A/N: I have WONDERFUL news. A friend of the family was able to save pretty much ALL the documents from my crashed computer and since I've got a new computer, the information from my old hard drive is safely stored inside and has been placed in my laptop as well as my portable hard drive (I learned from my lesson...) As a result, I've now gotten back into the swing of writing. I'm so sorry that it's taken so long but while I had literally nothing left to write from, I thought I had to start over and used my time to write out scenes for Charmed: Redux as well as The Clandestine Affair. I'm back now and I hope that none of you are TOO mad at me to read this new chapter and maybe even write a review later on? *Hopes*
Thank you for your patience, and for reading.
Disclaimer: I don't own Charmed or Twilight.
Once again, Piper was sharing a meal with Jack.
After their initial lunch they'd shared after the phone call with Bella – which she had enjoyed once she'd pushed aside the weirdness of having a man who'd paid little to no attention to her for weeks suddenly fawning over her as though she was a beautiful goddess – he had showed up at Quake for dinner the very same day and insisted she ate with him again.
She'd reluctantly agreed to have dinner with him. Despite how much fun she'd had a few hours before, she was still unsure about giving in to Jack's advances. Every time she was around him, she couldn't help but see Prue's disapproving expression and hear Bella's warning that she was in way over her head.
Still, she had accepted lunch with him and now here they were, sitting together at dinner as they waited for their entrees to arrive. Although she couldn't deny that she'd had fun with Jack, she still felt uneasy every time he gazed at her with unadulterated adoration.
So, ever since the moment he had greeted her that night, she had been trying to turn him off, even just a little. It had started out simple but gross ("Did you know that I have pimples on my back?") and had escalated to more elaborate lies ("Did you know I have a six toe on my left foot?").
So far, every disgusting thing she'd thrown his way, he'd accepted with a smile. She figured, if there was even one thing about her that made him pause and think twice, then maybe what they could possibly have would be real. Maybe he wouldn't just be smitten with her because she'd put him under her spell.
"What else can I tell you?" Piper pondered, trying to be creative. "Um, when I get stressed, I get hives…In very strange places – which is nothing compared to what happens when I panic. Believe me."
Jack smiled fondly at her. "Your honesty is so refreshing," he sighed contentedly.
Piper laughed slightly, "Ah, well, it helps keep my ulcer under control."
"It's the nineties," Jack shrugged. "I mean, is there anyone who doesn't have one?"
Slightly desperate now, she leaned forward and blurted out, "Would you like to see my tattoo?"
Jack grinned. "Would you like to see mine?" he retorted sultrily.
Piper smiled insincerely. "Is there nothing I can say to turn you off?" she wondered.
"Not really," was his instant reply. His brow crinkled slightly. "Which is kind of strange, actually…"
Piper sighed. I guess it's time to come clean, she thought morosely. "Not really," she murmured. "Jack, you're under a…"
Jack, unable to control his emotions anymore under the influence of the spell, leaned in across the table and captured her lips in a sweet first kiss.
Piper's eyes fluttered open when he pulled away. "…Spell," she finished, flustered.
He continued to smile blindingly at her, seemingly having not heard her confession. Which is a good thing, I suppose, Piper thought in the aftermath. It might've saved me from Prue's and Bella's wraths. What the hell was I thinking, telling him?
She gave him a forced smile and was about to tell him she had to run to the bathroom so she could call Phoebe and let her know she wanted to undo the spell, when she caught something out of the corner of her eye: sitting behind Jack was a handsome man, smiling flirtatiously in her direction. She quickly averted her gaze but that only led her to see another guy, standing near her table and gazing at her. He was holding a glass of wine. When he saw that she was looking at him, he raised the glass in silent salute and winked at her.
Laughing nervously, Piper spun in her seat to look around, wanting to see if there were any other men acting like they were under the spell.
Sitting just at the table behind her was yet another man, smiling at her widely, twirling a stem of white rose in his hand and eyeing her appreciatively. "Hey, there," he said seductively.
