A/N:

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Chapter 9

The source

Leo's words danced in their minds like twisted dreams as they slept. Piper took the potion that Paige made and hoped it would give her some reprieve until they destroy the link or the source. The next day she wanted to avoid the worrying eyes and constant questions if she was ok, and decided to get to the club early. She felt completely off kilter as it took her over an hour to find her keys, until she remembered she put them in her pocket earlier. She even got slightly lost on her way to the club that was only about 10 minutes away from the house and when she asks for directions, the man looked at her completely confused like he was trying to understand a foreign language. Piper did make it to the club and walked quickly to her office and shut the door as the taste of the potion was still lingering on the tip of her tongue. She did not have much confidence as she felt no different than the days before but at least she wasn't nauseated. She closed her eyes and tried to clear her mind that was running in all directions as she took in a deep breath.

Prue was the first to wake and headed for the kitchen and could tell someone was up before her as the coffee was still warm and freshly made. She looked over at the key rack and could see a set was missing, "Piper," she whispered and shook her head slightly and disappointment as she wanted to talk to her about what happened yesterday and apologize for not being there.

"I got it," Phoebe said with a wide smile on her face with Cole next to her.

"For those of us who were not involved in the process, could you explain what you got unless it's a STD," Prue said.

"Can demons have those?" Phoebe asks Cole.

"Um technically they don't even have the equipment," he replied and Phoebe shivered a bit as she walked over to her older sister.

"I have the vanquishing spell," Phoebe said and put the piece of paper done in front of Prue.

Prue looked it over and then felt hope rise as she took a drink of coffee," This could work," she said.

"Its using the power of our ancestors," Phoebe said and sat down.

"Good this is good, we can get that dam spell off of her now," Prue said.

"You still have to either bring him here or go to him," Cole said and the mood shifted slightly.

"Don't bring us down man," Prue said.

"I want to tell Piper, is she up?" Phoebe asks.

"Yes and she is already gone," Prue replied.

"Now she doesn't even want to talk to us," Phoebe said while drinking the rest of Prue's coffee.

Prue was used to her doing that and let it go as there were more pressing things at hand. "No I think she doesn't want us to nag her," Prue replied as Paige came in dressed for the day. "You're up early."

"Yeah I start at the hospital today," Paige replied and grabbed the blender to make a breakfast smoothie.

"You may not need to, Phoebe came up with a spell to vanquish the source," Prue said.

"Cool, but maybe I should just in case," Paige said as she began to put various things into the blender. A couple of eggs some milk and fruit.

"Paige you don't think she's really sick do you?" Prue asks.

"Honestly, I don't know, I mean we found nothing in the book to break the link if there is one, and we killed a lot of demons we thought were responsible and she still having issues," Paige replied and started the blender as the others covered their ears.

"I think you guys should get ready to try the spell before he has a chance to attack," Cole said once the blender was turned off.

"Which means I need to practice and so do you," Prue said while looking at Phoebe.

"You know when I said I wanted an active power, I never wanted to take it from her," Phoebe said as she began to roll the cup in her hands while looking at what remained of the coffee.

"Hopefully she will have it back soon," Prue said as Leo came in.

"Piper's gone," he said.

"I know she went to work I bet," Prue said and got up.

"This early she never goes in this early," Leo said as Paige walked past him grabbing her purse as she did so.

"She probably just needed a breather from us, well I have to go I will see you guys later tonight," Paige said.

"Well sis ready to blow stuff up?" Phoebe asks and Prue nodded as Leo got something to drink.

Piper was moving some things around in the locker that was a crossed from her desk. She was looking for an order form as a demon shimmed in behind her undetected. He pulled a thick string out of his packet and softly approached her. She normally would have felt someone behind her but her instincts have been off and he was able to get close. She felt something go around her neck and her air cut off as the string began to burn into her skin. She used the lockers to push herself away but he did not relinquish his hold as they both went backwards. His lower back hit the desk and her purse fell to the ground causing a bottle to fall out and roll. It was a potion that Paige made for Piper just in case demons attack as she was without power. Piper tried to flip him over but only ended up on her back with him beneath her as she tried to use her fingers to get some needed space between her air flow and the string, but it was in too deep and she could not get her fingers in. She looked to her side and could see the bottle that was just an arms reach away. Her vision was bluing and her lungs ached for needed oxygen as she stretched out her shaking hand while the demon wrapped his legs around hers to keep her from moving off. She has already tried to us her power by flicking her wrist out of instinct, but she was stripped of them so she was at the mercy of the demon that had none. She tried to yell for Leo but the string not only blocked her air, it also stopped her voice. Her eyes rolled back and her body was going lip as she could not reach the potion. Leo orbed in as he felt something was wrong and saw her eyes closed and the demon smiling wide until he set them on Leo.

