Music Credit: "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mack
Note: Prue is 20, Piper 18, Phoebe 16. This is based on something out of Murphy's Luck.
I took my love and I took it down
I climbed a mountain and I twirled around
And I saw my reflection in a snow covered hill
But the landslide brought me down
Oh, mirror in the sky what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
I don't know
Well I been 'fraid of changin' 'cause I built my life around you
But time makes you bolder, children get older
And I'm getting older too
I been 'fraid of changin' 'cause I built my life around you
But time makes you bolder, children get older
I'm getting older too
I'm getting older too
So, if you take this love and you take it down
If you climb a mountain and you turn around
If you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well, the landslide will bring you down
If you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well maybe the landslide will bring you down
Well, well, the landslide will bring you down
"Prudence, hurry now or your sisters are going to be late," Penny yelled up the stairs. Phoebe and Piper were sitting in the living room waiting for Prue to drive them to their school's homecoming football game. Piper didn't really want to go to a football game, but one of her friends was on the homecoming court. Phoebe was going because her boyfriend was on the team and he was starting for the first time tonight.
"Grams, I don't see why I can't just drive us," Piper said.
"I already told you, dear," Penny said. "Your sister needs the car tonight."
"What for?" Piper asked, somewhat irritated that Prue was taking so long to get ready.
"She's meeting her study group for World History," Penny answered.
Phoebe let out a laugh. "You believe that?" Piper elbowed her in the side. The last thing they needed was for Prue and Grams to get into a fight, even though Piper knew just as well as Phoebe that Prue wasn't going to a study group session. They were late enough as it was. Phoebe glared at Piper, but said no more. Finally, Prue came down the stairs, wearing jeans and a huge sweater. She was carrying her book bag on her shoulder. Penny handed her the keys.
"What time will you be done studying?" Penny asked.
"I have no clue," Prue said. "Don't worry I'll pick them up and drop them off in time for curfew."
"Very well, and try to be home by midnight dear, if that's possible," Penny said.
"Sure, Grams, whatever," Prue replied. She led Phoebe and Piper out the door.
"Shotgun!" Phoebe called as she walked to the car. Piper rolled her eyes.
"Phoebe, why do you always insist on doing that? Don't you know I don't really care anymore?" Piper asked. Phoebe just grinned at her. Piper got in the back on the driver's side, and Prue handed her book bag back. "Your book bag doesn't feel very heavy. Aren't world history textbooks pretty heavy?"
"I'm going to a party. Don't give me any crap about it. And don't you even think about telling Grams...Phoebe," Prue said as the three of them put on their seat belts. Prue started the car and drove away from the Manor.
"Geez, Prue, I just love how you trust me so much," Phoebe said snidely. Piper rolled her eyes, knowing this had the potential to explode into a serious argument. She figured at the rate Prue and Phoebe were going she'd be breaking up their fights till she was, oh, about 80. Of course, that would be if they didn't kill each other before then.
"Let's see, there was the time I snuck out of the house after midnight with Andy. Oh, and the time I came back after curfew. Grams didn't hear me, but you did and you told her the next morning," Prue said. "Oh, and let's not forget the one and only time Piper came home after curfew on accident, and you told on her, too. You don't know when to keep your mouth shut."
"I resent that," Phoebe said.
"It's the truth," Prue snapped.
"Why do you always pick on me?" Phoebe asked. "What the hell did I do to you?"
"Everything," Prue argued. Piper noticed that Prue wasn't really paying as close attention to the road as she should be.
"Hey, Prue, maybe you should watch the road," Piper said, trying to be nice about.
"Do you want to drive?" Prue asked.
"Yes, absolutely," Piper retorted. "Then you two could argue and I wouldn't have to worry about getting in a wreck!"
Dave stumbled out of the bar and dug in his pockets for his keys. His girlfriend, Amy, came out after him.
"Dave, give me your keys. You're too drunk to drive," she said, concerned that he would get himself killed if he got behind the wheel...or someone else. "I'll drive you home."
"I can drive myself," he said, slurring his words. "Get off it, bitch."
"You're going to get yourself killed," she said. She kept following him to his large red pick-up truck. "Or you're going to kill somebody else. Give me your keys."
"I said I'm perfectly capable to drive my own self home," he told her angrily. He hopped up into his truck and closed the door, locking it so she couldn't get in.
Amy tugged at the door handle, yelling at him to get out of the truck. He started the loud diesel engine and pretended that he couldn't hear her. She hit the window, but then he took off, peeling out of the parking lot and swerving down the road.
Phoebe and Prue were still arguing, and Piper just sat in the back, wishing that they were already at the football game. Football sounded a lot better than this.
"Because you enjoy making my life suck," Prue yelled at Phoebe. They were headed for an intersection. The light was green.
"Well, I'm just returning the favor," Phoebe retorted.
Prue didn't get a chance to say anything back, though, as a large red pick-up truck smashed into the passenger side of the car. They were pushed all the way across the intersection until they weren't in the intersection at all. The car finally came to a stop when the driver's side hit a telephone pole. Piper was in the back seat groaning and holding her head. She had a cut on the left side of her head where it had smacked and broken the window. Prue gently felt her left shoulder and winced when she touched a large piece of glass jutting out of her bicep through her already blood-soaked sleeve. Then she looked over to Phoebe, who was unconscious. Phoebe's legs were tangled in the mangled frame of the car. Prue could see blood running down Phoebe's neck from a cut on her head. Phoebe's right arm was also caught between the door and her seat.
"Oh my God, Phoebe," Prue said. She reached over and felt for a pulse. It was there, barely. Prue tried to open her door, but it was pinned against the telephone pole. "Piper, are you okay? Can you get out? Phoebe's hurt bad."
Piper looked into the front seat, now extremely concerned for Phoebe. Piper tried her door, but it was stuck. She started to climb out through the window. "I'll get help, Prue."
The phone rang in the Manor. Penny muted the television and picked it up.
"Hey, is Prue there?" a young woman asked.
"No, she's not. Who's calling?"
"This is Ally," the girl said. "We were supposed to meet like a half hour ago at Shay's."
"Shay's? Is that someone else in your group?" Penny asked.
"Group? What group?" Ally replied. "Shay's is a nightclub."
"Well, dear, I don't know where Prudence is, but I'll be sure to let her know you called," Penny said, letting a hint of irritation slip through her voice.
"Yeah, okay," Ally said. They both hung up and Penny sat there, furious with Prue.
"That girl insists on trying my temper," Penny said aloud.
"Cut her some slack, mom. She's in college," Patty said. Penny looked up startled.
"Patty, please do not startle me like that. Couldn't you at least give me notice that you were going to visit from the afterlife?" Penny asked.
"I can't exactly pick up the phone," Patty said sarcastically.
"Prudence is just like her father, so stubborn and defiant," Penny said.
"She's nothing like Victor," Patty said. "But she's exactly like you."
"Don't be ridiculous," Penny said.
"Why else do you both always insist on winning an argument? You both have to be right," Patty said. Penny was about to argue when the telephone rang again.
"Hello," Penny said.
"Ms. Halliwell, this is Nurse Canel at San Francisco Memorial Hospital," a woman said. "I'm calling because your granddaughters have been in a car accident."
"Oh my, are they all right? Are they hurt?" Penny asked, now concerned.
"We need you to come down to the hospital and sign consent for Phoebe to have surgery," the nurse said. "A doctor will be able to explain everything to you then."
"If she needs surgery, do it," Penny said without hesitation.
"We need you to sign a form for that, ma'am. If you'll just come down to the hospital—"
Penny hung up before the nurse could finish and began dialing for a cab.
"Mom, what happened?" Patty asked.
"The girls have been in an accident."
Prue and Piper were sitting next to each other in the waiting room, having been treated for their injuries. Piper had a large white bandage covering the gash on her forehead, which had required ten stitches. A white bandage could be seen through the hole in the sleeve of Prue's sweater. Her cut had required sixteen stitches. Both of them had been treated for concussions.
Penny walked in quickly and walked up to the nurse's station. She hadn't seen Prue and Piper yet, and they hadn't seen her. "I received a call that my granddaughters were in a car accident. Last name is Halliwell."
Piper looked up at the sound of Penny's voice. "Grams," she said as she stood. Penny approached Piper and gave her a hug.
"My darling, are you all right?" Penny asked. Piper pulled away.
"I'm okay," she said.
"I'm okay, Grams," Prue said, barely looking up at Penny.
"Where is Phoebe?" Penny asked.
"Ms. Halliwell," a young woman said, walking over from the nurse's station. She was carrying a clipboard and a pen. "My name is Doctor Reese. Your granddaughter, Phoebe, needs immediate surgery."
"You look a bit young to be a doctor," Penny said skeptically.
"I'm an intern. I treated Phoebe when she was brought in. She has suffered severe head trauma, her right arm was broken in two places, her left knee was strained, and her right leg was broken in two places."
"What does she need the surgery for?" Penny asked.
"Her appendix is inflamed and if it ruptures she could die. Also, there may have been damage to her liver and kidneys," Doctor Reese explained.
"Will you be doing the surgery?"
"No, a surgical resident will be performing the surgery," she replied. "I'm strictly ER. I just need you to sign this form for consent."
Penny quickly signed the form. "Will she be okay?"
"It's too soon to tell, but we will take very good care of her. I promise," Doctor Reese said. She took the clipboard back and hurried away.
"Prudence. Piper. There's a cab outside. I want you to take it home. This should cover it," Penny said. She handed some money to Piper.
"But Grams—" Piper started to protest.
"There's no sense in you two waiting around here. I will call when they tell me something about your sister. Now go," Penny said sternly. Piper looked very upset that she couldn't stay. She was extremely worried about Phoebe. Prue stood slowly, careful not to move her left arm too much. Penny looked to Prue, somewhat angry. "Prudence, you and I will talk later." Prue didn't respond. She and Piper simply left the hospital.
