A/N: I know, long time no write. As always I am sorry for the months of silence. With starting a new job and having an operation recently, things in my life have been even more hectic but I'm glad to finally get this chapter up. A special thanks and a hug goes out to my awesome proof reader Ian (Nerf) for his support and help with this chapter and giving me advice. I think you had the right idea, Ian. ;). Okay enough rambling. Enjoy, read, review and like...or not :P
Chapter 8 – Even Angels Fall
Teaserline: Fallen angels don't always want to be saved
October 5, 2006
Piper paced up and down the aisle behind the bar of P3, the black cordless telephone pressed against her ear and great annoyance visible on her features.
She rolled her eyes as the person on the telephone spoke to her. "Joe, we have a long standing relationship with each other, but this is the third week we've had delivery issues. I'm tired of being nice about this," she argued before Joe spoke again. "Listen, either you get those cases of beer here before five pm, or I'll be looking for another supplier, which I think would be easier than listening to my customers whine about my beer shortage for yet another night!"
Piper turned as she saw Charlie approach her with her arms full of swizzle stick boxes in a small orange crate. Charlie placed down the crate and gave Piper a questionable look.
Piper held up her finger, wanting just a moment. "Fine. You better not let me down this time, Joe. Bye." She removed the phone from her ear and placed it down on the base. "Unbelievable!"
"What's his excuse this time?" Charlie asked, pushing her ponytail off of her shoulder.
Piper shook her head in disappointment. "Pick an excuse, any excuse," she offered. "But he's promised that it will be here by five."
Charlie gave a hopeful smile. "I sure hope so. I hate it when customers get hostile, especially when it concerns their liquor."
"Between hostile demons and hostile customers, I'd rather face the demons." Piper laughed as Charlie joined in. "How's the other stock looking?"
"Pretty good," Charlie replied. "The snack platters are fine; I ordered some new Cocktail glasses and some more napkins since the supplier messed up the name."
"What is going on in the world lately?" Piper questioned. "Has no one heard of customer service?"
"Tell me about it. I have an easier time tracking down mandrake root than getting napkins replaced," Charlie said, turning to the crate and unpacking some of the swizzle stick boxes.
"Well let's hope that is the only thing that goes south today," Piper said right before showers of brilliant white light filled the vast dance floor of the club, illuminating the newly painted purple walls.
Both Piper and Charlie directed their attention to the visitor that was teleporting into the club. They were both surprised to see an unknown Elder appear to them. He was clad in the usual Elder attire, his wavy silver tresses neatly brushed back.
Charlie remained situated behind the bar as Piper moved out from behind the counter to approach the new Elder. She was still a little wary of the higher beings of good since her last encounter with Odin.
"Who are you?" Piper questioned, tucking her hands into the back pockets of her dark jeans.
"My name is Noah," the Elder replied, clasping his hands together, the loose sleeves of his white robe flowing with each movement. "And I come with an assignment for you."
"An assignment for me?" Piper questioned, raising her hand to her chest. "I think you have the wrong sister, pal, I'm not the witchlighter."
"Oh, no, Piper, I'm looking for you," Noah replied, serenely. "We need your help to guide a fallen whitelighter back onto the right path, before we lose her to the other side."
Piper stared at the unknown Elder confused. "Why me? I mean, why not get Paige to deal with this? It is, after all, in the Whitelighter job description to keep people on the right path."
"Paige has more important tasks she must tend to," Noah answered. "After all, Piper, we know you are searching for a way to get back to your newly discovered roots and this will count immensely in your favour on your path to being The Matriarch."
Piper gave a frustrated groan while rolling her eyes. "Fine, then. If you really want to use the Matriarch card on me," she quipped. "Now how will I find this fallen whitelighter?"
"Aubrey was last sensed at this address." Noah held out his hand as a small piece of parchment appeared in a flash of golden light in his open palm. "You will most likely find something to scry for her there."
Piper reached out and took the piece of parchment. "Why can't you Elders ever make my job easier by just telling me where the people I am searching for are?" she mused. "It's always a game of 'hide and seek'."
Noah's mouth curved into crooked grin. "Now, where's the fun in that?" Piper couldn't help but give a slight smile while shaking her head slightly at the Elder. "Good luck." Noah closed his eyes as he tilted his head back slightly, calling upon his orbing ability to teleport him back to his dwelling.
Piper looked at the parchment as she turned back to her cousin. "Remind me again. I wanted to get back to my magical duties, right?"
Charlie smirked before asking, "Do you want some help with your assignment?"
"I'd really prefer it you could continue with the almighty club duties, if you don't mind?" Piper said, retrieving her handbag from under the counter.
"Say no more, Charlie replied. "Your trusty club manager is on the job."
"Thanks, Charlie," Piper expressed, gratefully. "You really have been a godsend lately."
"Aw, it's nothing," Charlie waved it off. "It's nice to be needed sometimes."
Piper smiled at her cousin before grabbing her brown coat, ready to leave. "I'll see you later." The Witch made her way across the room to the stairs to exit the club.
The ringing sound echoed throughout the empty hallway of an apartment building as Piper stepped out of the elevator, searching her surroundings. The apartment building was oddly silent, but Piper knew that was the least of her worries. She needed to find this Whitelighter, even if only to prove to the ever-knowing Elders that she was in fact ready to be the Matriarch.
Piper moved down the hall as the numbers of the apartments began to decrease until she finally found the one she was looking for: Apartment 33. She raised her hand and made it into a fist before knocking a few times on the wooden door. She waited for a moment. No answer, not even a slight rumble from inside the apartment.
Piper's brow furrowed as she moved her hand to the doorknob and turned it. The door opened and she made her way inside to be faced with a horrific sight.
"Oh, my God," she gasped softly, closing the door behind her and moving further into the apartment.
Piper stared down at the floor where the body of a lifeless young man laid in a pool of blood, his bright green eyes frozen open, exhibiting the terror he must have felt at the moment of his untimely demise. His chest was carbonized and his blood stained the button-down white shirt he was wearing. The Witch knew that the young man's fatal injury was caused by an energy ball, a high voltage one at that.
A shiny trinket in the open palm of the man's hand caught Piper's eye and she bent down to retrieve it. She delicately removed it from his hand and studied it. It was a charm bracelet, a lovely one. She examined each hanging charm and came across a name engraved on the heart charm.
Piper knew she had found what she needed; she just wished that she could have saved this innocent from whatever demon that felt the need to end his young life so prematurely. She held her right hand over his open eyes and brushed them closed, hoping to give him some sense of peace.
She lifted herself up from the floor and pulled out her cellphone while stuffing the charm bracelet into her pocket. After setting her cellphone to private caller, Piper moved towards the door while dialing 911. She opened the door and as she stepped out of the apartment, she spoke into the phone.
"Hello, I'd like to report a murder..."
Piper entered the manor and placed all her things on the side table by the door.
Piper smiled broadly as her sons ran towards her to greet her. She scooped them up into her arms and gave them each a hug and a kiss. "Oh, I missed you."
"We missed you too, Mommy," Wyatt said. "Daddy bought us some new crayons today so we made you some nice pictures."
"Well, I can't wait to see them," Piper said as she saw Leo approaching them. "Go and get them and then I'll take a look."
"Okay!" Wyatt and Chris both responded before running to the sunroom to collect their drawings.
"Hi, honey," Leo greeted, giving Piper a kiss. "I wasn't expecting you home so early."
"Well, I've received a little assignment from the Elders so that's why I had to leave the club early," Piper explained.
"What kind of assignment?" Leo questioned, intrigued that the Elders recruited Piper for an assignment. They didn't usually call upon witches to take care of their troubles; it was usually a Whitelighter's job.
"They have asked me to help guide a fallen whitelighter back to the right path. I just came from the apartment where she was last sensed and-" Piper paused for a moment, the man's terrified eyes still fresh in her memory. "I found a dead man there."
"Her charge?" Leo asked concerned, his brow creasing.
"I assume so," Piper answered. "I found a charm bracelet of hers and hopefully I'll be able to scry for her with it."
"I'm sure you'll find her," Leo assured.
Piper took a quick breath before asking Leo a question she was slightly dreading. "Listen, I know you have to work this afternoon, but do you think Mitchell will be able to give you the whole day off?" she asked. "I won't be able to go demon hunting and take care of the kids as well."
"I suppose I could; he offered to give me the whole day off in the first place. But where's Charlie?" Leo asked. "Can't she help out with the boys?"
"We're having some issues with stock deliveries for the club and she's taking care of it. Otherwise I would have asked her, but the club has been getting a bad rep lately for not having alcohol, so I'd prefer it if she'd stay focused on that," Piper explained. "You know there's nothing worse than a high school-esque club that only has a juice bar."
Leo chuckled slightly at the platitude. "I have an idea," he announced. "Why don't I take the boys with me to work?"
