity as she handed the
envelope to Phoebe.
"Premonition," Phoebe said. "Right. OK, I'll
try." She took the envelope in both of her hands and closed her eyes.
Stuart saw her expression change.
"You got a premonition?" he asked.
Phoebe nodded her head and opened her eyes.
"What did you see," Piper asked.
"Our mailman delivering the envelope to us,"
"Well, at least we know it wasn't a demon
mailman who brought it," Stuart said and shrugged. "Just give it to
me and I'll open it. If it was sent by a demon, whatever is in it won't
have any affect on me."
"We don't know that," Phoebe said. "We don't
know what's in there."
"And we'll never know," Stuart said, taking the
envelope from her, "unless we open it." He turned the envelope over.
"Uh, maybe you should stand back," he said, with a
hint of a smile. "Just in case."
Piper took Phoebe's arm and they backed away. Stuart slipped his finger under the corner
of the flap and carefully tore it open.
He looked inside, pulled out a piece of paper folded in three and slowly
"What does it say?" Phoebe asked. Stuart exhaled.
"You will soon be undone," he read.
"That's all?" Piper asked.
"Let me see it," Phoebe said, grabbing it from
"There's nothing to see," he said. "That's
all it says."
"Undone?" Piper said. "As in-"
"As in undone as Phoebe Halliwell," Phoebe said.
"As in Dalios killing me."
"Whoa," Stuart said. "We don't know that
Dalios has anything to do with this. And it doesn't say anything about killing
"What else can 'undone' mean?" Phoebe asked.
"With Charmed in the real world, if I'm not Phoebe...then I don't exist. I'm dead. And
using my real initials...it could only have come from Dalios."
"Plain block letters," Piper said looking at the
paper. "It could have been written by anyone."
"If it is from Dalios, why would he warn you
instead of surprising you?" Stuart asked.
"To taunt me," Phoebe said.
"He said he would kill all of us," Piper
said, "not just you."
"But I challenged him," Phoebe said. "I
defied him and trapped him. It would be his revenge against me."
"Look, this could just be someone's twisted idea of a
prank," Stuart said. "The idea of Dalios mailing you a threat-"
"Is exactly what he would do to make it all the more
terrifying," Phoebe said.
"Normal, benign things - like a letter - conveying
sudden danger," Stuart said. "Psychological games. It's Hitchcockian.
It's Hollywood." He shrugged his shoulders.
"But we're not in a movie," he said. "We're
not even in a Charmed episode."
"If Dalios knows who we really are," Phoebe said,
"then he might do exactly that -
like in a movie - just to toy with me."
"Stop," Piper said. "We don't have anything
more than a single anonymous, cryptic sentence. You're working yourself up
The light forming interrupted Piper.
"What's happening?" Leo asked as he saw the look
on Phoebe's face.
"Uh...nothing," Piper said.
"Actually..." Phoebe began.
"Did The Elders come up with anything?" Stuart
asked, quickly changing the subject. There wasn't any way Phoebe's concerns
about the initials on the envelope could be explained to Leo.
"No, they didn't," Leo said. "The name
Crystal didn't mean anything special to them. There's a witch named Crystal but
she's in Australia. They had no suggestions. Other than that you have to come
up with something."
"Oh thanks," Piper said. "They're being their
usual helpful selves."
"It's not Crystal Gayle," Prue said as she came
into The Manor and walked into the living room. "She's on a tour. Kansas
City tonight, Denver the day after tomorrow, then Seattle. San Francisco is not
even on her schedule.
"Did you think of anyone?"
"No," Piper said. "But I realized this
morning that the name Crystal is familiar. But I don't know why."
"I ran a check in Four One Five's computer files,"
Prue said. "There were only three other Crystals in there. One is a
fashion designer based in London. It took a while but I managed to verify that
she's still there with no plans of coming here.
"The second Crystal was a Duckmaster in Orlando."
"What's a Duckmaster?" Piper asked.
"Hmm...if you don't know that then you
definitely don't know her," Prue said. "That rules her out."
"A duck trainer," Stuart said to Piper, "at
The Peabody Hotel in Orlando. They have ducks that march to music twice a day. I've seen
them do it and they're pretty good. But I've seen only male Duckmasters."
"She's the first woman Duckmaster," Prue said.
"That's why she was written up in Four One Five. She was part of an article
titled Unusual Women's Firsts."
"Who was the third one?" Leo asked.
"The writer of a Letter to the Editor
last year," Prue said. "She lives in San Ramon."
"That's not a lot to go on," Piper said.
"No, it's not," Prue agreed. "And we don't
have any feasible options. There isn't any easy reliable way of finding girls
with that name."
"We have to try something," Phoebe said.
"The letter writer's name is Crystal D'Angelo,"
"No...I don’t know her, either," Piper said.
"We said you may not have met her yet," Stuart
said. "Maybe in looking for the 'right' Crystal you will
"I called someone I know at The Chronicle," Prue
said. "He’s going to let me look through their files. Of course, I made up
a story that we were doing an article on name usage. Come help me look, Stuart.
Maybe together we'll come up with someone.
"Piper, go with Phoebe out to San Ramon," Prue
continued. "Phoebe should be able to recognize if that Crystal is her,
even from that side view. I called her and left a message on her answering
machine. I said that we were doing a follow-up on letter writers to see if they
were still reading Four One Five and that someone was coming to interview
"I want to help, too,” Leo said, “but I don't know if
there's anything that I can do."
"Actually, there is," Phoebe said. "Go ask
The Elders if anything has changed with Dalios. Whether the Infernal Council is
still keeping him under wraps."
"Why?" Leo asked. "What's Dalios' connection
"Leo...just ask them," Phoebe said. "Never
mind why. I...I just need to know."
Leo glanced at Piper.
"Sure," he said and disappeared into the white
"Now that I've seen her I'd recognize her,” Piper said,
after they interviewed D’Angelo, “but she's still not the right Crystal.”
"Short, cropped hair, over forty," Phoebe said.
"That definitely not who I saw in the premonition."
They were standing on the checkout line at a San Ramon take-out
store. Two sandwiches, two Snapples and a couple of french fries were being
rung up for them on the register.
"Here," Phoebe said, giving the clerk her credit
Piper leaned forward and looked at the girl's name tag. It
said 'Marie'. She's not a Crystal, Piper thought. The girl gave Piper a funny
"Uh...I just like to survey which names are
popular," Piper said, awkwardly. "Marie is a nice name. Your middle
name isn't Crystal, is it?"
"Huh?" Marie said, giving Piper a look like she
was very weird. Then something displayed on the credit card reader and Marie
turned to read it.
"Uh...this credit card," she said, turning to
Phoebe. "There, uh, seems to be a problem. It's invalid."
"What?" Phoebe said. "It can't be." The
girl swiped it through the reader again.
"It still says it's invalid," Marie said.
"That can't be," Phoebe said. "I just used it
yesterday." She took the card back, turned it over and pulled out her
cellphone. "I'm going to call them and get this corrected right now."
Two people were waiting behind Piper to pay for their food
and they were getting impatient.
"Uh...here," Piper said, opening her wallet and
pulling out her credit card. "Use mine."
Phoebe was having trouble with the cell phone's reception
and she walked outside to make the call.
"This card's OK," Marie said after the machine
printed out the charge receipt. Piper signed the slip, took the bags and went
out to Phoebe.
"That can't be!" Phoebe shouted into the cell
phone. She was silent for a few seconds, then closed the cell phone and put it
"She said the card number is invalid," Phoebe
said. "They've never issued a credit card with that number. And they have
no record of Phoebe Halliwell ever having a credit card."
"There must be some mistake," Piper said. Phoebe
was about to say something but stopped, thought for a moment, and exhaled.
"Unless..." she said.
"Unless what?" Piper asked.
Phoebe didn't respond. She just stared ahead blankly and
slowly shook her head, a fearful look on her face.
"Maybe we can use a spell to help you remember who
Crystal is," Phoebe said as they came into The Manor. "Maybe that
spell you made up to remember Mordun's memories."
"This is different," Piper said. "I don't
know if there is anything to remember. We'd need a different spell.
Let's look in the Book of Shadows and see if there's anything in it that can
Phoebe nodded and they made their way up to the attic. A
minute later the white light formed and Leo orbed into the living room.
"Anyone home?" he called out.
"Leo?" Piper called down. "We're in the
Leo turned towards the staircase when the doorbell rang. He
glanced up the stairs, then turned around, walked to the front door and opened
"I've come for A.J.M." the man said. He was shorter than Leo, with a gaunt,
chiseled face and a shock of black hair falling over his forehead. He reminded
Leo of an evil crow, poised to gobble up the crops in a field.
"There's no A.J.M. here," Leo said.
"But of course there is," the man replied,
confidently. There was something in the way he said it that made Leo un-comfortable.
"No, you're mistaken," Leo said. "I told you.
There's nobody here named A.J.M."
The man stared at Leo for a few seconds, turned around and
took a few steps away from the door. Then he turned back, a smirk on his face.
"When you see A.J.M.," he said, "tell her she
will be undone." He turned around again and went down the steps.
Leo watched him reach the street and walk away. Shaking his
head slightly, he shut the door and went up to the attic.
"Was that the doorbell?" Piper asked.
"Yeah," Leo said. "A weird guy. He insisted
someone named A.J.M. lived here."
"What?!" Phoebe said, looking frightened.
"What did he say?"
"He said to tell her she would be undone," Leo
"Was he tall, with grayish black hair and a long, sort
of triangular face?" Phoebe asked.
"No," Leo said. "He was short with a guant
face and his hair was all black."
"That's not Dalios," Piper said.
"What is going on with Dalios?" Leo asked,
"What did you find out?" Phoebe asked him.
"The Elders said that they think Dalios is still
restrained by the Infernal Council, though they can't be sure to what extent.
But he may be up to something with a demon named Braiden. This demon may be
doing things for Dalios that Dalios can't do himself because the Council is
"Like mailing letters," Phoebe said. "And
paying house calls."
"Wait," Leo said. "You don't think that was
Braiden who was at the door. Why? And who is A.J.M.?"
"I can't explain it to you," Phoebe said.
"Phoebe, what do you mean you can't explain it to
me," Leo said. "It's my job to protect you but if you don't tell me
what you think is going on I can't protect you."
"We know, Leo," Piper said. "You try to
protect us. And we need protection. But...let's just say that we think
there's a possibility Dalios may be coming after us, and that he's starting
"You have to tell me more," he insisted.
"We can't," Piper said. "You...just have to
trust me. Trust us."
"It's not a matter of trust," Leo said, looking
into Piper's eyes. Piper came closer to him and gently kissed him.
"It's only a maybe," she said. "But see what
else you can come up."
Leo put his hands on Piper's arms and gently kissed her.
Then he let go, nodded his head and orbed out.
"Look, this may still be just a prank," Piper
said, not very convincingly.
"But if it isn't..." Phoebe said, and exhaled.
"You're right. Maybe its nothing. Let's get back to finding Crystal. We
know that she really is in danger."
Phoebe opened the door.
"Hello," Lorna Palmer said. "Is Piper
"Hi, Lorna," Phoebe said, a little surprised at
"Oh, you know me," Lorna said. "Have we met?
I'm so sorry. I don't remember you."
"Lorna...it's me, Phoebe." She saw no recognition
in Lorna's expression. "Phoebe Halliwell...Piper's sister."
"Oh...uh...I know Prue," Lorna said. "I
didn't know Piper had another sister. It's, uh, very nice to meet
Phoebe stared at Lorna is disbelief, not knowing what to say
"Well, uh, just tell Piper that I picked up the tickets
for the matinee show," Lorna said. "I'll give her a call tomorrow.
Thanks." She turned around and went down the steps.
Phoebe stared after her, then closed the door and, dazed,
slowly walked back to the living room.
"Hey, what's wrong?" Piper asked.
"Lorna Palmer was just here," Phoebe said.
"She didn't recognize me. She didn't even know who I was."
"What!?" Piper exclaimed. "She's your friend.
We...we were just in her house the other week saving her daughters from that
ghost. How is that possible?"
"It's possible," Phoebe said, slowly, "if I'm
being undone. If...I don't exist anymore."
"You do exist," Piper said. "I can see
you. I can touch you."
Phoebe shook her head.
"First it was my credit card," she said. "The
bank said both it and I don't exist. And now I don't exist for Lorna. I'm
slowly being erased. Being...undone. Just the way the letter said."
"If this is Dalios," Piper said, "how
can he just make people forget you?"
"We saw he can change perceptions of reality,"
Phoebe said. "And those altered perceptions can change reality itself. My
reality as Phoebe."
"Leo," Piper called. "Leo!"
Leo began to orb in as Stuart and Prue came into The Manor.
"What's going on?" Leo asked.
"What's going on?" Prue asked, like an echo.
"Phoebe..." Piper began. "Somehow, Phoebe
doesn't exist anymore, at least for some people. The bank and Lorna
"And The Chronicle, too," Prue said.
"Remember the article that was in the paper the day after Norwell
kidnapped me? I came across it in their files while we were looking for
Crystals. It talks about Mom, Piper and me. Phoebe isn't mentioned
"This has to be Dalios," Piper said.
"I'm afraid I agree," Stuart said.
"What else did you find out, Leo?" Piper asked.
"Nothing," he said.
"Go back to The Elders," Prue said, "and tell
them what's happening to Phoebe. Maybe that will prod them into being more
"OK," Leo said. "What about Crystal. Did you
come up with anything?"
"No," Prue said. "There was nothing there
that could help us."
"I still don't know why you think Dalios is behind
what's happening to Phoebe," Leo said. "He's still being restrained.
But if he is involved, I'm going to stay here to help."
"Thank you, Leo," Phoebe said. "But you can
be of more help by going to The Elders."
Leo looked to Piper, then reluctantly nodded his head.
"I'll be back as soon as I can," he said.
Phoebe walked into the kitchen the next morning and silently
went over to the refrigerator.
"How are you doing?" Prue asked, putting down her
"When I got up this morning my cell phone wasn't
working," Phoebe said, "so I called Pac Bell. They said there's no
record of my ever having a cell phone."
"We're going to stop Dalios," Prue said, walking
over to Phoebe and taking her hand, "whatever it takes."
"I told you the name Crystal is familiar but I didn't
know why," Piper said as she came into the kitchen. "Walking past the
TV just now something occurred to me. Crystal Rodgers. Maybe she's the reason
the name is familiar."
"Who's that?" Prue asked.
"She's been a guest co-host on Bay Area Breakfast the
last two weeks," Piper said.
"It's on from, uh, I think seven to nine o'clock every morning on
one of the local channels...KBWB."
"I haven't seen it," Prue said.
"I've watched parts of it a couple of times,"
Piper said. "They do features, interviews...the usual morning show
"It's almost ten to nine," Prue said. "We'd
better turn it on before we miss her. See if you recognize her, Phoebe."
They hurried into the living room, turned on the TV and
began flipping channels to find the show.
"Piper thought of a Crystal," Phoebe said, as
Stuart came into the room.
"That's it," Piper said.
A handsome, jovial and garrulous man in his late forties was
sitting on an armchair on a set. A picture of the Golden Gate Bridge showed
through a fake picture window behind him. He was speaking to someone unseen off
camera to his right.
"That's Mack Mc Devitt, the regular host," Piper
The camera switched to a close-up of the woman sitting to
his right. In her late twenties and with a freshness on her face, her brown
hair, clipped shorter on the sides than in the back, reached halfway down the
back of her neck while a couple of locks fell across her forehead and over her
right eye. She wore a maroon knit shirt and dark brown pants.