Prue immediately went to her room and changed into her pajamas. She then sat on her bed and stared at the wall. Piper knocked on her door. She had changed into her pajamas as well. Prue looked up.
"Do you think Phoebe will be okay," Piper said. She walked in and sat on the end of Prue's bed.
"I don't know," Prue said quietly.
Piper looked at Prue concerned. "Are you okay?"
"Grams is mad at me for some reason, like always," Prue said.
"She's just worried about Phoebe," Piper said.
"Then what was that 'Prudence, we'll talk later' stuff all about?" Prue asked. "She thinks it's my fault. She's right."
"Prue, it was not," Piper said. "You had the green light. The police said the guy in the truck was drunk."
"Yeah, but if I'd been paying attention and not arguing with Phoebe, I probably would have seen the truck and this wouldn't have happened," Prue said.
"You can't think like that," Piper said. "It wasn't your fault."
Prue looked down at her hands. "The last thing I said to her was that she made my life suck."
"I just wanna be alone, Piper. Okay?"
Piper wanted to protest, but she stood and walked out of Prue's room, closing the door behind her. Prue hugged her legs to her chest and rested her head on her knees, letting a few tears of guilt fall.
Across the room, Patty stood watching Prue. "My dear girl, I wish I could help you. These demons are far worse than any you could ever face as a witch."
Phoebe opened her eyes slowly. Her head was throbbing and sounds echoed around her like she was in some kind of tunnel. She tried to focus her vision, but it was difficult. Rectangular fluorescent lights seemed to rotate above her. She could hear a steady beeping, and she heard a voice. She couldn't tell whose voice it was because of the incessant echo in her head, but someone was talking to her. They were saying, "Phoebe, dear, can you hear me? Squeeze my hand darling." Phoebe did what the voice asked and squeezed her left hand around the hand that was holding hers. She turned her head to the left and more pain surged. She clenched her eyes shut tight. When she opened her eyes she could see a blurry image of her grandmother. She was standing over her and smiling. Were those tears? Phoebe couldn't tell. She closed her eyes again for a while, and decided to try out her voice.
"Grams," she said, her voice hoarse and barely above a whisper.
"Yes, dear, I'm here with you," Penny said. "I'm not going anywhere."
"My head hurts," Phoebe said. She opened her eyes again. Her vision wasn't quite as blurry this time. "And my legs."
"You were in an accident, but you're going to be just fine," Penny said.
Phoebe thought for a moment, trying to bring up her last memories before waking up here. The car crash slowly emerged in her mind. Headlights. Crunching metal. Snapping bones. Pain. Darkness. Prue and Piper, where were they?
"Prue…Piper…" Phoebe said with concern emerging in her voice.
"They're fine," Penny said. "They're at home resting."
"What's all wrong with me?" Phoebe asked.
"You were in pretty bad shape. I was so worried about you dear," Penny said, avoiding Phoebe's question.
"What hit us?" she asked, hoping to at least get an answer to this question.
"It was a drunk driver in a pick-up truck," Penny said, anger evident in her voice. Then her concerned smile returned. "You should rest. I need to go call your sisters and tell them you're going to be okay."
"Tell Prue…" Phoebe began. She cleared her throat and continued. "Tell her I'm sorry."
"For what dear?" Penny asked.
"Just sister stuff," Phoebe said. "She'll know what I'm talking about."
"Ah, secrets," Penny said with a smile. "I suppose I can't know everything you girls talk about." Phoebe smiled. "Now, you rest."
Penny left to go call the Manor.
Prue and Piper were both lying in their own beds. It was two in the morning, but neither of them were sleeping. Piper was crying because it was taking so long to hear about Phoebe. What if she had died, and Grams was too busy grieving to remember to call? Piper all but flew out of her bed when the phone rang. She ran down the stairs and picked it up. "Grams?"
"Piper, that was fast. Have you been awake all this time?" Penny asked.
"I tried to sleep, but I couldn't stop thinking about Phoebe," Piper said. She glanced over as Prue came down the stairs. "Is she okay?"
"She'll be fine," Penny said. "The doctors said the surgery went well."
"When can she come home?" Piper asked.
"Probably not for a while yet," Penny said. "I just wanted to call and let you know how Phoebe was doing. I'm going to go say goodnight and then I'll be home. Is Prudence awake?"
"Yeah, she's right here," Piper said, prepared to hand the phone to Prue.
"Tell her that Phoebe says she's sorry," Penny said quickly. "Now, you get some sleep. I'll be home soon. I love you."
"I love you, too," Piper said before hanging up the phone.
"What did Grams say?" Prue asked.
"Um, Phoebe's going to be okay, but she doesn't know when she'll be out of the hospital," Piper replied. "Grams said to tell you that Phoebe says she's sorry."
Prue looked down. "Phoebe doesn't have anything to be sorry about." Prue turned and went back up the stairs. Piper watched her go, wishing Prue would talk to her about what she was thinking. Piper was the only person that Prue would talk to about her feelings, but it was still always hard to get Prue to talk unless she was beyond-tears-upset. Piper shook her head and returned to her room.
Prue laid on her bed, her face buried in her pillow and her body trembling from her tears. Prue always tried as hard as she could to avoid crying in front of anyone, even Piper. Tears were a sign of weakness, and she was supposed to be strong so her sisters didn't have to be. That's what she had always thought ever since their mother had died. She couldn't break. If she lost her emotions, she lost her control and things wouldn't be the same.
There were very few times that she had cried in front of anyone. One of them was when she was seventeen. She had been attacked and nearly raped by some guy she thought was Mr. Right. Grams had been as compassionate as she was capable of being. Phoebe didn't really understand it. Piper was Prue's shoulder to cry on, and Prue took advantage of that after the attack. Piper was the only person that didn't judge Prue. She was just there at the right time, and that's what Prue loved about her. That's not to say that Prue didn't love Phoebe or Grams. She wouldn't have been crying at this point if she didn't. But they were so much harder to deal with.
Prue cried herself to sleep that night, and woke up the next morning determined to bury her emotions so she could put up with whatever onslaught of disappointment Grams had planned for her.
The next day was Saturday, which usually meant sleep-in day, but Prue was up a little after sunrise and Piper was up an hour later. Penny came down to find Piper cooking breakfast—Spanish omelettes, the best thing she knew to make for breakfast. The coffee was fresh and inviting. Prue was sitting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper with a cup of coffee in front of her.
"Good morning girls," Penny said as she poured herself a cup of coffee. "Piper, dear, I could have taken care of breakfast."
"It's no problem, Grams," Piper said as she flipped the omelette she was cooking. "You know how I am with cooking."
"It's your therapy," Penny said with a smile. "Well, I'm sure Phoebe would love to see the two of you this morning. She was quite worried about you."
"I've got to call Ally before we leave," Prue said as she tossed the paper aside.
"Would that be Ally from your study group?" Penny asked.
"Yeah," Prue replied.
"Stop lying to me, Prudence. I don't have the energy to argue with you this morning, so you shouldn't waste yours making up stories," Penny said. Prue just stared at her. Piper shot a wary glance at Prue and then continued cooking. "I know you weren't going to meet your study group. Ally called last night before the hospital called. You should make sure your friends know you're going to lie to me before you try to pull something like that."
"Yeah, I suppose I should," Prue said calmly. "I'm going to call Ally."
"Make it fast because you won't be talking to her on the phone for two weeks," Penny said. Prue spun around, shock and anger evident on her face. Piper sucked in a breath. She hated when Grams and Prue fought, and she hated it even more when she was stuck in the room with them.
"Are you grounding me?" Prue asked.
"Something like that," Penny replied calmly. She took a sip of her coffee like nothing major was happening.
"I'm twenty years old. You can't ground me. I'm not a kid," Prue said angrily.
"Well, you could have fooled me. If you are so adult you wouldn't go and lie to me about something as simple as going out with your friends," Penny retorted.
"You wouldn't have let me use the car if I'd told you I was going to a nightclub," Prue said. "How can I be honest with you if you won't trust me?"
"How can I trust you if you won't be honest with me?"
"Oh, please," Prue said. "I've tried honest. I tried it my first couple years in high school. I tried it my first year in college. But you always said no. I was always stuck at home because 'I don't want to set a bad example for my sisters by partying all the time and not being conscious of my studies.' That is total bull Grams."
"Don't you dare take that tone with me, Prudence!" Grams said, standing. "As long as you live here, you will treat me with the respect I deserve."
"I already am," Prue said coldly.
"Shut up, Piper!" Prue yelled. Piper turned away and pretended to be cleaning the skillet she had used to cook the omelettes. "And while we're on the topic of respect, what about you respecting my decisions about what I want to do with my life? Shouldn't respect be a mutual thing? Why am I stuck here studying something I really don't want to do in college? I want to be a photographer, but no, you don't respect my dreams at all."
"Photography does not put food on the table. It is a risky business. Anthropology could lead you to a very successful career. You could possibly become a curator of a museum."
"Because that's a fun and exciting job! I'd get to be in charge of all the old artifacts! Who's tomb is this from? Who's father died by this sword?" Prue said sarcastically. "I want to be a photographer."
"And will I be stuck taking care of you while you try to make your photography career?" Penny said. "Will you be living off my money while you traipse around New York with your camera and ambitions?"
"I can take care of myself," Prue said, her voice lowering into almost a growl-like tone.
"Prove it," Penny said. Prue looked at her angrily and then spun on her heel. She stalked out of the kitchen and Penny followed her. Even though Piper hated being in the same room during one of these fights, she was extremely curious where this was going. The fights had never been this bad. She followed behind Penny.