"Wyatt's been helping me out a lot with my truck here and I'm sure he'd love it and I'll put Chris in his playpen in the office with Trisha. She loves having the boys around," Leo suggested.
Trisha was an elderly lady that did office work at the Garage and loved both Wyatt and Chris dearly. Trisha was a widow and never had children of her own, so she considered herself Wyatt and Chris' honorary grandmother.
"Okay, but you keep an eye on them and clean them up before coming home," Piper warned. "I don't want my children coming home as little grease monkeys." She turned as she heard the pitter-patter of feet running towards them.
"Look, Mama!" Chris said excitedly as both he and Wyatt handed their drawings to their mom.
Piper gasped in amazement. "These are very beautiful; they are definitely going up on the fridge."
Piper studied the pictures. Wyatt's drawing was of little stick figures of his family in front of the Manor. Piper admired her three year old's artistic talent. Chris' little drawing was more abstract than Wyatt's, but the swirls of different colours reminded Piper of magical portals. In her eyes, the pictures were exquisite pieces of art.
She handed the drawings back to her sons. "Why don't you go stick them on up?"
The boys nodded their heads, taking the drawings and running towards the kitchen. Leo hurried after them as Piper pulled the charm bracelet from her pocket. She studied it in her open palm before moving towards the stairs to head on up to the attic. Just as Piper was about to climb the first step, the doorbell rang.
Piper groaned as she moved back towards the front door while placing the charm bracelet back in her pocket. When she opened the door, she was surprised to see who was standing on her threshold. "Billie?"
"Hi, Piper," Billie said softly. "I don't mean to intrude, I just..."
Piper stared at the young girl. She hadn't seen or heard from Billie in two months and wasn't expecting her to show up at her front door. Piper studied Billie's demeanor. She seemed uncomfortable, cautious...
Billie shook her head as she spoke with a stutter. "This, this was a mis-, mistake. I'm sorry, I'm leaving now."
She turned to leave as Piper called out to her. "Billie, no. Don't go." Billie turned back to Piper, surprised. She wasn't expecting her former friend to even attempt to stop her. "I guess it's time we talked." Piper held open the door for Billie to enter the Manor.
Billie gave her a small, grateful smile as she moved into the manor. Her eyes widened happily as she saw Wyatt and Chris coming out from the kitchen. "Hi, guys!"
Wyatt stopped dead in his tracks and glared at Billie before grabbing hold of his brother and calling upon his orbing ability. In a great swirl of orbing lights, the brothers were collected and teleported away.
"Wyatt?!" Leo called after his son as he saw the remaining orbs disappearing. He glanced towards Piper and saw Billie standing in the foyer. "Billie, this is a surprise. How are you?" He was pleasantly surprised to see the blonde witch again. He didn't harbour the same resentment Piper did since he wasn't present during the whole Ultimate Battle debacle. He always believed in giving people the benefit of the doubt, and even if Piper didn't always agree with that, she respected it.
"I'm good, thanks, Leo," Billie replied, turning towards Piper. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare Wyatt off like that. The last thing I want to do is upset him."
"It's fine, he's still a little wary of you after what happened," Leo explained.
Billie nodded, understanding. "Of course, I wouldn't expect him to act any other way after what Christy and I did to him... to you guys."
"I'll go check on the boys," Leo said. "It's good seeing you, Billie, welcome back." Billie gave Leo a grateful smile before he made his way up the stairs, leaving the witches in private.
"Yeah, about that," Piper began. "I think it's time we talk." She moved towards the conservatory with Billie following close behind her. They sat down on the white wicker seats before Piper spoke. "Billie, I know you and I have had a hard couple of months."
"And I know it's my fault, Piper, really I do," Billie interjected. "I understand that what I did was wrong and that my judgment was off on everything, way off, even in believing everything my sister told me about you guys."
Piper gave a soft chuckle. Billie had not changed one bit, she was still the rambler she always was. "Billie, I believe that you're sorry."
"Really, Piper, I've changed... wait." Billie shook head, not sure if she heard correctly. "You believe me?"
"I do," Piper responded, simply. "It hurt me that you didn't trust me or my sisters, but I've also sort of seen us through your eyes, and I kind of get why Christy and Dumain were able to alter your opinion about us, about what we were supposed to do as the Charmed Ones."
"I really wish my trust in you was strong enough not to believe them," Billie admitted sadly.
"Like I said, I understand how they could turn you against us, but the thing I've been wrestling with for months is how you could use Wyatt to destroy us," Piper admitted, lowering her head, allowing her hair to cascade over her shoulder.
Billie frowned sadly. "Piper, I really wish that I..."
"Billie, let me finish," Piper interjected.
"Okay," Billie said, slightly embarrassed, lowering her eyes to the floor. Her cheeks turned a pale shade of pink.
"Nothing means more to me than my family, but my children mean everything to me," Piper explained with great force. "Since Wyatt's birth it's been one big battle to protect him from all the evil that surrounded us, but I never thought we'd have to protect him from his Aunt Billie. You didn't just destroy my trust; you destroyed the trust you had in that little boy who loved you like family."
"I know that," Billie acknowledged. "God, Piper, I wish I could take it back, I wish that I didn't do that to him."
"I know you would take everything back if you could, Billie, but I guess I've finally realized that I was never really angry with you," Piper admitted.
"What?" Billie questioned, confused.
Piper clasped her hands together before continuing. "I was mad at myself for not being able to protect Wyatt, to keep him out of danger."
Billie shook her head in disagreement. "Piper, no, if you should blame anyone, you should blame me. You have been a great mother to those kids considering you were the only parent they had for the time Leo was gone."
"Exactly, I was their only parent," Piper said. "I was just so obsessed about stopping you and Christy and getting Leo back that I forgot about the safety of my kids. What kind of mother does that?"
"You are seriously being too hard on yourself, you had to take on a serious burden. It's a wonder that you didn't snap under all the pressure," Billie sympathized. "I should never have put you in the position that you felt that you were being a bad mother." Billie never realized what kind of pressure Piper was under. She was so obsessed with finding her sister that she didn't take into account that Piper wasn't just simply trying to get her husband back, but she was actually trying to get her children's father back. Billie never took into account how hard it must have been on Piper to juggle everything, including taking care of two small boys.
Piper gave Billie a grateful smile. Even after the way she had treated her, Billie was being so kind and supportive. She now felt worse for the way she acted, but knew that she and Billie weren't going to rebuild what they had overnight, it would take some time. Some things were easier to get over than others and Piper knew that. She couldn't just snap her fingers and erase everything that happened between them, but she knew she couldn't harbor this feeling of hate any longer. It wasn't healthy and, in doing so, she wasn't being a good example for her children. Everyone should be forgiven, even if it takes some time.
"Thanks, Billie," Piper said.
"It's true and I know things won't automatically snap back to how they were before, but I'm really hoping that we can get past this thing and try to be friends again," Billie admitted. "You, Phoebe and Paige were like my sisters and it kills me knowing that I threw that relationship away like that. I threw it away for a sister I barely knew."
Piper leaned forward and took Billie's right hand in hers. "Blood is thicker than water, Billie. It takes a lot for us to truly see our family for who they truly are and it's even harder to accept it. I think we've been angry with each other long enough, but it's like you said: things aren't going to be like they were before. Both of us have some healing to do, but we'll see how things go."
"Thank you, Piper, really," Billie expressed.
"We're going to be fine, Billie, but I can't convince Wyatt to trust you again. That's going to be up to you to get back in his good graces," Piper explained, letting go of Billie's hand and sitting back in the couch.
"I know I have to make it up to him and I hope that he'll be able to forgive me," Billie said.
Piper smiled. "Well, he is my son after all. He might be a bit stubborn, but I'm sure he'll come around."
"I hope so," Billie admitted.
Piper dug her hand into her pocket again to retrieve the charm bracelet. She knew she and Billie had to start somewhere to repair their fragile relationship and she thought that maybe having Billie help her with her search would be ideal.
"Billie, do you have anything planned for the rest of the day?" Piper questioned, rolling the charm bracelet around in her palm.
"No, I actually came back a day early to talk to you. I have a meeting with the college dean tomorrow," Billie informed before asking, "Why?"
"The Elders saddled me with an assignment and I could really use some help if you're interested," Piper responded.
"I'd love to help out," Billie said happily, her face brightening up.
She was so relieved that she had received a warmer reception than what she expected. She'd half expected Piper to slam the door in her face the moment she saw her. That, or try to blow her to smithereens. Billie had to work up a lot of courage to even ring the doorbell and now she felt content. Even though she and Piper were at slight odds with each other, she knew after this they'd be able to work it out. It would be nice if she could finally reconnect with all the sisters, but Wyatt was going to be a daunting task. She knew how trusting Wyatt was of those close to him and she knew it would be a while before she would earn back his trust, but she was willing to take that time, no matter how long it took, she would prove to Wyatt that she really was a good person.