"Your too late," the demon said as Leo picked up the bottle and tossed it at the demon's side before her had a change to shimmer away. The demon screamed as Leo grabbed Piper and moved her away from the exploding demon.

"Piper," Leo's voice was filled with fear as it cracked. He pulled the string off and a red circle of blood was around her neck. He did not heisted and began healing by pleasing his hands on her neck. "Come on baby," he prayed as the healing kicked in. It took longer than he expected and Piper awoke groggily as her eyes opened slowly. She immediately began to push him away as she was not sure if it was the demon or not. "Piper its ok its me," he said and grabbed her wrist. She was breathing rapidly as she took in his features.

"Leo," she whispered and then hugged him. He rested his chin on her shoulder as she sat up and felt her chest move in and out as she took in deprived breaths from early.

"Are you ok?" he asks.

"I will be after a drink," she replied and then got up with his help.

"Here sit down I will get you some water," he said and found a glass. There was a sink in her office and he filled it up with cool clear liquid. "Drink it slowly ok," he said and gave it to her.

"Leo how the hell I supposed to protect myself if I can't us my powers?" Piper asks after taken a drink. He sat next to her as for the first time he did not know what to say.

"I will talk to them, you at least need your freezing power," he replied while rubbing her back and Piper's phone rang. "I'll get it, just relax," he said and picked up the phone.

"Piper," Prue said from the other end.

"No its Leo," he replied.

"Is she ok because I felt like something was wrong?" Prue asks anxiously.

"Yeah but she almost died, there was a demon attack," he replied while turning away from Piper as she drank her water.

"I will be right there," Prue said and hung up the phone.

Paige arrived at the hospital with the papers her boss gave her. She stepped in and was greeted by a nurse who was standing in front of a large white door. There was a desk to her right for visitors to sign in.

"Hi how can I help you," the older woman said with a genuine smile.

"Oh I have a appointment with Dr. Ransom," Paige replied and handed her the paperwork. The nurse looked it over and then put a code in on a electronic panel that opened the door. There was a slight beeping noise as it did so. Paige followed the nurse into the main hallway where some patients were talking to others and some were talking to themselves. She recognized the look in their eyes, a sense of confusion and loss and it sent shivers up her spine as Piper had the same look when she was having one of her episodes.

"He is in here," the nurse said and motioned her to walk into the office is Dr. Ransom was sitting at his desk.

"Thank you," Paige said and sat down a crossed from him.

"Is this a new patient?" he asked the nurse.

"No I am here to be trained as a caseworker, but there are probably days I should be," Paige said and realized this was not an appropriate place to joke.

He smiled as he took the paper from her," Trust me we all have those days." he said and looked it over as Paige looked around his office at his many degrees in psychology. "Ok well we should get to it. Have you ever worked with the mentally ill?" he asks while getting up.

"No," she replied as she did not want to bring up her sister mostly because they were not sure if it was a spell or something else.

"It says here you're a social worker what kind of clients do you normally handle?" he asks while Paige got up to walk with him.

"Normally adoption cases or child custody," she replied.

"Noble work," he said and walked into the main room where the patients would congregate and watch TV.

"Thank you," she said.

"Before we go any further there are some essential rules. If perchance a patient does get violent, do not intervene and let the professionals handle it," he said as they walked in and over to a patient who is playing cards with another. He was in his 40s as the other man was in his 20s. "Hi Tim, this is Paige Matthews and she will be helping me out this week," he said.

"Hi and welcome to the crazy house," Tim said as the other man giggled. Paige smiled awkwardly she was not sure what to say. "Sorry I try to keep a sense of humor," he said and she felt slightly at ease by his demeanor.

"How is the medication working for you today, any side effects?" Dr. Ransom asks.

"Nope, its actually doing quite well," Tim replied.

"Good, how about you Ben?" he asks the other man.

"Is being attracted to your new assistant a side effect?" he asks as Paige's face blushed slightly.

"No and Ben behave," Dr. Ransom replied and Ben shrugged his shoulders slightly.

"Well then so far so good," Ben replied and gave a small wink at Paige and she blushed even more.