Prue was in the foyer pulling her camera bag out of the cabinet. She slung it over her shoulder and started walking toward the front door. "If you leave this house, you better hope I'm not here when you get back," Penny said.
"I'm not coming back," Prue said without looking back. She was a few feet from the door when she suddenly fell to the ground. She looked at Penny, who was glaring at her angrily.
"Prue are you—?" Piper began.
"I'm fine," Prue said. She yanked the front door open and slammed it behind her. Penny and Piper just stood there.
Finally, Penny spoke without turning. "Piper go upstairs and get some things together to take to Phoebe at the hospital. Pajamas, magazines, whatever you think will be good."
Piper hesitated a moment and then went upstairs. Penny walked slowly back to the kitchen.
"Mother, how dare you use your powers on her!" Patty said, appalled and angry.
"What are you talking about?" Penny asked as she began cleaning up the kitchen.
"I saw you. You made Prue fall when she was trying to leave," Patty said. "What is wrong with you?"
"She just doesn't understand what I'm trying to do for her," Penny said.
"That's right, mom, she doesn't understand," Patty said. "She doesn't understand that you're trying to keep her in San Francisco because she and her sisters are destined to be the most powerful good witches the world has ever seen. She doesn't understand that there's more to her future than a photography career. Maybe if you would just unbind their powers—"
"The pact with Nicholas has not been broken. They're not safe," Penny said.
"Do you really think you're going to break that pact?" Patty asked.
"I will find a way," Penny said.
"And are you going to torture Prue like this until then? And if you don't break the pact before you die, they'll be vulnerable. They'll receive their powers with no idea how to use them," Patty argued. "Mom, you need to apologize to Prue when she comes back."
"I don't think she's coming back," Penny said, guilt replacing her anger. "I've driven her away."
"Mom, she'll come back," Patty said. "She cares about her sisters and she cares about you. She won't leave with Phoebe in the hospital like this. She loves all of you, even if she doesn't show it very well. You need to get her to show it."
"And how exactly would I do that?" Penny asked.
"Compromise," Patty replied. "Give her some options instead of just saying, you'll do this and you'll do that. Give her some free will."
Penny let out an exasperated laugh. "I'm getting parenting advice from my own daughter."
"You're good at this mom," Patty said. "You just weren't meant to raise the girls like this. You were supposed to be their grandmother not their mother. You're tired."
"Yes, I am tired," Penny said. "So, tired that I don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to do this. I'm just trying to prepare them for when they'll have to take care of each other. Prue doesn't see that I'm not going to be around forever."
"She'll see it, mom," Patty said. "She's smart. She'll figure out what you're trying to do."
Prue walked a few blocks to a gas station and then used a pay phone to call a cab. She had about fifty dollars stashed in her camera bag. She didn't know how far it would take her, but she knew she had to get away. Grams had no idea what was going on with her. She didn't know how guilty Prue felt about hurting Phoebe. She didn't know how responsible Prue felt for anything that happened to her sisters. She just didn't know.
The cab came and Prue told him to just get on the highway and drive. The cabbie seemed a bit confused, but went ahead and did it. Prue watched the scenery through her window. This stretch of highway was so scenic and Prue had never noticed it before. She was noticing it now. Her photographer's eye picked up everything when she was upset.
After a while, the cabbie pulled over on the shoulder. "End of the line," he said. "Fifty bucks worth."
Prue nodded her head and tossed her money through the partition. She opened her door and started to drag her camera bag out with her. The cabbie stopped her. "Hey, are you sure about this? I mean, I've got a radio. I can call base and have them call someone for you."
"Don't worry about me," Prue said. "Just mind your own business."
The cabbie watched as Prue shut the door and walked away. He thought about going back and telling her that he would drive her home for free if she wanted, but he figured he wouldn't get anywhere with that tactic. He turned and forgot about Prue as he sped off.
Prue walked up the hill with her bag, not really conscious of where she was going. When she reached the top she was looking at a bridge that stretched over the highway. Cars sped underneath it. Prue walked further onto the bridge close to the center and approached the railing. Tears were streaming down her face. Why did she have to be the responsible one? Why did she always get yelled at? Why did she feel so guilty for everything?
She set her camera bag down and looked down at the cars speeding by. Irrational thoughts started passing through her mind. She could end it all right here. She could just drop down and the cars would hit her and she wouldn't have to worry about responsibility anymore. She wouldn't have to worry about guilt. It would all be over and done with. She leaned against the railing, grappling with her fear and her sadness. There was that part of her that wanted to drop. But another part of her was fighting it. That part of her didn't believe that her life was that bad. So Grams dictated her future. There had to be a reason for it.
Prue crouched down, her hands stretched up to the railing above her. She wept with her guilt and her pain and her sadness. Prue turned and sat against the wall with her knees pulled up to her chest, still crying.
Patty walked up to her and knelt down beside her. She started whispering. "Prue, it's going to be all right. You have a wonderful future ahead of you, even if you may be misdirected at times. Your grandmother loves you and only wants what's best for you. Your sisters need you, not just to be responsible but to love them and be there for them. Phoebe loves you and Piper adores you. You're their big sister. You will all take care of each other. You'll be all right."
Prue wiped at her tears and sniffed. "I'll be all right," she said. She stood and took out her camera and looked out to the horizon, now not thinking about jumping at all. She took a picture of the horizon and then took her gear down to the bottom of the hill. She looked up, focused her camera and took a picture of the bridge. She had no intention of developing this film. It would just be there as a reminder of what she had experienced. She put her camera back in her bag and started walking down the shoulder, her thumb extended to hitch hike to the hospital.
Prue hopped out of the U-Haul, thanking the elderly couple for giving her a ride. The woman lowered Prue's bag down to her. Prue waved and then walked into the hospital and up to the front desk.
"I'm looking for Phoebe Halliwell's room," she said.
"Are you family?" the nurse asked.
"I'm her sister."
The nurse nodded her head and turned to her computer. "Your sister is on the third floor, room 34b."
"Thank you." Prue headed up to the third floor, somewhat afraid of encountering her grandmother there, but building up her courage and control. She didn't want to explode here. Not in front of Phoebe, not now. Prue found 34b and peeked in, trying not be seen yet. Piper was sitting next to Phoebe's bed reading a magazine. Phoebe appeared to be asleep. She had casts on her right arm and leg and there was a knee brace on her left knee. The right side of her face was bruised. Prue cringed, her guilt starting to surface again. She swallowed hard and pushed her guilt back down.
Prue cleared her throat and Piper looked up from her magazine. She looked like she had been crying, too. Prue entered the room and set her bag on the floor at the foot of the bed.
"Grams is in the cafeteria getting some coffee," Piper said, responding to the unasked question on Prue's mind. "She should be back soon."
Prue nodded her head and then gestured to Phoebe. "How is she?"
"In a drug-induced slumber," Piper said. "She's been like this all morning. It hurts her too much to be awake."
"So, are…um…are you okay?" Prue asked. This was new terrain for her. She wasn't used to being the confidant, and she realized that if Piper and Phoebe were ever upset they went to each other, never to Prue. Piper had no one to go to right now.
"Not really," Piper said. "I'm worried about her. I'm worried about you. I'm worried about Grams."
Prue pulled up a chair and sat next to Piper. "You don't have to be worried about me anymore."
"Are you sure about that?" Piper asked skeptically. "You don't look all that great."
Prue laughed. "Thanks. I just needed to go have a little mental breakdown. I'm sane now."
Piper managed a small smile. "I'd like a second opinion on that." Prue laughed again, but her laughter faded when she noticed Piper was looking past her at the doorway. Prue turned. Penny was standing there with two cups of coffee. Penny's face was expressionless.
"If I'd known you would be here, I would have gotten you some coffee," she said.
"Don't worry about it," Prue said. "I'm not really in the mood for coffee." Prue stood. "You look kinda tired, Grams. Why don't you sit down?"
"Thank you, Prudence," Penny said. She handed a cup of coffee to Piper.
"Um, Piper, I wanna talk to Grams alone," Prue said suggestively.
"Yeah, sure." Piper took her magazine and left Phoebe's room.
Prue sat where Piper had been sitting. She looked down at her hands. The room was almost silent, except for the steady beeping of one of the machines Phoebe was hooked up to. Prue looked up. "I'm sorry, Grams."
"For what, dear?" Penny asked.
"Everything," Prue said. "For lying, for being disrespectful, for taking you for granted."
"I think we're both guilty of those things," Penny said. "It's just so hard for us to get along because we're so much alike. I've always believed that you got your fiery temper from your father, but in truth you get it from me."
"It's just frustrating," Prue said.
"Could you study photography here in San Francisco?" Penny asked suddenly. "Do you have to go all the way to New York?"
"None of the colleges around here have good programs," Prue said. "I can do the anthropology thing. I guess it is interesting."
"Prudence, if you don't want to do it-"
"No, Grams, I can do it," Prue said. "And you're right. Photography is a risky business. I can't depend on you to pay my way the rest of my life."
"I just worry that I may not be around to take care of you girls for much longer," Penny said.
"You'll be around for a long time yet, Grams," Prue said. "But it's about time we started taking care of ourselves...and taking care of each other."
"You're such a responsible young woman, Prudence," Penny said. "And you're so smart. I just want you to know that I'm proud of you. I don't think I say that enough." Prue smiled. Penny stretched out her arms. "Come here."
Prue and Penny hugged, happy to have resolved some of their differences.
On Monday, Phoebe was still in the hospital, and her condition really hadn't changed much. She was in a lot of pain and usually out cold from pain medication. Piper had protested when Penny had made her go back to school.
"Grams, I swear I'm doing fine in all my classes. They're not really all that hard, and it's spring semester. The teachers always go easy on seniors spring semester because they want to get rid of us," Piper argued.