"That's Crystal?" Prue asked.
"No," Stuart said. "That's Sabrina
"Who?" Phoebe asked.
"Sabrina Lloyd," Stuart repeated. "She
starred in Sliders on FOX for three seasons."
"I don't know her," Phoebe said.
"I do," Piper said. "We both had small parts
together in a film about eight years ago. Chain of Desire.
It was an awful, supposedly erotic B-movie I'd just as soon forget that I ever
did. But we became friendly and we've kept up off-and-on since then. She
started on her Sports Night series the same time we started on Charmed."
"...and you starred as Natalie Hurley on Sports
Night on ABC for two seasons," Mc Devitt said, with a soft Texas accent.
"You were terrific. I never missed an episode. And I have to say I was so
sad when it was cancelled."
"I was too," Sabrina said. "It was a lot
of fun doing that show."
"The program's almost over," Prue said, "and
Crystal's not there. She may not be back on camera until the closing."
"If we wait any longer and she is the right Crystal
we'll miss her when she leaves the studio," Piper said.
"KBHB...I've driven past their studio a couple of
times," Stuart said. "It's over in the Bayview district. I don't
remember which street it's on but I know I could find it."
"Let's get-" Prue said but stopped in mid-sentence.
"Oh my goodness," Piper said. She was staring at
Phoebe. Or at least at most of Phoebe. Phoebe's right arm and the right
side of her chest faded until they were no longer visible. Then after about
five seconds, they re-appeared.
"I'm disappearing," Phoebe said. "I am
"Stuart, take Piper and Phoebe to the studio,"
Prue said. "Look for a side entrance. They'll leave that way instead of
using the main entrance. Phoebe, you have to go along to see if this is the
Crystal you saw in your premonition."
"Can you make it?" Piper asked. Phoebe nodded her
"I'm going upstairs and look through the Book of
Shadows," Prue said. "I'm going to find something to stop whatever it
is that's being done to Phoebe."
Stuart, Piper and Phoebe stood a few feet diagonally to the
right of the studio's side entrance. More of Phoebe had momentarily become
invisible in the car on their way there and again as they stood waiting.
"Hold on," Piper said, grabbing Phoebe's hand.
"Prue will find-"
She stopped as the studio door opened and Sabrina Lloyd came
out. She was shorter than she had appeared to be on the show, maybe only an
inch taller than Piper. As she adjusted her brown, suede zippered jacket a
chauffeur approached her from the left side.
"I'll bring the car immediately," he said to her
and went off. Piper took a few steps towards Sabrina.
"You don't remember me, do you," Piper said,
knowing what the answer would be.
"No," Sabrina said, "should I?"
Piper felt Phoebe's hand disappear from her grip. She turned
to Phoebe and saw her disappear completely.
As she did, there was a clap of thunder. The images of
everything started to bend and go out of focus. Piper started to lose her
balance. Suddenly, a whirlwind appeared a few feet above their heads.. Stuart
felt himself being pulled up into its opening. Piper and Sabrina were sucked up
into it just behind him. They all felt themselves turning around and around
inside a bright blue, purple and white tunnel.
After fifteen seconds the rolling stopped. The tunnel's
opening was about seven feet above ground and they were ejected from it.
Sabrina fell out, landing head first on the sidewalk. Stuart followed, landing
partially on top of her. Piper came last, landing next to them, but in an
instant she vanished. And then the tunnel's opening closed and the whirlwind
"Ow! ow!," Sabrina said.
"Agghh!" Stuart said, as he started to get up.
"What was that?" Sabrina asked, standing up
slowly. "What happened?"
"I...I'm not sure," Stuart said.
They were still outside the side door of the studio, just
where they had been before the whirlwind appeared.
"Where are the two women who were with you?"
"Phoebe? Piper?" Stuart shouted but they weren't
"Miss Welles," a voice called. They turned and saw
a young man wearing a green apron and with a brown bag in his hand hurrying
towards them. "Miss Welles," he repeated as he approached them.
"You left your bag at the register," he said.
"I'm glad I caught up with you."
"What...what did you call me?" Sabrina asked.
"Miss Welles," he said. "That's what I
overheard the man who was with you call you."
"What store?" she asked, confused. "What
"The grocery...around the corner," he answered,
giving her a quizzical look. "You were just there. You bought the milk,
doughnuts and a few other things. You paid for them at my register. The man who
was with you...heavy set with a small beard and uh...I think an English
Sabrina was staring at the clerk as if he had two heads and
that everything he was saying from both mouths was completely incomprehensible.
"Uh...I have to get back to my register," he said,
and extended the bag to Sabrina. She continued staring at him with her mouth
wide open. The clerk placed the bag on the ground at her feet, slowly backed up
then turned and hurried away.
A car slowed down as it drove past them, the driver giving
both Stuart and Sabrina a long look. Stuart saw that it was a black and white
San Francisco police car. But on the bottom of the front door was written
'Subversive Surveillance Unit'. What was that? Stuart thought. I've never seen that
"What was he talking about?" Sabrina asked.
"And what...what is going on here?"
"Oh no," Stuart said. "Oh, no. I think
I..." He stopped and slowly shook his head slightly. "Oh, no...don't
"Where...where is the chauffeur with the car?" she
The studio's side door opened and Mack Mc Devitt walked out.
"Mack!" Sabrina called.
"Oh, hello," he said, jovially. "You
recognize me because you watch my show, don't you. That's great! You must want
"Mack!" she practically screamed, her confusion
growing. "What just happened? The thunder, the whirlwind..."
"What thunder?" he asked. "Whirlwind?"
"Uh...of course," Sabrina said, "the studio
is soundproofed. And without windows. Uh, look...the chauffeur seems to have
"Oh, uh, did something happen to your car?" he
"Mack," Sabrina said, staring at him. "It's
"OK," he said. "You're Sabrina...uh, what did
you say your last name was?"
"Mack..." Sabrina said, not believing what was happening. "Sabrina Lloyd. We
just did the last segment of your show together!"
The expression on Mc Devitt's face changed.
"Young lady," he said, "I don't know what
your problem is. But you have a problem." He eyed her for a moment.
"The segment I just did was with Kari Wuhrer."
"Kari..." Sabrina said, in disbelief.
"You know who she is, don't you?" Mc Devitt said.
"The star who plays Natalie Hurley on
Sports Night. The top rated show that just got an un-precedented
Sabrina stood in complete shock as a studio guard approached
"Is there a problem here, Mr. Mc Devitt?" he
"Uh...no," Stuart said, quickly grabbing Sabrina by
the arm and pulling her away. "Just a slight mixup. My friend watches Bay
Area Breakfast all the time. She knows Mack so well from watching him that she
sometimes imagines he knows her, too."
"He does know me," Sabrina said, pulling
herself loose from Stuart, "and let go of me."
"You should leave now, ma'am," the guard said to
her firmly, coming closer to her.
Sabrina looked at the guard, then at Mack, then back at the
guard. Stuart gently tugged her arm again and in a stunned daze she let him
pull her away from them.
The side door opened again and Kari Wuhrer came out.
"Kari...Wuhrer?" Sabrina said slowly, in shock.
"Your least favorite person in Hollywood," Stuart
"Ready for brunch?" Mc Devitt asked.
"Lead on," Wuhrer said. A uniformed chauffeur
approached and led them to a waiting car.
"Kari Wuhrer?" Sabrina repeated slowly to herself,
staring at her.
"I know about the bad feelings and run-ins between you
and her on the Sliders set after she joined the cast during the show's
third season," Stuart said. "And I know that when it became
intolerable at the end of that season the producer chose to keep her and fire
you. Even though she was new and you were one of Sliders' original
stars. And even though her attitude was the cause of the problems on the
"On Sports Night?..." Sabrina said,
shaking her head in disbelief.
"The clerk called you Miss Welles," Stuart said.
"Your character on Sliders - Wade Welles. The heavy set man with a
beard and an English accent - that's John Rhys-Davies. Or, to be more precise,
Professor Maximilian Arturo of Sliders. In all of the show's episodes he
was the only one who consistently referred to you formally as 'Miss
"I'm going to call the driver and get away from
here," Sabrina said. She opened her small pocketbook and began fishing
around for her cellphone.
"Where is it?" she asked.
"It's not there anymore," Stuart said. "Wade
Welles travels to parallel worlds and isn't in any one of them long enough to
get a cellphone."
"What are you talking about?!" Sabrina said, upset
and confused. "I'm not Wade Welles. She's a make-believe character...who are
you? Uh...get away from me!"
"My name is Stuart Weston and I'm the only one who can
explain to you what's happened."
"What kind of game is this...is all of
this?" she screamed, angrily.
"This is not a game," Stuart said. "This is
far more serious than any game."
Sabrina fished around in her pocketbook again and pulled out
her wallet. As she opened it her expression froze in shock. Stuart turned the wallet
around to him and looked at what was in the inside plastic window.
"California driver's license, with your picture,"
he said slowly. "Issued to Wade Welles."
Sabrina looked at him, confused and helpless.
"Come on," Stuart said gently, taking her hand.
"Let's get some coffee. There's a lot I have to tell you."
"...so they and everything about their characters
became real," Sabrina said. "Talk about method acting.”
She was sitting with Stuart at a booth in a luncheonette. A
cup of coffee and a cheese danish lay in front of each of them on the table.
"Yes," Stuart said. "I know it takes getting
used to. It took Holly and Shannen three days before they accepted it."
"And now, you're saying the same thing has happened to
me," she said. "Why?"
"I'm not sure," he said. "Something happened
when Dalios 'undid' Phoebe and tried changing reality back to how it had been.
A reality without Charmed witches. Or at least without a Phoebe. And...maybe
without an Alyssa, too.
"He could change perceptions that would change
reality. We saw that when he changed it for the four of us and I almost killed
them. My guess is that when he tried to change reality directly for the whole
world, it was more than he could control. He didn't have The Elders' powers.
And when he forced reality to change...the change wasn't stable.
"And The Elders took advantage of that instability and
made Wade Welles real. That whirlwind that we were in looked just like the
trans-dimensional portal that you traveled through on Sliders."
"I don't remember how it looked," Sabrina said.
"It was added in post-production.
When we did the scenes we just stood looking up at nothing as if
something was there."
"I do remember," Stuart said, "I
watched Sliders. And that fall we had out of the whirlwind. It was just like
the falls you had from the end of the portal down to the ground whenever you
arrived on another Earth. You remember that."
"I sure do," Sabrina said. "We had to jump
from about six feet high out of camera range down to the ground. I still
remember the bruise I got on my leg when John and I collided on one of the
takes. My real pain looked so good that they used it in the episode." A
small smile briefly crossed Sabrina's face. She's starting to overcome her
shock, Stuart thought.
"So, half an hour ago I didn't recognize Holly...I
didn't even know who she was," Sabrina said. "But now in
this...parallel reality I remember her."
"Not parallel," Stuart said, "serial. I'll
explain it in Sliders' terminology. Remember how Tracy Tormé named the Sliders'
worlds when he was writing and producing the show? Earth Prime
was the regular, normal Earth you started from. Then each of the parallel
Earth's you went to had its own name. There was Dinosaur Earth where the
dinosaurs were still around, and British Earth, where the American revolution
had failed. And so on for each of the Earths.
"Prime Reality is where we all
began," he continued. "Holly on Charmed, you on Sports Night.
Everything normal. Charmed Reality is what The Elders made when
Charmed became real. But it wasn't a parallel world. It was the same, though
changed, world but continuing serially where Prime Reality
had stopped. There wasn't any overlap because everything continues serially
from where the other reality had left off.
"Now we have Sliders Reality. A
continuation of the same, but changed, world that had been Charmed Reality.
"In Sliders, the people in each Earth were different
people from their 'doubles' in the other Earths because they were in parallel
worlds. The show’s premise was that all
of the parallel worlds existed at the same time so the people existed at the
same time. But everyone here in this new reality is the same person who
was in the other, the Charmed, reality. Because realities are serial, not
parallel. Only one reality exists at a time."
"OK...I think I understand," Sabrina said.
"But when, uh, Dalios tried to change reality why did The Elders make
"We learned that once the Charmed reality was made,
everything in it had to follow the rules of that reality," Stuart said.
"The Elders couldn't just undo something bad that someone did in it, any
more than they could undo it in the original reality. Dalios has the ability to
change reality and that couldn't be stopped. Maybe in this new changed reality
that we’re in whatever was needed by The Elders to just re-create Charmed Reality
is no longer here.
"So...the way to re-create it had to be within
this new reality. And so Sliders
and Wade Welles becoming real have to be somehow connected to re-creating the
Charmed reality we came from."
Sabrina was silent for a moment.
"And...because Wade is real here Sliders can't be a
show," Stuart said. "But Sports Night can."
"With Kari Wuhrer taking my role," Sabrina said,
"She supplanted you as the star of a show, of Sliders,
in one reality," he said. "It's not illogical that she would do the
same thing on another show in this reality, too."
"But Sports Night wasn't cancelled here," she
"Different reality, different ratings," Stuart
replied and shrugged.
"You mean she can get better ratings for my show than I
can?" Sabrina asked, sounding upset and jealous.
"Uh...uh," Stuart stammered. "Uh, no...they
must have different Nielsen families here," he said, trying to placate
Sabrina looked across the luncheonette out the large window,
exhaled, then played with the un-touched danish on her plate.
"It all sounds so fantastic," she said, after a
moment. "Despite what the clerk said, despite what happened with Mack,
despite Kari Wuhrer...I'm...I'm still having trouble...believing that Wade
Welles is...that I'm..." She closed her eyes for a moment and exhaled
again, then opened her eyes and slowly lifted the coffee cup to her lips.
"Tell me," Stuart said, "what was the name of
the hotel you always stayed in on Sliders?"
"Uh...it was...The Dominion," Sabrina answered.
"It actually was a real hotel. We shot some exterior scenes outside of
"A real hotel in Vancouver where Sliders was
shot," Stuart said. "But not a real hotel in San Francisco, where
Sliders was supposed to take place. There was no such hotel here. At least, not
in the reality we came from. Uh, do you have some change?"
Sabrina opened her wallet and pulled out some coins.
"No cellphones," Stuart said, "so we have to
use a payphone."
He stood up, grabbed a napkin and led Sabrina around the
corner to a small hallway where a payphone hung on the wall. He dropped the
money in, dialed Information and motioned to Sabrina for a pen.
"Dominion Hotel," he said.
He moved closer to her and held the receiver between their
ears so that they could both hear.
Taking the pen from Sabrina, Stuart wrote down the number on
the napkin. He dropped more change into the telephone and dialed the number.
"Dominion Hotel," the voice on the other end said.
"Wade Welles, please," Stuart said. "She's a
guest." There was a pause for a few seconds.
"Just a moment," the operator said. Stuart and
Sabrina heard a phone begin to ring. After six rings, the operator came back
"There's no answer in her room," she said.
"Would you care to leave a message?"
"Uh...no," Stuart said. "I'll come by and see
her, instead. Where is the hotel?"
"On Union between Van Ness and Polk," she replied.
"Thank you," Stuart said, hung up and turned to
"You see," he said, "the Dominion Hotel now
exists in San Francisco. And...you have a room there." Sabrina stared
ahead blankly and exhaled. Stuart put his arm around her and gently led her
back to their table.
"Union and Polk is in Russian Hill," he said.
"It's not walking distance from here. We have no car so we'll have to take
a taxi. Let me see how much money I have."
