Chapter 35: Witch Way Now? – Part 2

Halliwell Manor

Piper observed the street with suspicious eyes, looking for any hint as to that FBI guy that was apparently looking to take them down when she spotted the SFB Telecom van parked across the street.

"Unless we spike the lemonade I don't know—"

"Shh!" Piper hissed from the window and Paige fell silent. "That phone-company van looks suspicious."

Paige frowned. "Why?" she questioned peering over Piper's shoulder.

"Well, because it was there earlier," Piper replied simply. "And besides, he didn't put out any cones."

Paige turned skeptical eyes on her older sister. "That's what you're basing it on?"

"Well, it's the best that I got," Piper snapped, closing the drapes again and turned around. "Now, are you ready?"

"Why don't you just..." Paige threw up her hand in a similar fashion to Piper's freezing, "...to the street."

Piper frowned at the wiggling of Paige's fingers. She didn't do that. "Because what if somebody drives around the corner mid...?" she threw up her hands and wiggled her fingers mockingly.

Paige rolled her eyes.

"Now, you just need to use some of your God-given magic," Piper observed, popping open one of the buttons of Paige's shirt and pushing up her bra. "Okay, go."

Paige frowned, toddling over to the tray of lemonade and lifting it up before stalking to the door. She descended the stairs with an extra sway to her hips and some extra bounce in her step to get her...God-given magic noticed right away. She looked around innocently at all the staring faces.

"Anyone feel like a little cool down?" she asked and was instantly surrounded by ogling construction workers. Paige smirked triumphantly. "Easy boys, there's enough for everyone."

Piper smirked over at her from across the street, having slipped out the back door, then turned towards the Telecom van. Placing one hand on the handle, Piper yanked the back door open and threw up one hand, freezing the agent inside before he could turn to her.

With a satisfied sigh, Piper closed the door and turned to the house, her eyes moving to the attic window and twitching her nose.

Buffy smirked down at her, amused by the chosen signal and turned off the blaring stereo. "Go."

Willow and Phoebe each took a deep breath, wriggling on the pillow within the circle of candles.

"Whither my love, wherever you be. Through time and space, take my heart nearer to thee." Phoebe and Willow chanted then collapsed onto the pillows as they astraled out.

The Wasteland

Phoebe and Willow astraled in to the vast, desert like place and looked around, perplexed.

A monstrous shriek caught their attention and they whirled around, highly disturbed by the scene they were met with. This place seemed to stretch on forever: fallen red rock everywhere, smoking fire, a deep, red cloudy sky above.

"If this is where Cole is, I definitely do not want to come here when I die," said Willow.

"I hear you there," agreed Phoebe looking at her daughter. "I don't want you spending your afterlife here either."

They heard a noise behind them causing Phoebe and Willow to spin around and right into the arms of Cole.

"Cole!" Phoebe and Willow yelped in surprise.

"What are you two doing here?" he growled at them. "Nobody's allowed to be here!"

Willow and Phoebe were stunned into silence: the tight grip on their arms, the overgrown facial hair and the dirty clothes, his wild eyes making him look nothing like the man that they had lost.

"Here?" Phoebe echoed. "Where is here?"

"Mom's right," added Willow. "Where is here?"

The monstrous shriek sounded again and Cole's body stiffened.

"We got to move fast," he informed them. "Come on." He took their hands and pulled, dragging them up some rocky steps as a worm like creature shot out of the earth.

When they reached the top and looked down, they saw the creature moving beneath the sand as Willow and Phoebe desperately tried to ignore the scattered bones at every turn.

"We'll be safe here but not for long," Cole informed them, glancing around them wildly just to be sure. "We have to keep moving or the beast will devour us, for eternity."

Willow and Phoebe remained silent as their eyes travelled over every inch of his face, drinking him in before they both threw their arms around him and hugged him.

Cole sighed heavily, half relief half exhaustion and held on just as tightly. "I knew you both would hear my cries."

Phoebe forced her eyes open as she and Willow took a step back away from him. "Uh...Cole."

"It's alright," he assured Phoebe. "You did the right thing. The Source is gone, forever."

"Dad?" Willow said as Cole turned to her and smiled.

"My precious baby," he said as he looked at Willow. "What happened? Do you know?"