"Piper, you will not be missing school and that's final. It's bad enough that Phoebe will be missing so much school because of this," Penny said. "And besides I need you to get information from Phoebe's teachers on anything that she misses every day she's gone from school."
Piper started to protest more, but she had never been any good at arguing with her grandmother. Penny just stared at Piper sternly and she gave in. "Fine," she said, her disappointment evident.
Prue only had two classes in the morning on Mondays so once she got out at eleven she headed straight to the hospital to check on Phoebe. Even though Prue felt the worst of her depression was behind her, she was still grappling with her guilt for hurting Phoebe so much. And even though she and Penny had come to some kind of an understanding, Penny was still quite irritable and Prue was constantly treading on thin ice.
Prue walked into Phoebe's hospital room to find Phoebe sleeping, as usual. Phoebe had yet to be awake at anytime that Prue visited. It seemed almost like someone was timing it so that Phoebe would be asleep every time that Prue came. Prue wasn't sure what she would say to Phoebe when she finally did wake up. She felt so guilty, but she wanted to be this pillar of strength that Phoebe had always known. She didn't want to break in front of Phoebe now. If Prue broke now and Phoebe saw it, Phoebe would probably be frightened that she wouldn't recover or something like that. Prue just didn't know what to say. She never did.
Prue sat by Phoebe's bedside for nearly an hour, reading an assignment for her British literature course and highlighting certain passages in the text. She looked up when she heard a quiet groan. Phoebe was awake and she didn't look all too happy about it. Prue closed her book and set it on the floor. Phoebe looked over at Prue, her eyes still looking glazed from her medication.
"Hey there," Prue said, forcing a smile. "How are you feeling today?"
"My legs hurt," Phoebe said.
"Do you want me to get a nurse and see if they can give you more pain medication?" Prue asked, already starting rise from her chair. Phoebe grabbed Prue's arm and shook her head.
"That knocks me out," Phoebe said. "I want to be awake."
"Phoebe, if you're in pain—"
"I can handle it. I want to be awake," Phoebe said adamantly. Prue nodded her head and sat back down. Phoebe looked around the room for a second. "What day is it?"
"It's Monday," Prue replied. She looked at her watch. "Noon."
Phoebe let a smile slip. "Well, I get to miss school."
"Don't be so sure about that," Prue said with a laugh. "Grams is having Piper pick up any assignments that you miss."
"Man! Can't I just get sympathy grades or something?" Phoebe asked.
"I wish it worked that way," Prue said.
"So were you hurt? I haven't seen you since it happened," Phoebe said.
"I just had a cut on my arm and a concussion," Prue said. "No big deal." She paused. "I was worried about you."
"You were?" Phoebe asked.
"Yeah, I thought that…" Prue trailed off. "I thought you wouldn't…"
"Prue, what are you trying to say?"
Prue took a deep breath. "I thought you were going to die." Prue couldn't make eye contact with Phoebe.
Phoebe stared at Prue's face trying to figure out what was going on inside her sister's head. But she couldn't. That was Piper's talent, not hers. She decided to take a wild stab. "Do you feel guilty about this?"
Prue looked up, shocked. She was surprised at herself. She had let her guard down so much that Phoebe was figuring her out. She and Phoebe had never really been able to read each other emotionally. But Phoebe was figuring it out. "Well, I was driving." Prue paused. "But that's not the only thing…You don't make my life suck."
"What?" Phoebe asked, confused. Apparently, she didn't remember the argument she and Prue had before the accident.
"You know when we were yelling at each other before the accident. I said that you make my life suck. I didn't mean it," Prue said. She looked down at her hands.
"Oh," Phoebe said, still not remembering the argument. "What did I say?"
Prue smiled and laughed. "You said you were returning the favor."
"Ooh, that was a good come back. Too bad I don't remember the argument," Phoebe said.
"We've had more exciting ones than that one," Prue said. "The only reason it's memorable is because of the way it ended."
"So, who won?" Phoebe asked.
"Neither of us," Prue replied. Her smile had faded. "It was a stupid argument anyway."
Then a nurse came in carrying a covered tray. She smiled. "Well, look who's awake. How are you feeling today?"
Phoebe managed a smile. She didn't like this nurse. Phoebe found her way too perky and annoying. Prue was inclined to agree. "A little better than yesterday."
"Well, it's lunchtime," the nurse said.
Phoebe frowned at the prospect of having to eat hospital food. What little she had eaten the past couple days had been utterly disgusting. The only thing she had been able to tolerate was the jello. "I'm not really that hungry."
"You need to eat something. Doctor's orders," the nurse said as she slid a bedside table over. She set the tray down and was ready to help Phoebe eat. Phoebe really didn't like that idea. Prue noticed Phoebe's reluctance to cooperate with the nurse and smiled. She turned to the nurse.
"Hey, you can just leave the food," Prue said, trying to be polite. "I'll make sure she eats something."
The nurse smiled. "Okay, I'll come back later to check on her."
The nurse left and Phoebe breathed a sigh of relief. "Thanks for warding off the Perky Monster."
Prue smiled. "She does seem overly cheerful," Prue said. She opened the tray of food to see what was on the menu. The typical mystery meat rested in a puddle of watery gravy and some dry-looking potatoes and limp vegetables rested in their own sections. A cup of jello and a carton of milk sat outside of the rest of the food. "This looks worse than airline food," Prue said with a look of disgust.
"No kidding," Phoebe said. "I swear that stuff isn't fit for rats. And even if that mystery meat was edible, I can't eat it. I remember Grams telling them that I was vegetarian. I guess they forgot to write it down."
"Can you handle the jello?" Prue asked, taking the jello cup and opening it.
"Yeah, that's about all I've had for the past couple days. That and some oatmeal that tasted like ground up cardboard in water," Phoebe replied. "I wouldn't have eaten the oatmeal, but Perky Monster wouldn't leave me alone till I ate something. God, and she had to feed me because I'm right-handed, and this stupid cast is such a huge problem. What I wouldn't give to be left-handed right now."
"Well, I guess you'll just have to settle on the benefit that I'm not a Perky Monster," Prue said, getting ready to feed Phoebe the jello. "I mean, she is right that you need to eat something. Maybe later I'll try to sneak you a veggie burger or something."
"I would love that," Phoebe said. She took a bite of jello. "Ooh, and some fries. And a milkshake!"
Prue laughed. "We'll see what I can manage. I think the nurses would notice if I walked by carrying a huge bag of food."
"You know, I would kill for some of Piper's special chocolate chip cookies," Phoebe said, her mind totally averted to all the food she would love to have.
"I don't think you'd have to kill for them," Prue said, feeding Phoebe more jello. "Right now I think Piper would make you a seven course dinner if you asked her to."
"Hmmm…" Phoebe said looking thoughtful. "Now there's an idea."
"If you and Piper can figure out a way to sneak in a seven course meal I'll be impressed," Prue said with a laugh.
Phoebe smiled and then said out of the blue, "Thanks for being here, Prue. I'm glad you're here."
"Well, someone had to protect you from the Perky Monster," Prue said, avoiding what Phoebe truly meant. She tried to feed Phoebe more jello, but Phoebe avoided it.
"No, it's not just that," Phoebe said. "I meant you specifically. I'm glad you're here."
Prue smiled and nodded her head. "Okay, try and eat some more." Phoebe was reluctant, but continued to let Prue feed her the rest of the jello.
Prue was reading from her British literature book again when Piper and Penny arrived at 3:30. Phoebe was asleep again. The pain had become unbearable for her, and she gladly let the Perky Monster give her some pain medication. Prue was surprised that Phoebe was in so much pain. She hadn't realized that the injuries were so bad.
"How's she doing?" Piper asked. Prue closed her book and shoved it into her bag.
"She was in too much pain, so they had to give her some more pain meds," Prue said. "She's been out for the past two hours."
"Should it be hurting her so much?" Piper asked. "I'd think it wouldn't be so bad now, since it's been a few days."
"I don't know, dear," Penny said. "I'll speak to the doctor and see what's going on."
"Well, I have to go get ready for work," Prue said. She worked in a bookstore in downtown San Francisco.
"You'll be right home after work," Penny stated, more than asked.
"Yeah," Prue replied. She picked up her book bag and left the room.
Piper was sitting in Phoebe's room reading an assignment for her detective fiction class while Penny talked with the doctor outside the room. Piper looked up when she heard her name.
"Hey, Pheebs, how are you?" Piper asked.
"Really out of it," she replied. "But it doesn't hurt."
"Well, that's good," Piper said with a smile. "So, you're going to hate all the homework that's already waiting at home for you."
"You're kidding," Phoebe said. "How much?"
"Thirty problems in geometry, two short stories in English, a chapter in history, and a chapter in biology," Piper said. "And that's just today."
"Oh man!" Phoebe exclaimed. She looked to Piper with a pleading face. "Could you do it for me?"
Piper laughed. "I don't think Grams would like that idea. But I'll help you if you need it when you get home."
"This really sucks," Phoebe said with a scowl.
"Hey, Ben asked me about you today," Piper said. "I think he's really worried about you. That's a good sign."
"Well, it's good to know that my boyfriend actually cares," Phoebe said.
"Yeah, he said he wanted to visit you tonight, but he has practice up until after general visiting hours," Piper explained.
"I don't want him to see me like this anyway," Phoebe said.
"Hey, that's part of the deal Phoebe," Piper said. "If you want a serious relationship you got to let him see you whenever, even when you look like you've been run over by a truck."
"I have been run over by a truck," Phoebe said.
"Precisely!" Piper said. She and Phoebe burst into laughter, but the laughter soon stopped as Phoebe began coughing. Piper watched her sister, worried. "Pheebs, are you okay?" Phoebe shook her head. She made a drinking motion with her hand to signal for water as her coughing continued. Piper quickly stood and poured a cup of water and helped Phoebe drink it. Phoebe's coughing subsided, but she sat up still unable to catch her breath. "Phoebe, what's wrong?"