"Why-" Sabrina began as Stuart opened his wallet
but stopped as she saw the look on his face change.
"What is it?" she asked.
"My driver's license," he said, slowly
taking it out. "It's Quinn Mallory's." He paused. "I've become
Quinn Mallory...another Slider character from the show."
Stuart stopped and tried to make sense of it in his mind.
"Sliders must be the way back to Charmed
reality," he said, after a moment. "That's why Wade and Quinn have to
be real. Just like the real Charmed witches have powers to use against demons,
the real Sliders have the ability to travel between parallel worlds. Only this time, to travel not to another
parallel world, but to another reality.
Back to our Charmed reality."
"And we have to go to the hotel," Sabrina said,
understanding showing in her voice.
"Yes," Stuart said. "There's something we
need. We're Sliders Wade Welles and Quinn Mallory and we don't have it with us.
So it must be in the hotel room."
Sabrina stared ahead silently for a few seconds, then
exhaled and turned to Stuart.
"The Sliders' timer," she said, slowly.
The Dominion Hotel
was a modest, four-story brick building filling most of the small block it was
on. Sabrina stood outside, staring at its entrance, denial of what had happened
to her now all but impossible.
"This is just so...eerie," she said. "All the
times that I stood here when it was just a set. And now...". She looked up
at the hotel sign over the entrance. "Now...it's real."
"That's how Holly felt, too," Stuart said.
"You'll get used to it."
Sabrina looked at Stuart and gave him a half-smile.
"See if you have the key to our room," he said to
Sabrina looked inside her pocketbook and pulled out a key.
"It's stamped Dominion Hotel," she said, looking
"But there's no room number on it," Stuart said.
"That's a problem. We're supposed to know where we're staying. We can't
just go over to the front desk and ask them where we belong."
"Of course we can," Sabrina said. "I'm an
actress, remember? Wait here."
Sabrina walked through the doors and approached the small
front desk. A tall man in his late twenties, wearing a dark green vest but no
tie with his ecru shirt, stood behind it.
"Hi," she said to the clerk, a warm, innocent
smile on her face. "I don't know if you remember me."
"Of course I do, Miss Welles," he replied. "I
checked you in."
"I know," Sabrina said, without missing a beat.
"But with all of the guests in the hotel, it would be understandable if
you didn't remember me."
"It's my job to remember faces," he said. "I
trust you're enjoying your stay with us."
"Yes, very much," she said, flashing her smile
again. "I've been traveling a lot lately and staying in a lot of hotels.
And - this is a little embarrassing - the room numbers have become a jumble in
my head. And now, I can't remember which room I'm in here."
"Room 204, second floor to the right," he said,
without needing to look it up.
"204...of course," she said.
"I have something for you," the clerk said. He
looked beneath the desk and pulled out a long, narrow white box. "This was
dropped off for you."
Surprised, Sabrina took the box from him and looked it over.
Her name, the hotel name and her room number were hand written, with a bit of a
flourish, on the box' cover. But there was no indication of who had sent it.
"Who left this?" she asked.
"A messenger delivered it," he answered.
"Thank you," she said. She walked towards the
front door and discreetly signaled Stuart to come in. She turned around and
headed towards the stairs and Stuart followed her.
"Good day, Mr. Mallory," the clerk said as Stuart
passed him. Stuart gave him a long, hard look, then nodded his head slightly
and went up the stairs.
Entering the room, Sabrina sat down sideways on the edge of
the bed and looked cautiously at the box in her hands. She placed it on the bed
beside her, moved herself further up on to the bed and removed the box' cover.
Inside lay a single red rose. She lifted it from the box, held it to her nose
There was something familiar about the rose, she thought. As
if she had received this once before. But when? And from whom? She had been
sent roses on more than one occasion but those had all been bouquets. Not a
single, red rose...like this one.
A folded note lay inside the box. Sabrina took it out and
slowly opened it.
"I've been expecting you," she read aloud.
"Come tonight to Aquatic Park at eight o'clock. Derek Bond." She
looked down and stared at the rose again.
"Derek," she said, softly.
"From a Sliders episode," Stuart said. "In
the second season, if I'm not mistaken. Uh...what was the name of it?"
Sabrina thought for a moment.
"Obsession," she said. "Derek is a
seer. He saw that we were lovers in a past life in eighteenth century England.
I was shot and killed by his father to prevent our marriage."
"Of course," Stuart said. "Since the Sliders
are real they have to be on one of their parallel Earth's. This is Psychic
Earth. In that episode, ten percent of the population here has psychic
power. They're recruited to hone their skills at...what was it called? Oh yeah,
the National Academy For Seers here in San Francisco. These oracles are trained
in different fields. Like the medical oracles, who obviate x-rays because they
can see what is inside people's bodies.
"In Obsession, Derek Bond was expecting you when
you slid into his Psychic Earth," Stuart said, continuing
the storyline. "He wanted to have you in the marriage he had been denied
in his past life. Then he was chosen by the Prime Oracle, right before he died,
to replace him, the most important position in the country second only to the
President. And that you were to be the most crucial thing to his success as
"He lacked compassion," Sabrina said. "And he
was to get that from me."
"Yes, when he forcibly kept you in his compound,"
Stuart said. "It was only after the ruse the writers came up with to free
you that he learned that what he thinks is best for someone is not necessarily
what that someone feels is best nor even wants."
"And now, he was expecting my slide here again,"
Sabrina said, almost wistfully. "Just like in Obsession."
"I told you that when Charmed became real, everything
that had happened on the show's episodes became real," Stuart said.
"Well, now the same thing is true with Sliders. In this reality, all of
your episodes have really happened, too. You really have been on this Psychic
"Wade felt something for Derek in that episode,"
he continued. "And now...you're feeling something for him in real life.
Sabrina looked at the rose, closed her eyes and exhaled.
"The same thing happened to Holly when she became
Piper," Stuart said. "She had
the same feelings for Leo in real life that she had for him in the Charmed
Sabrina stood up and put the rose down on the room's small
table. She took a deep breath as she shook her head slightly, then went over to
the chest of drawers.
"This is all...so un-believable," she said,
opening a drawer.
"You're doing a good job of believing it," Stuart
said, with a small smile.
Sabrina took something out of the drawer. Stuart saw that
she was holding something small and rectangular.
"What choice do I have?" she asked, rhetorically.
"The Sliders' timer," Stuart said, staring at the
device. "That's what you used on the show to open the trans-dimensional
portal to slide between parallel worlds. The same portal we came through this
morning. And the timer also told you how much time you had left until the next
slide. The portal could only be opened when the timer went to zero."
"A prop on Sliders," Sabrina said, staring at it.
"And now...its real."
"How much time does it say we have?" he asked.
"A little over thirty-two hours," she said.
"That means about nine-thirty tomorrow night," he
said, looking at his watch. "This is The Elders' plan in making Sliders
real. Use the portal the timer opens to get back to the Charmed reality we came
"The timer's portal on Sliders was a connection between
parallel worlds, not between realities," Sabrina said. "We don't know
that Sliding will get us back to our reality. If Sliders is real...since
Sliders is real," she corrected herself, "this reality is going to be
like the show was. Just like we couldn't slide back home to our Earth on
Sliders, we can't slide back to our reality here, either. Sliding may
just take us to another parallel Earth, even further removed from our
"This Sliders reality didn't just happen," Stuart
said. "Going back through the portal, reversing how we got here, has to be
the way to force the Charmed reality back into existence."
"Has to?" Sabrina asked. "It could be
that this...this Sliders reality just began with us sliding into a parallel
Earth. The same way a lot of the episodes began. Not because the portal is a
connection between realities.
"In this case it just happens to be that we slid back
into Psychic Earth," she continued. "That doesn't mean that
sliding has to be the way back."
"It should be the way back," he
admitted. "We have to take that chance. Look, Sliders' scripts said that
if you missed a slide you'd be stuck on whatever parallel Earth you were on for
twenty-nine years before you'd get another chance to slide out. Everything in
those scripts is real now, just like everything in Charmed's scripts became
real. We can't risk being stuck here for twenty-nine years. We have to take the
chance that sliding will get us back to our reality."
Sabrina closed her eyes in thought. After a moment she
opened them and nodded her head in agreement.
"Piper came through the portal with us," Stuart
said. "She has to go back through it with us, too. I don't know what will
happen to her if she doesn't. She may wind up nowhere when this reality stops
existing." He paused and exhaled. "And I don't know what happened to
"We have a day and a half to find them," Sabrina
"Let's try calling them," Stuart said. "It
may not be their telephone number in this reality but its all we have to start
with." He picked up the telephone and dialed The Manor's number. It rang
four times. And then a voice began speaking.
"Hi. You've reached Piper's answering machine. I'm not
available right now but please leave me a message. Thanks."
Stuart hung up at the sound of the beep.
"I got Piper on an answering machine," he said.
"Piper said it was her machine...so that means she's alone. Prue doesn't
live with her."
"She said she was Piper, not Holly?"
Sabrina asked. "That means the Charmed reality still exists."
"You're right...it does mean that," Stuart
said. "Or at least part of it exists. Piper and the telephone
number. But no Prue. I'm so used to her being Piper that I didn't catch that.
We have to see what else is here. Let's check on The Manor. It doesn't exist in
San Francisco in real reality. I mean...in normal reality. That is...the
"It's OK," Sabrina said, "I know what you
mean. I guess...I really do understand all of this." She put the timer
into her jacket pocket and they left the room.
"There it is," Stuart said, sitting in a taxi
across the street from The Manor, not sure whether or not to be surprised.
"So this demon Dalios couldn't control this part,
either," Sabrina said.
"And that left this reality a mixed up mess," he
said, “with parts of Charmed in it.”.
"Holly isn't here," Sabrina asked. "Where do
we find her?"
"She's Piper," Stuart said. "When
Charmed became real, they became The Halliwells. She became - and she is - Piper.
"OK," Sabrina said. "So where do we look
"P3," Stuart said. "Maybe everything about
Piper exists here, too. She might be there preparing the club for tonight.
"Take us to Fillmore and Greenwich," he said to
"The club seems to be here," Stuart said.
"Halliwell's Haven," Sabrina said,
reading the sign above the entrance.
"I guess P3 wouldn't have made any sense in this
reality," he said.
Sabrina approached the door and tried to open it.
"It's locked," she said.
"It's still early," Stuart said. "I have a
key...uh, I guess in this reality I don't have a key anymore. Let's go
around to the back door. It should be
As they came around to the back Stuart saw a familiar car
parked behind the club. The driver's door was open and someone started to get
"Piper!" Stuart called excitedly, then caught
himself. She won't know me, he thought. "Uh...Piper Halliwell?" he
asked, changing his tone.
"Yes," she said, "I'm Piper. Should I know
you? If you've been in the club, I'm sorry. I just don't remember seeing
"No," Sabrina said, "we're in San Francisco
for just a few days. I'm...Wade Welles. This is Quinn Mallory."
"And your club was recommended to us," Stuart
said. "We were told if we did nothing else while we were here to be sure
to come to Halliwell's Haven."
"Really!" Piper said, pleasantly surprised.
"How nice. Who recommended you?"
Stuart hesitated, not knowing what to answer.
"Shannen Doherty," Sabrina said, jumping in.
Piper stared motionless at Sabrina for what seemed to Stuart
to be an eternity.
"Shannen Doherty?" Piper asked. "The
Shannen Doherty? The star of Charmed Like an Angel,
the best show on television?"
"Yes," Stuart said, with relief. "We're
"Shannen Doherty is my favorite actress in the whole
world," Piper said, excitedly. "Tell me about her...when was she
here? Uh, wait, let's go inside the club."
The table was
familiar to Stuart. It was the same one he had sat at many times in P3. The
decor, the layout and even the lights were the same. The only difference was
that Phoebe wasn't there. And neither was Prue.
"How could I have not known that she was here?"
Piper asked, disappointed.
"Hollywood stars like to travel incognito," Stuart
said. "Isn't that right, Wade?"
"Yes," Sabrina said. "We try to avoid...uh,
that is, they try to avoid being spotted so they can enjoy some privacy.
It can become quite difficult being constantly recognized everywhere you
"Hmm," Piper said, "I suppose it can be. Not
that I would know what that's like. There's not a lot of people who know me
outside of the club."
"You'd be surprised," Stuart said. "Uh, that
is...the club is more well known than you realize."
"Wow!" Piper said, smiling. "Shannen's told
other people about it?"
"Have you ever heard of Alyssa Milano?" Stuart
asked. Just in case, he thought. Let's be sure.
"No, I haven't," Piper said. "Is she some up
and coming actress in Hollywood who's going to become a star? Someone I'm going
to know about?
"Uh...yes," Stuart said. "We hope...that's
exactly what's going to happen."
"So what is Shannen like in real life?" Piper
asked. "I always felt she was just as nice as the angel she plays."
"Angel," Stuart repeated, then hesitated.
He found the thought of Shannen as an angel difficult to picture.
"Uh...Shannen...is pretty much in-distinguishable from her
"She's really her part come to life," Sabrina added.
"I knew it. I knew it!" Piper exclaimed.
"There's something about her that I could tell that wasn't her
Familiar words, Stuart thought. Words he'd used about
"I take it you've been a fan of Shannen for some
time," Stuart said.
"From the very beginning," Piper said, "when
she started on 90210. I never missed an episode in all the seven years
she was on the show until it was canceled."
Seven years, Stuart thought. Hmm...she lasted three
years longer on it here than she did in the real reality. Maybe Aaron Spelling
doesn't exist here.
"What does she like to do when she's not acting?"
Piper asked. "Does she like to cook like me?"
"Actually, she's been doing quite a bit of cooking
lately," Stuart answered, thinking of their past few weeks in The Manor.
"We had dinner together just the other night. She made an extraordinary
"Do you think there's a chance she'll come here
again?" Piper asked.
"I very much hope so," Stuart said, thinking about
Prue coming to the club again in the Charmed reality.
"What Quinn means," Sabrina quickly said, "is
that if she did come he'd like to come with her."
"Oh, uh, if you do," Piper said, "uh...can I
ask you a big favor? Would you let me know when she was coming? Not that I
would tell anyone. I wouldn't tell anyone, not even the people working here.
Just for myself so that I'd be sure to be here when she came."
"Quinn would be happy to," Sabrina said.
"Of course," Stuart said.
"Wow - thank you," Piper said. "Uh...I really
have to check on things to get ready for tonight. Why don't you come back
tonight. As my guests...everything will be on the house."
"Uh...thank you," Stuart said, "that's very
kind of you."
"It's the least I can do for you for making my day by
telling me about Shannen," Piper said.
"We'll be here around nine o'clock," Stuart said.
"Just ask for me," Piper said.
"We'll see you then," Sabrina said, standing up.
established a relationship with Piper," Stuart said, outside the club,
"now we have stay close to her. We have to get her to slide with us."
"That may take some doing," Sabrina said.
"I...I understand what's happened and it's still hard for me to
believe. Piper has no idea about any of this. She won’t believe us and she's
not going to want to do it."
"We'll have to slide from wherever Piper is tomorrow
night," Stuart said. "If we can't convince her to come with us we'll
have to force her."
"That won't be easy, Quinn," she said. Stuart was
about to say something but he stopped and looked at Sabrina.
"What?" she asked.
"You called me Quinn," he said.
"I did? I'm sorry, Quinn, I don't know - uh...I just
did it again," Sabrina said, confused.
"You're thinking and speaking like Wade Welles,"
Stuart said. "Don't fight it. It won't help, anyway. It's part of you
becoming Wade in real life.