Piper reeled back, blushed heavily and turned back around quickly to face Jack. He looked like he hadn't noticed anything wrong in the past thirty seconds, his attention focused solely on Piper's face. He still had that awed look in his eyes as he smiled adoringly at her.
Piper gave an involuntary chuckle, the high pitched noise an obvious sign of her distress. Yeah…We're definitely undoing the spell, she thought wryly, slowly rising from the table.
Jack blinked, looking like he was finally realizing his surroundings. He frowned and stood along with her. "Wait…Where are you going?" he asked despondently, looking so lost that Piper actually felt a sharp stab of guilt for having done this to him – even if she hadn't known the exact consequence of the spell.
"I, uh…I-I have to go," she stammered, unable to find a convincing lie and unable to stand in front of him looking at his tortured expression any longer. "I'm sorry."
She grabbed her purse and fled the restaurant, calling out a quick order for Jenny to lock up for her at the end of the night. She didn't dare look behind her at the small horde of men she knew were following after her, ignoring their cries for her to stop. She ran to her car and sped out of the parking lot, her heart racing as though she'd run a marathon, only slowing down when she'd reached home.
Her relief was short-lived as she made her way up the porch steps and found a bouquet of flowers resting against the front door. She bent and picked it up, frowning as she read the card.
'Piper, whatever it is that your date did to upset you – I'm sorry. I would never treat you any less than a queen. Call me. Ian.'
Piper's jaw dropped as she read the note. "Ian?" she repeated incredulously. "I don't even know an Ian!"
Max sighed, putting down his pen for the first time in over an hour and flexing his cramped fingers. He reached up and rubbed his tired, stinging eyes, stifling a yawn as he did so.
Turning his head to his left, he smiled when he caught sight of his lab partner. Bella had slumped over the desk, her head pillowed on her folded arms, her face more serene than he could ever remember it being in the time they'd known each other.
Deciding to let her rest for a little while longer, Max did his best to be quiet as he stood up, stretching his body. Grabbing his wallet, he turned to head for the door. Maybe he could get some coffee from the vending machine down the hall. It wouldn't be as good as the coffee from the café down the street he and Bella had been scarfing all day but it'd have to do at eleven o'clock at night.
While Max was on a coffee run, Bella was fast asleep.
She had been in a dreamless sleep, her mind taking a break along with her body, when suddenly, she was jolted 'awake' by an unfortunately familiar voice.
"Hello, Beautiful Bella…"
She jerked, her eyes snapping open. She lifted her head from the table and spun around to face the smirking dream sorcerer.
"We meet again," he said smugly. "All that work, all those hours…You fell asleep at the library."
He walked around the table, stalking towards her, his arrogance making him blind enough that she could discreetly sneak a pair of scissors she had been using earlier off the table, and hid it behind her thigh as she glowered at the dream sorcerer. "Oh, good," she said snarkily, not taking her eyes off of him lest he were to make any sudden movements. She didn't want to risk anything after the last time. "We can settle the score then."
Instead of being intimidated, the dream sorcerer only continued to smirk at her. Bella tensed up, looking around her as her surroundings began to change. Instead of the stark white walls and the ceiling-to-floor shelves full of books, dark red and blue clouds started to swirl around Bella.
Despite her strong resolve and her best efforts, she still felt the pinpricks of fear beginning to build up inside her heart.
Perhaps the dream sorcerer could sense that because he started to chuckle. When she steeled herself, pushing the fear so deep inside that she could barely feel it any longer, the dream sorcerer raised an eyebrow.
"What do you hide from?" he wondered aloud. To Bella, his tone was mocking and it was just pissing her off. "Is it fear that you'll never be more than just a pretty face, or is it fear that even with everything you've got handed to you, you'll never get anywhere? I mean, there must be a reason…Why you fight so hard to put up such a…Ahem, strong front."