Phoebe's eyes were wide with panic. She was gasping for air. "Can't…breathe," she managed to say. Piper's concern grew as she noticed Phoebe's lips were already turning blue.
"Oh God," Piper whispered. She quickly ran to the doorway and interrupted Penny's conversation with the doctor. "Help. My sister can't breathe."
The doctor ran in followed by Piper and Penny. He took out his stethoscope and held it to Phoebe's back, listening to her breathing. He hit the nurse call button immediately. Perky Monster ran into the room past Penny and Piper who were looking on with worry.
The doctor started barking orders at Perky Monster—something about oxygen and reinflating the lung. Piper couldn't catch what was going on through all the medical jargon. Perky Monster left and returned with some equipment and two more nurses. One of the nurses forced Penny and Piper to go outside the room while they worked on Phoebe. "Please wait over in the waiting room and we'll tell you what is happening as soon as we can." Penny and Piper reluctantly went to the waiting room. Penny saw that Piper was absolutely terrified, and she tried to comfort her, holding her and telling her that Phoebe would be alright.
After a while the doctor and nurses wheeled Phoebe out of her room and toward the elevator. Piper couldn't tell exactly through all the people, but it looked like Phoebe was unconscious and had a tube down her throat. Piper had seen that on television shows, but the prospect of it happening to her sister in real life was terrifying. One of the nurses approached Penny and Piper, who stood.
"Where are they taking Phoebe?" Penny asked.
"Phoebe's lung collapsed. Doctor Stevens believes that there may have been a small tear that went undetected the first time Phoebe was in surgery. But over time the tear has grown which caused her lung to collapse. He's taking her to surgery to have the damage repaired," the nurse explained.
"Will she be okay?" Piper asked, terrified for her little sister.
"It's a fairly routine surgery, and Doctor Stevens has performed it many times. I'm sure she'll be fine," the nurse replied. "I'll let you know as soon as I hear anything."
Penny nodded her head and she sat back down. Piper knew she had to call Prue, but she didn't want to relay this news while Prue was at work. Then again, Prue might be angry if she didn't know right away about this. Piper decided she should go ahead and call.
"I'm going to call Prue," she said. Penny nodded her head.
"Do you need change dear?" Penny asked.
"No, I've got it."
"Turn the Page Booksellers. This is Jackie. How can I help you?" a woman said when Piper called Prue's work.
"Could I speak to Prue Halliwell, please?" Piper asked.
"Uh, hang on, I think she just left for her dinner break," Jackie replied. Piper listened to the song "Turn the Page" while she was on hold. After a few minutes Jackie returned. "Yeah, Prue left for her dinner break. She'll be gone for about a half hour. Can I leave her a message?"
"No, I'll call back later," Piper said dejectedly. "Bye."
Prue went to Phoebe's favorite restaurant and scanned the menu. She saw all kinds of things that she wouldn't dream of eating. She didn't know how Phoebe could be vegetarian, but Prue supposed if Phoebe liked it, it was okay. Finally, Prue approached the counter and ordered. Sure, the food would be cold by the time she left work, but there was a microwave in the break room at the bookstore where she could reheat it. It wouldn't be too bad. She hoped. What exactly did a reheated veggie burger taste like, anyway? She glanced at her watch, saw how much time she had left on her break and decided she wouldn't have time to go anywhere else for her dinner.
"I guess I'll have to give this vegetarian stuff a whirl," she mumbled. She quickly glanced over the menu again and added a large garden salad and single order of breadsticks to her order. She smiled at the thought of how happy Phoebe would be to eat some real food, even if it was reheated.
Piper called the bookstore again 45 minutes later to find out that Prue was back from her break, but she was now in a managers' meeting. "Damn it!" Piper swore after she hung up the phone. She returned to wait with her grandmother.
Prue came out of the managers' meeting feeling even better. All the managers that had been there for over a year were getting a pay increase on the first of the next month. She had been working at Turn the Page for 13 months, just over the borderline. As she went back to the counter to check on things, Jackie approached her.
"Hey, Prue, this girl has called a couple times for you. She didn't leave a message though," Jackie said.
"She didn't say anything?" Prue asked.
"No, nothing. She just said she would try again later," Jackie replied. She went back to register when she saw a customer approaching.
Prue thought about the phone calls. What if it was Piper? What if something happened to Phoebe? Or Grams? Lord knows she hadn't been in the best shape lately. But if Piper was still at the hospital there was no way to get a hold of her. Prue decided if it was an emergency Piper would call back. She returned to her work and started to ring out a customer's purchases.
Two hours after Phoebe had gone into surgery she was returned to her room. Piper and Penny stood by her bedside while the doctor explained the situation.
"As the nurse told you, there was a tear in Phoebe's lung which wasn't detectable when she was first admitted to the hospital," Doctor Stevens began. "We've repaired the tear. Unfortunately, she developed an infection before we were able to stop it. We're going to keep her sedated and on the ventilator until we can clear the infection up with antibiotics. It will be easiest for her if she is not conscious while she's recovering from the infection."
"How long will it take?" Penny asked.
"Between 24 and 48 hours. We'll be keeping close watch to make sure the infection doesn't spread to any other areas of her body. For now, all that we can actively do is keep her on antibiotics and let her rest," Doctor Stevens said. He started to leave the room. "If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. You can have me paged if you can't find me on your own."
"Thank you, doctor," Penny said as he left. She stared at Phoebe closely, willing what little strength she had remaining into her youngest granddaughter. She couldn't take this much longer. She was so tired from the past few days' events. She just wanted Phoebe to be healthy and able to come home to the safety of the Manor.
Piper hated the sight of Phoebe lying there, so helpless with that breathing tube down her throat. Phoebe had never looked so fragile and small in her life. Now, she looked like one wrong touch would break her in half. Piper closed her eyes, not wanting to cry. If she cried it meant that she was giving up on Phoebe. She couldn't give up on Phoebe. Phoebe was strong and she would make it through this. She'd get rid of that infection in 12 hours. Who cared what the doctors said? Phoebe would prove them all wrong and have her casts off in a week, and she'd be running and playing touch football with her boyfriend. Phoebe lived life like a kid—no fears, no apprehensions, no worries. She was going to be just fine.
Piper had never reached Prue, and she and Penny were both out of change. They would just have to explain what happened to Prue the next time they saw her.
Ten o'clock rolled around and Prue quickly counted the cash drawers and put the money in the safe. Once she had made sure all the employees were out of the store, she locked the front door and went back to the crew room. She reheated Phoebe's veggie burger and then ducked out the back door.
Prue arrived at the hospital, snuck past the nurse's station-it was way past regular visiting hours-and entered Phoebe's room. Prue's smile faded when she saw Phoebe. Where did the breathing tube come from? Why was Piper still here? Where was Grams? What the hell happened? Prue set her purse and Phoebe's burger on the end of the bed and woke Piper up. Piper uncurled from the uncomfortable position she was in and looked sleepily at Prue.
"Piper, what the hell happened? What's going on?" Prue asked quickly.
Piper glanced at Phoebe. "One of her lungs collapsed," Piper said. She looked down. "It was so scary, Prue. She couldn't breathe and her lips were turning blue." Piper looked at Prue. "I tried to call you at work, but I could never get a hold of you and I ran out of change."
"Is she going to be okay? What's with the tube?" Prue asked, thoroughly concerned for Phoebe.
"She's got an infection. They said it would be best if she weren't conscious until it was cleared up," Piper explained. "The tube's there to help her breathe."
"She went home to sleep," Piper said. "She's so tired from all this Prue. It's like she's aged ten years since Friday."
"I know," Prue said. She had noticed how exhausted their grandmother looked. Prue wished there was something she could do to help that. "So, she let you stay."
"Yeah, she thought it would be good for one of us to be here," Piper said. "Even though the doctors don't want Phoebe to wake up for like a day or so, it would be good for someone to be here in case she did."
"Well, do you want some company?" Prue asked.
"Sure," Piper said. Prue sat next to Piper and stared at Phoebe. Piper noticed the bag next to Prue's purse. "What's in the bag?"
"Veggie burger," Prue replied with a half-smile. "I was bringing it in for Phoebe. Do you want it?"
"God, if I didn't find those things utterly repulsive, I'd take it," Piper said. "I don't know how she can eat those things."
"She probably would say the same thing about you eating a quarter pounder with cheese," Prue said with a smirk.
"Oh, stop talking about food," Piper said. "I haven't eaten since lunch."
"Do you want me to run and get you something?" Prue asked. "There's a Taco Bell a couple blocks from here."
"Nah. I can make it till breakfast," Piper replied. The two of them sat silently for a while, just staring at Phoebe. Suddenly, Piper broke into tears. Prue was caught off guard. "Prue, I'm so scared. What if we lose her?"
Prue pulled Piper into her arms and tried to comfort her. She was still uncomfortable with this kind of thing, but Prue did her best to be Piper's strength. And Phoebe's strength. And her grandmother's strength. Prue was trying her hardest to be the rock for her entire family. It was going to break her down eventually, but a breakdown was probably the only thing that would make Prue realize that she didn't always have to be this pillar of strength. Sometimes the pillar had to crumble. But not this time.
"She'll be okay, Piper," Prue said in her most comforting voice. "Phoebe is too damn stubborn to let go now. And she would never let me outlive her."
Piper let out a tearful laugh at Prue's joke. She pushed back and Prue reached for her purse to pull out some tissues. She handed them to Piper. "I'm sorry, Prue."
"It's okay," Prue said honestly. "Honestly, I underestimated you. I'd expected you to break sooner than this. I was kind of afraid of it."
