Prue grunted, slamming her bloody hand ferociously onto the light switch and spinning to face the dimmed room. She’d just blocked the door so that no one could enter, but it didn’t stop Leo. A shower of blue and white lights coalesced before her as he orbed into the hospital room, eyes widening as he took in Prue's pale, blood-streaked face.
Her gaze burned into him. "They killed her, Leo. They think we're the demons now."
Leo's face crumpled as he turned to stare at Piper’s still body, at her bloodied chest and stomach. His knees almost gave out from under him. He knelt by her side. "Oh, God - how can this be happening? I don't understand," he said, bewildered, lost. He watched and waited as if at any moment she’d take a breath, but she didn’t move. "I'm so sorry," he whispered, kissing her forehead.
Prue's fierce voice rasped at him. "Can you make this right or not?"
Leo didn’t answer. His shoulders shook as he sobbed.
Prue grabbed his arm and pulled him upright, forcing him to listen. “Go!” she screamed. Leo orbed out of the hospital room.
Leaning over Piper, Prue held her hand. She stroked her forehead gently. "Don't worry," she whispered. "He's going to fix it. I promise. You're going to be fine." She stared at her sister as if she could will her to hear, to open her eyes, for it to be true.
Leo appeared in a shimmer of light before Cole and Phoebe in the Underworld. Phoebe took one look at his broken face and whispered "Piper," stunned, then hugged him. Leo buried his face in her shoulder. Swallowing, Cole looked at the ground.
"You don't have to do this," Leo said.
Phoebe looked into his eyes and touched his face with both hands. "Yes, I do." She turned to face Cole. "So," she said, eyes dull, trying to gain her focus. "Will resetting time affect us down here?"
"No," he replied, voice low.
"Good. I only have one condition," she said, voice stronger now, eyes intent. "You have to warn Prue and Piper before the demonic hit man attacks. Otherwise they're dead anyway." She searched Cole's eyes desperately, needing to believe that they could make it right. Cole nodded, trying to reassure her even though he couldn’t believe it himself.
Leaving Phoebe, Cole set out to confirm the details of the pact with the Source. He entered the devil's lair, stopping short for an instant. The malice directed towards him was palpable, but he moved forward, intent on getting what Phoebe needed. He was relieved when the Source agreed to the terms set forth before him, sealing the unholy bargain—a relief soon chased away by despair in the Source's continued presence. Despair that Phoebe was giving her soul in exchange for her sister's life.
Cole was soon summarily dismissed, and a guard was summoned before the Source. "Once I have reset time, detain him. And then kill his witch. That way I won't have to worry about Belthazor anymore. Or the 'Charmed Ones'," the Source said, his voice heavy with irony. The guard listened intently, then inclined his head and left to gather others to help him restrain Belthazor.
"It shall be done," the Source intoned. Thunder rumbled through the underground. As time retraced its steps, the bullet sent forward though the wall of the hospital room by a zealous SWAT team member began its backwards journey, away from Prue's grieving heart.
Prue and Piper had just brought Dr. Griffiths to the manor in an effort to save his life.
"Look, I know that this all sounds incredible, but it doesn't make it any less true. All right, you're a healer, you do good - now either you have saved too many lives or you're about to save a life that they don't want you to save," said Prue swiftly, thinking out loud. Piper placed her hands on her hips.
"They?" said Dr. Griffiths, voice raised, incredulous.
"Yeah, demons. Uh, more specifically, Shax. He's the Source's assassin," Prue said, matter of factly. Piper eyed her sister, willing her to keep silent.
"Hold it, I got it. This is a practical joke, right?" said Dr. Griffiths, chuckling. Prue shook her head no, but the doctor kept talking. "Do you have a hidden camera here? Did my second wife put you up to this? Ah," he laughed, "It's just like her."
"Okay, Dr. Griffiths, listen to me, this is anything but—" Prue stopped and listened.
"What?" said Piper, raising an eyebrow.
"I don't know. I just felt a chill. Phoebe?" called Prue. Piper looked up expectantly. The house was unnaturally silent. "Phoebe, are you there?" From outside the front door of the manor, a tunnel of wind appeared, crashing through the front doors. "Phoebe, where are you?" screamed Prue. The tornado knocked both her and Piper to the floor. A huge, long-haired figure with gray clothes, hair and skin appeared out of the tornado. The apparition smiled menacingly.