"I don't hide from anything," Bella spat at him as she struggled desperately to get out of the chair. "You're the coward, not me." Oh, God, please don't let this be like last time, she pleaded to the higher powers. Unlike last time, she didn't have Prue around to wake her up.
He grinned maliciously. "You can't move out of the chair, can you?" he guessed correctly. Suddenly, instead of the stiff wooden chair she had been sitting in all day, she was suddenly in a gray colored computer chair. The dream sorcerer grabbed the backrest of her chair and spun her around to face him and leaned over her as he spoke. "Don't you want to know why? Because I don't want you to. You're powerless, Bella."
She glared. "Go to hell," she spat at him through gritted teeth, struggling harder to get out of the chair.
He ignored her. "I, on the other hand, am the all-powerful," he bragged. "If you don't want to talk to me-"
"Oh, what gave you a clue, idiot?" she snapped.
His smile froze, slipping slightly. "That's fine," he said, his tone cooler than before. "There's always Prue, Piper, Phoebe…"
Bella's body tensed. "Don't you dare lay a hand on my sisters, you son of a bitch," Bella snarled.
He smiled slowly at her, happy that he was getting under her skin so badly."Or any number of young, single women out there," he continued carelessly."It's an endless pool for the Dream Sorcerer."
She eyeballed him slightly. "Even I'm not that arrogant," she informed him, using enough sarcasm to throw him so that she could ensure her ability to move her legs.
She aimed a sharp jab of her knee upwards, hitting him squarely in the crotch. He yelled out in pain, hunching over even further. Bella took this as the perfect opportunity to bring out the sharp scissors she'd kept concealed, and stabbed his hand with it. The dream sorcerer screamed out even louder, holding up his bloody hand as his face contorted in agony.
Breathing harshly, the dream sorcerer glowered at Bella. He grabbed the backrest of the chair roughly. "Goodnight, Beautiful Bella," he spat out menacingly.
He quickly pushed the chair forwards. Some of the red fog cleared up, just enough to allow Bella the unfortunate privilege of seeing where he was pushing her towards: the edge of what appeared to be a very tall building. Bella gritted her teeth to swallow the terrified squeak she almost let out, and pressed her back against the backrest of the chair.
Just as they reached the edge, a miracle stopped her death.
Someone shook her shoulder – hard.
"Bella? Bella…? Bella, wake up!"
Once again, Bella jolted awake. This time, it was the real deal.
Still running on adrenaline (and fear) from her dream, Bella spun around, scissors held high as she prepared to strike.
She paused, just in time, to see herself face to face with a shocked looking Max. He had reeled back, a hand over his face, and he stared at her, horrified.
"Bella! W-what are you doing?" he asked, stuttering slightly in fright.
Bella slowly lowered her hand. "Um…Nothing," she murmured. "Nothing. Oh, God. I'm sorry. I was just…"
Max, his heart rate slowly going down, smiled tentatively. "Bad dream?" he guessed.
Bella closed her eyes, exhaling slowly and running a hand down her face. "Ugh, understatement of the century," she muttered.
Max reached out slowly to take the scissors from her. "Let's just…Get that away first…"
Bella rolled her eyes. "Very funny, Max," she scoffed.
But Max wasn't listening. Instead, he stared, horrified, at the scissors now in his hands. "What the hell?" he muttered.
Bella's eyes followed his gaze, and they landed on the bloodied tip of the scissors. She gasped, dropping her gaze to her hand that had gripped the scissors tightly before. There, on the side of her palm, was blood smeared on her skin.
"Oh, God," Max said, catching sight of the blood. He dropped the scissors on the table and grabbed some of the extra napkins from their sandwich dinner earlier. "Did you accidentally cut yourself?" he began dabbing at the blood.
Bella, knowing that it wasn't her blood and that even if it was, the wound would have healed by now, stood up from the stiff chair. She pushed away from Max, yanking her hand back and hastily packing away her things.
"I-I've got to go," she muttered.
Max frowned, watching her hurried movements confusedly. "Bella…Is something wrong?" he asked finally.