"Well, you know, I'm not used to it. Being the shoulder to cry on or whatever," Prue said. "You and Phoebe usually go to each other."
"You're doing okay," Piper said.
"Yeah, right," Prue said with a laugh.
"Seriously," Piper said.
Prue shook her head. "So you're sure you don't want me to go get something for you from Taco Bell?"
"Positive," Piper said. She was disappointed but not surprised that Prue changed the subject. That was the way she was. Emotions were practically a taboo topic with her. Piper had her ways of coaxing Prue to talk, but she could also tell when it wouldn't work. This was one of those times when it wouldn't work. "You know actually a couple of tacos would probably be good. If you don't mind."
"Not at all," Prue said. She grabbed her purse and the bag with Phoebe's burger in it. "I'm going to toss this. It'll be even grosser than it already is by the time she wakes up."
"I'll be back soon," Prue said. Piper watched Prue leave, silently wishing that her older sister wouldn't be so detached from her emotions all the time.
Prue walked down the street, having run out of money for cabs. She only had enough to get Piper's food. Prue's mind was racing as she walked. She thought of how Phoebe was hanging on the edge at this point. Prue's guilt was still there. It never went away. As Prue approached Taco Bell she saw two girls, one about her age and one about Phoebe's age, come bursting through the doors laughing and giggling. Prue lowered her head and walked past them. She and Phoebe had never been like that. They never came out of anywhere together laughing or playing around. They had always clashed. Prue thought about the risk Phoebe was in right now and her guilt escalated at the thought that she would never get the chance to have that kind of relationship with her little sister.
Prue approached the counter and ordered. She paid with a five and waited for the food, still thinking about Phoebe. Then her concern turned to Piper. If Phoebe died it would tear Piper apart. Piper wasn't totally antisocial, but her close friends list could be counted on one hand. Phoebe was at the top of that list. She and Piper were so connected that it would be like Piper was losing an arm. Prue's guilt started to overwhelm her at the thought of her reckless driving tearing her family apart. Prue grabbed the bag of food and rushed out of the restaurant before anyone saw the tears spilling from her eyes.
Prue had stopped along the way back to the hospital to let herself cry. She wasn't ready to cry in front of Piper yet. She couldn't break in front of Piper. She rushed into the first floor bathroom in the hospital to release everything in private. She sat in one of the stalls and sobbed uncontrollably.
Patty stood near Prue, looking sadly at her eldest daughter. "My dear girl, please don't hide from your sisters or your grandmother. They want to help you. I want you all to help each other. You don't have to be strong for anyone but yourself. You need to take care of each other."
Prue sniffed back her tears. When she looked in the mirror she saw how bad she really looked. She had bags under her eyes and they were red from crying. Prue did her best to freshen up and then left to take Piper's food to her.
The next morning around eleven Penny entered Phoebe's hospital room to find Prue and Piper both asleep. The night before Penny had agreed to allow Piper to miss school this day, and she was glad she did because both Piper and Prue looked exhausted. Piper was sitting back in her chair with her feet resting on the arm of Prue's chair. Prue was leaning forward with her head resting on her arms on the edge of Phoebe's bed. Penny approached Prue and gently placed her hand on Prue's shoulder. "Prudence," she said.
Prue jerked her head up and looked around, seemingly confused about where she was. But after a moment she regained her bearings. "Hi, Grams," she said. "What time is it?"
"Eleven o'clock," Penny replied. "You couldn't have gotten much sleep here. Why don't you take the car and you and Piper go home and rest?" Penny dangled the keys for Prue to have. Prue looked at the keys in surprise.
"You're letting me drive the new car?"
"Of course, why not?" Penny asked.
"I didn't think you would ever trust me with it," Prue said honestly. She believed that Grams blamed her for the accident, just like Prue was blaming herself.
"Prudence, it was a drunk driver, not you, that caused the accident. He is the reason your sister is here, not you," Penny said firmly. "Do you understand that? I don't blame you. Do you understand?" Penny waited for Prue to respond. Prue said nothing. "Prudence, do you understand?" Prue slowly nodded her head. "Good. Now, wake your sister and go home."
Prue took the keys and woke Piper, who was reluctant to leave the hospital, but too tired to argue with anyone. She fell asleep on the drive home.
When they arrived at the Manor, Prue followed Piper to her bedroom, wanting to talk. She was confused by what Penny had said. "Piper, can we talk?"
Piper looked at Prue with sleepy eyes, but nodded her head. "Yeah, sure." They sat on Piper's bed, cross-legged and facing each other. "What's up?"
"Grams has been acting different lately," Prue said. "She's been so lenient with me the past couple days, ever since I apologized for that argument we had Saturday. I don't get it."
"She's scared, I think," Piper said. "I think she's scared that she's going to lose Phoebe. And she's scared that if she doesn't start compromising with you that she's going to lose you, too."
"How would she lose me?" Prue asked.
"You want to be a photographer. You want to go to New York. She's afraid you're going to leave," Piper said.
"But I told her I wasn't going to go," Prue said.
"She might not have believed you, or she might have thought if Phoebe…dies that you'll leave because of it," Piper guessed.
Prue looked down at the pattern on Piper's bedspread without saying a word. She traced the flowers with her index finger. Suddenly, she asked, "Do you think Phoebe blames me?"
Piper was surprised by this question. It took her a moment to answer. "Um, no I don't, at all. She knows that the guy was drunk and that you would do everything in your power to keep her out of harm's way. She doesn't blame you. And neither do I. Nobody does. Why do you think that?"
Prue shook her head. "I don't know. I just feel like…like I have to prove myself every day, that I have to prove that I'm responsible to Grams…to you and Phoebe…to mom."
"Mom?" Piper was taken aback by the mention of their mother. What did she have to do with anything?
"Yeah, it's like I know she's watching," Prue said, her voice was starting to become shaky with emotion. "And…and every day I have to try so hard to make sure I'm doing things right, the way she wants…like I have to make sure I'm making her proud."
Patty was standing by Piper's bedroom window listening to this. She shook her head. "I'm proud of you. I'll always be proud of you."
"Mom's proud of you," Piper said. She reached forward and took Prue's hand. "She'll always be proud of you. There's no way you could disappoint her."
"Sometimes I'm not so sure about that," Prue said. Tears started to trickle slowly down her cheeks. She sniffed them back, but nothing kept them from coming. "I just wish that I didn't feel all this pressure."
Piper scooted forward and held Prue tight. "Prue, you don't have to feel pressured. Mom loves you. Grams loves you. Phoebe and I both love you."
"I know," Prue said, not exactly returning the sentiment. Piper didn't notice apparently.
"You need to start cutting yourself some slack. If you don't, it'll kill you," Piper said. She smiled, knowing her next comment would get a reaction out of Prue. "And then that will be one thing that we all can blame you for."
Prue looked up at Piper and noticed the huge grin on her sister's face. "You are evil!" Prue exclaimed. She shoved Piper away playfully and wiped her tears away with the back of her hand. "Here I'm pouring my heart out to you and you crack jokes!"
"Sorry, I had to," Piper said with a laugh. Prue smiled.
"You…are such a smartass," Prue said snidely.
"Runs in the family," Piper replied. That did it. Prue grabbed one of Piper's pillows and an all out pillow war ensued in Piper's bedroom.
After pummeling each other senseless with pillows and getting a few hours rest, Prue and Piper returned to the hospital. Phoebe was still not awake. Penny was sitting in a chair by Phoebe's bedside, her hands clasped together in her lap and her head bowed. Piper and Prue looked at each other in surprise. They could hear Penny whispering to herself. She was praying. They had never known their grandmother to pray ever. They didn't even think she believed in God. Prue and Piper just stood there, staring at Penny until she finished. She raised her head and saw them standing in the doorway.
"Girls, how long have you been standing there?" she asked, seeming embarrassed or ashamed.
"We just got here," Prue said, bending the truth. She knew Penny felt her prayer was a sign of weakness. Prue understood Penny's feeling of embarrassment and shame. Prue felt the same way every time she cried over this situation. Prue and Piper walked over to stand beside Penny.
"So, is there any change?" Piper asked. Penny shook her head.
"No, dear," she said. "The doctor came in and examined her, but he said there has not been much progress with her infection." Penny tried to suppress a yawn. Piper and Prue glanced at each other and then looked back to their grandmother.
"Grams, how much sleep have you gotten in the past four days?" Piper asked, her concern evident.
Penny knew what Piper was getting at. "I'm fine, dear," she said.
"You look exhausted," Prue said. She handed the car keys back to Penny. "You sent us home to sleep. Now we're sending you home. You need to take care of yourself, Grams."
"I'm fine, Prudence," Penny said in defiance. "I'm just worried about Phoebe. That's all."
"That's not worry on your face, Grams," Prue said. "That's exhaustion. The last thing we all need is for you to put yourself in the hospital by not taking care of yourself."
"Prudence, there is no need to worry about me," Penny said, now seeming to become agitated. Piper glanced down and noticed that Penny's hands were shaking. She looked her grandmother in the eye, truly worried.
"Grams, all we're saying is that you really look like you could use some sleep. We can stay with Phoebe and call you if anything changes," Piper said. She had a way of saying things nicer than Prue that could make Penny's resolve melt like a stick of butter in a skillet. But it didn't seem to work this time.
"Girls, I promise you, I have had plenty of rest," Penny said sharply. Prue then realized that it wasn't exhaustion; it was stress. Penny's hands were shaking and her breathing had quickened.
"Grams…" Prue said, allowing her voice to trail off. She had never seen her grandmother like this.
"Prudence, enough!" Penny said, the volume of her voice rising considerably. She stood and started to walk past the girls when she stopped suddenly. Her back was to Prue and Piper and all they could see was that Penny's body had stiffened and she was clutching her left arm. They watched with worry and they could hear Penny gasping a little as if she were in pain. Prue and Piper each approached Penny on either side. Piper gasped when she saw the twisted expression of pain on Penny's face.