"When Charmed became real, playing the part wasn't good
enough. They had to instinctively be The Halliwells to survive. They couldn't be thinking about their roles
and how to play them. They had to live them. And so, as part of making
their roles become real, The Elders made them think and act more and more like
"The same is true with you, Sabrina. You have to
instinctively think and speak as Wade. You can't act like her. You have
to become her. You have to be Wade Welles.
“And...” he exhaled, “I suppose I’m going to become more
Sabrina closed here eyes and gave a shudder.
"I'm...I'm not sure...just who I am right
now," she said.
"It's OK," Stuart said re-assuringly, putting his
arms around her and holding her to him. "You'll know soon enough."
At first, Sabrina saw and felt the differences.
The man who met her at Aquatic Park was not a uniformed
chauffeur driving a limousine, as the Sliders Obsession episode script
would have dictated. Instead, he was a man in a tan windbreaker and running
shoes driving a nondescript compact car.
The house was small. Smaller than the Sliders episode's
location structure that had given the impression of a large, protected
The room was small. Smaller than the episode's set that had
given the impression of many large rooms in a spacious home.
The food on the table wasn't the elaborate fare on expensive
china, as had been in the episode, but simple food in pedestrian dishes.
There were no servants scurrying about, no enclosed swimming
pool and patio outside the dining room's glass doors, as there had been in the
There were no cameras at the ready, no crew looking on, no
director calling for action.
But there was Derek Bond.
Tall, suave, his brown hair combed straight back. The same
handsome and captivating Derek Bond who had been in Obsession.
And...she was the same Wade Welles.
"There has not been one day these past four years that
I gave up hope of your return," Derek said. "Not one day that I did
not think of how much I love you. The night that you slid out of this world I
realized that I had to let you go. And I realized you had taught me what I had
lacked...compassion. And having learned to have it, I so wanted you to see me
as I had become.
"Then, yesterday, I saw that you would slide back to
this world. And my heart experienced a joy that it had not once felt in those
The words were affecting Wade, just as they had affected her
on Sliders, in an episode shot four years earlier. Derek was affecting
Wade, just as he had then. Four years earlier it had been James Patrick Stuart
and Sabrina Lloyd acting from a script. Now, it was Derek Bond and Wade Welles.
And what she was feeling wasn't acting. It was real. Because Derek Bond had
And so had Wade Welles.
"Derek..." she began, then hesitated. She was
being overwhelmed by the feelings and the memory. She had to clear her mind.
"Derek, what happened here?" she asked, re-directing
the conversation. "You were chosen to be the new Chief Oracle. The
President of The United States was here for your inauguration. You were the
second most powerful man in the country. And now...?"
"Indeed, I was," Derek said. "I did become
Chief Oracle. And thanks to you, and to what you taught me, I was able to use
my psychic power in the way the late Chief Oracle saw in his vision that
I would use it. And I was able to avert tragedies and save people's lives.
"Then, about a year ago, I foresaw an avalanche along a
road in Montana. I had the road closed and traffic diverted to the other side
of the mountain. And there was an avalanche...but on that other
side. The side where I sent the cars...not on the side where I had foreseen it
happening. Thirty people were killed because of that."
"How could that happen?" Wade asked. "Your
psychic power is very strong, stronger than any other oracle in this
"I don't have to tell you how this shook me up,"
Derek said, "but I was at a loss to explain it. And then someone made a
public attack on me, saying that my power was weak. And he began a movement to
remove me from my position.
"About a month later, I had a vision of a home in Bel
Air, near LA, being broken in to. The people were unexpectedly at home and the
wife was killed. I alerted the police. They quietly warned the people, making
sure that they would not be home, and set a trap for the burglars.
"Right after I told the police about it, this same
other person went to them and said he saw the same thing happening, only in
Laurel Canyon, some ten miles away. The police ignored him but he managed to
call both the Governor and the White House and tell them. Of course, they
ignored his as well."
Derek stopped and exhaled.
"The house where the police were waiting wasn't broken
in to. But the house he told them about in Laurel Canyon was. The
family's two teenage girls were shot.
"Besides the press' coverage, this had gotten the
President's attention. This person stepped up his campaign to have me replaced -
"Two weeks later, the President was going to San Diego
to make a speech. I foresaw no danger for him and approved the trip. That other
person contacted the White House and warned of an attempt on the President's
life just before the speech. Based on my advice the President went as
Derek exhaled again.
"There was an attempt to kill the
President," he said. "It was un-successful and he wasn't hurt. But
that was the final straw. I was removed from office and replaced by this other
"It was only later that I was able to see into this
person's mind and learn that he wasn't a person at all. This may be difficult
for you to accept but...he is a demon. There are such beings."
"I know," Wade said.
"You do?" Derek asked, astonished.
"I've come to learn about them recently," she
said. "That's how we wound up sliding back here."
"What??...A demon sent you back to me?" he asked.
"Not exactly," Wade said. "It's too difficult
to explain. Tell me, what is this
"Braiden," Derek said.
"Braiden?" Wade repeated, recognizing the demon
Stuart had told her about. "And he's a psychic demon?"
"Not exactly," Derek said. "You know that
stronger oracles such as me can send thoughts to others. You remember that both
before and during your first slide here I sent you the dreams about our prior
life together. As it turns out, because my psychic strength is so strong it's
always projecting what it sees. Though
it's a rather weak projection because I'm not consciously doing it so no one
can receive it.
"No one, that is, but Braiden. He has a demonic power
that allows him to pick up my projections anyway and at the same time confuse me
in my mind about what I'm seeing. That's how he knew about what would really
happen those three times."
"And that's why you're psychic visions were
wrong," Wade said. "I mean, what you thought were your psychic
visions. You psychic power really did
see those things as they would happen. But what would a demon gain by becoming
"Power and opportunity with which to do evil,"
Derek replied. "He can be selective about his predictions, preventing
enough tragedies to keep his position while letting those that he wasn't asked
about not be prevented. Especially those involving good people who help others
and who themselves would now be killed."
"Now that you know what Braiden is and what he did, why
haven't you made that known and tried to get your position back?" Wade
"At first I did try," Derek said. "I had
rallied some people to my side. But Braiden had me declared a danger to the
country and the people who were with me as subversives. He set up special
police units to monitor our activity and had many of the people arrested.
That's one of the reasons I didn't meet you in public but had you brought to me
"And the other reason?" she asked.
Derek looked silently into Wade's eyes.
"Because I still love you so much," he said,
"and I wanted to show you that in private." He put his arms around
Wade's shoulders and drew her close to him.
"And because I know that you still love me,"
he said. He brought her closer, their lips touched and they kissed.
Wade felt everything she was supposed to have felt for Derek
in the episode, which now had become her real feelings. She felt herself being
overwhelmed, again and now she submitted to those feelings. She put her arms
around him, closed her eyes and kissed him.
They held the kiss for a long time until Wade opened her
eyes and their lips parted.
"Now that you've come back," Derek said, "we
have a second chance. No...a third chance. Three hundred years ago, four
years ago and now again today. You know what they say - the third time is
Charmed. That word meant something to Wade. It
started to break through into her consciousness, break through her reality with
Charmed. Charmed reality.
"And with you at my side," Derek continued,
"I will be able to unmask Braiden. And be restored as Chief Oracle
to help everyone."
Charmed reality, Wade thought.
"Uh...Derek..." Wade began. "I...I'm not
staying. I'm...I'm sliding out tomorrow night."
"What?! You can't!" Derek exclaimed.
"Derek," Wade said, "don't make the same
mistake you made last time. Don't try to keep me here against my will."
"No...no, of course not," Derek said. "What I
meant was...that this was why your slide brought you back here. Look, in all of
the slides that you've made, have you ever come back to the same world
"Uh...no, we haven't," Wade said.
"Then there's a reason that you did slide back
here," he said. "To help me. Just like you helped me to become Chief
Oracle the first time you were here. You've been sent back here to help me
become Chief Oracle, again. By helping me defeat Braiden."
Wade closed her eyes and exhaled. Charmed, she
"Derek..." she said. She raised her right hand and
stroked it across his left cheek.
She took a deep breath. I have to concentrate on the Charmed
reality, she thought.
"Derek...I...uh, we...were brought back here for
a reason," Wade said. "But I can't explain it to you. It's...you just
have to trust me. There's another reality...uh...parallel world that will be destroyed
if we don't slide out of here tomorrow night."
"What?? What do you mean?" Derek asked. "How?
"Derek...I know I should give you an explanation,"
Wade said. "You...deserve one. But I can't. You wouldn't understand it. I
even have trouble understanding it."
"You know that the last time you were here that despite
my being an oracle there were things about you that I couldn't see," Derek
said. "And that's true this time, too. There are still things about
you I can't see. That scared the hell out of me then and its scaring me, now,
"It's better that way," Wade said. "Some
things are best left not being seen."
"Look, even if this was all true, even if there was
another world that you could save," Derek said, "you know you can't
control which world you're going to slide into. You don't know where you're
going to wind up next."
"I know we can't control the slides," Wade said.
"But this time I think it's different. Uh, Quinn is sure that it's
different. It has to do with demons and how we got here. And undoing what the
demons have done."
"Wade, I...I can't see what this is all about," he
said. "But...you've been to so many worlds where you've almost died. Stay
here with me. You're safe here. And...I love you so much."
Wade looked at him silently and then shook her head.
"I...trust Quinn," she said. "And when you
trust someone...you believe in him."
"Tomorrow night we're sliding out of here," she
Halliwell's Haven was pretty full. But as soon as Piper
spotted Quinn and Wade she made her way to them, whisked them to a quiet booth
on the side and sat down with them. A booth that Stuart knew very well.
"Your club is really nice," Stuart said.
"Thanks," Piper said. "I've put a lot into
"I know," Stuart said, before he could stop
"You do?" Piper asked,
"Uh...you're really busy tonight," Wade quickly
interjected. "We don't want to keep you from your work."
"You're not," Piper said. "Sometimes I need
to take a break for a few minutes and I can't get it unless I sit down and talk
to someone. And you are my special guests. Oh, Gina."
Stuart saw a familiar face come over to their table.
"Gina," Piper said, "this is Wade Welles and
Quinn Mallory. They're from LA. They were sent here by - are you ready - Shannen
"No!" Gina said. "Really?? Wow! Halliwell's
Haven is now on the map!"
"It certainly is," Stuart said.
"Oh, Piper," Gina said, "it's been so busy
tonight I forgot all about this." She took something out of her pocket and
put it down on the table in front of Piper.
Stuart stared at it in disbelief. It was a key ring.
Attached to it was a plastic keychain California license plate. A name was
engraved on it just below the California golden sun.
"Mendell dropped it off early this afternoon,"
Gina said. "She said she had an extra promo keychain and brought it over
"What happened to her?" Piper asked. "She was
supposed to be here yesterday."
"She said she lost her keys a few days ago while
bicycling over the bridge," Gina said, "and that threw her schedule
"Whose is that?" Stuart asked, his tone turning
"Shira Mendell," Piper said.
"Who's Crystal?" he asked.
"That's her company," Piper said. "Crystal
Club. She supplies clubs with glasses, stemware, dishes, caddies, shakers -
even some of the ingredients for the food we serve."
Stuart glanced at Wade for a second.
"I have to speak to her," Stuart said, urgency in
his voice. "How do I reach her?"
"I have her telephone numbers," Piper said, a
little confused at Quinn's sudden need.
"It won't do any good," Gina said. "She was
going to get completely away for a day. Said she had a lot of tension and
aggravation this week because of her lost keys. She was even turning off her
cellphone. No business, just relaxation. There's no way to reach her."
"Until she comes back tomorrow evening," Stuart
"That's right," Gina said, "how'd you know?
She said she'd be back in time for dinner."
"What's so urgent about speaking to her?" Piper
asked. "Maybe I can help you in the meantime."
"It's...a complicated story," Stuart said.
"I'll...uh, just take her phone numbers, anyway."
"Here," Gina said, pulling out a business card
from her pocket. "Shira left it with the keychain but we already have a
few of her cards."
"Thanks," Stuart said, looking over the card. Crystal
Club, it read. It’s crystal
clear - we help your club look its best.
This is awkward, Wade thought. I'd better change the subject
quickly. "How about if we try some of those great drinks that Shannen told
"Uh...yes," Stuart said, "I've been looking
forward to them all evening."
"Good," Piper said, "order away. Gina,
everything for my guests is on the house."
the name of a person," Stuart said, as they walked down Fillmore looking
for a taxi back to The Dominion. "It's the name of a company. A company
that does business with the club. That's why the name Crystal was familiar to
Piper. That is, to the Piper from our reality."
"The keys were lost in the Charmed reality," Wade
said, "and they were still lost in this reality."
"Yes," Stuart said. "I told you that the
realities are serial. What happens in one reality continues in the next
"So Shira Mendell is, uh...will be the demon's victim
in this reality," Wade said.
"Yes," Stuart said, "unless we save her. And
to do that we have to know where she's going to be attacked tomorrow night.
There's only one person who can tell us that."
"Derek," Wade said.
"First thing in the morning-" The screeching tires
of the police car pulling up beside them cut Stuart off. He saw Subversive Surveillance Unit on the
side of the door as two policemen jumped out of the car and grabbed Wade,
pulling her hands behind her back.
"Hey!" Stuart shouted but one of the cops pushed
"Stay away or you'll be arrested, too," the cop
said to him.
"Arrested?!" Wade screamed. "For what?"
"For being a subversive," the first cop said.
"You were seen leaving the home of Derek Bond. We have records that show
you were close to him four years ago. You've come back to be part of a group
associated with him that's trying to undermine the Chief Oracle and endanger
"I haven't done anything!" Wade screamed as the
second cop clamped handcuffs on her wrists.
"Not yet," the first cop said. "But the
police oracle had a vision that you're going to do something with Bond to
endanger the Chief Oracle. If this was just an ordinary crime we'd release you
after you were warned not to commit the crime and you signed the acknowledgment
of the warning.
"But this is subversion. And the new law says that for
subversion we can keep you in jail indefinitely before you commit the crime.
Having gotten up from the ground, Stuart charged the second
cop from behind. He rammed his elbow into the small of the cop's back and
kicked him behind his knee. The cop's leg buckled and he fell to the ground.
The first cop let go of Wade, took his nightstick from his
belt and slammed it into Stuart's stomach. Stuart doubled over and fell to one
knee. As the cop raised his nightstick again, Wade rammed the cop with all her
might. Losing his balance, the cop fell down. Now above him, Wade turned around
and brought her handcuffed hands down hard on the back of his head.
The force of the handcuff's metal was enough to stun him
momentarily and he dropped his nightstick. Struggling to recover his breath,
Stuart managed to pick it up and slugged the cop with it twice over his head.
The cop grabbed his head and fell to his knees.
Stuart grabbed Wade and they started running away. But the
first cop, reaching the open patrol car door, pulled out a rifle. Bracing
himself against the car, he aimed the gun at the fleeing figures and fired.
"Arrgh!" Stuart cried as he felt something hit him
in the back.
"Quinn!" Wade cried. "You're shot?"
"I...arrgh...don't know," he said. "I...let's
just keep moving."
BANG! The rifle's sound reverberated through the streets
"OHH!!" Wade screamed as she felt something lodge
in the shoulder of her jacket.
"Wade!" Stuart said.
"I'm OK, I think," she said.