Bella shook her head, shooting him a brief apologetic smile before going back to packing. "No, nothing's wrong," she said in the most convincing manner possible. "I just…I'm just feeling a little wigged out. It's fine. I'm just gonna head home."
Max nodded his head slowly as though this made sense to him. "Oh…Okay," he reached out to place his hand on her back sympathetically. "Do you want me to walk you home?"
Bella hitched the strap of her book bag over her shoulder. "No, it's okay," she assured him. "I borrowed my sister's bike, remember?"
Max smiled, though worry still shone in his eyes. "If you're sure," he said.
"I am," Bella gave him her best smile, stepping forward and giving him a kiss. "Pick me up tomorrow?"
Max nodded. "Yeah, of course," he brushed back her hair from her face and pressed his lips more firmly against hers. "Goodnight."
"'night," she echoed. She smiled at him one last time then hurried out the library doors. The moment she was out of the library – and out of sight of anyone who might overhear – Bella whipped out her cell phone and dialed.
"Thanks," Piper said with barely concealed sarcasm, throwing the delivery girl a forced smile as she handed over her signature and accepted the bouquet of flowers and box of chocolates from her.
The delivery girl nodded, throwing an inquisitive look at the seemingly infinite number of bouquets piled all over the foyer. "Um…You're welcome," she muttered, giving Piper a strange look before turning away.
Piper rolled her eyes as she stepped back into the foyer and closed the front door. "Yeah, keep walkin' lady," she muttered under her breath. "Like I don't know this is weird."
She pulled out the small card from its envelope, skimmed through the words just so she'd know if she had to put it in the 'Piper section' or the 'Phoebe section'.
"Dear Piper, you looked so beautiful tonight…Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah," she read with a disgusted scowl. She resisted the urge to throw the perfectly beautiful flowers against the wall, placed it on the floor next to five other bouquets and tossed the card away.
She looked down at the box of chocolates in her hands. "Well, at least one good thing came out of this," she shrugged, opening the box and taking one of the chocolates out as she walked towards the kitchen.
She had polished off half the box and was sitting in the kitchen, washing the sugary goodness down with coffee, when she heard the front door open.
"I'm home!" she heard Phoebe call out.
Piper sighed in relief. Good; now we can reverse the spell and hopefully stop the oncoming flower deliveries.
"In the kitchen!" Piper called out. Not a minute later, Phoebe walked in, half a chocolate heart in her hand as she chewed. "You're home early," Piper noted calmly over the rim of her coffee mug. Maybe I wasn't the only one having a bad time on a good date, she mused silently.
"Yeah, so are you," Phoebe retorted, popping in the rest of the chocolate she'd swiped from the box sitting on the dining room table on her way to the kitchen. "What's with all the flowers? You and Jack fighting already?"
Piper scoffed. "I wish," she sighed, remembering Jack's unfailing admiration and adoration for her at dinner even when she didn't deserve it. "The flowers were waiting on the doorstep when I returned, and they've been coming in ever since. They're from men I barely know and men I've never met…All the flowers in here are for you."
Phoebe huffed, plopping down on a chair opposite Piper. "Oh, well, I know they're not from Hans," she practically growled out.
"What happened?" Piper asked concernedly.
"He wouldn't leave me alone all night. He kept…Touching me," Phoebe complained, shuddering as she remembered Hans' neediness. "And practically every guy in the bar was hitting on me. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. I ditched Hans and left him at the club…" She turned to Piper and asked perkily, "So how was your date?"
"Perfect," Piper replied without a beat. "Everything was…perfect. Even my faults were perfect."
"And this is a bad thing?" Phoebe asked on a laugh.
Piper smiled at Phoebe, shaking her head at Phoebe's insistence on putting this under a positive light, even after the mishap of her 'relationship' with Hans. "It wasn't real," Piper said firmly, knowing this for a fact now. "Everything he said, everything he felt…It was because of the spell, not because of me."