A man dressed in a flowing black leather jacket moved along the busy halls of the Brotherhood's Headquarters. He moved swiftly passed everyone, bringing one hand up to his head, slicking back his pitch black tresses. He approached the door to Bacarra's office and knocked twice before the door swung open, allowing him access to the room.
"Suriod, do what do I owe the pleasure?" Bacarra questioned, rising up from his desk chair. "The last time I saw you, you were a measly little darklighter out to kill me."
"Things have changed, Bacarra," Suriod replied. "Obviously, I'm no measly darklighter anymore and you're no longer a measly warlock either."
"Touché," Bacarra agreed. "We've come into great power, something we were always destined to receive."
"I concur," Suriod said.
"So, I'll ask again," Bacarra began, stepping out from behind his desk and moving towards the darklighter. "To what do I owe this pleasure?"
"We all know you've been uniting evil under your Brotherhood umbrella and I'd like to offer my services," Suriod explained.
"You are suggesting a union between our kinds?" Bacarra questioned, intrigued by the proposal.
"Yes, I am."
Bacarra smiled and thought for a moment before extending his hand to his counterpart. "Well, then you've got yourself a union, Suriod."
Suriod grinned, taking Bacarra's hand and giving it an agreeing squeeze. "Excellent, now I have some information for you on the soon-to-be Matriarch."
"Go on," Bacarra implored.
"My minions have informed me of a Whitelighter that has fallen off the path; the Elders have recruited Piper Halliwell to guide her back. This might be the perfect opportunity to add to our fold," Suriod suggested.
"You are suggesting that we turn the Whitelighter?" Bacarra asked.
"Yes, I have the perfect weapon to help the Whitelighter fall further off the path and ultimately, take her to the path of evil." Suriod informed.
"I like that." Bacarra beamed. "Nothing would send the witch reeling more than losing an innocent, let alone losing a Whitelighter to evil."
"Exactly," Suriod agreed. "Piper hardly recovered from her last little episode, getting this Whitelighter might be the final push we need to get her over the ledge."
"Get me your weapon. I have to check in with my advisor and then make contact with my Seer," Bacarra said.
"Very well," Suriod said as he was collected by dark swirling orbs that teleported him from Bacarra's office.
"This is going to be fun," Bacarra said with an evil snicker.
A cloud of white smoke billowed up from the chalice as Billie pulled the purple scrying crystal and the charm bracelet, that was neatly draped around the cord that held the crystal, out after preparing it to scry for Aubrey. She carried it across the room over to Piper who was setting up the map on the round oak table.
"Here you go," Billie said, holding out the crystal to Piper.
"Thanks," Piper said, taking the crystal from her and lowering it to the map. The crystal slowly began to swirl as Piper directed it over the map. "Let's hope that we can find her before it's too late."
"Don't worry, Piper, I'm sure you'll find her. Scrying hasn't let us down before," Billie encouraged.
"Yeah, but we've also never scried for a fallen Whitelighter either," Piper added.
"Right," Billie said as she kept her eyes on the spinning crystal, willing it to drop and to tell Piper where to find Aubrey. The crystal kept moving over the map, struggling to find its target. "I could go and get my laptop and we can scry for her with my GPS."
"That might be a good... wait, it's pulling," Piper informed as the crystal began to swerve towards the Bay Area. The crystal twirled wildly, accompanied by a faint jingle indicating that it had located Aubrey. The crystal dropped as both Piper and Billie peered down to see the location. "She's on top of Golden Gate Bridge."
"How are you going to get there?" Billie questioned. "It's not like we can summon her here, she'll just orb away."
Piper put the crystal down and made her way over to her potions cabinet. She pulled open the doors before searching through the shelves for her desired potion. She took out two vials that contained a white liquid before replying, "With this."
"You still use the teleporting potions?" Billie questioned. She was surprised, since she was she one that introduced the sisters to it.
"It's a handy potion since we don't have an orber in the house anymore," Piper replied, sliding one of the vials into the left side pocket of her dark jeans. "And plus, I don't see myself receiving any teleporting powers in future, so these will have to do."
"Do you want me to come with you?" Billie questioned, hopefully. "You know two voices of reason might be better than one."
"No, it's okay," Piper replied, closing the cabinet again. She looked up and saw that Billie was disappointed. "I just think the Elders wanted me to talk to her alone; that this is just something they want me to do on my own. You know the Elders, they love their little tests."
Billie felt slightly better now that Piper had explained fully why she'd rather approach Aubrey on her own. "Okay, but if you need me, I'll be here," her eyes darted around the room. "cleaning up, I guess."
"Thank you, Billie," Piper said, her voice filled with genuine gratitude. Piper moved back over to the map and loosened the charm bracelet from the crystal before stuffing it into her pocket. She took a breath before speaking, "Wish me luck." She envisioned the top of the Bridge. She hadn't been up there herself, but tried to picture it from what Paige and Leo had told her. She raised her hand with the potion and dropped the vial to her feet. Upon shattering, billowing white smoke swirled around the Witch, collecting her, ready to teleport her to her sought after destination.
Bacarra blinked into the elaborate sitting room of the house in which Davon and Dylan were hiding. The house had been owned by the former president of the company the Brotherhood had taken over many years ago and since then they had used the house for Brotherhood purposes. Bacarra, being the new leader, had decided that the house would now become his residence. But, unbeknownst to his followers, he now used it as a screen to hide Dylan.
He moved down the hall towards the gym where he heard grunting sounds. He stood by the door and found Dylan dressed in a black tank top and pants, punching a big red punching bag that hung from the ceiling. Her cheeks were flushed and her fists red from all the anger she put into every punch she delivered. She gave the bag a final round house kick before realizing she had company.
"Ah, Dylan, nice to see you up and about," Bacarra said, moving into the room.
Dylan smirked before replying, slightly out of breath. "Well, well, the great leader finally makes his presence known. Took you long enough to show your evil face."
"Careful, little girl, a little respect would be nice," Bacarra warned.
"Of course," Dylan said with a fake smile.
"Where's Davon?" Bacarra questioned, moving about the room, his hands clasped behind his back.
"He's around," Dylan answered. "You know, he can't keep babysitting me every hour of every day." She wiped the dripping sweat from her brow before continuing, "Considering I'm not actually a baby."
"Speaking of you, how are your powers coming along?" Bacarra asked, placing his hands on Dylan's damp shoulders. "Are you still ingesting your potion?"
"You mean that stuff that tastes like ass and in return makes me feel like ass?" Dylan asked in a mock tone. "Yes, unfortunately."
"You're quite sassy," Bacarra admired, brushing a piece of Dylan's dark hair from her shoulder.
"I just tell it like it is; no b.s.," Dylan informed. "I spent too much time in my life keeping my feelings and thoughts bottled up. I won't do that again."
"Yes, you have quite the colorful history, don't you, Dylan Parker?" Bacarra said, removing his hands from the demoness to her relief and moving to face her.
"Dylan Parker doesn't exist anymore," the demoness said, anger rising in her tone. "She was weak." She hated to be reminded of her past and she knew Bacarra was doing it on purpose.
"Of course," Bacarra nodded. "But still, if it didn't happen, you wouldn't be where you are right now, now would you?"
"Listen, Bacarra, are you trying to piss me off?" Dylan questioned. "Because you really are starting to."
"Oh, that temper," Bacarra cooed. "It's because of that temper that your..."
"Enough!" Dylan boomed, shutting her eyes. "I don't like to be reminded of my sordid past, Bacarra, and I'd really appreciate it if you'd stop bringing it up."
Bacarra paused for a beat. "Very well." He turned to leave. "Just remember, Dylan, I'll be needing you soon. So keep working on your powers and your respect towards me. It will help you get far." Bacarra snickered as he walked away.
Anger began to boil within Dylan as she picked up a blue coloured dumbbell and hurled it at Bacarra's back. It narrowly missed him as he blinked away; the full length mirror outside the room wasn't as lucky. As the flying dumbbell hit the mirror, it shattered, sending splintered glass everywhere.
"God!" Dylan huffed, running her fingers through her damp hair.
Piper felt the potion carrying her through the air, high above San Francisco. She felt her body reconstituting behind the smoke as she appeared on top of Golden Gate Bridge. She gasped slightly as she realized how close to the edge she had appeared. "Whoo, that's high, really high," she muttered under her breath, keeping her eyes low before taking a few steps away from the ledge. Piper thought she had gotten over her fear of heights, but clearly it was still very much intact.
As she lifted her head she saw the back of a blonde haired girl sitting by the ledge. Her soft curls slowly lifted in the breeze as Piper moved forward, hoping not to startle the girl, but she already knew someone was there as she gave a slight glance over her shoulder.
"Aubrey?" Piper said.
Aubrey turned her head back towards the open sky before replying, "Whoever you are, just go away."