"Dear God!" said Dr. Griffiths.
“No!” Prue jumped up from the floor. She pushed the Doctor aside, and was hit by an energy ball thrown by Shax. Crashing through the wall of the house with sickening force, Prue landed face up on the ground outside, unconscious. Standing to face the demon, Piper was flung through the wall by another energy ball and landed next to her sister.
"What are you?" asked the Doctor, voice high-pitched and quivering.
"The end," intoned the demon, and sent the doctor crashing through a stained-glass window. His still body lay across the sill. Blood ran out of his ear to drip on the ground below.
Shax smiled, looking at the two women lying on the ground before him. Blood streamed from Piper's nose and smeared her open palm. Prue lay motionless beside her, blood trickling from her ear and pooling behind her head. Satisfied, Shax disappeared once again into the whirlwind. It swept out of the house, shattering the glass in the double doors. Leaves swirled over the porch in its wake.
Cole walked swiftly away from the entryway of the Source's lair, thinking furiously about what his next step should be. He couldn’t leave Phoebe at the mercy of the Source, but she'd made a choice that was by every right hers to make. It didn't matter. He couldn’t let her give up her soul to the Source. He approached her as she stood motionless, back turned to him, arms around Leo.
"Is everything set?" Leo asked.
Cole nodded grimly. "You know there's no way for us to know what the Source plans for Phoebe. But whatever it is, he’ll ruin her. And I don't intend to let that happen.”
Phoebe's eyes widened. "I'm warning you, don't mess this up. It's my only chance."
Cole stared at her. "I'm not going to let him hurt you, Phoebe."
"You're the reason Piper's dead!" Phoebe flared. "I abandoned my sisters for you, and now I have to make it right again."
"You've got to warn—" Leo started, then stopped as guards sent by the Source flooded the area. Five of them rushed Cole immediately, dragging him away from Leo and Phoebe. He lunged toward the knot of guards surrounding them. His captors surged forward as he dragged himself closer to Phoebe. He punched one of them quickly, viciously, breaking the guard's nose with an audible snap, and held out his hand as an energy ball sprung to life on his palm. He swiped the surrounding guards with it in a circular motion, burning them. They released their grip on him, ducking and screaming.
Leo stood in front of Phoebe, blocking the path of the guards, but there were too many of them and he was swiftly knocked aside. One of them, a demon with long black hair and a saturnine face, pulled a thin, heavily ornamented knife from his belt. In a heartbeat he swiped it across Phoebe's throat. Blood gushed from the wound. He laughed as Phoebe attempted to cover her throat.
"No!" Cole screamed, and morphed instantly into Belthazor. He grabbed guard after guard and flung them effortlessly aside. Leo lunged forward, grabbing and holding Phoebe as blows rained down upon him, healing her.
The demon who'd attacked Phoebe drew the knife back again, grabbing her face. "Time to die."
Phoebe struck out, knocking the knife away and wresting herself from the demon. She levitated, getting her head above the crowd, and kicked out in vicious, hard chops at the guards closest to her. Leo slammed his elbow into the face of the guard next to him, and began to swing at another one who grabbed his arm. Belthazor plowed into the circle surrounding Phoebe, easily dispatching the guards in between them.
Phoebe came to rest on the ground again as the huge red and black demon loomed over her, chest heaving. "Cole," she said evenly. The demon stared at her, his black eyes stricken.
"You're OK?" asked Leo quickly.
I'm OK. Even though the Source would have it otherwise," she replied, eyes still on Belthazor. "You've got to go. You're the only hope they have left. He won't hurt me."
Leo nodded, orbing out quickly. Belthazor towered above Phoebe. He reached down and touched her arm gently.
"Cole. I need you to come back to me. I'm—I'm sorry. I know I've hurt you."
Belthazor morphed into Cole in front of her. He watched her, his eyes giving nothing away, then wrapped his arms around her. “Phoebe, thank God you're not hurt," he whispered.
She looked up at him. "No, but I've hurt you. I know it."
"You were upset. It's all right." He couldn't meet her eyes.