Phoebe shook her head. "Piper, you don't know that," she said softly. "Maybe he meant every word. Maybe if it wasn't for the spell, he would've never had a chance to feel those things – let alone say them."
"No, Phoebe," Piper sighed, a short, exasperated laugh escaping her. "Love is a magic between two people that cannot be explained and cannot be conjured. What we did…It just…It's not right."
She sighed and gave Phoebe a look. "Bella was right," she admitted. "We didn't know what we were getting ourselves into."
Phoebe pouted and exchanged a mock pained look with Piper. "I hate it when she's right," she frowned.
Piper smiled. "Me too," she agreed.
Kit jumped on the table, seeming a little frazzled. Phoebe reached out and scratched her behind the ear soothingly. "Hmm. Even our poor cat's in hell," she noted, following Kit's distressed gaze to the window, where a bunch of cats were scratching at the glass, trying desperately to get in. "Go away, horny tom cats!" Phoebe shooed.
"Let's reverse the spell," Piper suggested knowingly, and Phoebe nodded her silent agreement.
Piper placed her coffee mug on the kitchen table, ready to get up to the attic to undo the spell, when the phone rang. She stood up from her seat and swiped the cordless phone off the kitchen island. "Hello? Bella?" she glanced up at the clock on the kitchen wall. She frowned, noticing that it was almost midnight. "Where are you?"
"I'm, um, still at the library," Bella said, putting in a few quarters into the vending machine outside the library doors and waiting for her coffee to come out. "Listen, something bad happened. I fell asleep and that man from my dream – the creepy guy from Quake – he came, and he tried to kill me again."
Phoebe alternated between listening to Piper's end of the conversation with Bella, and looking behind her shoulder just as Prue walked into the kitchen.
"Hey," Prue greeted Phoebe, seeing as how Piper was on the phone. "When did we open a florist?"
Phoebe rolled her eyes and shrugged, opening her mouth to answer when Piper yelped out a startled, "What?"
Prue's smile slipped entirely off her face as she took note of the panicked look on Piper's face. "What is it?" she demanded. "Who's on the phone?"
Piper gestured wildly with her free hand for Prue to keep quiet, listening intently to Bella on the other line.
"Yeah, and there's actual proof this time – Max saw it too," Bella insisted.
"Were you hurt?" Piper asked worriedly.
"No. I hurt him this time. In my dream, I stabbed him with my scissors and when I woke up, the scissors were in my hand and his blood was dripping from it…I definitely didn't imagine it, Piper," Bella said urgently.
Piper squeezed her eyes shut. Is there no end to this demonic nightmare? She thought desperately. "Oh, my God," she whispered. "Why is this happening?"
"I don't understand why, either," Bella answered, chugging down half of the bad coffee in one go. "All I do know is that I'm only safe when I'm awake – he can't get to me outside my dreams. But if I fall asleep…I'm dead."
"Well, stay where you are," Piper instructed firmly. "Prue and I will come pick you up."
"No," Bella protested immediately. "I borrowed Phoebe's bike and the library is only a few blocks away from the house. I'll be fine."
Piper shared a worried glance with Prue and Phoebe. Although the two of them didn't know what was going on exactly, they were still plenty apprehensive just listening to Piper's end of the conversation.
Bella downed the rest of her coffee and crumpled up the paper cup. "Look, I want you to look in the Book of Shadows and see if you can find anything on this guy," she said quickly into the phone, tossing the empty cup into a nearby trashcan. "He calls himself a dream sorcerer. Okay?"
Piper hesitated. Something in her gut was telling her that letting Bella go home alone, at midnight, when there was a creepy demon stalker chasing after her was a bad idea. Then again, Bella did say that the dream sorcerer couldn't reach her outside her dreams.
"Piper?" Bella prompted impatiently.
Piper bit her lip. "Fine," she finally said. "But hurry home. If you're not back in fifteen minutes, we're sending out search parties."
"It'll take me thirty to get there," Bella reminded her sister.