"Come on!" Stuart said. They ran up and down the
streets and through alley ways, staying in the shadows where they could find
"The hotel is not the safest place for us to be,"
Wade said. "That clerk made a point of remembering my name."
"Being visible on the streets isn't any better,"
Stuart said, "and we have no place else to go. Besides, they have no
reason to think we're staying there. It...ugh...will take them a while to find
"I hope," he added.
"This is going
to be awkward," Wade said, outside the hotel, "walking through the
lobby in handcuffs."
"I'll...ugh...block you," Stuart said. He started
to open the hotel’s front door but then Wade stopped him.
"Act like you're a little high," she told him.
Stuart put his arm around Wade's shoulders and they
walked inside. Leaning on Wade’s left side from behind her, Stuart's body
blocked the front desk clerk's view of Wade's handcuffed hands behind her back.
Staggering slightly and rocking her head sideways, Wade gave an accurate
portrayal of a tipsy young woman needing to be helped.
corner of his eye, Stuart saw the clerk staring at them intently.
"Come on Wade, Honey," Stuart said loudly,
carefully exaggerating his walk, "it's just a few steps upstairs. You can
"Miss Welles," the clerk called out. Stuart turned
his head to him and half-closed his eyes.
"This box was just dropped off for you," the clerk
"Uh..." Stuart said. If I leave Wade and walk over
to get it he'll see the handcuffs, he thought.
"Quinn," Wade said, turning her head around and
smiling at him, "just...uh...help me upstairs first. And then you can come
down and get the...uh...uh...the box. That's it...you can come down and
get my box."
Stuart turned back to the clerk and gave him a half-drunken
"I'll, uh...be right back for...uh, the box,"
Stuart said. Keeping himself between the clerk and Wade, he helped her towards
the stairs and then up the steps. Out of the clerk's view, they hurried to
"Phew!" Wade exhaled, once they were inside.
"Good thinking," Stuart said, "and good
"Acting," Wade said, sounding a little unsure.
"It...seemed so natural."
"It should be," Stuart said. "You are-"
The knock on the door cut him off. Stuart motioned to Wade
and she hurried into the other room. He looked around the room but there was
nothing he saw that he could use as a weapon.
A second knock on the door.
"Who's there?" Stuart asked.
"Front Desk," the voice said. Stuart went to the
door and cautiously opened it.
"Miss Welles' box," the Front Desk clerk said.
"I thought that under the circumstances...it was best that you not make
another trip to the lobby."
"Right," Stuart said. "Uh, right. That
was...uh...nice of you. Uh...very nice
"Good night," the clerk said, a disdainful
expression on his face. He turned around and quickly headed back to the lobby
and Stuart closed the door.
"It's OK, Wade," he said, putting the box down on
the table. "Arrgh...you can come out."
"You're hurt," she said. Stuart shook his head.
"Let me see you," he said, running his hand
across her jacket shoulder.
"Here," he said, pulling something out.
It was a short, narrow dart, about three inches long, with
an ampule taking up half the length.
"The shoulder pad in the jacket must have stopped it
from getting to you," Stuart said.
"What is it?" Wade asked.
"The shoulder of your jacket is wet," Stuart said.
"It looks like...some kind of hyperdermic needle. Maybe...whatever is in
the ampule is meant to discharge through the needle on impact...arrgh."
"You're hurt," Wade said. "Get these cuffs
off of me so I can help you."
"I doubt there's anything in the room that can saw
through them," Stuart said. As he started looking around he saw the box
the clerk had brought on the table.
"Wait...let's first see what this is," he said. He
turned the box over and saw the handwriting on it. The same handwriting and
flourish as was on the previous box."
"It's from Derek," Wade said.
Stuart slit open the tape that sealed it with the room key
and opened the box.
"A file saw," he said. "Just what we need to
get these cuffs off of you. Turn around."
"Derek must have seen what was happening and sent
it," Wade said.
"Why didn't he see it before it happened and
warn us?" Stuart asked, as he began filing away.
"He said there are things about me he can't see,"
"Almost...arrgh...done," Stuart said. "This
reminds of the time I was in handcuffs when we escaped from a court room and we
made the slide with me still in them. I had to walk around in the new world
Wait a minute, Stuart thought. I was in handcuffs?
That was Quinn Mallory on Sliders. I'm...I'm...
"Quinn, don't stop," Wade said.
"Right," Stuart said. He went back to sawing and
in a minute Wade's hands were free.
"That's better," she said. "Now let me see
you." She went behind him, looked at his back and pulled something out.
"Arrgh," he said.
"It went right through the jacket," Wade said,
holding it up to the light. "The ampule is empty." She quickly pulled
off Stuart's jacket, shirt and undershirt.
"Oh...your back...all around where you were shot,"
Wade said. "It's green." She turned Stuart around to her. "Your
chest, too. It's green opposite where that dart hit you in the back."
"It must be...arrgh...from whatever was in the
ampule," he said.
"A poison?" she asked.
"Maybe," Stuart said. "Whatever it is...where
my skin is green, it hurts."
In her room an hour later, Wade had removed her shoes and
pants, getting ready to go to sleep. She was about to take off her maroon knit
shirt when she stopped. She stood silently in thought for a moment, then slowly
walked over to the door of her room. She opened the door and looked at Quinn
lying in bed. On Sliders, the scripts said that Wade had deep feelings for
Quinn but that he was oblivious to them. But this wasn't a script, now. She was
Wade in real life. Standing in the doorway, these were her real, natural
Derek did evoke something in her, she thought, and she did
feel something for him. But given the opportunity, she always knew she would
take Quinn before anyone else. At that moment, Sliders wasn't a show.
Everything that had been on Sliders felt real - was real - to Wade.
And now Quinn, having saved her, was hurt. And he needed to
be held. He needed her.
She had her opportunity.
Wade walked over to Stuart's bed and drew the covers half-way
back. She sat down on the left side of the bed next to him and slid her left
hand under his head. Stuart opened his eyes as she leaned over him and placed
her lips on his.
Stuart and Quinn were one.
Yet he wasn’t just a combination of the two of them. He had somehow become someone more than
them, someone who had other feelings, someone who had his own feelings.
Someone...who didn't want to resist Wade. Slowly, he took her right hand in
his. Wade took a deep breath, slipped her legs up onto the bed under the covers
and lay down next to him.
Wade sat astride the brown mare, the long, black tresses of
her coiffed hair reaching almost to her elbows. She adjusted her burgundy cloak
as she waited anxiously, looking each way down the trail in the thickly wooded
The sky was overcast but not dark. It was quiet all around
her. She was where she had been told to be by the woman sent by Derek. Where
she should wait for Derek to join her.
The shot rang out, shattering the silence. Wade fell from
her horse to the ground. Blood from her chest quickly formed a large red circle
on her white blouse.
It was but another moment until Derek arrived. He jumped off
of his horse, ran to Wade and held her in his arms.
"No, my darling!” Derek said. “Oh no!” He lifted her head closer to him.
“I did not send the woman to you,” he said. “My father sent her so he could lay in wait
for you to do this.”
Wade looked up at him.
"Though I die," she said softly, "my love for
you will not."
Wade's eyes opened wide for an instant and then glazed over.
Then they closed and her head fell lifeless against Derek's chest.
"No!" he shouted.
"ARRGH!" Screaming, Wade sat up like a bolt. She
jumped out of bed and turned every which way. She was all confused about where
she was. And who she was.
She put her hands to her head then turned to the mirror. Her
hair was still brown, not black. Still
mid-length in the back, still shorter on the sides. And there was no blood on
her blouse. She wasn't even wearing a blouse. Nor a cloak. Nor...anything else.
For a moment she stood there, frozen in fear. Then, it
starting coming back to her.
The portal, Sliders, Derek, Piper, demons...and Quinn.
She had been dreaming. Of her being killed by Derek's father
in their past life three hundred years ago. The images of that life that Derek
'sent' her as she slept in the Sliders episode.
Did she dream of her murder because of her having seen
Derek? she thought. Or because she had been shot at last night by the police?
Or...did Derek send the images to her - this time in real
life - as she slept?
Shot...Quinn! she suddenly remembered.
She hurried back to the bed and pulled back the blanket.
Whatever had been in that dart had spread. His whole chest and back, his right
arm and the left side of his face were now green.
He was still asleep. Or was he? Frightened, she put her ear
by his nose and mouth.
He was breathing.
She had to save Quinn.
And there was also the slide that couldn't be missed. And
she had to somehow get Piper to slide with them. And at the same time, save
Shira Mendell from the pentagram demon who was going to kill her.
And she was going to have to do it all by herself.
She grabbed her clothes and starting getting dressed.
She needed help. And there was only person who could help
The car stopped along the side of a warehouse where Wade was
told to be. The driver, the same man in the tan windbreaker and running shoes
from the night before, got out of the car. He looked around then opened the
back door and hurried Wade into the car. He got back into the driver's seat and
the car sped away
"You didn't warn me," Wade said as she walked into
Derek's living room.
"I didn't see it until it was happening," Derek
"No, not that," Wade said. "You didn't warn
me that it was dangerous to be with you even in your home."
"They haven't bothered us for a while," Derek
said. “I didn’t expect them to be
“They might be waiting outside, again,” she said.
“This time I checked to make sure,” he said.
"They said I was going to do something to endanger the
Chief Oracle," Wade said.
"You see, I was right," he said. "Your
sliding back here was to help me against the demon Chief Oracle."
"Did you send me that...that dream last night?"
"Yes," Derek said. "I had hoped reliving our
past life together would rekindle your feelings for me."
"I...I do have...some feelings for you,
Derek," she said. She paused and exhaled.
"But I have responsibilities," she said. "To
Quinn...to...the other...world. That other world that's dependent on my...on
our...sliding into it tonight."
Derek took her chin in his right hand and her right hand in
"I know...that together we could save this
world," he said, staring into her eyes.
"Maybe," she finally said. "But I can't. Not
at the expense of my...of the other world. I know that I can save it.
"Do you...really know?" he asked.
Derek leaned closer and lightly kissed her. At first Wade
wanted to kiss back. But that would only make it more difficult, she thought.
She wasn't going to change what she was going to do. Quinn was sure that they
would slide back to the other reality. She had to put her trust in him.
And, also...there was Quinn.
"Quinn!" she exclaimed, remembering why she had
come. "He was shot with some kind of dart. What's happening to him?"
Derek looked into her eyes for a few seconds more, then drew
back and sighed.
"It's an anti-subversive dart," he said. "It
was given to the police by Braiden and is only approved for use against
subversives. It's some kind of demonic poison that spreads through the body.
The green pigmentation of the skin shows the extent that it's traveled."
"Half of Quinn's body is green," Wade said.
"Yes, it would be by now," Derek said. "It's
been about twelve hours since he was shot. In another twelve hours it will have
reached every part of his body."
"And then?" Wade asked.
"And then...he will die," Derek said.
"There must be an antidote," Wade said.
"There is, but only Braiden has it," Derek said.
"It's a perfectly devilish weapon. The police don't have to fire bullets
that may kill the 'subversive' before he can be interrogated. To get the
antidote, the 'subversive' has to turn himself in for interrogation about his
and other people's activities. If he doesn't, then in twenty-fours he'll be
"That's why the police aren't making a big effort to
find you. They know they shot both of you, though they don't know that your
jacket saved you. They know you, or at least Quinn, can't be seen in public
because the green discoloration makes him a marked man.
"So they than can sit back and wait. Either you and
Quinn come to them. Or you...uh, Quinn, dies."
Wade stared at him silently. Derek saw tears forming in her
"There has to be something we can do," she said.
"I only wish there were," he said.
Wade looked silently at Derek for a moment. There had
to be something she could do to save Quinn, she thought. But what?
Wade re-focused her mind on the second reason she was there.
"There's someone else who's going to die," she
said, "unless you help me prevent it."
"What?" he asked. "Who?"
"Her name is Shira Mendell," Wade said.
"She's going to be killed by a demon tonight, probably in the early
"A demon?!" Derek said. "How do you know
that? Which demon?"
"Quinn learned about it in...another world," Wade
said. "I told you that I've recently come to know about demons.
"Look, how we learned about it isn't important. What is
important is for you to tell me where she'll be tonight. Where she's going to
be killed. So Quinn and I can save her."
Derek stared straight ahead. He was silent for a while,
"Twenty-three minutes after nine," he said.
"On Eighth Street, she'll have just turned the corner from Folsom. I...I
can't see who her killer is."
"Thank you," Wade said. "Quinn and I will be
"Quinn will be barely alive by tonight," Derek
said. "He'll be of no help to her...or you."
Wade closed her eyes for a second and exhaled.
"But you could be," she said. "You
come. You might even see the killer by then, or at least see which way he's
"And get to watch you leave me a second time when you
slide out," he said. "I don't know if I could bare it."
"You said you want to save people," Wade said.
"This is your chance to do that."
Derek looked into Wade's eyes, then took a deep breath.
"You're right," he said and paused for a second.
"I'll be there."
"Thank you," she said. "I...have to get
"To Piper Halliwell," he said.
"You're reading my mind," Wade said, with a little
"Please allow me this one small intimacy with
you," he said. "Tell me, why is it so important that Piper Halliwell
go into her attic."
"She has to slide with us," Wade said. "She
belongs in the other world. Her being there... is crucial to saving it. And
maybe to saving her, too. Quinn believes that the only thing that may convince
her to slide with us is up in the attic."
"I can see that she's never been able to open the attic
door," Derek said.
"Quinn was afraid of that," Wade replied.
Derek was silent for a moment, then took a pen and a small
pad from his pocket. He wrote something, tore the paper out and handed it to
"The door will open when she says this," he said.
Wade looked at the paper. None of the flourish of the
handwriting that had been on the notes to her. Just plain, block letters that
could not be misread.
"Thank you, Derek," she said.
"You're welcome...my love," he replied.
Wade slowly walked up the steps to The Manor's front door.
There were a lot of "should be's", she thought. If anything Quinn had
told her last night that should be true - if even one thing she was
going to say - wasn't true in this reality...
No time for that, she thought. True or not, somehow I'm
going to have to convince her.
Wade took a deep breath. The door opened.
"Oh, uh...hello," Piper said.
"Hi," Wade said.
"I'm...uh just surprised to see you here," Piper
"I need to talk to you," Wade said. "Can I
"Uh...sure," Piper said. She pulled back the door
and motioned for Wade to come in. Piper led her to the living room.
"Where's Quinn?" she asked as they sat down.
"He's not feeling well," Wade said.
"It's not from anything he had at the club," Piper
"No, no," Wade said. "It's something
else." She took another deep breath.
"Piper," she began, "we came to the club not
just because it was recommended to us. We came because we were looking for
"For me?" Piper asked. "Why?"
"Because there's a whole part of you that you don't
know about," Wade said. "A part that's hidden here. A part that has
to become you again."
"What are you talking about?" Piper asked.
"Piper...the world that you see, the world that
you...think you've always known...it's not the only reality. There is another
reality. A reality that you and I and everyone here is in. Or, was in. Until
reality was changed
"Quinn and I are not from here. We know you from that
other reality. A reality in which you have powers. Powers that save people's
lives...and their souls."
"Another reality...powers..." Piper repeated. She began to look at Wade as if she was a
"Powers...of a good witch," Wade said.
"What?...a witch?," Piper said. "You're
trying to tell me...I'm a witch in some...make-believe world?"
"Not make-believe," Wade said. "Look...I know
it's hard to believe. It was hard for you to accept it in the other reality
also. It was hard for me-"
"Stop!" Piper said. "You're crazy!
