"The Apple Doesn't Fall Far"

A Charmed Fanfic Short

That night Piper found herself agitated to the point of distraction. And when Piper was agitated, she had to get into the kitchen. Before she'd opened P3, she'd been a chef. Even if she didn't cook professionally anymore, working over a sink or stove soothed her.

That was why she had just plunged her hands into a sink full of searing suds and dishes from her sister Prue's wake. As she scrubbed, she listened to her husband Leo, her sister Phoebe, and her sister Phoebe's boyfriend Cole, leaning against the counter behind her and talking about what else? The latest innocent crisis.

"Are you sure she orbed?" Leo was asking Phoebe. "Are you sure it wasn't something else?"

"What else could it be, Leo?" Phoebe said. "She disappeared; bright shiny white thingies came; she reappeared. You tell me."

"It just doesn't make any sense, that's all," Leo said.

"Why not?" that was Cole.

"Because," Leo replied, "Why would the demon Shax try to kill a White Lighter? We're all already dead."

Piper cringed to hear her husband refer to his less than alive status. The thought of his demise in World War 2 always creeped her out a bit. Today it was downright upsetting.

Cole, who was accustomed to dealing with all things grisly, was of course unfazed. "Maybe Shax didn't know she was a White Lighter," he proposed.

"Right," Leo said. "The Source sends out his personal assassin but doesn't know who he's after?"

This conversation was going to drive Piper mad. Will this never end? Involuntarily, she banged a pot into the sink with a clang.

"Is it possible," Phoebe said, "She doesn't know she's a White Lighter?"

"No," Leo said. "Why?"

"Because she acted as though she didn't," Cole said. "She acted just as surprised as we were when she orbed out."

"That doesn't make any sense either," Leo said.

"Then why don't you go ask the Elders what does make sense," Phoebe proposed. "Preferably, before we go risking our lives again?"

"Good idea," Leo agreed.

Piper could sense Leo giving her a goodbye glance, the secret farewell he always sent her before orbing into the mysterious ether over their heads. But she couldn't bring herself to return the glance. She just didn't have the energy.

She heard Leo sigh before he announced, "I'll be back."

Then, with a flurry of white lights that Piper could only make out in her peripheral vision, he was gone. She shook her head slightly, and dunked a new set of dirty dishes into the soapy water.

"Maybe I should go see what I can find out from the other side," Cole said.

Phoebe protested. "No—"

"I'll be careful," he promised. "Nobody will see me. Besides, it might be good for me to go back down, confuse any bounty hunters who might be trying to track me."

"Cole…." Phoebe said shakily.

"Don't worry," Cole said. "I'm not going to disappear on you."

The words brought tears to Piper's eyes. She looked over her shoulder in time to see Cole plant a sweet kiss on Phoebe's lips, then shimmer into nothingness. When will this end? Piper asked herself again. She huffed with frustration and turned back to the dishes, grabbing a plate and beginning to scrub at it with her sponge.

"Hey," Phoebe said, coming to her side. "You okay?"

"Me? Sure, why wouldn't I be?"Piper said spinning to grab another pot. "Might as well have another funeral tomorrow. All the dishes are out. Pretty much know who to invite."

"Piper…."

"Tell me something," Piper said, spinning around to face her sister. "Are you insane or just plain stupid? We bury Prue this morning and you nearly go off and join her tonight? What the hell's the matter with you?"

"I was trying to save an innocent," Phoebe said, blinking at Piper with wide eyes.

"No, you were trying to get yourself killed," Piper said, feeling hysteria rise in her throat. "That's what we Halliwells do best, you know, get killed. Isn't it obvious by now that our only destiny is to die. And you're making it way too easy for them, Phoebe. You're just walking right into it."

Piper couldn't hold the sob inside her throat a moment longer. She felt herself cave in, and then she was leaning on Phoebe's shoulder, feeling Phoebe's arms encircle her, crying so hard, it hurt.

"I'm sorry," Phoebe whispered.

"I can't handle anything right now," Piper choked out, "and I certainly can't handle losing another sister."

As Piper continued to putter around in the kitchen that night, Phoebe did what she did whenever she was agitated…..she paced back and forth in the parlor. The cozy fire roaring in the antique hearth didn't offer much comfort to her. All she could think about was Cole down there, dodging bounty hunters and trying to evade the vengeful Source.

Piper came in later with a steaming mug, just as Phoebe sank to a seat in front of the fireplace. Piper sat on the floor next to her and handed her the cup. "Chamomile tea….it's supposed to calm the nerves," Piper said. "I just downed three cups."