"Make it twenty," Piper negotiated. "And call us the moment you start feeling sleepy, okay? We'll keep you awake."
"Fine," Bella replied curtly. "Be there soon."
Piper waited until the line went dead before hanging up. She turned to her anxious sisters and said, "Bella's in trouble. We need to get to the Book – now."
She and Prue filled Phoebe in on the dream sorcerer as the three of them rushed up to the attic. Once Phoebe had gotten over the feeling of injustice at being the only one left out of such an important event happening, they had hurriedly searched the entire Book for anything resembling what Bella had described the dream sorcerer to be.
"Nothing?" Prue asked anxiously as she paced back and forth, looking out the attic window every few seconds to see if Bella had returned yet.
"Nada," Phoebe replied as she flipped through the same pages again.
"There's got to be something," Piper insisted.
Phoebe threw her hands up in the air, stopping the search. "I'm telling you – there's no dream sorcerer stuff anywhere," she said, frustrated.
Piper frowned. "That's impossible," she snapped. "The Book of Shadows has never let us down before."
"Well, there's a first time for everything," Prue muttered, earning her a glare from Piper.
Phoebe bit her lower lip as she considered. "Maybe he's not a demon. Maybe he's a mortal," she mused.
Prue snorted. "Then he's got one hell of a power," she pointed out.
"You're not kidding," Piper agreed.
Prue shook her head. "Demon, mortal, there's got to be some way to stop him," she raked her fingers through her hair.
The three of them jumped as the silence in the big house was shattered by the sound of the phone ringing downstairs.
"It's got to be Bella," Piper said grimly. "Who else would call now?"
Prue made to dash towards the door but Phoebe flung her arm out, stopping her. "Wait," she called out. "What are you going to tell her? That we can't help her? That she can never go to sleep?"
Prue remained silent as she evaded Phoebe's questioned and rushed out of the attic, her two sisters fast on her heel.
Please, God, let this all turn out okay, Prue begged silently. I can't lose my sister.
The streets were eerily silent as Bella rode her bike, the cool night air whipping her hair away from her face and serving to wake her slightly more than the coffee had. Unfortunately for Bella, the many practically sleepless nights she'd had being too busy working on school and work projects were catching up to her. Even the shortcut she had taken seemed longer than her normal route.
Her eyelids fluttered madly as she fought the strong urge to simply close her eyes and fall asleep. Her mind and body were tired enough that she barely registered the fact that she was on a bike.
A particularly jolting swerve shook her out of her sleepy daze enough to fumble for her cell phone in her bag. She quickly dialed her home number and frowned when no one answered after the fourth ring.
"Come on, come on, answer the phone," she muttered, her eyes tearing slightly as she stifled another yawn.
Finally, the call was answered and Bella breathed a small sigh of relief at the sound of her eldest sister's voice.
"Hey," Bella greeted Prue back. "Did you guys find anything?"
Prue bit her lip worriedly. "No, we didn't," she confessed quietly. "But don't worry," she was quick to add. "You're not in this alone. Piper, Phoebe and I will help you."
Bella's weariness and anxiety made her snap, "How can you help me when we don't even know what he is! He's not even in your dreams, Prue, he's in mine. We can't all face him!"
"Bella, calm down," Prue said in her most reassuring tone. She covered the mouthpiece with her hand and whispered to Phoebe and Piper, "I think she's freaking out."
"Who can blame her?" Phoebe scoffed. "Evil's after her and she can't even kick its ass to make her feel better."
Prue rolled her eyes and Piper reached out to snatch the phone out of Prue's grip. "Bella, sweetie," she said, her manner much more soothing than Prue's had been. "The most important thing right now is for you to get home safely, okay? When you get here, we're gonna do everything we can to help you."
"And if you can't?" Bella questioned. "Prue said you didn't find anything in the Book. I know the internet's useless. Where else are we supposed to get our information from? It's not like we have a ton of resources for this kinda thing."