"That's how I knew you lived here in The Manor,"
Wade said. Here goes a ‘should be’, she thought. "Grams' Halliwell Manor.
With Grams' picture on the wall near the staircase "
"How...how did you know that?" Piper asked.
"Because in the other reality this is where you
live," Wade said. "In that reality Quinn lives here, too. He told me
all about The Manor. You have a parlor on the side of this living room and a
conservatory past the parlor. There's a back door to the kitchen and four
"That doesn't mean anything!" Piper said, angrily.
"You're working on a new drink for the club," Wade
said. "You're going to call it the Cable Car Turntable. Gin,
cherry-flavored brandy, lime juice and one or two other ingredients you’re
playing with, like mint leaves. And then not stirred, not shaken, but spun
around, just the right way. Like a
cable car spun on its turntable.
"How...could you..." Piper started to say, about to partially admit there was
no other way for Wade to have known that.
But then she stopped herself.
"None of this means anything," she said, changing
her mind. "You're a psychic, that's all. You're part of the ten percent of
people who are psychics. That's how you know all of this."
"I told you we're not from here," Wade said.
"No, you're not," Piper said. "You said
you're from LA. Well, there are plenty of oracles in Hollywood. It's common
knowledge that Tori Spelling won Best Actress Oscars three years in a row
because her father Aaron Spelling is a psychic. And he saw which pictures would
be big hits and had her star in them."
Now it was Wade's turn to be shocked. Tori Spelling winning three Oscars? Tori Spelling winning even one
Oscar? For a moment she just stared at
Piper in disbelief. But then she
"Piper, tonight Quinn and I are sliding...we're leaving
here to go back to the reality that we - and you - came from. A reality that
will be destroyed if we don't go back to it. And you have to come back with us.
Your powers as a good witch are needed there to vanquish demons and save the
world. You can't do it in this reality."
"Demons?" Piper said, not believing the nonsense
she felt she was hearing.
"There are demons here, too," Wade said. "In
"You're insane," Piper said.
"No, I'm not," Wade said. "And the attic will
prove that I'm not."
"The attic?" Piper said.
"I know you've never been able to get in to it,"
Wade said. "This will get you in." She took Derek's paper from her
pocket and tried to give it to Piper. "The Book of Shadows is on a stand.
Open it and-"
"Get out!" Piper said.
"Take this!" Wade shouted. "Say it by the
attic door! And then be at Eighth and Folsom at 9:15 tonight."
Piper grabbed the paper from Wade's hand, crumpled it and
threw it on the floor.
"Get out now!" Piper said, standing up.
"You have nothing to lose if you try it," Wade
said. "Don't be afraid of the truth."
Wade stood up.
"Shira Mendell is supposed to be killed tonight by a
demon," Wade said. "At 8th and Folsom. Quinn learned about it in the
other reality. Her life is dependent on Quinn and I being there to save her.
The lives of the whole...world are dependent on your being there and
sliding back to the other reality with us."
Piper stared angrily at Wade.
"Leave now!" she said.
Wade walked to the front door and opened it, then turned
"Go up to the attic," Wade implored her.
"Please! For everyone's sake...including your own."
"I tried," Wade said, "I don't think I
convinced her. But I really tried."
"I...arggh...know you did," Stuart said.
"Derek said that only Braiden has the antidote for this
demon poison," she said.
"If Leo was here," Stuart said, "he could
undo...ugh...the damage. Leo can heal."
He was very weak. Wade sat down on the bed next to him and
lifted his head in her arms.
"The slide is in six hours," Stuart said. "If
Piper doesn't come, there...ugh...isn't...ugh...enough time to get back to her
at the club. It's...arrgh..."
"It's either save Shira and hope Piper will come,"
Wade said, "or let Shira die, go to Piper and hope I can somehow push her
into the portal."
"No," Stuart said. "If you fight with her you
might...arrgh...not make it in yourself. You...ugh...can't risk that. You have
to slide...and restore the reality to whatever it will be."
Wade leaned closer to him and kissed him. With the little
strength he had he kissed her back.
"We have to slide," Wade corrected him.
Stuart shook his
"I'm not going to make it," he said.
"Yes, you are," Wade said. "I'm not leaving
"I'm not needed for...arrgh..the Charmed reality to
exist," Stuart said. "I was there by accident...Alyssa was holding me
when reality was changed."
"You are going to slide with me, Quinn,"
Wade said, "or I'm staying here with you."
"Wade, in all of the slides we did together...arrgh,"
he started to say, then stopped. What slides? he thought. I'm Stuart. Or...am
"I couldn't even make it...ugh...down the steps,"
he said. "And the clerk would see my green face."
"I've taken care of that," Wade said. She looked
at him for moment. "We're sliding together."
Piper came off the last step and slowly approached the attic
door. She did not really want to come up there. She didn't believe anything
Wade had told her. She thought her story was utterly preposterous.
Yet something about it was gnawing at her. Something about
the intensity, the conviction Wade had when she spoke. Something in Wade's eyes
that...she didn't know what. Don't be afraid of the truth, Wade had told her.
Some part of Piper had to come up to the attic, if only to re-assure herself
that it wasn't the truth.
Reluctantly, she stretched out her arm and touched the door
knob. She tried turning the knob but it would not turn. She tried pushing the
door, as she had from time to time in the past. But the door would not budge.
Slowly, Piper unfolded the crumpled paper and held it in
both hands. She stared at it for a long moment. Then slowly she began to say
the words written on it.
come to be;
With the Power
Piper felt a wind suddenly blow around her but she saw
nowhere it could be coming from. And she was sure she heard a rumble of
thunder. With a sense of fear, she extended her hand to the door again. Her
fingers had barely touched the knob when the door slowly swung open.
Piper stood at the threshold and looked around the room
before her. A chest of drawers, a standing mirror, a few old chairs. Old
things, she thought. Lots of old things.
And in the center of the attic was a stand. And on the stand
lay a book. A big book.
Piper took a deep breath. Cautiously, she made her way to
the stand. The book was covered with dust. She blew some of it away, enough to
let her see the words on the book's cover. And the unfamiliar symbol just above
Slowly, she opened the book and read through the first two
pages. The pages that told her what she was.
She started to turn to the next page when suddenly the pages
began turning themselves quickly, as if a wind was blowing them.
Frightened, Piper jumped back. But there was no wind, she
saw. Not even an open window.
Faster and faster the pages turned. And then they stopped
turning. Piper approached the book again. She stared at the page that now lay
open. And she began to read.
"So," Wade said. She hopped onto the front desk
and turned half-way around to the clerk. "Just what do you do back
"Miss Welles," the front desk clerk said.
"You know," Wade said, "I've always wondered
just what Front Desk clerks do back here when you're not checking people
in." She giggled and swung her feet up onto the front desk and sat on it
with her knees drawn up. "Or checking them out."
"Miss Welles, you can't sit here," the clerk
Wade had his attention where she wanted it. On her, in the
opposite direction of the stairs. And on the stairs the man in the tan
windbreaker and running shoes, his arm around Stuart's back and under Stuart's
right shoulder, held him up and moved him down the stairs. He could neither see
the man helping him nor anything else. The light bothered his eyes and Wade had
wrapped a handkerchief around them before the man had come to the room.
"Ooh," Wade giggled, "what do you keep back here
under the desk?"
It was after sunset as they came outside, too dark for
anyone to notice Stuart's green face. The man eased him into the back seat of
the car and got in behind the wheel.
"Miss Welles, please get off of here right now!"
the clerk shouted.
Wade glanced over her shoulder and saw that Stuart was
"Of course," she said. She swung her legs around,
slid off the front desk and gave the clerk a coy smile. "All you had to do
Stuart was lying in the back seat of the car. The man in the
tan windbreaker sat behind the wheel, ready in an instant to start the car and
get the others to safety.
Wade stood in the doorway of a closed warehouse while Derek
stood across Eighth Street, watching the corner. He didn't know which way the
killer would come.
A car turned the corner and drove past them. And then it was
quiet. Completely quiet.
It was twenty-two minutes past nine.
Footsteps. A woman's footsteps. Coming from around the
corner on Folsom.
Wade was ready. She would wait until Shira had turned the
corner. When either she or Derek saw the demon she would grab Shira and pull
her to safety. And one of them would see who the demon was. She could not vanquish the demon but at
least she would be able to tell someone who the demon was.
A second set of footsteps. Wade clearly heard a second set
of footsteps. Faster than the first ones. Gaining on the first ones.
Shira turned the corner and walked a little down the block.
Suddenly she stopped opposite Wade. She took a few steps towards a lamppost and
leaned against it.
Wade could see her in the lamp’s light. She was tall, about five-eight, with dark
brown hair that almost reached the shoulders of her gray jacket, her cream
blouse open at the collar.
Shira lifted up her right foot, took off her shoe and began
shaking out a pebble.
The footsteps stopped. Wade didn't see anyone. She couldn't
tell which side they had come from. She looked at her watch.
Wade took a deep breath. She didn't know how the demon would
try to kill Shira nor from what distance. Derek said this was the exact time
that Shira would be killed. And he did have the strongest oracle power. But
that was on Sliders. What if in real life he wasn't right?
It was nine twenty-three. Exactly.
Wade couldn't take the chance.
"Shira!" Wade shouted as she ran towards her from
the doorway's shadow. At the sound of her call the other footsteps started
again. Quickly but in the direction away from them.
"Who are-" Shira started to say but Wade grabbed
her before she could say anymore and pulled her back towards the building's
"Around your corner," Derek shouted. He dashed
across the street and turned the corner.
But the street was deserted.
Derek saw the door of a small bar halfway down the block
swing closed. Whoever the demon was he had escaped into the bar, and its crowd,
"What are you doing!" Shira screamed. "Who
"He got away," Derek said, as he ran back to them.
"I didn't see him."
Frightened, Shira pulled away from Wade and turned around to
"Shira, I'm Wade Welles."
"How do you know who I am?" she asked.
"Through...Piper Halliwell," Wade said. "We
knew someone was going to try to kill you."
"Kill me?" Shira practically shrieked, hyper-ventilating.
"Right here," Wade said, "right now. We came
here to save you."
"Kill me...why?" she said, shaking.
"We don't know," Wade said. "Just that it
would be here."
"How did you know?" Shira asked, then stared at Wade.
"You're an oracle."
"No, I'm not an oracle," Wade said. "But he
Derek turned his head slightly and Shira saw his face in the
"You're...you're Derek Bond," Shira said.
"You were the Chief Oracle. They said you weren't good. That you're power
wasn't good enough to save people."
"He saved you tonight," Wade said.
"Uh...I only-" Derek started to say.
"You don't have to be modest," Wade said, cutting
him off. She made eye contact with him and shook her head slightly in a silent
'no'. "You saw that Shira would be killed and you set this up for us to
"I...I don't know how to thank you," Shira said.
"But...you don't know who he was. Or why he wanted to kill me. Maybe he's
going to try to kill me again."
"No," Derek said. "Not you. I don't see
anything bad happening to you."
Shira had stopped shaking and her breathing had come back to
"Are you going to be OK?" Wade asked.
"Yes...I'm OK," Shira said. "This has been
one hell of a week. I lost my keys on Sunday. And now this tonight. I
wonder...if somehow they're connected."
"Yes," Wade said, "you can safely say that
Shira gave Wade a curious look but was too drained to ask
her what she meant.
"Wade and I have something to attend to," Derek
said. "Can you make it home yourself?"
"Yes," Shira said, "my car's just down the
block. Thank you - both - again." She gave Wade a hug, then leaned over
and gave Derek a kiss on his cheek. "Good-bye. Maybe I'll see you in
"Maybe," Wade said.
"Good-bye," Derek said.
"You said the demon wouldn't kill her,"
"Not her," Derek said. "But this pentagram
demon, as you call him, will strike again."
Derek nodded towards his car. The man in the tan windbreaker
got out, opened the back door and practically lifted Stuart out. He could
hardly stand as the man brought him over to Wade and Derek and then eased him
down to the ground.
Wade took the timer out of her jacket pocket and looked at
the time remaining. Less than six minutes to go until they had to slide.
Suddenly the sound of sirens filled the air. Three police
cars turned the corner from Folsom and another three cars came racing the wrong
way up Eighth Street from Harrison towards them. Their red and blue roof lights
flashing, two cars pulled up on the sidewalk on both sides of the four people
while the other cars surrounded them from the street. Their headlights and
spotlights were aimed at the four and Wade and Derek had to raise their hands
to shield their eyes.
"What's going on?" Shira cried. Seeing the police
cars converging on them she had run back down the block to them.
The police quickly got out of their cars, pulled their guns
and aimed them at the five people. Slowly, another car, a Bentley, pulled up.
Derek and Wade saw the car's license plate in the light.
"Braiden," Derek said. "That demon picked up
on my vision of what would happen here tonight and knew that you'd be here. I
should have realized that would happen."
The driver got out of the Bentley and came around to the
right side. He opened the rear door and a man slowly got out. He was shorter
than Derek with a gaunt, chiseled face and a shock of black hair falling over
his forehead. He reminded Wade of an evil crow.
"Look who I have here," Braiden said. "The
two subversives the police have been looking for." He slowly walked closer
"I can see that one of you will be dead shortly,"
he said. "But you, Welles, are not ill, at all. Hmph...seems that
policeman isn't as good a shot as he thinks he is."
Wade glanced down at the timer. Less than five minutes. It
would be up to her to somehow open the portal.
"Don't even think of trying to use that
timer," Braiden said. "The policemen's guns are loaded with bullets,
not darts. You're not going anywhere."
"Yes she is!" a voice called out.
"Piper!" Wade exclaimed. She turned around and
looked at her.
"You went up to the attic," Wade said. Piper
nodded her head slowly.
"Who are you?" Braiden asked, annoyed.
"I am Piper Halliwell," she said. "And
you...are a demon."
"I'm what?" Braiden asked, his eyes turning
icy cold as he stared at her.
"A demon," Piper repeated. "There are such
beings," she said, turning around and looking at the policemen.
"Sometimes they look like strange creatures. And sometimes...they look
just like us."
There was hesitance in Piper's voice as she was saying the
words. She was still stunned by what she had read in The Book of Shadows. And
she felt a numbness in the realization of what it meant. But she was
saying the words.
"Calling me a demon," Braiden said, with a smirk,
"makes you a subversive."
"Piper Halliwell is not a subversive," Shira
shouted. "She is the nicest, most law abiding person I know."
"You're not an oracle," Piper said. "Demonic
powers were used to manipulate and mislead. To remove Derek Bond and get you to
a position of power. A position..." Piper hesitated, then took a deep
breath. "A position from which you could do demonic evil."
"I am an oracle," Braiden said, "and you
are a fool. You have said enough to incriminate yourself for subversion. The
only demons here...are in your head."
"My saying aloud what's written here will tell us if
there is a demon among us," Piper said slowly, as she unfolded a piece of
paper. "And if so, who the demon is."
"That's enough," Braiden said, and turned to one
of the policeman. "Stop her, Captain. She's a subversive."
"These words were taken from an old book in my
house," Piper said, "a book that told me what you are. But your name is not written on this paper, Chief
Oracle. My saying these words will just uncover the demon. We will see who here
is the demon. Maybe...it's even me."
"Now, Captain," Braiden said. "Don't hesitate
to shoot the subversives."
"Is that what we've come to, Captain?" Derek
asked. "We're to be shot as subversives not for anything that we've done.
But for words. For reading words written on a piece of paper."
"You were given an order, Captain!" Braiden
"This is still America, Captain," Wade said.