"Grams, what's wrong?" Piper asked. Penny only shook her head as her knees started to give way. Prue quickly wrapped her arms around her grandmother and started to help her over to the other bed in Phoebe's room.
"Piper, get a doctor," Prue ordered, but Piper was already on her way out of the room. She and Prue had both realized at the same time that Penny was exhibiting the tell-tale signs of someone that was having a heart attack.
Thirty minutes later Prue and Piper were sitting on the end of the second bed in Phoebe's room where Penny was lying back with an oxygen tube running to her nose. She looked embarrassed to be lying there. The doctor approached with her chart in his hand.
"Ms. Halliwell," he said. "The test results are back. It wasn't a heart attack."
"What was it?" Piper asked.
The doctor turned to her. "Your grandmother experienced a serious stress induced panic attack," he explained. Then he turned back to Penny. "It's not at all surprising when you combine your age and your family's history of heart conditions with the fact that you have a loved one here in the hospital."
"We have a history of heart conditions? I didn't know that," Piper said, now worried that Penny could still possibly have a heart attack.
"Only a little dear," Penny said. "My great-grandfather on my mother's side died of a heart attack. That's all."
"Still you need to be careful in your current situation," the doctor said. "I'm going to prescribe some medication to calm you down. And you should really try to rest as much as possible for the next 24 hours. I'm going to go get your release papers and sign you out, but I want you to make an appointment at the nurse's station to see me tomorrow afternoon."
Penny nodded her head and the doctor left momentarily. He returned and had Penny sign some forms. He reminded her to set up an appointment and then left. Prue handed Piper the car keys. "I'll stay here with Phoebe. You drive her home."
Penny got up from the bed, wanting to protest that she could drive herself home, but she knew it would ease the girls minds if she let them take care of her for a little while. "Prudence, you will call if Phoebe wakes up."
"Yeah," Prue said, her voice quiet. Piper stared at Prue for a moment and tried to read her, but she couldn't exactly tell what was going on with her. She and Penny left Prue alone with Phoebe.
Prue slowly walked over to sit next to Phoebe's bed. She lowered herself into the chair, crumbling into tears as she went. What the hell had she been thinking? Of course Grams was stressed. Why did she keep prodding her and pushing her like that? Prue's guilt complex doubled. She couldn't lose her grandmother. That would kill her. Phoebe was sixteen, a minor. If Penny died, what would happen to Phoebe? There was no way that she would be allowed to stay with Prue and Piper. They weren't responsible enough for that. Would Phoebe be sent away to some relative that none of them really knew or would she be put in some foster home until she turned 18? Prue couldn't let that happen. She couldn't bear losing Penny and Phoebe at the same time like that. And Prue knew it would be her fault if it happened.
It was two in the morning and there had been no change with Phoebe. Prue had called to check on Penny. She was relieved to hear Piper say that their grandmother was sleeping. Now Prue was sleeping with her head resting on the edge of Phoebe's bed. But it wasn't a restful sleep. She was plagued with nightmares of Penny dying, Phoebe dying or being taken away by social services.
Prue was awakened by a gagging sound. She looked up to see that Phoebe was awake, and she was in a state of panic because she didn't know what was going on or why she had a tube down her throat. Prue stood, took Phoebe's left hand in hers and put her right hand gently on Phoebe's shoulder. "Phoebe, it's okay. Try to stay calm and breathe normally." Phoebe started to calm down a little, and Prue gave her a small smile. "I'm going to go get a doctor and tell them you're awake. I'll be right back. Will you be okay?"
Phoebe gave Prue a thumbs up and Prue left the room. When she returned she had a doctor and nurse with her. The doctor approached Phoebe. Prue stood on the left side of the bed, opposite the doctor and watched. "So, I suppose you're ready to get that tube out," he said with a smile. Phoebe gave another thumbs up. He smiled. "All right, here's what I need you to do. I need you to take a deep breath in when I tell you and hold it until I tell you to release it. When I tell you to release it, blow out as hard as you can. Okay?" Phoebe gave a thumbs up. Then she took Prue's hand in hers. "All right, take a deep breath," the doctor said as he took hold of the breathing tube. Phoebe took a deep breath and held it. "Now, blow out." Phoebe did so as the doctor pulled the tube out. Once the tube was out Phoebe coughed and gagged, gripping Prue's hand tightly. The doctor handed the breathing tube to the nurse who took care of putting the respirator aside. Phoebe finally stopped coughing and laid back with her eyes closed. The coughing fit had caused her a bit of pain.
"All right," the doctor said. "I just want to hear your breathing for a second to see how we're doing with this infection, and then I'll stop bothering you." He smiled and helped Phoebe sit up. "Take a deep breath in, and release." Phoebe did so and then he moved the stethoscope to a different spot on her back. "Again." He moved the stethoscope. "Again." He finished and let Phoebe lie back. "Okay, Nurse Allen is going to give you some more antibiotics and something for the pain and we'll let you get some rest. We'll be right back."
"Thanks doctor," Prue said. The doctor and nurse left, and then Prue turned her attention to Phoebe. "How are you feeling?"
"Like crap," Phoebe said with a hoarse voice. "What's going on? What happened?"
"You don't remember?" Prue asked.
"I remember talking to Piper and then not being able to breathe," Phoebe said.
"Your lung collapsed and you developed a lung infection. They had to put the tube in to help you breathe," Prue explained.
"When did all this happen? What's today?"
"It's 2 a.m., Wednesday morning," Prue replied.
Phoebe closed her eyes for a moment. "God, I just want to go home," Phoebe said with her eyes still closed. "Are Grams and Piper at home?"
"Yeah, Grams was pretty tired," Prue said, not wanting to worry Phoebe with the details of what had happened earlier with Penny. "Piper drove her home."
"When can I get out of here, Prue?" Phoebe asked. She stared at Prue with a pleading look in her eyes.
"I don't know," Prue said. "Not for a little while yet, I'm sure. We were all pretty scared when they had to take you back into surgery, though. I'll see if I can hunt down someone to give me an idea of when you'll be able to go home."
"I don't care if I have to stay in bed for another week. I just want it to be my bed," Phoebe said. Prue nodded her head.
"Yeah, I know," she said. "I'll go see what I can do about that. You get some rest. Okay?" Phoebe nodded her head and Prue left the room.
"Hello," Piper said sleepily, finally answering the phone after the fourth ring.
"Hey, Piper, it's Prue. Sorry to wake you up," Prue said. "I was just calling to say that Phoebe's awake."
"How is she?" Piper asked.
"Really sick of the hospital for one thing," Prue said. "I've been trying to find out when she'll be able to go home, but nobody will tell me anything. How's Grams?"
"All right, just really tired," Piper replied. "I checked on her an hour ago. Sound asleep."
"That's good. I hated seeing her like that," Prue said.
"Yeah, me too," Piper agreed. "I'm sure she'll be okay now."
"I guess," Prue said quietly. Piper knew something was up.
"Prue, are you okay," Piper asked with concern.
"Yeah," Prue said with a laugh. She sniffed and Piper could tell from the sound of Prue's voice that she had been crying. "Just taking another guilt trip. It's not worth what I paid for it. I don't recommend it."
"Prue, what are you talking about?" Piper asked. "What do you feel guilty about?"
"I kept prodding her and pushing her," Prue said.
"What? Grams? You were just concerned for her. We both were," Piper said. "It was probably just a matter of time before it happened. I don't think it would have mattered if you had said nothing."
"Maybe," Prue said. "I'm probably going to give Grams a heart attack one of these days."
"If anyone's going to give her a heart attack it's Phoebe," Piper said with a laugh. "Grams worries about her so much I'm surprised she hasn't keeled over already."
Prue laughed a little. "Yeah, Phoebe does wear Grams thin sometimes. But I do my share of damage."
"Hey, you're not going to make Grams have a heart attack, Prue," Piper said. "She'll be fine. Okay?"
"Yeah," Prue said quietly. "All right, well I'm going to take a crack at these doctors again and see if they'll tell me anything. I'll talk to you later."
"Bye," Piper said. She hung up the phone and went to check on Penny. She could hear her even breathing, and Piper quietly slipped away to her own bedroom. She laid back in bed wondering why Prue always insisted on holding herself responsible for anything that went wrong in their family. Prue had so much hanging over her head, and most of it she put there herself.
A few days passed and Prue avoided everyone as much as possible, volunteering herself for overtime at work or hiding at the library while studying for midterms. Finally, on Saturday she made an appearance as everyone needed to be there to get Phoebe home.
"So, Pheebs, you ready to go home?" Piper asked with a smile. Phoebe grinned excitedly.
"Heck yeah!" she said. "I'm more than ready." Piper and Prue helped Phoebe into a wheelchair and Piper got behind Phoebe to push. They all waited as Penny signed a few last forms. When she was finished the doctor started to give some final instructions.
"All right, the casts will probably come off in a week and half," he said. "You can go back to school on Monday, but I want you in bed until then to build up your strength. The lung infection is gone, but we don't want you overexerting yourself and bringing it back. Your grandmother has set up a check-up appointment on Tuesday with me. And now you are free to go."
"Thank you!" Phoebe said, a little too enthusiastically. The doctor laughed.
"You're welcome," he said. Penny thanked him in a more reserved manner than Phoebe and they were off.
At the Manor things got a little complicated. Lots of stairs. Phoebe couldn't walk and no one was strong enough to carry her. Piper and Prue both struggled to get Phoebe out of the car to attempt to carry her in while Penny opened the front doors of the Manor.
"Thank God this place has double doors," Piper said, grunting as she and Prue helped Phoebe.