Piper nodded, her own worries starting to eat at her. "I know, I know," she agreed. "But we'll figure something out, okay? We have to."
Bella sighed, too tired to argue which just goes to show how exhausted she was – as a Halliwell woman, arguing was one of her favorite pastimes. "Whatever, just…Just keep talking to me, okay? Keep me awake."
Piper frowned worriedly. She covered the mouthpiece with her hand just like Prue had earlier and said to her sisters, "She sounds exhausted."
Phoebe inhaled deeply and snatched the phone out of Piper's hand, figuring it was her turn. "Okay, Bella!" she said loudly into the phone, succeeding into giving her younger sister a small jolt to wake her. "Stay with me now. Just focus on the road. You've been getting by on four hours of sleep daily. You can do this."
She turned to Piper and Prue and asked, "What's that song we always used to sing when we were little?"
Prue's eyebrows furrowed together. "What song?" she wondered.
"You know,the song we sang every time Mom or Grams took us somewhere…We used to sing it in the car when we visited Aunt Gail?" Phoebe prompted.
Recognition clicked in Piper's mind. "The road trip song?" she guessed correctly.
Phoebe nodded, "Yeah, let's sing that." She uncovered the mouthpiece and said into it, "Did you hear that, Bella? We're singing the road trip song, okay?"
Bella blinked her heavy eyelids slowly, trying to blink the sleepiness out of them. "Yeah, okay," she said, her words dragging.
Phoebe must have heard that because she quickly reassured Bella, "Okay, don't worry, honey. Everything's gonna be fine, okay? Nothing's going to happen."
Like a bad cue, rapid, almost violent knocks sounded from the front door. All three Halliwell sisters home turned to look at the closed door.
"Phoebe!" they heard an angry voice call out.
Phoebe blinked in shock when she recognized the 24-hour boyfriend she'd had and dumped earlier that night. "Hans!" she called out disbelievingly.
"Hans?" Prue wondered as her mind brought back the memory of 'meeting' the shirtless guy. She looked at Phoebe. "He's not psychotic, is he?" she asked accusingly.
Phoebe ignored her as Hans called out again, "Let me in! I have to see you!"
A slight chill went down Phoebe's spine as she heard the anger and desperation in Hans' voice. If her lack of desire of being groped yet again hadn't made her mind, this certainly did. "Go away!" she called back.
Piper, Prue and Phoebe all screamed as the front door burst open, Hans storming in with his fists clenched and his face twisted into an angry scowl. Startled, Phoebe dropped the cordless she was holding. She was too stunned by Hans' entrance that she didn't notice she'd dropped the phone, and didn't hear Bella's drowsy calls for her sisters.
"Are you crazy!" Phoebe demanded in spite of her fear – it was amazing that she and her sisters could stare down into the face of evil every other week but she could still be rattled by a human being. "What are you doing?"
"You left me," Hans accused, his voice shaking in anger. "How could you leave me!"
"I think he's psychotic," Piper muttered under her breath, answering Prue's earlier question.
Phoebe held up her shaking hands in an attempt to calm him. Piper reached out and took hold of Phoebe's arm, pulling her back as they slowly backed away from Hans the way one would back away from a wild animal. Prue stepped up and shielded her sisters behind her, glaring at their intruder.
"Hans, please," Phoebe begged, her voice as unsteady as her hands.
Hans ignored her plea. "Ever since I met you, I can't do anything," he confessed, his voice still laced with anger. "Eat, drink, sleep…All I can do is think about you!" He looked up at Phoebe once more, an angry desperation in his voice as he spoke through clenched teeth, "What have you done to me!"
Frustrated, Hans grabbed the closest thing to him – a heavy antique case.
Piper and Phoebe screamed again and, the moment they saw him reach for the vase, all three sisters dashed away towards the stairs, ducking behind the banister.