"I'm sorry, but I can't do that," Piper replied. "I was sent here to help you."
Aubrey brought her palms up to her face and brushed away her tears before standing up and facing Piper. "Let me guess, the Elders sent you here to help me?" she asked. "Well guess what? I don't want, or need their help...or yours."
Aubrey lowered her eyes as orbs began to form around her slim petite body. Piper saw her opportunity slip away with every appearing orb before she threw her hand out to protest. "Please, Aubrey, don't go. Believe me, I'm not the biggest fan of the Elders either."
The blonde Whitelighter glanced up at Piper and ordered her orbing power to dissipate. "What do you mean?"
"Let's just say the Elders haven't earned a spot on my Christmas list after everything they have put me through," Piper explained, moving closer to the young whitelighter, hoping that she wouldn't try to take off again.
Aubrey frowned, still not understanding. She crossed her arms over her chest before asking, "So why did they send you to help me if you guys aren't exactly buddy-buddy?"
Piper smirked. "I'm not sure yet," she replied. "Why don't you tell me what happened to make you fall off the Whitelighter path?"
Aubrey raised a suspicious eyebrow before crossing her arms over her chest. "I'm sorry, but I don't feel like that's any of your business." The Whitelighter once again turned her back on Piper, hoping that she would finally leave.
Piper thought for a moment before asking, "It's because of your Charge, isn't it?"
Aubrey's pretty face was instantly saddened at the mention of her charge. In a fragile voice she asked, "They know?"
"The Elders?" Piper questioned before continuing. "I'm not sure, but I saw him and I found this in his hand." Piper pulled the bracelet from her pocket and held it out in her open palm.
Aubrey turned slightly and gazed at the article that Piper was holding. She was slightly surprised to see the ornament.
"Why did he have this in his hand, Aubrey?" Piper questioned. Aubrey's mouth fell to a slight gape; she was at a loss for words. A realization finally hit the future Matriarch. "You two were in love, weren't you?"
Aubrey didn't utter a word; she simply nodded her head before she finally spoke. "And I got him killed. It's my fault."
"Aubrey, I know it's hard to lose a charge," Piper sympathized. "My husband lost a charge some time ago; she was murdered by ghosts who wanted revenge on my husband."
Aubrey thought for moment before asking, "You're Piper Halliwell, aren't you? You're Leo's wife?"
Piper nodded. "I am, and I think I understand why the Elders sent me to find you."
"Our situations are kind of similar," Piper answered. "Leo fell in love with his charge and you fell in love with yours. I can kind of relate to you."
"I hope that's not the reason, since I'll be in big trouble if the Elders know about Travis and me," Aubrey said worriedly.
"Why would you say that?" Piper questioned, pushing a stray hair behind her ear.
"After you and Leo were married, all Whitelighters were told that whitelighter/charge relationships would not be tolerated," Aubrey explained.
Piper shook her head, stunned. "But why would they allow for me and Leo to be together, but still enforce that rule?"
"The Elders knew that you and Leo had a destiny to be together, it's something they couldn't prevent no matter how hard they tried. So unless you have a divine destiny to be with your charge, it's not allowed," Aubrey explained.
"One would think they would have tossed out that rule," Piper said, angrily. "Damn Elders."
"One would think, but they sure are sticklers for rules which can sometimes be a complete pain in the ass," Aubrey shared.
"I'll bet," Piper responded before turning back to the situation at hand. "Back to Travis, what happened and why do you blame yourself for his death?"
Aubrey bit her lower lip as she tried to control her welling tears. She kept seeing Travis' terrified face when she returned to his apartment.
Piper moved towards the girl, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder. "It's okay, Aubrey, you can talk to me."
Aubrey pursed her lips before releasing a deep breath, lifting her eyes to the heavens above. She closed them for a moment before telling her story. "Travis and I have been at odds for about a week now," she began. "We kept on fighting about taking on the Elders about our relationship. Travis was tired of keeping things secret, but I just couldn't. I couldn't risk the Elders taking me away from him permanently."
"Sound familiar," Piper said, before giving a single nod, indicating for Aubrey to continue with her story.
"Well this morning we got into a huge fight. He accused me of being selfish and scared. That I was only concerned of what would happen to me and the more I tried to explain that I was trying to keep us together, the more he felt like I didn't care," Aubrey explained, moving closer to the edge, the cool breeze rushing over her pale skin. "That I was abandoning what we had. Finally I couldn't take it anymore."
"What happened?" Piper questioned.
Aubrey lowered her head, the wind blowing up her soft blonde curls. "I told him that if anyone is pushing anyone away it's him. I took off the bracelet that he had bought me and threw it at him. I told him that I couldn't do it anymore and I left."
"You weren't there when he was killed?" Piper asked.
"No, but he did call for me and I ignored him," Aubrey admitted. "If only I had gone to him, if only I wasn't so stubborn."
"He called you when he was being attacked?" Piper asked.
"I'm not sure, I didn't sense any panic in his voice, just annoyance that I was ignoring him, but after a few minutes I felt something..." Aubrey trailed off.
"You felt what?" Piper questioned but she had a feeling she knew what Aubrey was going to tell her.
"I felt this burst in my heart and it wasn't love, it was pain." Aubrey brought her delicate hand up to her chest, gently placing it over her heart, remembering the feeling. "It was the feeling of death. You only feel the burst of death if you were extremely close with your charge. Only a select few Whitelighters have experienced it, but it's not the type of feeling I'd wish on anyone. It's the feeling Darklighters walk around with, but they don't fight the feeling, they embrace it. It's what makes them so ruthless, so cold."
Aubrey turned away for a moment, bringing her hands up to her face when a being appeared on the bridge next to her. Both Aubrey and Piper were oblivious to his presence. The being was dressed in an all black suit, typical Darklighter attire. But there was something more sinister about the spike-haired Darklighter. He seemed to be on a mission.
"Aubrey, you can't blame yourself for this. Someone obviously didn't want you to know that he was being attacked. They could have shielded themselves from him. I've come across invisible demons before." Piper tried to comfort the girl, hoping she'd get through to her.
The Darklighter moved closer to Aubrey. He stretched his neck over her shoulder before whispering in her ear. "She's wrong, it is my fault. It's part of my job to protect my charges and Travis was the one I had to take special care of and I let him down. My stubborn streak got him killed. It's my fault, it's all my fault."
Aubrey's forehead creased as she lightly shook her head. "It's all my fault," she muttered under her breath.
"Aubrey?" Piper said.
"I'm responsible," Aubrey said, moving closer to the ledge again. She stared down, watching as the cars, different shapes and models, raced by below her. She stretched open her arms before leaping off the bridge without a twinge of fear.
Piper rushed forward screaming the young Whitelighter's name, hoping to catch her before she was all the way over. Piper stopped at the ledge as Aubrey fell, before she was consumed by glistening and glowing orbs that carried her back off into the sky.
"Aubrey!" Piper called after her.
Piper knew she had to track Aubrey down again, she needed to help this girl. She just had to. The Witch pulled the teleportation potion from her pocket before dropping it to her feet, willing it to return her to her home. As the smoke began to consume Piper, the Darklighter smiled as his body was being collected by his dark orbing power. Within moments, both the beings of good and evil were gone, not leaving a single trail to follow.
Billie sat on the pink lounger, patiently waiting for Piper to return. She kept busy by flipping through the Book of Shadows, studying each of the pages, even though she had seen most of them a hundred times before.
At least the Book thinks I'm good, she thought dryly to herself.
She still had so much to prove. She couldn't believe how much she screwed everything up in a matter of months. She sometimes wished that she'd never set out to find Christy, but she knew she'd always feel guilty for not doing it in the first place.
Christy was her family, but like in any other family, there's a bad seed; Christy was that seed. She had implanted herself into Billie's subconscious. In time Christy grew in her mind and took over her thoughts and beliefs and changed them into hers and Dumain's. Billie knew she couldn't solely place the blame on Christy's shoulders. She was to blame as well. She chose to listen to her sister; she chose to believe her sister's twisted beliefs and turn her back on three women who had been more of a family to her than her own had been in her twenty years of life. She chose to believe a sister she barely knew, simply because she was family. Billie felt so deprived of that family love; that care, that having Christy back numbed that pain. The pain she felt from her parents ignoring her for most of her life. Her parents loved her, she never doubted that, but losing Christy changed them forever.
Billie closed the Book with a thud and bolted up from the lounger as particles of white smoke began to appear in the center of the room, announcing Piper's return. Billie was slightly surprised that Piper had returned alone. Though unbeknownst to her, Piper was far from alone, as the Darklighter appeared once more in his invisible form. He moved to the back of the attic and sat down on the cream arm chair, getting comfortable for his eavesdropping session.
"I'm figuring since you've returned alone that things didn't go so well with Aubrey?" Billie asked, crossing her arms over her chest.