"Look at me, Cole! What I said was wrong. I was frantic. I lashed out at you. I didn't mean it." Her voice was soft.
"Of course you meant it," he said, voice hard. "You were being honest. It's true. If you had been there, this might have never happened. We both know that. And we're going to have to find a way to live with it."
"We can't do this now," she whispered, looking at him. "I need you to help me. To help us make it right, if we can. Take me to my sisters."
He held her, eyes locked onto hers as he shimmered them back up to the world where the other Halliwell sisters waited—hopefully still alive and well.
Leo orbed into the manor, where a devastating scene awaited him. Two of the three women he’d been pledged to protect lay motionless and bleeding - uunconscious or dead, he didn’t know yet - on the ground at his feet. He knelt quickly beside Piper, placing his hand on her chest, begging silently for her life. He felt her chest rise and caught the sob in his throat. He had work to do. A soft glowing light flowed from his fingers and into her. She’d barely started to stir as he turned his attentions to Prue. Looking down at her, his heart sank like a stone. He noticed the thick dark blood, pooled and thickening ominously beneath her head. Her still face was waxen, ghostly. Even as he felt for her pulse, he knew.
Leo tore himself away from Prue to tend to the Doctor, but it was too late. There was nothing Leo could do for him. Returning to Prue’s side, Leo grasped her hand and wept as Piper crawled to her sister’s body and shook her shoulder. “Prue…Prue, wake up….Prue? You have to wake up now… why aren’t you getting up? Dammit, get up!” she yelled, voice breaking. She collapsed over her sister’s body.
Prue awakened, dream-like. She thought she stood, but maybe she drifted… upward. Everything looked so fresh, clean and airy. The air glowed, soft and warm. She turned as a hand touched her shoulder.
Death stood before her. “What are you doing here?” she asked, confused. She looked around her, and was shocked to see her own prone body on the ground with her sister and Leo next to her. She whirled around, staring at Death. “You’re here for me?” she asked disbelievingly. He nodded, awaiting her reaction. “This is a mistake. I’ve got so much, too much to do…” she stumbled over her words.
“Prue,” Death said calmly, “we’ve been through this before, you and I. I’m not the enemy, remember?”
Oh no, I’m not going anywhere. What about all the innocents that need our help? My God, what about my sisters?” she said, voice rising. “The circle has been broken - without the Power of Three, they’re sitting ducks! Why are you doing this now?” she demanded.
“You know I’m not doing anything to you,” he replied patiently, and stretched his hand out to her.
“But I don’t want to go.” She sounded bewildered, like a child. “You don’t understand, I’m not ready yet.” Her voice trembled as she rushed on, “It’s not my time, yet, it can’t be. I haven’t finished anything...” she trailed off as Death took a step towards her. “No!” she screamed at him. ‘Not yet!” She took a defensive stance toward him.
He shook his head at her. “Still the same old Prue, I see. It’d be so much easier if you’d stop fighting me. It didn’t work the first time and it won’t work now.” He sighed. “Very well, Prudence. I suppose you need a little help.”
Death stared commandingly at Leo, who’d stood by, motionless and silent. Phoebe and Cole shimmered into the manor, and Leo whispered something to them. Phoebe went to Piper, and Leo walked towards Prue.
“He sees me, I know it,” thought Prue, hope rising giddily. Leo halted and wiped his face, standing still for a moment, listening, before turning to Prue and extending his hand to hers, meeting her eyes. She grabbed him and hugged him fiercely. “Oh, Leo, thank God! I knew you could help me,” she said excitedly.
He pulled away and looked into her eyes. “I can help you, Prue,” he said softly, “but I won’t be able to do what you want.”
“I can’t come back?” she asked, childlike. Prue looked into Leo’s sad eyes, seeing the compassion and the gentleness that she and her sisters had come to rely on. Seeing his heartbreak at the finality of her situation. Her eyes filled.
He cupped his hands to her face. “No,” he answered gently, “It’s your time. You’ve done so many wonderful, brave things. You’ve kept so many people from suffering, Prue. You’ve fulfilled your destiny. Now it’s time to go.” Leo’s kind face soothed her.
“But, Leo,” she said, voice trembling, “What about Piper? And Phoebe? How can I leave them alone?”
He stroked her hair. “I promise you, I will take care of them,” he said, and smiled at her gently. Death approached again.