"Hey!" a male voice yelled from next door. Everyone looked over, and in this process Prue and Piper almost dropped Phoebe.
"Woah! Guys, dropping me is not a good idea right now," Phoebe said. Prue and Piper strengthened their grips on Phoebe and then looked back to the person who had yelled from next door.
Prue's eyes were drawn to that familiar smile she had known her whole life. Then she moved to lock eyes with him and she smiled. "Andy, hey, I thought you were up in Oregon or something."
"Yeah, I was," he said. He gestured back to the for sale sign on the house next door. "I came back to help my parents move."
"Oh, that's cool," Prue said.
"Hello, Phoebe isn't getting any lighter here," Piper said frantically.
"Hey!" Phoebe said defensively, glaring at Piper.
"Well, you're not," Piper said. "And these casts must have added like ten pounds to you or something."
"Oh right, here let me help," Andy said. He moved over and easily took Phoebe in his arms.
"Well, I have to say this is much better," Phoebe said with a smile.
"No kidding," Piper and Prue said at the same time. They laughed and followed Andy up the front steps.
"Hi, Ms. Halliwell," Andy said as he walked past her into the Manor.
"Andy, dear, how are you?" Penny said with a smile. She had always liked Andy. He was such a sweet boy.
"Good," he said. "Where to?"
"Upstairs," Penny said. She followed Andy up while Prue and Piper closed the front doors. "I meant to thank your parents for the flowers they sent after the accident. Could you tell them for me?"
"Of course," Andy said. He took Phoebe into her bedroom and laid her on her bed. "There you go."
"Thanks Andy," Phoebe said with a smile.
"No problem," he replied. He turned to Penny. "Yeah, my dad wanted me to let you know that the guy that was driving the truck got fifteen years and a fifty-thousand dollar fine for it."
"I suppose that will do," Penny said, obviously thinking that the death penalty wasn't enough for what the drunk driver had done to her darling granddaughters. "So, Andy, how long are you in town?"
"Uh, just for the weekend then I gotta head back to the academy," he said.
"Following in your father's footsteps I see," Penny said.
"Uh, yeah," Andy replied shifting his weight nervously. Penny Halliwell had always made him nervous. He didn't know why. He just knew that if he was ever out of line with her, she had ways of making him regret it immensely. Prue smiled at him from behind her grandmother. She knew that Penny could make Andy squirm.
"So, Andy you wanna come help me grab Phoebe's stuff out of the car?" Prue asked.
"Yeah," he said gratefully. Piper, Phoebe and Penny all smiled as they watched Andy and Prue leave the room. They knew full well that one person could bring Phoebe's stuff inside. Subtlety wasn't Prue's strong point.
At the car Prue and Andy stopped to talk for a little while. "Thanks for helping us get Phoebe inside," Prue said.
"Hey, no problem," Andy said with a smile. "So, I guess the past week has been pretty rough."
"More than you know," Prue said.
"Wanna talk about it?"
Prue looked down. She had always been fairly open with Andy. She never got overly emotional with him, but they were able to talk about a lot. But since high school they hadn't talked much. They had lost touch. Prue wasn't sure if she wanted to talk to him about what had been happening for the past week. "I don't know. It was all a big mess."
"My dad said you were driving," Andy commented.
"Yeah, I was," Prue said. She could feel her guilt creeping up on her once again.
"He also said it wasn't your fault," Andy added.
"Right," Prue mumbled.
"You sure you don't want to talk about it?"
Prue shook her head. "I don't. I really don't."
"Okay, do you wanna talk about anything else?" Andy asked. He was smiling again, knowing that changing the subject was usually Prue's area of expertise. He knew it. She knew it. Prue smiled. "You know, I think my parents are going to let me off of moving duty for the rest of the night. Would you want to catch a movie and maybe dinner?"
"Grams and Piper are cooking a welcome home dinner for Phoebe," Prue said. "I don't really think they'd mind if you joined us. If you want to."
"That'd be fun," Andy said.
"And maybe we could get away to see a movie after dinner," Prue suggested.
Andy smiled. "That'd be great," he said. He handed Phoebe's bag to Prue. "I'm going to go back over and make sure I'm free from moving duty, and you can check to see if it's okay if I come over for dinner. I'll call you in a little while. Okay?"
"Sure," Prue said. Andy turned and jogged back over to his parents' house. Prue smiled as she watched him go. He was such a great guy. Why she kept letting him slip away was something she didn't understand. She had yet to figure out that her fear of commitment could be traced back through her life. She had yet to figure out that she never said "I love you" to anyone because of what had happened in her past. It was hard for others to understand her when she didn't understand herself.
Six and a half years later…
Prue rushed down the hospital corridor looking for the room that the nurse at the reception desk had told her. She found it—34b—and paused. Realization hit her at that moment. This was the same room. The same room that Phoebe spent a week in. The same room that Penny had a serious panic attack in. The same room that Prue had cried in. Prue stood in the doorway, afraid of what she would find if she crossed the room and entered the curtained area. She hated seeing Phoebe in the hospital in such bad shape. Now she had to go see her grandmother in the exact same room where their entire family had experienced so much pain. Prue took a deep breath and entered the room. She pulled the curtain back a little and stopped, staring in disbelief. It just couldn't be happening like this. Not yet.
Piper was sitting in a chair next to Penny's bed, sobbing uncontrollably and clutching their grandmother's hand. Penny laid there, so small and weak. She had always been such a strong person. Prue never knew a time when her grandmother had not stood tall and strong. The closest she had ever come to this state was when Phoebe had been in the hospital. Prue cleared her throat and Piper looked up. Her eyes were red and puffy from crying, and tears continued to stream down her face. She stood and Prue walked over to embrace her sister. Prue just held Piper and let her cry some more. Prue couldn't stop a few tears from falling, but she wiped them away quickly while Piper couldn't see them.
Once Piper had regained enough control of her emotions she pulled away from Prue, who took some tissues out of her purse for Piper. Piper sat back down.
"What happened?" Prue asked.
Piper cleared her throat and did the best to talk with a steady voice. "I was going to help her bake bread today, and we were bringing in the groceries," Piper began. "I was right behind her…and everything seemed fine. But then she dropped the groceries…and grabbed her left arm." Piper stopped, trying not to let her tears overcome her.
"What did the doctors say?" Prue asked.
"It was a heart attack," Piper explained. "A serious one. They said her heart is too weak. There's… nothing…nothing they can…" Piper trailed off into tears. Prue looked down. This was it. Penny Halliwell was in her final hour. Piper controlled her crying again. "I called Phoebe. She can't get back until the day after tomorrow, which if Grams…when she…it might be the day of the funeral."
Prue kept herself from saying that she was surprised that Phoebe was coming back at all. Prue and Phoebe had had a huge argument six months before, and it had spawned Phoebe's expedition to New York to find their father, Victor. Prue was still angry and bitter about the whole situation.
"So, did they say how long it might be?" Prue asked.
Piper shrugged her shoulders. "They weren't very definite. They said anywhere between 12 and 36 hours."
Prue stared at Penny. The woman who had raised her. The woman who had taught her almost everything in life. Prue couldn't believe such a strong woman like her grandmother was going to die like this. Prue thought of the irony of the situation. Penny had so much love for her granddaughters, yet the cause of her death lay in her heart. If anyone deserved to die of heart failure, Prue believed it should be her. She never showed her love to anyone. She was so closed off emotionally, such a stone wall. A small sliver of regret crept into her thoughts, regret for not being more loving to Phoebe, for not being the sister Phoebe needed. But that regret dissipated quickly. Prue then looked at Piper, the only person in the world that Prue knew who felt everything deeply, experienced every emotion without hesitation. Emotionally, Piper was Prue's role model. Prue wished she could be so free, but it was too hard for her to be like that. Piper was so open and honest and true to herself, but Prue could not force herself to be like that. It wasn't in her nature.
Prue stood there, her hand resting on her sobbing sister's shoulder, staring blankly at her grandmother. Death would come soon. Prue knew it. And she wasn't ready. She wasn't ready to lose another loved one.
An hour later, Piper had to get away from Prue's cold and calm demeanor. Piper knew that Prue was probably breaking into a million pieces on the inside, but she didn't like blubbering like a fool while Prue stood there like a stone statue. She would rather break down in public in front of a bunch of strangers than be stuck in that room with Prue. Piper made the excuse that she needed to get something to eat and left the room.
Piper sat in the cafeteria with coffee cooling in front of her. She picked at her bagel, constantly crying. She wished Phoebe was there. She and Phoebe could cry together. Prue couldn't help Piper right now. Prue was shut down, closed for business, no sale. She couldn't be there for Piper, and Piper couldn't be there for her. In times of crisis like this Prue and Piper were the exact opposite. And in this case opposites didn't attract. Piper lowered her head and dug her nails into her bagel, sobbing even harder. Piper jumped a little when someone placed a napkin in front of her. She looked up and saw a man standing there. He was in his late twenties. He had dark brown hair and caring eyes. He smiled sympathetically at Piper.
"You look like you could use this," he said. Piper gave a slight smile. "Do you mind if I sit?" Piper shook her head. The man sat across from her. Piper went to wipe away her tears with the napkin when she saw writing on it. She stared at it and then looked at him.
"It's my phone number," he said. He laughed. "I guess that makes me look like a totally desperate schmuck."
"Well, I think schmuck is a strong word," Piper said. He handed her a fresh napkin and she wiped her eyes.
"So, if you don't mind me totally prying into your personal affairs, why are you crying?" he asked.
Piper looked down at the bagel that she had mangled with her fingernails. "My grandmother is here. Things aren't looking good."
"I'm sorry," the man said. "My grandmother died not too long ago. My name is Jeremy. Jeremy Burns."
Piper managed a small smile and shook Jeremy's hand. "Piper Halliwell."