"She was a little cold in the beginning, but she started to warm up and talk to me about what happened. Then suddenly she changed," Piper relayed.
"Changed like 'poof'?" Billie asked, waving her hands to emphasize. "Or..."
Piper playfully rolled her eyes. "No, not literally," she said. "Something just changed in her; she acted kind of strange before she leapt off the bridge."
"I'm sorry?" Billie asked in disbelief. "She leapt off the bridge, like literally flung herself off the ledge?"
"Yeah, she jumped before disappearing in orbs," Piper said, moving back to the scrying map and picking up the crystal. "I have no idea if we'll be able to find her this time."
"No, we will find her again," Billie encouraged. "Even if we have to pull some additional magic to the scrying crystal, or even use my GPS system, we're going to find and save her."
Piper held the crystal tightly in her hand, praying that some force of magic would lift it from her palm and direct her to Aubrey once again, but she knew this was something she had to accomplish on her own, maybe even without Billie's help.
"Look, Billie, I appreciate your support and help," she began, rolling the crystal from one hand to another. "But I really think I have to take it from here. Alone."
"Piper, I'd really like to respect that, but if there is one thing you guys have taught me that I'll never forget, it's that everything happens for a reason," Billie opposed. "And I feel like I was brought to you to help."
Piper shook her head, unsure of what to do. "Billie, I don't know..."
"Piper, please," Billie said, practically begging. "I need to do this; I just... I have to help you." Billie gave Piper a pleading look, hoping that she'd give her the opportunity to prove herself again. That's all she needed, she needed that other foot in the door.
Piper gave a defeated sigh, "Fine, you can stay and help me," she caved. "Maybe having the Ultimate Power on my side will help."
"Thank you!" Billie said with glee.
Piper couldn't help but smile at Billie's delight. She genuinely seemed excited to help. "Okay, you mentioned something about enhancing the scrying tactic?"
Billie nodded her head before moving over to the potion table to begin her enhancing concoction.
Piper watched with great interest as Billie combined the ingredients, knowing exactly what to add and how much, not making a single mistake. She had learned a lot from the Halliwells, and to see how far Billie had come since starting with potions only last year, Piper was impressed.
The Darklighter stroked his goatee, satisfied with his collected information. He knew it was time to return to Brotherhood headquarters to relay what he had learned. In a cluster of blue and black spheres he was collected up into the air and teleported from the attic, his presence still unknown.
Bacarra sat pleasingly in his swivel chair with Suriod sitting across from him. They were enjoying a pleasant conversation about past kills when the Spirit Killer appeared in the vast office out of dark orbs.
Suriod turned his head to speak with his minion. "Cal, please tell me you come bearing good news?"
"In fact, I do," Cal replied, sitting down on the second chair at the front of Bacarra's desk. "The Whitelighter is falling deeper into her guilt, while another little surprise has come to light."
"What may that be?" Bacarra asked, intrigued.
"The Ultimate Power has returned," Cal replied.
Bacarra sat up straight, surprised at the news Cal had delivered. "Billie Jenkins has returned?" he asked. "Where did you learn about this?"
"She's with Piper Halliwell," Cal answered. "I followed her home from the bridge and found the Ultimate Power was at her house."
"Billie and Piper are on speaking terms again?" Bacarra questioned, rising up from his chair and moving around his desk. "That is far from ideal."
"This might complicate things, Bacarra," Suriod said. "We need to do something about it."
"You're right," Bacarra said, shifting his eyes from Suriod to the Spirit Killer and back again. "Will you?"
Suriod instantly understood Bacarra's intentions. He knew he couldn't refuse Bacarra's suggestion. He joined the Brotherhood under his leadership and he couldn't deny any request from Bacarra.
Suriod raised his right hand, shutting his eyes momentarily to call upon his crossbow. In a cloud of grey smoke, his black iron crossbow appeared. He lifted it to eye level, aimed and pulled the trigger leaving the poisonous arrow to charge at the Spirit Killer.
Cal didn't even have time to try and avoid the attack before the arrow pierced him in the gut. He hardly had a moment to scream before his body erupted into flames, leaving a cloud of dark orbs floating in mid-air.
Suriod lowered his weapon, causing it to disappear just as it had appeared seconds earlier. He was slightly saddened that he had to sacrifice one of his own, but he knew it would be for the greater Evil in the end. He knew that Cal would understand that.
Bacarra eyed the floating orbs, moving closer and closer to it. He waved his hand around it, feeling the power. He pulled the orbs closer to him before they melted into his body, giving it a blue hue for a few seconds.
The glow subsided as Bacarra turned back to Suriod. "I know that was hard to do, Suriod, but even I have learned that you can't always leave the important jobs up to lower beings."
"I understand, Bacarra," Suriod said. "But how will Cal's powers be of any use to you? Even you know you can't contain Darklighter powers for long, they simply weren't made to be absorbed by Warlocks."
"I'm aware of that fact," Bacarra relayed. "But I don't need the powers for long, just long enough to get to the Whitelighter and the Ultimate Power."
"You are going after Billie?" Suriod questioned. "How?"
"Don't you know?" Bacarra questioned. "She killed her sister. That type of guilt can destroy anyone, or," he paused for a moment. "Even turn them to the other side."
"You want the Whitelighter and the Ultimate Power on our side?" Suriod asked, stunned yet impressed by Bacarra's plan.
Bacarra smiled, delighted. "Let's just say opportunity has finally knocked and I've finally answered the door."
Billie sat by the antique desk, her laptop poised in front of her before she placed her hand upon the crystal quartz to activate her scrying GPS. In the meantime, Leo had returned home with the boys and Piper had just finished catching him up with the developments.
"Are the boys okay?" Piper asked, finally turning business to family.
"They're tired out, they had a ball with Trisha," Leo answered with a smile. "She's offered to take care of the boys whenever we need a baby sitter."
"That's very nice of her," Piper thought aloud.
Leo moved over to Billie and peered over her shoulder to see how the scrying was coming along. He was most impressed with Billie's technique. Of how she was able to modernize an age old Wiccan Tool and use it so flawlessly. He wished he'd had the opportunity to teach this skill to his students at Magic School. Even he knew that magic had to grow with the times and this was a perfect example of modernized magic.
"Anything?" Piper queried, coming up behind her husband and Billie.
Billie narrowed her eyes at the computer, determined to track Aubrey down. "Not yet."
Piper groaned softly as she ran her fingers through her hair whilst moving towards the windows. She stared out at the street, wishing that Aubrey would just show up on the doorstep.
Leo glanced over his shoulder and worriedly looked over at his wife. He knew she was anxious to find the fallen Whitelighter, that she wanted to do all she could to save Aubrey.
He moved over to his wife and placed his hands on her arms, moving them up and down, hoping to comfort her. "You are going to find her again, honey."
"Really?" Piper asked, turning to her husband. "Because I'm not so sure. She's slipping away, Leo. She's slipping away from what she's supposed to be and I feel like I can't do anything to stop it."
"You can't think that way, Piper," Leo pressed. "You can do this, I know you can. You just have to have faith that you'll be able to save her before it's too late."
"What do you mean before it's too late?" Billie asked, not shifting her eyes from the computer screen as the beeping scrying signal continued to search the map.
"In rare circumstances, if a Whitelighter falls off the path, and their hearts become full of anger and hatred, they are most likely to turn into Darklighters," Leo explained as he paced the vast area of the attic. "This is why I'm so concerned about Aubrey. After the terrible loss she's suffered, one push in the wrong direction and she could turn to the dark side for good."
"Wait a second," Billie said, turning in her chair. "Are you telling me that Whitelighters can change into Darklighters and vice versa?"
"Yes," Leo replied. "There are some Whitelighters that were Darklighters before, but like I said, it's rare for it to happen. Only in extremely rare circumstances does this change happen."
Piper thought for a moment. She did find it quite strange that when she had finally got through to the young Whitelighter she suddenly changed like she did. Something was not right. "Leo, when I was up on the bridge talking to Aubrey it seemed like she was willing for me to help her. But the next second she started to act weird."
"Weird?" Leo echoed. "How so?"
"She kept muttering that it was her fault and that she's responsible," Piper replied. "It was almost like we weren't alone anymore."
Leo's eyes widened as the realization hit him. "Spirit Killers."
"You really think it could be Spirit Killers?" Piper asked, before flopping down onto the couch. "We haven't come across one of those in years."
"What are Spirit Killers?" Billie questioned, continuing to move her hand on the crystal to keep the scrying attempt going.
"They're a different kind of Darklighter," Leo answered before explaining further, "They usually drive good souls to suicide with the power of suggestion. But I guess in this case, he's driving a fallen Whitelighter to the dark side with his deadly whispers."
"Leo, we barely saved Prue from a Spirit Killer and in the end she did most of the work," Piper commented. "How am I possibly going to do the same?"
"You can't give up, Piper, this girl needs you," Leo said, moving over to his wife and sitting down beside her. "We can't let her fall into evil hands."
