© may 2004
the charmed ones, cole, and leo, and the rest of the cast of characters we've come to know and love, belong to spelling television, inc. and possible other copyright holders. i intended no true infringement on their copyrights; i only wanted to borrow these marvelous characters for a short time in my own scenarios and hopefully return them no worse for wear; the only things i've gained from this story are the satisfaction and pleasure of having written it and in knowing that others may have enjoyed it too…
phoebe's acceptance of the tribunal ruling and its (surprising) aftermath…
begins a week after the events of season six's 'crimes and witch-demeanors'…
please don't without expressed permission…
i hadn't even finished watching the episode when the muse began shouting her idea for a continuation and, luckily for me, i'd both figured right for the ending as far as phoebe was concerned and that i'd only just begun writing a separate new tale which could suddenly be put on hold…there are references to season 2's 'morality bites' and season 4's 'long live the queen' and 'womb raider'…please let me know if you enjoyed my tale and why and, if not, why not…and, please, don't bother wasting your time or mine by sending any flames…
One Week Later…
May 2, 2004
"I'm fine, Piper," Phoebe complained a moment before Piper set down in front of her a basket of freshly baked muffins. "I wish you'd stick to the plan and go back to Magic School where you and Wyatt are safe."
"I'm not leaving you, and that's that," Piper declared as she awkwardly sat down at the kitchen table. She felt like she'd doubled in size during her brief stay at Magic School and sighed before shouting to the ceiling, "Chris…breakfast!"
Paige entered the kitchen carrying Wyatt and joined her sisters at the table. She placed the energetic toddler in his high-chair and informed Phoebe, "We're not gonna let you go through this alone so quit complaining."
Phoebe was about to retort but changed her mind. Instead, she gave Wyatt a huge grin and chastised her sisters in a sing-song voice, "You're making too much out of this."
"And you're not making enough out of it," Paige snapped before she flashed a smile to her nephew. No sense alerting him to the fact that something was very wrong with his other aunt. She tried to calm herself but the thought of what had happened just made her angry all over again. "Weren't you there during that farce of a trial when Barbas deliberately misconstrued every good deed we'd ever done to make us look like the bad guys?"
Phoebe reached for a chocolate chip muffin and shook her head, "You weren't paying attention then, Paige. Barbas was right." Both sisters gasped and she quickly clarified, "I'm not saying he was right to set us up or put Darryl and Sheila through hell, even if Sheila doesn't have a clue what happened, but he was absolutely right about our recklessness. We've always been too free with our actions while thoughts of consequences sometimes came too late."
"Always under extenuating circumstances," Piper thoughtfully replied. "We're the Charmed Ones and we don't have the luxury of being attacked by simple ordinary demons. It's always the worst of the lot that come after us."
"I know," Phoebe conceded while she picked at some of the muffin's chips, "but, at the same time, I think we let the fact that we are the Charmed Ones go to our head too often."
"How can you say that? We never used it as an excuse," Paige grumbled just as she'd taken a portion of eggs for herself.
"Didn't we? Want me to count the number of times we justified to ourselves that we could do whatever because we're the Charmed Ones?" Phoebe stared at her muffin for a moment before she looked back at her sisters, "Look, all I'm saying's that this trial was a wake-up call and I can't say I'm sorry it happened. It could've been so much worse."
"Worse than Barbas being free again?" Paige retorted as she dropped her fork to her plate. She lightly slapped Piper's arm and, indicating to Phoebe, ordered, "Say something."
Piper paused from feeding Wyatt and cautiously reminded Phoebe, "You were stripped of your powers."
"We nearly all were," Phoebe stated. "I'd say we got off easy."
Piper shook her head, "Out of the four of us, you're the one who took to your powers the easiest and they became second nature to you so quickly. How can you sit there eating a muffin and tell us it doesn't matter that they're gone now?"
"I'm not," Phoebe somberly announced as she put down her muffin. "It does matter and it does hurt. But I also think this's served a purpose. If not for all of us then at least for me." She gently took hold of Piper's hand and gave it a slight squeeze, "This isn't the first time I've gone overboard with magic and you know it. How many times have I rationalized that it wasn't for personal gain when, deep down, I knew it was. If I use the powers, I gotta accept the consequences. Need I remind you about Nathaniel Pratt?"
"That was completely different," Piper frowned. "You'd killed someone."
Phoebe heard Paige's gasp but didn't explain. Instead, she told Piper, "I'd acted as judge and jury and deserved to be burned at the stake." She ignored Paige's horrified demand for explanation and continued, "Look, even though this wasn't to that extreme, I've still been wrong in the way I've been using my powers for the past few months and maybe losing them is just what I needed to have happen." She suddenly smiled sadly at her sisters and added, "Besides, it's not like my active powers were so great anyway."
"That's not true," Paige insisted. "They've saved us more times than I can count."
"That's very sweet, Paige," Phoebe nodded appreciatively. "But, the truth is, my premonitions have always been unreliable and I've never learned how to control them the way they should be. I shouldn't still be trying to force premonitions to happen. And when was the last time levitation really came in handy?"
"What about empathy?" Piper considered. "Hasn't that come in handy?"
"When was the last time it actually worked on a demon?" Phoebe argued. "I couldn't sense anything from Inspector Sheridan when she was possessed by a Phantasm. I couldn't sense anything from her even when she wasn't. That power's caused me more problems than it was worth."
With a mouthful of eggs, Paige mumbled, "It's helped you on a daily basis with your column."
"What about the even more people I'd already helped before I had that power?" Phoebe countered.
Paige shook her head with annoyance. "We were set up and tricked into that Tribunal meeting and I still think you should be more angry."
"Let it go," Phoebe suggested with a sigh. "The decision's been made and I'm dealing with it. Besides," she added with a hint of her own annoyance, "you both seem to be overlooking the fact that I'm still a witch. The Charmed Ones are still intact, thank you very much, and it would be nice if you'd see that I can still protect the innocent."
"You can still create and cast spells," Piper suddenly realized, "make potions, scry, and --"
"And you've still got those bad-ass martial arts skills," Paige interrupted with a grin.
"That's what I'm talkin' about," Phoebe nodded with satisfaction. "It's not just my active powers that make me Charmed but if I've gotta prove myself again to earn them back, then, so be it. Bring on those demons. This time I'll get it right."
"Not so loud," Piper exclaimed, glancing nervously around the kitchen. "I've been quite happy having spent a demon-free week back home."
Wyatt giggled and waved his hands in the air and Paige shook his hand before reaching for a muffin from the basket with her other hand. She raised it in toast and said, "Here's to Piper and Wyatt being home where they belong."
Piper smiled and raised a muffin too. "Here's to the Charmed Ones."
"Here's to justice," Phoebe quietly added as the three sisters touched muffins.
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