"We all know," Phoebe said. "It was a plot by the Seer to get Willow coronated as the next Source. But I saved our daughter. With help from you."

"I knew you would hear even that," he said as he smiled. He sighed as he watched both his wife and daughter look around. "This is the wasteland. Where all vanquished demons end up."

"Does that mean I could eventually end up here," Willow said suddenly worried again.

"Being half-demon, if you were vanquished, possibly," Cole reluctantly admitted. "I would like to think being the daughter of a Charmed One would negate that out." He looked down at the ground and then met Phoebe's eyes. "The beast feeds on the essence of demons...their powers."

"So, what are you doing here?" Phoebe asked.

"Holding onto our love as well as the love for our daughter." Cole replied, staring into her eyes and Phoebe felt a tug at her heart. "I'm a demon with a soul, Phoebe, Willow. It's rather unique to the cosmos. As it is, I know of only one other that could cling here, keep from moving on."

"Willow," Phoebe said glancing at her daughter. Cole nodded as she turned back to him. "But staying here that's not healthy," she observed, shaking her head. "Everyone has to move on, you know...sooner or later."

"Yeah, well that's easy for you to say," Cole snapped. "You and hopefully Willow will get to go to the good place. Me..."

His next words were cut off by a screaming demon falling from the sky and the once blissfully happy couple watched as his body erupted into flames and turned to ash, his body falling to the sandy ground.

"Over here, come on," Cole tugged on their hands again. He jumped over the gap between the two rocks, pulling Willow and Phoebe after him.

The beast burst from the sand and sucked up the power before disappearing again.

Willow and Phoebe stared with wide eyes. "You, you know you can't keep running from that thing forever," Willow said exhaling sharply.

"That's why I've been calling to the both of you." Cole nodded. "You both can help save me. Save us."

"How?" Phoebe wondered.

"Get Leo to get the Grimoire," Cole ordered. "That resurrection spell that the wizard was after, you can use that to resurrect me."

"What?" Phoebe exclaimed, not expecting that request to pass his lips. She thought he wanted to say goodbye, properly before moving on but...apparently not. Cole didn't want to move on.

"It's easy," Cole assured them. "I'll walk you through it. All you have to do is—"

Willow pulled her mother away from Cole.

"What's the matter?" Cole questioned with a deep frown.

"Neither of us are using dark magic again," Willow told him slowly.

"Willow's right," Phoebe agreed, wringing her hands together.

"Not even for the three of us?"

"We can't, Cole," Willow said. "I could have died going down that path. You understand that, right? There were three possibilities. I'm vanquished before I was coronated. I'm vanquished sometime after, possibly by Dawn or another of my future siblings or cousins. Or I live on the path I am now. I'm not going back to the sure death."

The beast surged out of the floor, unbeknownst to the three of them and tightened itself around Willow's ankle, yanking her off her feet.

Willow screeched as it lifted her into the air as Phoebe and Cole darted forwards, grabbing her wrists tightly and pulling.

"Hold on!" Cole and Phoebe yelled simultaneously.

"Help me!" Willow squealed feeling her hands slipping. "Dad, your powers!" she yelled desperately.

Her parents tightened their slipping grasp as Cole replied through gritted teeth, "I don't have any powers!"

A second beast blasted out of the sand and wrapped itself around Willow's middle and squeezed.

"Willow!" Phoebe shouted.

Halliwell Manor

Buffy jumped in surprise when Willow's body jerked in her arms and her wife screamed in pain.

"What happened?" Piper demanded as she, Tara and Paige came running into the attic.

"I don't know!" Buffy snapped back grabbing Willow's arms as her thrashing continued and another scream was ripped from her throat.

The sound travelled through the FBI bugs outside and jolted the agent from his frozen state.

"Something's hurting her!" Tara observed as she assisted Buffy in holding Willow down.

"Something is killing her," Piper corrected as she flipped desperately through the book.

"Spell, Piper!" Buffy demanded as Willow screamed again.

"I can't find it!" Piper cried, panicking.

Buffy released her grip on Willow and ordered, "Move."

Piper did so, she moved to Phoebe to ensure whatever was happening to Willow would not soon happen to Phoebe. Buffy slid over to the book and placed her hands over the pages. "Uh...find a lost love reversal spell." She muttered to herself and the pages began turning at lightning speed.