Piper thought for a moment. She'd connected with Aubrey on the bridge, she knew she had. She couldn't let her become a Darklighter. She couldn't allow Aubrey's grief and guilt to change who she was; a being of Good, a protector, a Whitelighter. At that moment Piper knew she could do this. Every fiber within her was screaming at her to lift herself up from the couch and to get working. She was given this task for a reason and she was not going to fail at it, she didn't have that option.
"Okay," Piper finally breathed. "We've got ourselves a Whitelighter to save." Leo gave her a proud smile before she swiftly rose up from the coral couch and trotted over to the Book of Shadows. She carefully flipped open the heavy binder to begin her search while Billie continued to scry.
The apartment was silent and dark. The simple dripping of the faucet in the small kitchen was the only sound that echoed throughout the room until a faint jingle began to sound within it. In a column of swirling blue and white lights a silhouette began to take shape from behind the glittery spheres. The lights finally dispersed, leaving the young blonde Whitelighter standing alone in the room, the deathly silence returning once more. Aubrey stroked her arms to comfort herself from the inner chill that had consumed her frail body. It was the feeling she had feared would return again; the feeling of... death.
She lowered her sad, pale blue eyes to the floor, gasping slightly at the sight. A stain of thick red blood had seeped into the tawny carpet where Travis had laid earlier and ultimately died. She began to sob, shutting her eyes as she fell to her knees. She brought her shaking hands to her mouth as she continued to cry. She lowered one hand to her chest, feeling as if her heart was breaking into a thousand pieces with every sob. She squeezed her shut eyes even tighter as her last moments with Travis played out in her mind.
"I can't believe how selfish you are being, Brey!" Travis shouted, his brow wrinkled in anger.
"Oh, so I'm being selfish because I want to keep us together," Aubrey retorted, with a mock reproach. "Yeah, that makes a bucket load of sense."
"Stop being smart," Travis said. "You know exactly what I mean." Travis ran his hands through his dark hair in frustration. "You are just concerned of what will happen to you once the Elders find out about us. You're afraid they'll recycle you."
"That is not it and it hurts that you even think that I'm just concerned about myself," Aubrey said through gritted teeth. "Do you realize what they'd do?" she asked. "They'll take me away from you. They'll assign you a new Whitelighter and forbid me to ever see you again. If they do that then they might as well recycle me because losing you would kill me."
"Clearly it wouldn't kill you enough if you won't even take the chance in telling them," Travis said. "They might surprise you; they might not stand in our way."
"You don't know the Elders," Aubrey pressed. "This is something we all agreed to the day we became Whitelighters. If I tell them we're in love, they wouldn't think twice about taking me away from you."
"I can't believe that you are giving up so easily, that you won't fight for us." Travis shook his head in disbelief. "I can't believe you are so willing to abandon what we have just because of the stupid Elders," he said. "You know what you are doing; you are pushing me away. If you want out of this then say so right now."
"God, are you even listening to me?!" Aubrey shouted. "You know what, Travis?" she began, taking off the charm bracelet from her arm and holding it in her hand. "If anyone is pushing anyone away it's you, not me." She glanced down at the beautiful bracelet he had bought her, before tossing it at him. "I'd give up anything to be with you, but I'm done," she said, moving to the door. She opened it and stood in the doorway, turning to a stunned Travis. "I'm just...done."
Her last words to Travis echoed in her mind. "I'm just done." She continued to cry, her stomach beginning to cramp from the intense sobbing. She slowly lowered herself to the ground. She laid there for a moment, continuing to think of Travis and how guilty she felt for just leaving him like that.
"Why did you leave me, Brey?" a voice asked.
Aubrey rolled over on her stomach and looked up to see Travis standing before her, his chest a mess of blood, his eyes lifeless. He stared down at her, hurt, but most of all angry.
"I-I didn't mean to," she stuttered. "I'm so sorry." She slowly lifted herself up to sit on the floor as Travis moved closer.
"You didn't care, you never did," Travis whispered. "If you did, you would have come back when I called you. You would have known that I was in trouble."
"I..." Aubrey cried. "I'm sorry, Travis. I love you."
"You don't know the meaning of the word love," Travis spat. "You are heartless."
Aubrey felt the pain in her heart becoming deeper. She brought her hand up to her chest again, hardly able to sustain the burrowing pain.
"You should just give it up, you know, this holier-than-thou crap," Travis snapped. "You know who you truly are, stop fighting it."
Aubrey brought her hands up to her ears, trying to block out Travis's words. "Stop it," she begged. "Please, just stop!"
"It will only stop when you accept your true fate," Travis said.
Aubrey finally gathered enough strength to call upon her orbing ability to teleport her out of the apartment. Swirling spheres of light collected the girl before rising to the ceiling, disappearing from the room.
The apparition of Travis gave a smug smile before finally vanishing as Bacarra became visible. He was sitting on the emerald green chair, having had a front row view of the events that had just occurred. "I'm close," he smiled. "Just a little more and she'll be mine."
Piper sat by the kitchen table feeding baby Chris as he sat in his high chair, happily awaiting his next helping. Leo sat next to Wyatt as he also enjoyed a late lunch.
Leo looked over at his wife, seeing her hope in finding Aubrey was failing even more. They had been searching high and low for the last hour and a half and had come up empty handed. Billie had insisted on the couple heading downstairs with the kids to grab something to eat, and hoped that it would distract Piper somewhat while she continued the search.
Leo breathed before making conversation. "So, it's nice to have Billie here again," he commented.
Piper continued to feed Chris while muttering a simple "M-hmm."
Leo leaned his arms on the table before asking, "Are you two on better terms now?"
Piper sighed before placing down the feeding spoon, ready to humour Leo's questions. "I've decided to take the high road with Billie," she informed. "I'm not about to forgive and forget everything she has done, but we've got to start somewhere, right?"
"I'm glad you are at least trying with her," Leo admired. "She's a good kid who just fell off the path, pretty much like Aubrey."
"I know," Piper admitted.
Leo thought for a moment. "Is that why you are so eager to save Aubrey?" he asked. "Because you couldn't save Billie?"
Piper tilted her head slightly, her face falling. "Maybe," she admitted. "A little."
"Honey, you can't think that way," Leo said, taking her hand in his. "In the end Billie was saved, you just have to have faith that you'll be able to save Aubrey too."
"It's amazing how much faith you have in me," Piper smiled. "I wish I did."
Leo returned the smile. "I'll always have faith in you, honey," he said. "Just like you've always had in me."
Piper smiled lovingly at the love of her life. She admired Leo's unfaltering faith in her and her abilities, but it didn't stop her from having doubts about herself. She just hoped that Leo would be right this time.
As darkness began to creep over San Francisco, the attic was quiet except for the occasional beeping coming from Billie's computer as she slept next to it. She laid with her head on her arm that rested on the desk. Her head kept twitching as she softly moaned; she was clearly having a disturbing dream.
"How could you?" Christy's voice echoed through her mind as Billie watched her sister conjure a large flaming fireball.
Christy's face was completely contorted in anger as she scrunched up her nose before directing the fireball directly at her younger sister.
Billie thrust out her hands, using her telekinesis to send the flaming ball back toward her sister. At that moment Billie realized what she had done, but it was too late to stop the fiery ball of death that was charging at her sister.
The final sound Billie heard was her sister's deafening scream before her body disappeared within the flames, leaving only the memory of her behind.
Billie jerked up from the desk, her brow dripping with sweat as if she could still feel the heat, as if she herself had been consumed by that fireball. She flexed her arm, trying to recover the feeling of it after having been asleep on it for the last twenty minutes.
She combed her blonde tresses back with her fingers before slipping the hair band from her wrist to tie it back. "Ugh!" she groaned, staring at her computer screen as the GPS signal continued to beep. She had hoped that by the time that Piper and Leo had returned to the attic that she would have some good news to share, but she didn't have any. She rested her elbows on the table before burying her head in her hands. She wished her dreams would just stop. Having to relive Christy's death every time she dared to close her eyes was hard enough, but the sleep deprivation was really getting to her.
"You can try all you like, but you'll never make up for what you've done," a voice whispered in Billie's ear.
She lifted her head, her eyes scanning the room for the identity of the voice, before she realized that the voice she had heard was in fact her own. Little did she know that Bacarra was the one who was whispering in her mind as he stood in the far corner of the attic.
"You're evil and you know it," he said. "Only a truly evil person would kill their own sister."
Billie shook her head, trying to force the whispers from her mind. "I'm good, I'm not evil," she said, over and over.
"Stop fooling yourself," a new voice spoke.
Billie looked to her right and flew up out of the chair, her mouth falling to a gape. "Oh, my God." She couldn't believe who was standing across from her. "Christy?"
"You can't change who you are, sister," Christy said, moving closer to Billie.