Phoebe smiled a little, "Thanks." She said. She took a sip and felt the tea scald her tongue. "It doesn't seem real does it?" she asked, referring to their eldest sister Prue being gone.

"No," Piper stared into the fire. "What are we going to do with all of her stuff? What are we going to do about her car?"

"Her car?" Phoebe winced. "I don't know….sell it I guess."

"Unless you want it," Piper offered.

"No," Phoebe said, cringing at the thought of scratching Prue's beloved black SUV.

At that moment a flurry of white lights swirled into the room. In a second, Leo appeared.

"Well?" Phoebe demanded, getting to her feet.

"The Elders say they don't know anything about her," Leo said with a shrug. "So she's definitely not a White Lighter."

"Then why can she orb?" Phoebe asked.

"They can't explain it," Leo said.

"Wait a minute," Phoebe sputtered.

Suddenly Cole shimmered into the room next to Leo. Phoebe felt relief wash over her. For a brief moment the annoying Elders vanished from her mind.

"Sorry, it took so long," Cole apologized, breathing hard. "Had to duck from a couple of bounty hunters."

"Did you find out anything?" Leo asks.

"Yeah," Cole said looking grim. "You're not going to believe what I found out. Turns out that the Source doesn't think she's a White Lighter at all. He thinks she's another Charmed one."

Piper was incredulous. "What?!" she yelled.

"That's why he's got this demon going after that girl Paige."Cole explained. "Even though he ended the Power of Three when he killed Prue. He thinks that this girl can somehow reconstitute it."

"But that's not possible," Phoebe whispered as she wrapped her arms around herself. All this time she was certain she was the baby Halliwell in the family. There was no possible way….

That's when something inside Piper went rigid as she watched her sister Phoebe's lost and bewildered expression. Forget losing it, she thought, I'm getting answers. She clenched her jaw and stormed out of the parlor.

"Piper?" she heard Phoebe's voice behind her, but Piper was on a mission. She heard Phoebe, Leo and Cole following in close steps behind her to the attic. She headed straight for the Book of Shadows. In it she found a spell to summon her grandmother.

"Piper, what are you doing? Why are you summoning Grams?"Phoebe asked.

"I'm gonna ask Grams what the Hell she knows about all of this," Piper said through gritted teeth. "Time to summon her transparent butt back here to see what she meant by your destiny still awaits…which she had told me shortly after Prue's funeral."

Phoebe could only blink as Piper chanted the short incantation.

"Hear these words. Hear my cry. Spirit from the other side. Come to me, I summon thee. Cross now the great divide."

Instantly a cloudy mist swirled into the room. Then white lights. And a shimmering body appeared. Then there stood Grams.

Grams looked around at everyone in the attic. "Why did you summon me? What's going on?"

Boy does she look irritated, Phoebe thought.

"Grams," Piper demanded. "Why does the Source think that the Charmed ones can be made whole again?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," Grams immediately stuttered. Her face glowed red though.

"Grams," Piper said. "You were a lousy liar when you were alive, but now that you're a ghost…you're even worse."

Grams got even more uncomfortable. She was busted. Piper wanted to scream in frustration, but luckily Phoebe appealed with sweetness.

"Grams," she said gently. "If you know something you have to tell us. We deserve to know the truth."

"When you were little something happened. Me and your mother Patty couldn't tell anyone because we were afraid you girls would lose your powers and be denied your birthright."

The girls were quiet.

"It happened after your father Victor and your mother Patty got divorced. When Sam, your mom's White Lighter and her were together."

Cole raised his eyebrows at Piper. "I see the apple doesn't fall far from the forbidden tree."

Piper threw Cole an annoyed look at his mentioning of the reference to her and Leo.

"You were both toddlers," Grams continued. "You just thought your mom got a little fat. No one knew except for your mom, me and of course Sam. They wanted to keep the baby so bad. But I knew it would be disastrous. Long ago, Piper, before you and Leo…..it was unthinkable for White Lighters and Witches to be together. Let alone have kids together. So for the safety of the baby, they gave her up."

Despite her anger, Piper felt her heart wrench for her mom.

"Sam and Patty took the baby to a local church and asked a nun there to find her a good home. She found one too. A very loving foster family."

"That explains why the Elders didn't know about her," Leo said.

Phoebe was freaking. "Wait a minute! You mean that innocent that I tried to save… Paige….she's really our baby half-sister?"

"Yes. And when all of you are together by the Book of Shadows….just like you were back when Prue was alive…..then you'll be Charmed again." Grams said simply.

Piper was trying to catch her breath. Phoebe looked blindsided.

Here we go again, was the only thought that popped into Leo's mind.

'The End!'