“It can’t be time already.” Her eyes pleaded with Leo’s.
He lost his composure for an instant, then steadied himself. “It can be…it is.” His expression was resolute.
And this time when Death stretched his hand out to Prue, she took it.
At dawn on the day of the funeral, Piper sat before the Book of Shadows in the attic. A single candle chased the shadows. Before her was a silver bowl. Her hands splayed out over the Book, Piper chanted, “In this night, and in this hour, I call upon the ancient power. Bring back my sister. Bring back the Power of Three.” She waited, looking skyward. She was so tired.
She had to keep trying. She had to bring her back. She flipped through the Book of Shadows, then stopped at a spell: To Call a Lost Witch.
“Power of the witches rise, course unseen across the skies. Come to us who call you near, come to us and settle here.” Her chin quivered. She put a sprig of cypress, some rosemary and yarrow root into the silver bowl. She picked up an athame and cut her finger, letting the blood drip into the bowl. “Blood to blood, I summon thee, Blood to blood, return to me,” she whispered, voice beginning to shake. The candle flickered, and Piper’s face reflected an instant of hope before being crushed. She didn’t know what to do. She’d never felt so powerless.
A voice called her, “Piper?”
“Prue?” she whispered. Phoebe entered the room. Despair returned to Piper’s face.
Unbeknownst to Piper, Prue heard every faltering word, every trembling whisper. She saw Piper’s pale, tired face and it was almost too much for her to bear. But she’d been forbidden to speak with her sisters. And while Prue never hesitated to break a few rules, she knew there was no way back to them - God knows she’d tried everything she could think of to get back. It wasn’t possible.
She knew that it was imperative that her sisters accept the finality of her death, the same as she had accepted it. But the look on Piper’s sad, care-worn face was breaking her heart. “Please, I didn’t want to leave you," she cried out.
Patti materialized Prue’s side and hugged her. Prue clung to her, and her mother couldn’t help but smile at the strength in her daughter. “You’ve got to let go, Prue. You know I wish there were another way, but your sisters still have to fulfill their destinies. They can’t do that if they live in the past.”
Prue’s eyes blazed as she asked with raised voice, “How will they survive without the Power of Three?”
Patti smiled. “I have something to tell you, Prue. The Power of Three lives on.” She stilled her daughter’s questions with a raised hand. “I can’t do anymore -I can’t say anymore until you understand what you have to do and do it now. Let them go.”
“But I love them so much,” Prue sobbed. The one thing she needed to tell them so desperately was left unsaid - that she was sorry. She’d never wanted to leave them.
Prue's funeral was simple and heartfelt. For her sisters, the day felt unreal, dreamlike. Soon after, they would learn of another sister, and with her the Power of Three would be restored, building upon itself, a work in progress fraught with complexities and heartache. But Phoebe and Piper would never stop missing Prue.
The evening of the funeral, Cole lay with his arms wrapped around Phoebe in her bedroom. Neither of them were sleeping, though Phoebe's eyes were closed.
I abandoned my sisters for you. It ran through his mind over and over. He knew it was true. He also knew Phoebe loved him - he’d seen proof of that when the Source had stabbed him, if nothing else - but how long could it last if she blamed him for her sister’s death?
“Will you ever forgive me for this?”
“For what?” Phoebe questioned.
“For taking you away from your sisters when they needed you most.”
She turned her face up to him, smiling faintly. “There’s nothing to forgive. It’s forgiving myself that I’m having a little trouble with.”
He kissed her forehead and smoothed her hair away from her face. “We’re both to blame, Phoebe. It’s both of us.”
She nodded her head slowly. “We’ll work it out - who’s guilty, who’s to blame - we’ll go through it all. And then we’ll get through it all. Together. OK?”
He pressed himself to her, slipping his hand under the small of her back. Phoebe murmured his name just before they kissed.
Phoebe awakened in the deep stillness of early morning, gently disengaging herself from Cole’s arms. Leaving the warmth of their bed, she crept down the stairs. She went to the front doors and opened them, heedless of the cold. She stayed that way a long time, standing and staring at the distant, winking stars. Tears slipped down her cheeks as she said a silent prayer.
Be at peace, Prue.
~ The End ~