"Since when can you do that?" Piper said shocked as she watched Buffy.

"A little while," Buffy answered as the pages stopped turning. "Expansion on my telekinesis. Found the reversal spell." She pulled the book onto her lap so it was closer to Tara, Paige and Piper and the four of them began chanting. "Return thy love, wherever she be. Through time and space, bring her back to me."

The Wasteland

Willow felt the beast's hold tightened and screamed at the pressure around her middle, desperately clinging to Phoebe and Cole but her hands were slipping.

"Daddy! Mommy!" Willow yelped when the beasts' pulled her from their grasp and she felt herself falling. "No!" she screamed just as the reversal spell kicked in and she and Phoebe was astraled back out.

Halliwell Manor

Willow and Phoebe cried out as they returned to their bodies and shot up gasping for breath.

"It's okay," Tara soothed her wife. "You're okay."

"Oh, my god," Phoebe breathed, falling heavily against Piper. "What was I thinking?"

Tara and Buffy closed their eyes and rested their heads against Willow's, as Buffy pushed the Book of Shadows away.

"You're both okay," Piper said, more so for herself than Phoebe or Willow and released a breath of relief.

The four sisters, Willow and Tara froze as the doorbell sounded throughout the house.

"Uh-oh." Paige grumbled. "I hope the freeze didn't wear off." Her thoughts going straight to the FBI and Darryl's request that they do no magic. Which of course they had just done.

Buffy blew out a breath, "With our luck, it did," she retorted pushing to her feet. She and Tara helped a shaky Willow to her feet as Paige headed out the door. The three of them followed as Piper helped Phoebe to her feet and they too followed down the stairs.

Paige took a breath, glanced fleetingly behind her to Buffy, Willow and Tara and then tore open the door.

"Agent Jackman." The guy from the telecom van introduced himself, holding up his badge. "FBI," he said as Piper and Phoebe came up behind Buffy, Willow and Tara and froze. "We should talk."

0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0

Willow, Tara and the four sisters were situated at one end of the dining table: Buffy sat on one side with Willow and Tara flanking her. Piper, Phoebe and Paige sat on the other.

Agent Jackman stood at the other end of the table. He pulled a large blue folder with the name 'Halliwell' written in block capitals on the front and slid it up the table to them. He then pulled out one with the name of 'Rosenberg' and finally one with the name of 'Maclay' and slid them up the table as well. "In case you're wondering, those are just copies."

Paige turned the one marked 'Halliwell' around and Piper pulled it closer, opening it to the first picture: one of Buffy and Phoebe outside that old house before they got shrunk. Then it was one of Paige and Piper outside of P4. Then one Buffy on her own, Piper on her own, Phoebe on her own and Paige on her own. Leo and Piper were in the next one and then it was one of Buffy, Willow and Tara, with Dawn in Buffy's arms.

Willow opened the one marked 'Rosenberg and saw pictures of herself both in San Francisco as well as in Sunnydale. Some with Buffy, as Buffy Summers, and Xander; some with Buffy, as Prue, with Tara. There were even some with her alone or with Piper, Phoebe or Paige.

Tara opened the last folder and saw much the same pictures that the others had seen. Her with Willow in Sunnydale. Her sitting with Buffy in the Sunnydale Hospital after Joyce died. Some of her alone, some with her father, brother and cousin when they came to Sunnydale looking for her. Some of her alone or with Piper, Willow, Buffy, Phoebe and Paige in San Francisco.

Phoebe looked up at their unwelcome guest. "Nice way to engender trust, Agent Jackman."

Jackman rolled his eyes. "If I wanted to expose you, I could have done it six months ago when those files first crossed my desk," he pointed out.

"Expose us as what?" Paige questioned, feigning ignorance.

"Witches," Jackman answered. "It's the only logical explanation for all the unsolved cases, the missing persons, the mysterious deaths. Both here and in Sunnydale."

"Well..." Buffy spoke up, glancing down at the 'Halliwell' file, "...if 'witches' is your version of a logical explanation then I'd love to hear your definition of illogical," she quipped.

Willow and Phoebe snorted into their hands and Paige turned away to hide her smirk.

Jackman smiled tightly. "Don't play me, Ms. Halliwell."