"We still have a Constitution, we still have laws. Laws you've sworn to
The captain was breathing heavily. He could feel the Chief
Oracle staring at him. But Derek and Wade had touched a nerve. He looked at the
policemen around him. He sensed it had touched a nerve in them, too. And some
doubt had been placed in their minds. He took a deep breath.
"You have one minute," the Captain said. "One
minute to read whatever you have on that paper."
"Captain!" Braiden shouted.
"Chief Oracle, technically I report to the
Commissioner, not to you," the Captain said. "And I have a certain
amount of discretion in situations like this. She can't incite subversion from
reading. Not with all these guns pointed at her.
"Go ahead, Halliwell," the Captain said.
Piper looked at Wade and took a deep breath. Then she looked
down at the paper she was holding.
demon who takes a mortal appearance,
is among us as these words I say;
this demon's presence for all to see,
Then take this evil demon
A bright light shown down on Braiden. It was not from the
police car headlights, nor from their spotlights. Nor even from the lamppost.
The policemen, startled, looked around them and above them.
But they could find no source for the light.
Something was happening to Braiden. They could see a change
"Arrgh....arrgh," came from Braiden. It seemed to
the Captain to be more of a growl than a cry.
Shira stared at Braiden as his face began to change. His
nose, his ears, his eyes. They were getting larger, longer, bigger. The human
features were changing into something hideous. They were changing into
something clearly evil.
They were changing into the features of a demon.
The policemen, their mouths open, stared at the creature that
now stood in the light.
"He is a demon!" Shira cried.
The light became stronger. And hotter. Smoke started coming
out of Braiden. He tried to run but the light followed him. And then the light
locked him in place and he could not move."
"ARRGH!...ARRGH!" he screamed. Everyone could feel
the heat emanating from the light. The more the heat intensified the faster
Braiden was burning. Hotter and hotter. Faster and faster.
And then in a final burst of heat what remained of Braiden
seemed to melt into the light. There was a final flash. And then both the light
and Braiden were gone.
The policemen stared at the spot where Braiden had been,
then turned, confused, to each other. The Captain stared at Piper.
"Who are you?" he asked. "What
"A force for good," Wade said, "to counteract
a force for evil."
The Captain stared at Derek and Wade, then exhaled.
"Put your weapons away," he said to the
policemen. "And shut off those
"You saw it for yourselves," Wade said. "You
saw who really was a demon."
"I did," Shira said. "How...did you do
"I'm...not sure I understand how," Piper said,
shaking a little.
Wade looked at the timer.
"But you will understand, in one minute," Wade
said, "after you slide with us. Just like what I told you about the attic
was true, this is true, too. You're needed in the other reality." She took
Piper's hand. "Trust me!"
"You still want to do this," Derek said.
"I...I can't see what awaits you. And you aren't sure this slide will take
you to this other world that you want to go to."
"I have to try it," Wade said. She exhaled.
"I have to. It's the only hope the world has. And...it's the only
hope Quinn has. If we make it there, I know who can save his life."
Derek put his hands on Wade's arms, drew her to him and
gently kissed her. Wade gently kissed him back.
"I trust Wade," Derek said to Piper. "And
when you trust someone, you believe in that person." Having repeated the
words that Wade had said to him that morning, he glanced at her for a second
then turned back to Piper. "I would trust Wade with my life. If Wade says
you have to slide into that other world, I believe her. And you must believe
Piper looked at Derek, then looked all around her. The
policemen, the police cars, the spot where Braiden burned up. She took a deep
breath and swallowed hard.
"Your club will be waiting for you in the other
reality," Wade said. If this slide really does take us to that reality,
she added to herself.
Piper nodded her head.
"With Braiden exposed, you would be able to help me
restore things as they should be," Derek said.
"You have people here who can help you," Wade
said. "Like this man." She pointed to the man in the tan windbreaker
and running shoes.
"He's not you, Wade," Derek said. "But yes,
he will help. He is as dedicated to helping and protecting people as I
Wade looked at the timer. Four seconds...three...two...one.
Wade aimed the timer at the wall of the building. She pushed
the timer's button, just as she had for three years on Sliders. That had been a
prop. This time, it was real.
The blue and white portal whirlwind opened about two feet
above them. Blue and white light illuminated Wade and everyone around her as
the portal's wind blew their hair. The man in the tan windbreaker lifted Stuart
up. Derek went over to help him and together they threw Stuart into the portal.
"I don't even know your name," Wade said to the
man in the tan windbreaker.
"Leo," the man said.
"Leo?" Wade repeated, her eyes opening in
"Leo Wyatt," he said. "Helping and protecting
you and your friend was important to me."
"Thank you," she said, with a small smile.
Piper stood below the portal and stared up at it.
"It'll be OK," Wade said. "Just jump up into
"Piper," Shira called above the noise of the
portal's wind. "Will I ever see you again?"
"I hope so," Wade said. "I so very much hope
Piper waved to Shira, looked up at the portal, took a deep
breath and jumped up into it.
This is it, Wade thought. Either this slide will restore
reality and take us back. Or...we'll be sliding into some other, unknown
parallel world. And we may never get
"Good luck, my love," Derek said.
"Thank you," Wade said. "Everything will be
OK. For both of us."
"Let me help you into the portal," he said.
"No need to," Wade said. "I've done this...many
times." Yes, she thought to herself. In this reality, there were no empty
spaces the actors looked up at, no jumping onto a mattress out of camera range.
In this reality, I really have done this many times. I really have
been a slider.
Wade turned around and took a running start for a few steps,
just the way she had done on Sliders. Using her momentum she jumped up and
dived head first into the portal. As soon as she was inside the portal closed.
And then there was nothing but the wall of a building on a quiet, dark,
They felt themselves turning, around and around, inside the
blue, purple and white tunnel. And then the opening at the tunnel's end
Stuart fell out of the portal and landed face down on the
ground. Piper tumbled out after him and landed beside him. Wade came out last,
landing face down across Stuart. And then the portal closed and was gone.
"Ugh," Piper said, as she picked herself up.
"I know how you feel," Wade said, "but you
get used to it."
A light from a lamppost a few feet away illuminated their
immediate proximity. Wade could see the side entrance to the TV station studio.
"We made it," she said.
She moved to Stuart's side, turned him over and held him in
her arms. He was barely alive.
"Get Leo!" she commanded Piper. "Stuart said
Leo could save him."
Piper looked at them confused. She was trying to orient
herself, trying to understand what was happening. She knelt down next to Wade
"Piper!" Wade said. She took her left hand away
from Stuart, placed it on Piper's right shoulder and shook her. "We need
Piper shook her head, trying to clear it.
"Leo," she said to herself as things started to
come back to her. "Leo, we need
you," she said as she stood up. She shook her slightly again.
"Now, Leo!" she called.
The light began to form and Leo orbed in.
"Where have you been?" Leo asked.
"Later," Piper said. "First help
Leo turned to Stuart, stared at him but didn't approach him.
"What are you waiting for?" Wade asked.
"He'll be dead any second."
Leo slowly shook his head.
"He is dead," Leo said. "He was killed
yesterday. Killed...together with Phoebe."
"That's some story," Prue said.
Wade and Piper had convinced Leo to save Stuart. Now, they
were sitting in The Manor's living room.
"The problem with your story,” Prue continued, “is that
you were here, Stuart. And you were killed here."
"By whom?" Stuart asked.
"All we know is that it was a demon who killed you and
Phoebe," Prue said. "We don't know which demon it was."
"How...did it happen?" asked Piper, still in
"I was up in the attic looking through the Book of
Shadows," Prue said, "trying to find something that would help, when
Leo orbed in..."
"Prue, you have to come right away," Leo said.
"They're all in danger."
"Danger?" Prue asked. "From who?"
"There's no time to explain," Leo said.
"Just come with me." He put his arms around Prue.
"Hold on," he said. Prue put her arms around
him and they orbed out.
As they orbed into an alley behind the TV studio, they
saw someone standing some fifteen feet from Phoebe and Stuart. Bolts of energy
coming from both of his hands hit Phoebe and Stuart and the jolts sent them
flying backwards a few feet. Phoebe landed on her back and Stuart landed face
down just beyond her.
Prue took her hand away from Leo and waved it at the
demon. But a semi-transparent barrier instantly formed around him and shielded
him. He raised his hand palm up towards Prue. Leo still had his arms around her
and he quickly began to orb them out as the demon's bolt hit her.
They re-appeared around the corner and out of the demon's
view, Leo holding up the unconscious and dying Prue. He quickly laid her down on the ground and propped her up against
a nearby wall. He put his hands on her chest and after ten seconds she was
saved, her wounds all healed. As she
revived, Leo helped her up and they ran to the corner and looked into the
alley. The demon was gone.
Phoebe lay sprawled face up on the ground. Prue raced to
her and lifted her head in her arms. Blood was running out of Phoebe's mouth.
Leo knelt down, leaned over her and put his hands on her chest.
Nothing happened. He held his hands on her chest for a
long time. Then, reluctantly, he took his hands off and moved back. He looked
at Prue and slowly shook his head.
"No!" Prue cried.
In shock, Leo slowly stood up. Then he remembered Stuart.
He went to him and turned him over. Blood was coming out of one nostril and the
corner of his mouth. Leo put his hands on him but after ten seconds he realized
it was too late to do anything for him.
"There was no trace of you," Prue said to Piper.
"We didn't know whether you were taken or killed and your body somehow
Prue closed her eyes for a moment and exhaled.
"I don't know how I managed these past two days,"
she said. "If not for Leo being here with me, I wouldn't have made it
"How could there be two of you in this reality?"
Wade asked Stuart.
"There can't be," Stuart said. "That's why
this doesn't make sense."
"And you know I'm Holly even though we're not in the
Sliders reality any more," Piper said to Wade. "How can you still
know me now? You didn't know me before the reality was changed. No one knew
From the corner of his eye, Stuart saw Kit come into the
room, look around and then walk back out. After a few seconds, Stuart suddenly
realized what he had seen, turned around and stared at where Kit had
stood. Instead of being light beige
with a tinge of caramel color, Kit's whole body had been completely black. His
mouth was open in surprise and confusion when Prue interrupted his thoughts.
"Look," Prue said, "this has been a very
difficult day. I buried Phoebe...and I buried you. I don't know what to make of
what you've said about this Sliders reality. But I do know that I've had more
than I can handle emotionally for one day." She got up and went up the
"We've all had more than we can handle,"
Piper said, and stood up. "Get some sleep...if you can." She turned
and went up to her room.
"Come on," he said to Wade. "You can sleep
in...in Phoebe's room." He stood up and put his hands to his head. Wade
stood up and took both of his hands in hers.
"We'll figure it out, together," she said. Stuart
nodded then exhaled again.
"But not tonight," he said, "Tonight, I...I
just need some time alone."
Stuart took Wade up the stairs and opened the door to
Phoebe's room. But it wasn't Phoebe's room.
It was his room.
Stuart squinted at the room, then put his hand to his
forehead in confusion.
"What's wrong?" Wade asked.
"The room...ugh..." Stuart said. But he was too
exhausted, too drained to try to figure out why his room was where Phoebe's
room should have been. At least, where he remembered Phoebe's room
should had been.
"A...here," he said. He went across the hallway
and opened the door to what he thought had been his room.
It was Phoebe's room.
"Good night," Stuart said.
"Good night, Quinn," Wade said. She took Stuart's
hand and squeezed it. Stuart gave her a funny look as she went into the room
and closed the door.
Why did she call me Quinn? he thought. We're not
The morning light
was diffused, the fog not having burned off yet. It was all very still. There
were no birds chirping, no cars rumbling, no daytime noises. Just very quiet.
Quiet enough to allow one's thoughts to become very loud.
Quiet enough to make one feel that there was nothing else in the
world...except the thoughts.
Stuart and Piper stood next to each other in the cemetery,
looking down silently at Phoebe’s grave.
Wade stood a few feet behind them. Leo, after showing them
the place, had orbed out.
Stuart's and Piper's eyes were filled with tears. After a
few minutes, they turned around and walked over to Wade.
"This just isn't right," Stuart said, "it
just doesn't add up." He was silent for a moment.
"Demons are always trying to kill us," Piper said.
"This time..." Her voice trailed off without finishing the sentence.
"But that's just it," Stuart said. "They try
to kill us within a reality. But when Dalios undid Phoebe, this reality ceased
to exist. When we came back through the portal, this reality was restored as it
had been. Phoebe should have existed again. There was no time within this
reality in the past two days for Phoebe to have been here and been killed.
Because this reality hasn't existed for the past two days."
"Realities have histories," Wade said. "You
taught me that."
"I know," Stuart said. "But...still, why
would the history have Phoebe...and me, killed. Certainly the Elders wouldn't
Wade put her hands in her jacket pockets and felt something.
Remembering, she stuck her hand inside her jacket and pulled something out from
an inside pocket. The Sliders timer.
"I put the timer in my pocket before we made the slide
last night," she said, "and I forgot it was there until just
now." She stared at it. "It's counting down."
"What?!" Stuart said. "That's
impossible." He grabbed the timer from Wade.
"This should be just a prop, now," Wade said.
Stuart turned the timer over, manipulated the back cover and
pulled it off. The inside of the timer was filled with wires, transistors and
"I don't know much about electronics," he said.
"But even I can tell this isn't just a prop."
Wade stared at Stuart with a look of realization.
"There's only way the timer could still be real,"
"We're still in the Sliders' reality," he said.
"In a parallel world to Derek's Psychic Earth,"
Wade said. "A Charmed Earth."
"Would that explain how there could be two of
you?" Piper asked.
"It would," Stuart said. "I'm still Quinn
Mallory. And this also explains," he said turning to Wade, "why you
called me Quinn last night."
"On Sliders," Wade said, "many of the
parallel worlds were quite different from our world, Earth Prime. But some were
similar and a few were almost identical, with just a few subtle differences. I
remember one episode where it was such a duplicate world that we were supposed
to think we were home, again. But then I saw that the Golden Gate Bridge was
painted azure instead of orange."
"So we’re in a Charmed parallel world that’s almost
a duplicate of our Charmed reality," Piper said.
"That would explain why my room was where Phoebe's
should have been and vice versa," Stuart said. "And why Kit had the
wrong color fur. A small difference between almost identical parallel worlds.
Our reality and this one."
"Then sliding isn't the way back to our
reality," Piper said.
"It is," Stuart said, "I still believe
that's why The Elders did that." He stopped and thought for a minute.
"We were coming back through the portal and our reality was coming
together again. Dalios couldn't stop that."
"But he did," Wade said.
"No, he didn't," Stuart said. "We're here
with Prue and Leo. Charmed is real here. But maybe Dalios had enough power to
stop us from leaving the Sliders reality. So our reality is coming back
but we can't get out of the Sliders reality to reach it. And so the two
"The realities got merged and mixed together
again," Wade said. "We got our reality inside the Sliders
reality. Our reality became just another one of Sliders’ parallel worlds."
"There wasn't any time when Phoebe and I could have
been killed in our Charmed reality," Stuart said. "But we could
have been killed in a reality that has Sliders parallel worlds. And
where one of those parallel worlds became a Charmed parallel world. A
world in which Phoebe wasn't undone.
And therefore this Charmed reality - the one inside this Sliders
parallel world - didn't unravel, either."
"Something that couldn't happen in our Charmed reality
that we came from - you and Phoebe being killed - could happen in
a Sliders parallel world that looks like our Charmed reality," Wade
said. "Because Sliders scripts said that each parallel world had something
that couldn't - that didn't - happen anywhere else."