Billie was both shocked and sickened at the sight of her sister. Christy looked different; her skin was seared and raw from the flames that had claimed her life. Her hair was black with ash and her expression seemed dark, completely evil.
"How could you do it, Billie?" Christy whispered. "How could you knowingly kill your own flesh and blood?"
"It was an accident; you were trying to hurt us!" Billie defended, inching away from her sister who was slowly advancing on her. "I had to protect myself and the sisters."
"It was no accident," the firestarter hissed. "You wanted me dead so that you could be a part of the sisters' lives again." Her eyes began to flicker with flames. "How could you turn on me?"
"Christy, please," Billie begged, bumping her back into another table, realizing she had no where else to go. "Don't do this."
"I didn't do this," Christy said. "You did. You destroyed any chance of us being a family again. You chose the Halliwells, who, by the way, will never forget your betrayal, no matter how hard you try to get back into their good graces."
"You're wrong," Billie said, shaking her head. "Piper and I are reconnecting, we're working on our issues."
"Piper thinks you're weak, she simply pities you when deep down she'd like to make you an ingredient in one of her vanquishing potions," Christy wryly smiled. "She's simply using you, tolerating you to do her dirty work just like before. I can't believe you are still allowing her to do that."
Billie fell to the floor before her inner voice whispered to her once more. "You know she's right," it said. "You're just Piper's little worker, she's just using you to do the work she was assigned to do. She doesn't care about you. She simply wants you to do all the work while she receives all the credit. You're such a fool to be dragged into her twisted web of lies again." The young blonde witch lowered her head, running her hands up from her face and into her hair.
"You know I'm right," Christy proudly stated. "Why don't you just admit you killed me for nothing?" Christy lowered herself to the floor and took hold of Billie's chin to force her to look at her. Billie felt nauseated by her sister's touch. "Admit it!"
"Alright!" Billie shouted, her voice becoming shrill. "I admit it, I killed you for nothing. They weren't worth saving, you were!"
Christy let go of her sister's chin and gave her an approving slap on the cheek. "Atta girl," she said. "You've finally got it. Now avenge me."
"Billie?" Billie looked up as she saw Piper standing in the doorway, a look of confusion on her face. "What's going on up here?"
Christy eyed her sister once more. "You know what to do." Once her words were spoken, the dead sister evaporated. Billie scrambled to her feet before she swung her arm in a wide arc, sending Piper across the attic. She landed safely on the day bed before it flipped over causing Piper to fall to the wooden floor.
"Billie?!" Piper shouted, pushing herself up from the floor. "What the hell is wrong with you?"
"You made me kill my sister," Billie said, stalking towards her. "And all for nothing! I'm simply your little slave again. That's the only reason you welcomed me back again."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Piper questioned, lifting her hands, ready to attack if necessary. She finally realized what was happening. "Billie, it's the Spirit Killer," she announced. "He's playing with your mind, don't fall for it."
"Why won't you ever admit your true intentions?" Billie paused. "Or, even better, shut up with all your lies!"
Billie was about to telekinetically fling Piper into the air once more but the Charmed One's reflexes were faster. Before the telekinetic blast could touch her, Piper flicked her hands, sending a blast towards Billie. It forced her off her feet and caused her twirl into the air and to finally crash against the wall next to the window. Billie's head hit the corner of the wall causing her to plunge to the floor, unconscious.
Piper let out a relieved breath as Leo came running into the attic, concerned with the ruckus he had heard from downstairs. "What happened?" he questioned, casting a concerned glance at the unconscious witch lying on the floor.
"I think the Spirit Killer got to her," Piper explained, moving towards Billie. "She was ranting about how it was my fault that she killed Christy and then she attacked me."
"Are you okay?" Leo asked, worriedly.
"Oh, I'm fine," Piper said, kneeling down next to Billie. "I'm used to being flung around a room."
"What should we do with her?" Leo asked.
Piper thought for a moment. "Tie her up until we can figure out how to fix her and, most important of all, to keep her from avenging her wrath on me again." She stood up and moved over to a trunk on the other side of the attic.
"I agree," Leo said with a nod as he knelt down and lifted the young girl into his strong arms. He carefully carried her to a chair near the back of the attic. He placed her down on it, keeping her steady as Piper opened up the trunk and pulled out some rope.
Piper stood up as she closed the trunk once more and then marched towards her husband. Leo kept Billie up as Piper tied up her hands behind the chair, making sure the rope was tight.
"Don't you think she might use her power to untie the rope?" Leo asked. "Prue managed to do it."
"You're right," Piper said, finishing up her job. She held her hands over the rope that bound Billie's hands and began to recite an enchantment.
"These ties will now bind you from causing harm,
As I speak these words, activate the charm."
A golden hue began to imbue the rope before it dissolved, leaving the spell activated.
"Okay, one crisis averted," Piper said, moving over to Billie's computer. "On to the next."
Glistening spheres of blue and white light swirled into the darkened foyer of the Manor as Aubrey appeared, looking distraught and disheveled. Not really seeming to be in the right state of mind. She didn't know how she had got to the manor, but all she knew was that she had to talk to Piper before things spiraled further out of control. She slowly began to make her way towards the stairs when the voice she feared would return again began with its dark whispers once more.
"Why did I come here?" the voice began. "Why do I think that Piper can help me? Nobody can help me. No one can numb the guilt or take away this aching feeling in my heart."
Aubrey backed up against the pale yellow wall, her chest expanding and contracting as her breathing increased. She was nearing a panic attack as she lifted her hands and thumped her palms against her forehead, trying with all her might to expel the voice from her mind.
"Piper doesn't care about me. She's simply following the Elders' orders," the voice taunted. "They just want to track me down so that I can be punished; she's just been ordered to deliver me to them. Piper doesn't care, just like Travis, he didn't care about me. He just wanted an excuse to get rid of me. He never loved me..."
With her back against the wall, she slid down it as her legs buckled and finally gave way, causing Aubrey to fall to the floor. She brought her knees up to her chest, laid her arms on them and finally her head.
"I never loved you."
Aubrey looked up as Travis was standing before her just like before. She had heard what he had said but she didn't believe it. "What?"
"I never loved you," he repeated. "I was trying to get you out of my life, but it seems like you couldn't take the hint."
"Don't say that," Aubrey pleaded, raising her hands to her ears refusing to listen any further.
"Ugh, you're so whiney and dependable, you could never make up your own mind," Travis stated. "Why don't you do the universe a favour and accept who you truly are?"
Aubrey brought her hand up to her heart, the pain pounding with every beat it took. "You're wrong; I'm not what you say I am."
"You're selfish and self-involved." Travis knelt down next to her, lifting a finger to her hair and twirling it. "When's the last time you actually spent any time with your other charges?" he asked. "Always just using your sensing power to make sure they won't need you just so you can be with me? What seems right about that?"
"I care about my charges," Aubrey cried.
"Clearly not enough since you let me die," Travis retorted. "You are so full of hate and reproach. You know that feeling in your heart, the one you are trying so hard to suppress? That's who you really are."
Aubrey tried to scoot away from him when he grabbed her arm to stop her. "I don't believe it."
"It will be better if you just accept the feeling instead of fighting it," Travis suggested. "You're evil, baby, it's time to get with the program and accept it."
Aubrey's eyes became clear, the realization of Travis' words finally hitting home, her strength to fight the feeling giving way. She raised her hand to the side of her face as she caught a glimpse at the tips of her hair. It was changing, becoming darker. The pain in her heart was waning as she began to accept the truth that she had known deep down. Aubrey's once distraught features hardened, her veins turned black. It palpitated as the darkness spread through her body, like a poison, covering her arms and her face for a moment. Her tears had vanished and her eyes became dark as the night before she slowly rose up from the ground. She had something to take care of, and now was the perfect time to do so. But before she could execute her plan, she had to take care of Piper.
"Find anything yet?" Leo asked his wife, coming up behind her as she sat by Billie's computer, trying to track down Aubrey.
"Actually," Piper began squinting at the computer screen, not sure of what she was seeing. "I think I've found Aubrey."
"Really?" Leo said. "Where is she?"
Both Piper and Leo turned their attention to the attic door as it slammed open with a great deal of force, a dark haired Aubrey standing on the threshold. "Ding-dong," she said, cocking her head to the side.
Piper lifted herself up from the chair, not believing what she was seeing. As she stared at Aubrey, horrified, she saw all her hope fading away. She was too late; she'd lost her to the dark side. "Aubrey, what happened?" she breathed.
"I've just embraced who I truly am," Aubrey sniped. "You really thought that I'd fall for your lies? You and the Elders are all the same." She lowered her hand and, from out the swirling smoke, a black crossbow was conjured. "And now you'll be the first to pay for your deceit."
She raised the crossbow to eye level and pulled the trigger, releasing the poisoned arrow towards Leo. Piper quickly raised her hands, releasing her freezing ability upon the dangerous arrow. It immediately came to a screeching halt.