"The name is Summers," Buffy corrected. "Payson Summers."

Jackson cocked his brow. "And you look exactly like Prudence Halliwell."

"I know," Buffy answered. "But given I am about eight years younger than Prue; you have to admit that I can't be her."

"Maybe, but maybe not," Jackson said. "I'm not buying any of it. I know what's in those folders and I know I'm right."

"Prove it," Piper demanded smugly.

Agent Jackman reached into his bag once more and pulled out a hand-held tape recorder. When he pushed play their voices sounded throughout the room.

"Something's hurting her!"

"Something is killing her."

"Spell, Piper!"

"I can't find it!"

"Move. Uh...find a lost love reversal spell."

Swishing of pages.

"Since when can you do that?"

Willow's scream permeates the air.

"A little while. Expansion on my telekinesis. Found the reversal spell."

"Return thy love, wherever she be. Through time and space, bring her back to me."

Agent Jackman stopped the tape, confident he had made his point.

"That doesn't prove anything," Willow insisted, shaking her head.

"No." Jackman agreed, "But it implies everything, especially when coupled with those files." He then turned to Phoebe. "You think your newspaper wouldn't run that story?" then he turned to Buffy. "Or even your magazine?"

Buffy glanced at Phoebe, both of them knowing full well that both of their employers would jump at a story like that.

"What do you want?" Paige snapped, irritated by the man before her.

"Believe it or not, your help." Jackman answered and they were even more interested.

Willow's eyebrows rose. "And you think that blackmail is the way to go when asking for help, Agent Jackman? I thought the FBI was more professional than that," she commented with a shrug. "But then again I thought they spent their time on actual threats."

Agent Jackman met her gaze with a frustrated sigh, sick of her smartass comments and interruptions. "I specialize in occult-style slayings, Ms. Rosenberg."

"Summers," Willow corrected. "I am Payson's wife." He cocked an eyebrow. "I know in the state of California women can't get married to one another legally. But Payson and I had a wedding by a lesbian friendly minister. And after the wedding I changed my last name."

"Anyways that's why I was watching you all, in hopes of catching a serial killer," he stressed pointedly. "A witch-hunter."

"Alright, I've heard enough of this nonsense," Piper mused with an eyeroll then threw up her hands, freezing the arrogant Agent, who didn't freeze.

"Uh...wait a second." Paige mumbled with wide eyes, "He froze before."

"This time I was prepared." Agent Jackman explained, pulling a large amulet from inside his shirt, "Like I said, I specialize in this stuff."

Willow glanced at Buffy as if to say I know where he got that… the Magic Box in Sunnydale.

"There's supposed to be only a few of these amulets left in the world," Agent Jackman mused, looking down at it. "Got this one from an occult store in Sunnydale." He looked at Willow and Tara. "I believe you two know the one."

"So, who is this supposed witch-hunter," Buffy sought impatiently.

Agent Jackman pulled a stack of photographs from his briefcase. "Her name is Selena," he informed them, passing the bundle to Phoebe. The woman was young, short blond hair.

"I traced her genealogy all the way back to the witch trials," Jackman continued. "I think killing you people is in her blood, it's what she lives for. I mean, why else would she have burned her last three victims at the stake?"

"Why are you telling us this?" Piper queried, uncertainly.

"Well, because I thought you were going to be her next victims," he replied seriously. "But now that I know who you really are and what you can do I need you to help me find her before she kills again."

"Do you have any idea where she is?" Phoebe asked, throwing the photographs down.

"I did for a while," Jackman answered suddenly uncomfortable. "I had her in custody once, but she uh...got away."

"Why am I not surprised?" Buffy smirked, reveling in the agent's failure and obvious embarrassment.

"Mm-hm." Piper nodded also smirking.

Agent Jackman cleared his throat uncomfortably and pulled out a clear evidence bag, "These are some of Selena's personal belongings. Now, from what I know, if you use your powers on them, you might be able to find her," he observed from memory. "Now you do that, I'll make sure those files disappear forever. You don't..." he pulled a business card from his shirt pocket. "Well, you figure it out," he concluded, placing the card on the table and lifting up his briefcase. "Call me."

Buffy's eyes narrowed. "You know..." she started loudly, and he turned back around. "We don't respond well to threats Agent Jackman." She informed him helpfully, pushing out of her seat and meeting him at the end of the table.

