Author's Note: See! I didn't make you wait long for the sequel, did I? Swedish Mystery will be co - writing certain sections of this fan fiction with me, but this chapter has been penned by me. However, I must thank Swedish Mystery for her beta reading and helpful suggestions. Hope you enjoy. Thanks again for all your reviews.

Secret Aftermath

Sequel to Another Secret Revealed

Chapter 1

Phoebe reacted quickly to the demonic intruder, levitating to avoid the thorns that shot out of his mouth like a round of bullets from a machine gun. She lowered herself rapidly so that her foot was level with his face and delivered a swift hard kick to his right jawbone, sending him on a collision course with the door which splintered as he crashed into it. Phoebe gasped softly as she thought of Piper lying in the bed behind her and turned expeditiously in mid air so that she could see her. She saw that the thorns had hit the wall above the headboard leaving her dormant sister unscathed.

The demon recovered almost immediately, quickly taking advantage of the fact that the witch had her back to him. He grabbed her left ankle before she could plant her feet back on solid ground. Phoebe had no chance to react as she was thrown over Piper's bed like a rag doll, with a view of the sleeping form of her sister rushing by below her. She landed on the opposite side of the room with a thud, her right shoulder slamming into the couch while her flailing left arm inadvertently knocked over the side table. The glass vase it had held shattered when it hit the hardwood floor, spraying water and scattering flowers across the room.

Phoebe grunted in pain as she lifted herself off the floor but she quickly hit the deck again as the demon shot another volley of thorns in her direction. She cried out loudly as two of them pierced her already painful shoulder and one the side of her neck, bloodying her skin and her top. The rest embedded themselves in the sofa and the wall behind it.

Victor heard the commotion upstairs from the living room and threw the newspaper he was reading onto the floor. "Oh no, not again!" He exclaimed. Without any thought for his own safety, he bolted from the lounge chair he was sitting in and ran for the stairs, taking them two at time.

Prue had orbed in and he stumbled on the last step in shock as he recognised his oldest daughter. She grabbed his arm to stop him from tumbling backwards down the staircase. "Get down!" she shouted at her father as she pushed him onto the floor and shielded him with her own body as the demon exploded, sending a hail of wood splinters from the battered bedroom door flying through the air like shrapnel.

Still on the floor, on her knees and leaning on her elbows, Phoebe looked up. Her jaw dropped at the sight before her. Piper was awake and sitting upright. Her face wore an expression of vacuous perplexity as she studied the back of her hands while slowly lowering her arms until they came to rest on the duvet that still covered her legs. Her eyes narrowed and her brows wrinkled as she registered the cries of her sons who had been awakened by the commotion. She seemed to have forgotten that she wasn't alone as she tossed the covers to one side and threw her legs over the edge of the bed. "They need their mother." Her words were barely audible as she walked toward the nursery room door in an almost zombie like manner, stepping around Phoebe on her way.

"Piper?" the younger Halliwell questioned, but her sister appeared not to hear her. Phoebe struggled as she tried to stand up, but fell on her knees once more and leaned against the edge of the bed for support as a wave of dizziness overcame her.

Prue stepped aside so that her father could get up. Victor looked understandably stunned to see his 'dead' oldest daughter standing in front of him. "What the-"

"Shh!" Prue whispered, lifting a finger to her lips. "I'll explain everything later. Right now I need you to take care of Piper for me and distract her a while I help Phoebe. Piper apparently hasn't noticed me and I don't want her to just yet."

There were so many things Victor wanted to say to his daughter, like how much it had hurt to lose not only a wife, but a daughter to magic, how he had missed her terribly, how afraid he was that his remaining children would die in the same way and he would be helpless to stop it. However, he knew now was not the time and he simply nodded in understanding. Prue waited until he was in the nursery, deliberately blocking Piper's view of the bedroom as he stood in the doorway, and she hurried to Phoebe's side.

"Pr-" Once again, the Elder held her index finger to her own lips, silencing her sister. Knowing Phoebe had injured her right shoulder, Prue took her left arm around her own shoulders and wrapped her other arm around her baby sister's waist. She noticed straight away that Phoebe was damp with sweat and her breathing was ragged. "Come on sweetie, let's go."

"What's the matter with me?" Phoebe mumbled once they reached the hallway.

Prue could see that her sister was seconds away from losing consciousness. "Phoebe, stay with me, okay? PHOEBE! Listen to me!" Phoebe's head had lolled to one side but she raised it quickly, her eyes widening in response to Prue's panicked voice. "The thorns are poisonous, honey, but don't worry I'm going to fix it, okay? I just need to get you to the attic." Her voice echoed off the walls in the hallway as she orbed out with her injured sister.

- - - - -

Sam looked on quietly as Paige was moved to a room. It was semi private, but the other bed was empty. A nurse and an orderly transferred the sedated witchlighter from the gurney to the bed. The nurse covered her with the sheets and fussed over her for a few minutes, checking the medical equipment around her, taking readings and changing her IV bag. When the nurse was confident that her patient was settled, she raised the safety bars on either side of the bed and gave Sam a sympathetic smile. "Miss Matthews will be asleep for a while. Why don't you go home and get some rest Mr. Wilder. There's nothing you can do for her right now."