Billie began to stir as her eyes fluttered open to see the drama that had ensued in the attic during her unconscious state. She finally realized what she had done and the guilt began to set in once more. She saw a dark haired girl, glaring at Piper. She figured the girl had to be Aubrey and that she had already turned. She knew she had to help Piper. She slowly flexed her fingers, moving them about, trying her best to untie the rope that kept her hands bound. To her relief, she could feel the rope becoming loose.
Piper protectively stood in front of her husband, ready to exact her last plea to Aubrey. "Aubrey, please, I swear to you I only have your best intentions in mind. That little voice that's telling you otherwise, you have to ignore it. You are being tricked."
"She's lying," the voice rang in Aubrey's mind. "She's just trying to talk her way out of it. Don't fall for it."
"I'm tired of your whining, it's so boring," Aubrey said, lifting the crossbow once more, aiming it straight at Piper's chest.
"No!" Billie yelled, flying up out of her chair. She flung her right arm to disarm Aubrey then used the other to send the new Darklighter across the room. Billie hurried towards the Darklighter and engaged her in hand to hand combat. Punches were throws and kicks were perfectly executed.
"Billie?" Piper yelled. She couldn't comprehend how Billie had broken free from her restraints, but that was a question for later, for now she needed to prove to Aubrey that a Spirit Killer was playing with her mind.
"Leo, get out of here," Piper instructed before hurrying to the Book of Shadows. Leo hurried towards the door, but was unable to make his escape as Aubrey and Billie were blocking the door. Piper quickly opened the thick cover of the tome and began to flip wildly though its pages. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Billie and Aubrey's fight raging on as blood began to drip from Billie's lip, but that didn't stop the young witch from trying her best to distract Aubrey.
Piper felt relief wash over her as she found a spell that would help her. It always amazed her how the Book would have the answers to most of their problems and she was grateful it had a solution for this one in particular.
"Magic forces far and wide,
Reveal those who wish to hide.
Bring forth the being whose whispers deceive,
Lift it now, remove the sheathe."
A shimmering blue light began to illuminate the far corner of the attic. Slowly, the particles of a body began to form as Bacarra became visible to everyone in the room, including Aubrey. A chill ran down Piper's spine, the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end. It was the same chill she'd experienced when she was being watched by an unknown being a couple of months ago. She stared at his face, a nagging feeling raging in the pit of her stomach, her mind racing through the past faces she had encountered over the last eight years. He seemed familiar to her, almost like she had seen him before, maybe in a dream or...
Piper's thoughts were interrupted when she was struck by a force that caused her to fall to the floor and skid across the room. She opened her eyes to see that the force that struck her was in fact Billie. The blonde witch's brow dripped of blood as she laid on the floor, groaning in pain. She was exhausted from the fight. Piper tried to get to her feet as she looked over at Aubrey; pure terror filled her insides. She didn't even have time to warn Leo, who was heading towards her to help, before the poisonous arrow pierced his chest. Leo gave a painful scream before falling forward, into Piper's embrace.
"Leo?" she said softly, holding onto her husband. Rage filled her eyes as she glared up at Aubrey. "What did you do?!"
"I made you pay," Aubrey said, lowering her crossbow and demanding it to disappear into thin air.
Bacarra moved forward toward Aubrey, placing a hand on her shoulder. "You have an immense talent, young one," he said. "Care to join my Brotherhood?"
Aubrey turned towards Bacarra, intrigued. "Sounds promising."
Bacarra smiled at the Darklighter before glancing over at a panicked Piper as she tried to stop the blood from Leo's wound. "I'll be seeing you again," he said. Piper looked up at him, her eyes still full of fear. "Soon."
In a blink of an eye, Bacarra was gone, and seconds later Aubrey was collected by swirls of blue and black spheres that carried her from the attic.
"Piper," Leo stuttered as blood began to drip from his mouth. "Tell the boys..."
"No!" Piper shouted. "You will not do this, you will not say goodbye. I'm not losing you again."
"But Piper," Leo tried once more.
"No, no way in hell," Piper cried. Her eyes searched the attic wildly as she called out for her sister, praying that Paige would hear her desperate cries. "Paige?! Please, I need you!"
In a matter of seconds blue and white orbs swirled into the attic before Paige's body began to form behind the lights. It appeared as though she had orbed straight from work as she was dressed in a nice black pinstripe pantsuit with a yellow blouse.
"Oh, my God," Paige whispered, hurrying to Piper and Leo's side.
Piper put her hand to her sister's arm, her eyes practically begging. "Paige, hurry, please."
Paige held her hand out and, with a sweeping motion, she called, "Arrow!"
Leo screamed in pain as the arrow was dislodged from his chest. Paige motioned the arrow to land on the potions table before laying her hands above Leo's wound. A golden hue began to emanate from them as she focused all her love into her hands to heal her brother-in-law. A moment later, the blood from Leo's mouth and the blood that was seeping through his dusty blue sweater evaporated. His wound was healed, his life was saved.
Piper pulled Leo into her arms as he sat up. "Oh, thank God," she cried.
Leo wrapped his arms tightly around his wife and closed his eyes, relieved that he was okay. Piper wanted to hold onto Leo forever. Losing Aubrey today was hard enough, but she knew she would have never survived if she had lost Leo too.
Billie sat silently in the living room before she heard Piper coming down the stairs to meet her. "How's Leo doing?" she asked with genuine concern.
Piper moved towards the young witch, her arms crossed over her chest before flopping down on the soft couch. "He's fine. A little shaken, but it's not the first time a Darklighter has tried to kill him. However, I'm not sure how much longer my nerves can hold out."
"I'm so sorry, Piper, I don't know what came over me earlier," Billie apologized. "The last thing I wanted to do was to hurt you again."
"Billie, I don't want you to take this personally, but I think we went a little too fast with this reconciliation thing," Piper admitted. "It's obvious that we both have some unresolved issues about what happened and maybe it's best that we don't rush things."
Billie nodded her head sadly, disappointed to admit that Piper was right. "Maybe you're right," she said, lifting herself up from the chair. "But I want you to know that I really am sorry and that I will do whatever it takes to make it up to you."
"I appreciate that," Piper said.
"If you ever need help with anything, please call me." Billie paused. "When you're ready."
Piper nodded appreciatively. "Goodbye, Billie."
Billie nodded her goodbye before making her way out of the living room and to the front door.
As the front door closed, Paige came down the stairs to meet with Piper. "Hey, you. Did Billie just leave?" she asked before sitting down in the chair that Billie had sat in a few moments ago.
"Yeah, I told her that maybe now wasn't the right time for us to make up," Piper explained.
"Maybe you're right, but I'm proud of you," Paige said, clasping her hands together.
"Because you actually took a chance on her again," Paige replied. "That was very big of you to put everything in the past and to let her back into your life. I know that couldn't have been easy."
"It wasn't, but... everyone deserves a second chance," Piper admitted. "Let's face it; we've had our share of second and even third chances."
"True, very true," Paige said in a sing-song voice. She eyed her sister for a moment, sensing that something wasn't right. "Piper, are you okay?"
Piper gave her sister an awkward smile. "Not really," she confessed. "It's hard losing an innocent to the afterlife, but somehow losing one to the side of evil..." She paused as the edges of her eyes stung with the beginning of tears. "It kind of feels worse."
"Honey, you tried everything you could to keep Aubrey from falling to the dark side," Paige comforted. "You were playing up against a force that was, unfortunately, more powerful than you are."
"You know, I'd like to believe that, but I was given this assignment for a reason," Piper expressed. "This was to prove that I'm ready to be the Matriarch, and I failed."
"No, Piper, you only fail if you give up," Paige stressed. "And you are not the giving up type, my dear."
Piper gave a flattered chuckle and wiped at her eyes. "You're right, I'm not," she admitted. "But sometimes it's hard to be the strong one."
"You don't have to feel alone in all of this," Paige said. She stood up from the chair and moved over to Piper, sitting down next to her. She took Piper's hand in hers and gave it a comforting squeeze. "Even if you have this divine destiny, we're still going to be here for you. Your family is going to be here for you."
Piper returned the squeeze and smiled. "Thanks." Her mind drifted once more to the warlock that had made an appearance in the attic. Piper knew for a fact that the being wasn't a Darklighter, since they don't usually have the power of blinking. She figured that he must have killed the Spirit Killer to acquire its abilities.
"Piper, what is it?" Paige asked, concerned.
"It's just...the Warlock that turned Aubrey," Piper began. "I think I know him from somewhere."
"How?" Paige asked.
"I'm not sure," Piper replied. "But I'm sure as hell going to find out."
Thanks for giving chapter 8 a read. Chapter 9 is in production and I promise it will take you on quite a trip. So look out for that one. ;) Thanks to all of those who have read and reviewed in the past. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message. Cheers.