"I assumed so but it's all I got," Jackman replied with a heavy shrug, "I can't make you help me just because I need help." He looked her over, his eyes falling to the rings on her finger. "You know...I'd consider your decision very carefully, Mrs. Summers."

Buffy cocked her head to the right, left hand on her hip, "Why's that?"

Agent Jackman shrugged, "I don't think you want authorities to know that you are in a polygamist relationship. That is after all illegal in this country."

Buffy's eyebrows rose and her eyes flashed, "Are you, threatening me, Willow and Tara?"

Jackman shook his head, "Consider it a friendly warning. Especially when you have a daughter. Jail time would ensure she was taken away from you and placed in foster care."

Buffy swallowed heavily, her right-hand twitching at her side and took a dangerous step closer. "Considering how much you know about us do you really think it wise to be threatening me like that?"

Agent Jackman smirked, pulling the amulet free again and tapping it pointedly.

Buffy chuckled. "Ah, yes. You're little amulet." With the speed of a Slayer she stepped closer and gave the amulet a sharp tug and his magical protection unlatched, falling from his neck.

Agent Jackman stared down, wide eyed at his amulet now in her hand.

Buffy met his widened eyes with her darkened orbs. "Agent Jackman, you have no idea what I'm capable of. I don't need my magical powers to hurt you and your little amulet..." she shook the hand that now clasped it, "...won't protect you from much if it isn't around your neck now will it?" her eyes flashing once more she slammed the amulet into his chest ordering. "Take it and get the hell out of my house."

Agent Jackman snatched it from her hands, glanced at each sister, Willow and Tara in turn, before he turned around and headed for the door, calling over his shoulder, "I'll be awaiting your call."

0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0

As soon as the door closed Buffy turned back to her wives and sisters and slammed her right hand down on the table. "Damn it!"

Piper placed her hands on her hips. "As much as I enjoyed that just there, threatening the FBI guy who holds our entire future in his hands...not the best idea, Buffy."

"Piper," Willow said with a sigh coming to Buffy's defense, "you heard what he said. If we don't play ball, he will see me, Buffy and Tara in jail for polygamy and Dawn in foster care. Do you really want one of your sisters and one of your nieces in jail and the other niece taken away and put into foster care?"

Piper sighed. "Of course not."

"That's why Buffy had to threaten him," Tara said as she moved beside Willow and Buffy. "I may not like it myself. But the threat had to be made."

"Why'd you give the amulet back?" Phoebe questioned with tired eyes.

Buffy shrugged. "A show of good faith," she replied with a grimace. "Which I'm now starting to regret."

With a sigh, Paige hopped off the table and stopped at the end, snatching up the card he left behind. "I don't trust him."

"Gee, you think?" Piper snapped as she fell into the chair she had occupied before as Phoebe dropped her head down onto her arms.

"Maybe we should take the Angel of Destiny up on his offer," Phoebe suggested, her voice muffled and her shoulders slumped.

"I know I said I would go with what Willow said. But I am hoping Willow and Tara will go with me. And I am siding with Phoebe," Buffy said.

"I have a problem," said Tara as they all turned and looked at her. "From what you guys told me. You all and Dawn would be safe. But I would still be a witch. How would we know just because you give up your powers that he wouldn't keep coming after me?"

Buffy sighed. "You have a point. Maybe I can ask the angel for a favor?"

"He said he was giving you a boon already," said Willow as Buffy looked at her. "I will ask for the favor. He might be more apt to agree."

"Alright," Buffy agreed.

"Great." Paige turned to her sisters, Willow and Tara. "So, we'd be free and so would Selena who, for all we know, could be a warlock."

"No." Phoebe raised her head and shook it. "Warlocks don't burn witches at the stake they just steal their powers."

"Exactly." Paige nodded. "Powers, Phoebe, Buffy. The very things we were given to do good with. Remember?"

Piper groaned loudly and dropped her head onto the table, willing them to stop it already.

Phoebe chuckled bitterly. "Yeah, Paige. We remember," she assured her, pushing out of her chair and walking away.

Paige turned and followed after Phoebe. "Do you really, or has all that dark magic just kind of gotten into your brain?"