"That's it," Stuart said. "Realities have
histories, right? So, because the
Sliders reality is made up of parallel worlds, the reality's history is in
those parallel worlds. And those worlds all differ from one another, either a
lot or just a tiny bit. So once Charmed
was a parallel world, it could have something that was different not only from other parallel
worlds but from Charmed reality, too.
"So being part of this Sliders reality, this Charmed
parallel world has its own history for the past two days," Wade
"A history that you and Phoebe were in," Piper
said. "And where both of you were killed."
"So Phoebe isn't really dead," Wade said.
"Not in the sense of a demon killing her," Stuart
said. "That's not our Phoebe buried here. But because she was undone in
our reality she still doesn't exist. Unless we get back to our reality she is
"So how de we get past Dalios to slide back?" Wade
"With a spell," Stuart said.
"A spell?" Piper asked. "We're not powerful
enough to use spells against Dalios. That one that Phoebe made up and worked
was a fluke."
"I know," Stuart said. "Not a spell against
Dalios. A spell for us. Just to give us a push through the trans-dimensional
portal into our reality."
"That's not any different," Piper said.
"We're not attacking Dalios with this spell,"
Stuart said. "We're just going to use it to keep our momentum going so
we're not blocked by anyone or anything."
"I don't have a lot of confidence in this
working," Piper said. "It would take a long time to look through the
Book of Shadows and I doubt we'd find a spell for this."
"You're probably right," Stuart said, "so
we'll have to make one up."
"Make up the spell?" Piper asked. "Phoebe
isn't here to do it. And I don't think Prue really believes our story."
"No, she doesn't," Stuart said. "So you'll
make up the spell."
"No," Piper said, with a small grimace.
"Remember the writers didn't give me the ability to do this."
"You made up the spell to get into Phoebe's memory that
Mordun put there," Stuart said.
"That was not easy," Piper said. "It took me
almost two hours to get it. And I had to try it out on myself, first."
"We get only one shot at this so you can't try this
one out," Stuart said, and looked at the timer. "And you have only
nineteen minutes to come up with it."
"I...can't-" Piper started to say.
"You can - and you will," Stuart said, emphatically.
He took out a piece of paper from his pocket. "Your pen please,
Wade took a pen out of her pocketbook and handed it to a
reluctant Piper. Stuart gave her the paper and she sat down on the ground.
should be tested before we use it," Piper said.
"We can't even if we wanted to," Stuart said.
"There's forty seconds left on the timer."
"I have confidence in you," Wade said.
"I don't," Piper said. "Not when it comes to
"We have to try," Stuart said. "And we're going to try, the three of
Stuart handed Wade the timer.
"You're the Slider," he said. "You get to do
"Ready?" Wade asked. Piper took a deep breath,
then nodded her head.
Wade looked at the zero on the timer, aimed it in front of
them and pressed the button. The same way she had pressed it in scenes on
Sliders. And the same way she had pressed it for real the night before on their
slide that brought them there. The blue and white portal opened a foot above
them, bathing them in blue and white light.
Piper gave Wade back her pen and looked at the paper she was
holding. Then she began to read what she had written.
slide through this portal,
Return home is our aim;
us hard so we won't be stopped from,
Reaching the reality from
which we came."
Wade and Stuart looked at each other.
"Here goes," Wade said. She made her running start
for a few feet, then made an experienced jump up into the portal.
"Go ahead, Piper," Stuart said. Piper emulated
Wade, making a running start and jumped into the portal.
"Why couldn't Tracy Tormé have written the Sliders
portal to be at ground level?" Stuart asked, rhetorically. He took a deep
breath, ran a few steps and jumped head first in after them.
The Sliders trans-dimensional portal spun them around, over
and over again. After ten seconds they could see an opening.
"ARRGH!!" Piper yelled. She felt something pushing
her, shoving her out of the portal. She managed to twist as she fell the six
feet to the ground, landing on her side.
"OW!" Piper said.
Wade came sliding out after her and landed face up on her
back, her arms spread open. Then Stuart came flying out and landed face down on
top of Wade, her open arms going around him from the impact of his falling on
"Ugh!" Wade grunted.
"Are you OK?" Stuart asked.
"I...think so," Wade said. "I certainly gave
you a soft landing." They looked into each other's eyes.
"In all of the Sliders episodes," Wade said,
"Quinn never fell out of the portal into my arms like this."
"That's not the only thing Quinn never did with
you," Stuart said, with a wry smile.
"Ow!" Piper said, as she slowly swung around into
a sitting position. "I know, I know. I'll get used to it." That got
Stuart's and Wade's attention and Stuart got up. Extending his hand, he helped
Wade get up, too. Then they both helped Piper up.
"Your spell said to be pushed," Stuart said,
"and it certainly felt that way."
"I didn't mean for the spell to be taken that
literally," Piper said and grimaced.
"We're not at the TV studio," Wade said.
"Where are we?"
"About two blocks from The Manor," Piper said,
looking around. "And it's the middle of the morning in broad daylight.
What are the chances of no one seeing us slide through the portal?"
"No one saw us," Wade said, "because in
Sliders episodes I don't believe anyone did."
"You're, uh, sure?" Piper asked.
"Uh...they probably didn't," she admitted.
"I don't really remember all of the slides in all of the episodes."
"If we got out of the Sliders reality then what
happened on the episodes won't have any bearing here, anyway," Stuart
"Do you think we made it?" Wade asked.
"I don't know," Stuart said. "Uh, tell me,
who is Piper?"
"Who is Piper?" Wade asked, not understanding.
"Who is Piper besides being Piper," he asked her.
"Oh," Wade said, turning to her. "You're
"You still know me," Piper said. "If we had
made it back to our reality, you wouldn't remember who I am. We have to still
be in Sliders reality."
"The timer," Wade said, and looked at it in her
hand. "It's not counting down anymore. If we didn't make it back
then it would be counting down to the next slide. We can't still be in Sliders
"Phew," Stuart exhaled. "Then I don't know where
"There's only one thing we can do," Piper said.
They walked the two
blocks, came inside The Manor and walked towards the living room.
"Anyone here?" Piper called out.
As she did Prue came down the staircase. At the last step
she stopped and stared at Stuart.
"This doesn't look good," Piper said.
"Hi Prue," Stuart said. "Are you surprised to
"Surprised?" Prue asked.
"Yeah," Stuart said, "as in surprised that
"How...how did you know?" Prue asked.
"Oh, no," Wade said. "She still thinks your
"No," Prue said. "I meant how did you know
about my dream?"
"Your dream?" Piper asked.
"I...must have been dreaming just now," Prue said,
sounding confused. "You were dead. I knew you were dead...but...you weren't
"Anything else in your dream?" Piper asked.
Prue nodded her head slightly
"Before that, I was back in Hollywood, looking at a
script about...an angel. But...it seemed too real to have been a dream. I was
there for a couple of days. I did some publicity for a show I never heard of.
It must have been a dream." Prue stopped and exhaled.
"Just...I don't remember lying down."
"You didn't," Wade said.
"Phoebe's room," Stuart said. "Where is
Phoebe's room?" He raced up the stairs and ran to where he knew Phoebe's
room should be in their reality. He took a deep breath and opened the door.
Phoebe's room was there.
And so was Phoebe.
Stuart ran to her, through his arms around her, hugged and
"Are you all right?" he asked.
"I...I think so," she said. "What day is
"Uh...Friday," Stuart said.
"Friday," Phoebe repeated. "I..don't remember
anything that's happened the past few days. It's as if...I haven't existed
since Wednesday morning."
"You haven't," Stuart said, "but it's all OK
Stuart heard footsteps coming up the stairs. He turned and
saw everyone come in to the room. And then he saw Kit snake her way in. A light
beige, caramel tinged Kit.
"Phoebe is here," Stuart said, "and her room
is where it should be. Our Kit is here, too. And that means you're Sabrina
again." He stopped and a smile began to fill his face.
"Reality has been restored," he said. "We're
"YAY!" Piper and Sabrina shouted, jumped up and
down and hugged each other. Then they ran over to Stuart and hugged him.
"Will someone tell me what's going on?" Prue
"What are you celebrating?" Phoebe asked.
"Piper's power as a spell writer," Stuart said.
"You did it, Piper. You got us home."
Piper's smiled broadened. She felt a sense of accomplishment
with her Charmed powers. She had grown to be more of a witch than the writers
had let her be.
"We did it together," Piper said. "The three
of us, together."
“Undoing Phoebe destabilized and changed the reality,”
Stuart said “Restoring the reality also restored Phoebe.”
A worried look crossed Sabrina's face and she turned to
"But I still know you're Holly," Sabrina said.
"Maybe," Stuart said, "The Elders are letting
you remember because of everything you did and the dangers you went through to
restore reality. Maybe that's their way of saying thank you."
"They've never said thank you to us," Piper said,
"despite what we've been through."
"And they probably never will," Stuart said.
"Maybe they just like Sabrina because she never complains."
"Would someone please start from the beginning?"
"Let's go downstairs and get something to eat,"
Stuart said. "I, for one, have gotten back my appetite."
They all walked out of Phoebe's room and started down the
stairs. When Stuart reached the last step, he stopped and looked across The
Manor’s living room.
"It's good to be home," he said.
P3 was humming with a good crowd. Sabrina was sitting with Prue, Phoebe and Stuart in their ususal
quiet booth off to the side. They were feeling relaxed and happy after the
week's dangers. And their drinks were helping expand those feelings.
"OK," Piper said as she came back to the booth and
sat down with them. "That's taken care of. So where were we?"
"Braiden," Sabrina said and took a sip of her
drink. "When Dalios saw what The Elders were doing he inserted him as
Chief Oracle to try to control the reality. But do you think Braiden tried to
stop us from sliding because Dalios told him what would happen if we made the
slide? Or was he just behaving naturally as part of the reality?"
"I don't know." Stuart said, "The only one
who knows for sure is Dalios and I don't think I want to ask him."
"Nooo, we don't," Phoebe said with a smile.
"But we do know that what happens in one reality
carries over to another," Stuart said. "So Braiden's being vanquished
in the Sliders reality means he's vanquished here, too."
"Do you think Dalios will try this again?" Sabrina
"Not likely," Prue said. "He saw that The
Elders inserted the Sliders reality to counter what he had done. And that
we...uh, that you, overcame him and used Sliders to get this reality and
"If he tried it again, The Elders would do the same
thing again," Phoebe said.
"I'm leaving the timer with you," Sabrina said,
"so you'd be able to use it again, too."
"We need you for that," Stuart said.
"We need a real Slider."
"You are a real Slider, Quinn,"
Sabrina said and they laughed.
"Not having Braiden around to front for him,"
Phoebe said, pausing to take a sip from her glass, "will also put a crimp
in his plans."
"And I wouldn't be surprised," Stuart said,
"if The Infernal Council puts a tighter rein on Dalios. I doubt they could
have been too pleased with the mixed up and un-stable realities he brought
"They need a clear and stable reality as much as we
do," Prue said, and finished her drink.
"I think this explains The Frubos," Prue said,
putting her glass down. "I
couldn’t understand why they tried to kill Phoebe before our roles
became real. We weren’t witches so we
weren’t a threat to them.
"I’ll bet Dalios put them up to it, without telling
them why," she continued. "If
Phoebe would have been killed just as the new reality was about to be made she
couldn’t have existed in it. And the
new reality was Charmed, exactly as on the show. So if she couldn’t exist, Charmed reality couldn’t exist and the
reality would have unraveled, just as it did here when Dalios ‘undid’
"Who are The Frubos?" Sabrina asked.
"The first demons who tried to kill us," Phoebe
said. "And, as you saw, not the last."
"We came so close," Piper said, "to finding
out who this demon who's been killing girls and leaving the pentagrams
"You found who the demon was after and saved her
life," Sabrina said, "despite realities changing. Never mind what could
have been. And from what I've seen of your power, you're pretty good at working
your spells. You'll get him, Holly. I know you will."
"Sabrina," Prue said, "you're the only one in
this reality, besides Dalios, who knows who we really are."
"Well, now if you get desperate for someone to confide
in about what's going on," Sabrina said, "you can give me a
"Call you in Hollywood," Phoebe said, with a sigh.
"Oh, do I miss Hollywood," Piper said.
"I'm going to be starting on a new comedy series, Madigan
Men, in a few weeks," Sabrina said. "If you're still in this
reality maybe I can get you some walk-ons."
"Oh...that sounds so good," Piper said, smiling.
"Piper," a voice called.
They turned and saw a young woman trying to squeeze through
the crowd towards them.
"Shira," Piper said, greeting her with a
warm smile. Shira made here way to the booth and Piper made place for her to
"This is a pleasant surprise," Piper said.
"Thanks," Shira said. "I can stay only a few
minutes. And this is not a business call."
"Let me introduce you," Piper said. "This is
"Of Crystal Club," Stuart said.
"Uh...yes," Shira said. "How did you
"Your fame precedes you," he answered, with a
"This is my friend Stuart," Piper said. "My
sisters Prue and Phoebe. And my friend Sabrina Lloyd."
"Sabrina Lloyd?" Shira repeated. "Not the
Sabrina Lloyd. From Sports Night?"
"The very same," Piper said.
"Oh, I am...uh...uh...thrilled to meet you," Shira
"The pleasure is all mine," Sabrina said.
"I watched your show every week," Shira said.
"And I even watched you when you were on that Sliders show a few
"I hope you liked it," Sabrina said, barely
containing a smile.
"You were great," Shira said, "even if the
show wasn't all that believable."
"No?" Piper asked.
"I mean," Shira said, "I couldn't imagine an
ordinary person like myself being caught up in a parallel world."
"I could," Stuart blurted out, then coughed a few
times to try to cover up.
"But I guess Sliders must have been fun,"
"It had its moments," Sabrina said. "Some
less fun than others," she added, glancing at Stuart.
"Well, I'm glad you came here tonight," Piper
"It's been a strange week," Shira said. "I
lost my keys and that caused me a lot of aggravation. I took off for a day to
rest up and came back last night and...I can't remember what happened last
night. And then tonight, I just had a feeling that I needed to see you, to see
if you were OK. I...don't know why."
Piper gave Sabrina a small smile.
"You don't need an excuse to come to P3," Piper
said. "What would you like to drink?"
"Uh...I don't know," Shira said. "What
specials has Gina got behind the bar?"
"Let's have a look," Piper said and stood up.
"Excuse us for a few minutes." Shira got up and went off with Piper.
"I think I'm going to go freshen up," Phoebe said,
"Me too," Prue said.
"I'll join you in a minute," Sabrina said. Prue
stood up and walked away with Phoebe.
Sabrina lifted her glass and finished her drink.
"Stuart," Sabrina began, "about the other
"I know," Stuart said. "The circumstances
weren't normal...we weren't ourselves. You were Wade...not Sabrina." He
stopped and thought about what had happened between them, about how warm and
special it had felt. How good it had
felt to be in her arms...and to be with her. Then he pushed the thoughts aside.
"You needn't be concerned," he said.
"I'll..." he paused and exhaled. "I'll make believe it never
"Why?" Sabrina asked. "I won't."
There was a warm glow in Sabrina's eyes as she looked at
Stuart. A small smile crossed her lips as she stood up and went to join Prue
Stuart stared at Sabrina as she walked away, then exhaled.
His mind was lost in thought for a moment. Then he lifted his glass, took a big
sip of his drink, leaned back in the booth and smiled.