The whitelighter cleared his throat before speaking. "I'd like to stay for a bit if that's okay."

The nurse looked at him thoughtfully. His face was etched with worry and fatigue. "All right. But just for a while. If you need anything, just press this button." She held it up for him to see and put it back beside Paige next to her right hand. "I'll just be at the desk down the hall."

Sam nodded in acknowledgement. "Thank you."

The nurse checked her patient one last time and switched off the main light on her way out, leaving only the light above the bed to shine down on Paige's pale features. Sam sat down on the chair beside the bed and watched his daughter while she slept. He listened to the sound of her nocturnal breathing. She looked peaceful in her slumber, as if it were just another ordinary night. It was anything but normal and he had a feeling things were going to get much worse. As if on cue, he heard a familiar jingling sound in his head but ignored it.

Unable to sit still any longer, the whitelighter rose from the chair and walked to window. He put one hand in his jeans pocket and rubbed at the stubble on his chin with the other. He gazed through his own reflection in the glass and down at the normally busy street below. At this time of night it was almost deserted except for the odd car that drove through the intersection. The jingling sounded again but he brushed it off once more. He looked up at the sky and made out a crescent moon attempting to peak through clouds. Sam turned around to face his daughter again watched as her chest rose and fell rhythmically with every breath. It was almost hypnotic. He sat down again at her bedside, and hesitantly, carefully, placed his large rugged hand on top of her slender silky smooth one, as if he were afraid his touch might disturb her. He sat in silence, watching Paige. It startled him when he heard the jingling sound for the third time, causing him to jerk his hand away from her. This time it was louder, more urgent. Sam sighed heavily. "All right, all right," he mumbled. He held his gaze on his daughter, orbing out reluctantly.

- - - - -

The attic glowed with blue light as Prue orbed in with her injured sister who had gone limp in her arms and she hurriedly sat her down on the sofa. "PHOEBE!" Prue exclaimed urgently as she reached over to switch on the table lamp beside them. Phoebe half opened her eyes and moaned softly in response.

The Elder pulled out the thorns, making Phoebe wince. "Sorry sweetie. I know it hurts." Blood gushed out of the wound in her neck and Prue quickly raised her hand to heal the injury. Then she allowed her hand to linger over her sister's shoulder. Phoebe's eyes opened fully and she looked at her sister. Prue breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank God. You okay, sis?

"I think so. What happened?" Phoebe blinked in an attempt to clear her vision and slowly sat up.

"The thorns were poisonous. The poison usually acts more insidiously but you were hit with three, not to mention one of them hit an artery. It worked its way through your system more quickly. A few more minutes and you would have slipped into a coma and died. As much as I miss you honey, I don't want you joining me up there anytime soon." Prue gave her sister's hand a little squeeze before getting up to fetch the Book of Shadows from its stand and sat down beside Phoebe, placing the tome on her lap. She flipped through the pages until she found what she was looking for. She pointed at the title. "Thorn demons." She waited patiently as Phoebe read the passage.

"Wow," Phoebe commented as she closed the book and placed it beside her. "Why did a thorn a demon come after us? They're not that powerful. It was suicide for just one to show up here. I hope we don't run into them again anytime soon though."

Prue looked into her sister's questioning eyes. "I have the feeling we will. Phoebe, all three of you are vulnerable right now and open to attack. That's why the Elders have let me come back to you. After all the good you've done they feel they owe it to you to protect you. Ensuring the survival of the Charmed Ones ensures the survival of your offspring. If anything happens to you, a future like the one adult Chris came out of might still become a reality."

"After all the crap we've been through, NOW they decide to help protect us." Phoebe shook her head, making move to get up from the sofa.

Prue held out a hand to stop her. "Sweetie, there's something you need to know."

"But Piper-" Phoebe objected.

Prue took hold of Phoebe's hand in hers. "Dad's taking care of her. Paige is the one we need to be worried about right now. That's why the Elders called me before. The darklighter poisoned her while she was unconscious. He was working with an alchemist named Gorlon. He-"

"But you can heal darklighter poison, right?" Phoebe interjected.

The Elder frowned and shook her head. "I can't. It's not darklighter poison."

"What exactly does this poison do?" Phoebe spoke hesitantly.

Prue was as reluctant to answer her sister question. "It gradually induces a psychotic state. It severely impairs thought and perception. She'll start to hallucinate, become delusional. In other words it's going to drive her crazy. Then her body will shut down and die, if she doesn't kill herself first."

The younger Halliwell looked like she had just been hit with a ton of bricks. "But there's a cure, right, a potion or something?"

Prue shook her head again and squeezed her visibly shaken sister's hand.

"Are you telling me Paige is going to die?" Phoebe's face was etched with disbelief and she grabbed the Book of Shadows with her trembling hand in desperation. "There has to be something in here."

The Elder put her free hand on top of the tome to stop the anxious witch from opening it, knowing it was pointless. "Not if I can help it. You won't find anything in there. The Elders didn't know about Gorlon until a couple of hours ago and if there is a cure only he has it. We have to go into the Underworld to find him."

Sorry, I just can't seem to get the cliffhanger queen out of me. :P