"That was a low blow," Willow snarled as she moved to her mother and wrapped an arm around Phoebe. "Is that how you see me, Paige? I'm half-demon after all!"

"Guys!" Piper snapped sternly stopping next to Paige but went unheard.

"I can't believe you are so willing to throw away our powers," Paige remarked, her tone one of heavy disappointment as she stared at her older sister.

"Paige!" Phoebe snapped, "You don't know the hell that I have been through. You didn't live it."

"Oh really?" Paige countered, "I was just turned into a vampire and then I was shrunk and then we switched bodies and—"

"How does that even compare to me!" Phoebe yelled. "I lost my husband. I could have lost my daughter for crying out loud! Forever! All I'm asking is for my life back. A life that I can spend with Willow without fear that either of us will die!"

"Okay guys enough!" Piper interrupted sharply, "We need to focus."

Paige exhaled slowly then turned on her, "What about you, Piper? What do you think?"

Piper stood up straight. "I think we need to see this through like the angel suggested," she replied neutrally and Paige rolled her eyes.

Phoebe frowned and mumbled. "Cop out."

"Hey," Piper glowered, pointing her finger at Phoebe.

"Hey," Buffy said with a sigh. "I'm sorry, Paige. It's three against one. That said I do think we need to see this through before we make any final decision. Just as the angel suggested."

Piper looked to the heavens. "Leo!" she called. "You can orb, it's alright," she added remembering they were all watching their backs.

Her husband appeared in a flurry of bright lights a second later. "What about the FBI guy?"

Piper groaned, "Uh...he already busted us."

Leo's eyes widened and he looked at Buffy who nodded and then to Phoebe who did the same. "Oh."

"Yeah, it sucks," Buffy agreed, "But, supposedly, he just wants our help."

Leo looked at her skeptically.

"We know," Piper nodded. "We don't quite believe it ourselves. Don't worry, there's no trust on his part either."

"Find anything out about the Angel of Destiny?" Phoebe piped up; her interest peeked.

Leo nodded. "He's legit and so is his offer."

"Leo," Buffy said he turned toward her. "Assuming we accept his offer. Could it be extended to Tara? Agent Jackman threatened to send me, Tara and Willow to jail as polygamy is actually illegal and as a result Dawn would be put in foster care if we didn't play ball. I don't want to think of Tara still at his mercy if we accept the offer."

"It would be up to them but I don't see why an exception couldn't be made," Leo said.

Piper sighed wearily. "Okay um...can you do us a favor and go to Darryl. Make sure Agent Jackman is legit?" she asked sweetly. "Meanwhile we have a witch-hunter to find."

Leo raised his eyebrows questioningly.

Piper waved a dismissive hand, "Don't ask, just go."

Leo nodded once, kissed her cheek then orbed out.

Phoebe sighed heavily, drawing the attention on her two sisters' who looked at one another knowingly.

"Having a crappy day?" Piper asked.

"Yeah," Phoebe sighed.

"Cole?" Willow quizzed, throwing her arm around Phoebe's shoulders again.

"Yeah."

The Wasteland

Cole ran towards the nearest rock wall, the beast hot on his tail and attempted to climb it but only succeeded in getting himself a few inches off of the ground. He pulled himself a little higher and the beast lost interest. Cole sighed in relief, closing his eyes and breathing heavily he uttered two words. "Phoebe. Willow." Before a scream tore through the air.

Cole looked up to see yet another dead demon falling from the sky, burst into flames and turn to ash before his powers fell to the ground in the form of glowing, hovering, blue lights just like always. The ground rumble once more as the beast returned and Cole, dejected and defeat with no hope jumped down.

"You don't want his powers," he informed the beast staggering forwards. "You want me! Here I am! Come and get me!" He threw out his arms. "Come on!" he baited walking towards the rumbling ground. "Hurry up! End this!" he demanded walking right onto the powers and absorbing them himself instead.

Cole's body shook as the power entered him and he staggered back just as the beast erupted from the sand and lunged for him. Cole held up his hands to shield his face as electricity shot from the palms of his hands, burning the worm like creature's flesh.

The beast squealed in pain and retreated back into the sand.

Cole stared at his hands in shock, looking to the sky as another demon met his end. His power landed near Cole who looked over at it thoughtfully. He then looked down at his hands one by one and smiled. "This could be good."