When Hans threw it in their direction, on instinct, Piper's hands shot out and she froze Hans and the vase. Prue took her cue instantly, her steely eyes locked on Hans' frozen form as she used her telekinesis to throw him backwards into the wall section behind him. He fell to the ground, unconscious. Not wanting damage to be caused to the vase, she gently lowered it back to its rightful position on the table with her power.
Piper let out a breath of relief. Turning to Phoebe, she asked, "Are you okay?"
Phoebe nodded, though she still looked slightly shaken up. "I'm fine," she assured Piper.
Prue then threw Phoebe and Piper an icy glare. "You see!" she scowled at them. "This is what happens when you use magic for personal gain."
Phoebe let out a huff. "You cannot possibly be lecturing us right now," she threw her hands up in the air.
"You're right. I should wait for the next time you screw up," Prue retorted sarcastically.
Phoebe opened her mouth, ready to argue, when Piper gasped loudly and darted forward. "Bella!" she cried worriedly, snatching the phone off the ground and pressing it to her ear. "Bella! Bella!" she called out frantically.
She looked at Prue and Phoebe. "She's not there!" she cried out in panic
Prue grabbed the phone from Piper and hung up the call before dialing the number again. Perhaps Bella had hung up earlier when her sisters had failed to answer her. She shook her head as the call continued to ring without Bella answering. "She's not answering," she told the others.
The three of them shared terrified looks, Piper and Phoebe hugging each other close.
While her sisters were being distracted by Phoebe's crazy ex, Bella was barely hanging on her bike. "Phoebe?" she whispered hoarsely into the phone. "Piper?Prue?"
None of her sisters answered her and, through her sleepy haze, she thought she heard an angry male voice shouting on the other line.
Her eyelids flickered as she gave into her weariness for one quick second. And in that second, she could feel his presence, his breath blowing on her ear as he whispered, "Time is now, Beautiful Bella…We're almost there."
She gasped, her eyes flying wide open as her heart started to race. She gripped the slipping phone harder in her hands and almost sobbed into the phone, afraid that she would lose control, crash her bike and get back to the dream world she had absolutely no control in, "Guys, where are you!"
This time, when she blacked out, the phone slipped from her grip completely and fell to the road, crashing into pieces. She didn't notice it, however, both her hands on the handlebars as she tried to pry her heavy eyelids open. Her mind was too tired and her body simply wouldn't cooperate, however.
The dream sorcerer was back, standing on the side of the road and grinning as he watched her ride unsteadily by. "Say goodnight, Beautiful Bella," he murmured, just as Bella lost the battle to stay awake.
Bella's head hung low as her mind completely shut off. The bike, now not in her control, swerved dangerously. The sharp jolt woke Bella enough to get her to regain control of the bike. However, she had to still be partially asleep because she could hear him laughing maniacally in the distance.
The bike felt too heavy and her arms suddenly felt too weak. She swerved again just as she passed a junction. She didn't see or hear the Mercedes that came from the adjacent road, even as the driver honked madly, unable to stop in time.
She did, however, feel the pain shooting through her body as the car collided with her unprotected body. The impact sent both her and Phoebe's bike flying. The bike – bent out of shape – landed a few feet away from the spot where Bella had been hit. Bella's limp body rolled a good few feet away from the bike before coming to a stop.
Her entire body was aching, her fresh wounds stinging madly against the cool night air, and a small part of her brain wondered why she wasn't healing up quickly like she had been doing recently.
She kept her eyes open, even though her vision was getting blurry and she couldn't get her mind to focus on anything. She heard the loud squeal of tires as the car that had hit her came to a screeching halt. The driver came rushing out of the car, his panicked voice drawing closer even as his words sounded muffled to her.
As the panicked driver whipped out his phone to dial for an ambulance, his wide eyes taking in her bloody forehead and her arm laying at an odd angle, Bella kept her breathing as even and steady as she could, struggling not to give in and fall unconscious.
"I can't fall asleep," she continued her whispered mantra as the sirens from the ambulance grew nearer, the driver still by her side. "I can't fall asleep…"
Hey, guys. So what do you think?