"Hopefully we can get you guys home in a couple of days," Dr. Ransom said and walked over to another patient who was not doing quite as well. She was quite young and only about 17 and she was rocking back and forth while twirling her hair roughly. "This is Suzanne and she was brought in a couple of days ago. We are still trying to find perfect the combination for her medication," he said and bent down to get to her level. "Suzanne can we talk?" he asks softly. She continued to rock as her eyes would periodically gaze on his and she seemed to be in a fight between his words and the others rambling about in her head. "Suzanne?"

"There's bugs and sheets," she said softly.

"We will see what we can do about that, have you taken your medication?" he asks and she shook her head no. "Ok lest get your meds and then get you something to eat," he said as he took a bottle out of his pocket and took out one pill.

"No there's bugs in the pills," she whimpered as she rocked harder. Paige feeling her heart sink for the young woman. She should be out with her friends getting into trouble and grounded for staying up too late, not here, not like this.

"I promise there are no bugs in the pills," he said and opened his hand to reveal the medication and patiently waited for her to take it. There was a battle going on inside her mind and you could see it in every movement of her body. She would reach for it and pull away while lifting one shoulder to her ear as though it would block out the voices. Dr. Ransom did not move and finally she took the small little pill and put it in her mouth. "Thank you Suzanne, you will start feeling better soon," he said and stood up and began to leave the room so he could talk to Paige.

"She's so young," Paige said.

"Yes the illness usually strikes between the ages of 15 and 35 for women, it's a cruel thing," he said as they continued to walk past patient rooms. The place did not seem like a mental hospital as the rooms have personal items like photographs and nice furniture. The staff smiled at her as she walked past them and seemed to be very courteous and respectful to the patient's. "Not what you expected?" he asks noticing how she was looking around.

"No I guess I watch too many horror movies," Paige replied.

"The media always shows these places in a dark light and makes people afraid of them. 90% of schizophrenia patients are not violent, most are very secluded and isolate themselves from population and society, but that part you don't hear about is the ones who go on a shooting spree," he said.

"I know that medication has dramatically improved over the years," Paige said.

"Yes and there is even new technology that is helping the voices, actually eliminating them. He uses sound waves and although its still somewhat experimental, it is working," he said and Paige could not help but smile at that advancement.

"Permanently?" she asks.

"No it only lasts for about three months but it's three months that they do not need to take the medication that handles that part of the illness. Most people who work with mentally ill either know someone or have a loved one who has it. That's why the enhancements come so quickly," he replied and Paige completely understood as she wanted desperately to help Piper. "Most of the staff here have a family member who is mentally ill or was. When I do the hiring I look for that, as I know they will be more sympathetic with the patient's."

"I was really scared at first, but this has turned out better than I hoped and I really want to help," Paige said as the possibility of Piper having to come here, may not be so bad at lease for the six months.

"Good but it's not always so smooth. Most patients don't want to be here and the first few months are a huge struggle to get them to even admit they have a problem or to take their medications when they are supposed too," he said and started walking down the hall towards another large door." Some may never leave here, not because they don't want too but because they can't function in society or their illnesses is so bad that it makes them violent," he said and after putting in his pin number the door opened to a completely different feeling part of the hospital. The doors were not open like the ones in the previous hallway, but closed and locked as screams could be heard from some of the rooms. "There are many aspects to schizophrenia and on occasion it just goes awry and we have no choice, but to isolate them until the episodes pass."

"How long can an episode last?" Paige asks.

"It could be a few minutes or a few weeks especially if they're not on medication," he replied and walked up to one of the closed doors and checked the chart. "Getting them to take their medications is always a challenge, as they believe its poison or filled with glass. We sometimes sneak it into their food, if they eat at all," he replied and after looking through the window he opened the door. Their was a woman in her 60s who was sitting on the bed and her face was tear stained as she was close to hyperventilating.

"Hi Patricia, how are you feeling today?" he asks and again squatted down to her level.

"I want to go back with the others," she replied while wiping her nose with her sleeve.

"I think that's a good idea, you seem much better today," he said and put his hand on her shoulder while standing up.

"Thank you, I get lonely," she said as the 60-year-old woman looked more like a five-year-old who just got grounded.

"Its ok I understand," he said and left the room shutting the door behind him. He then motioned one of the nurses to come in from the other hallway. Paige stood mostly silent as she was taking everything in while the nurse went into the room and got Patricia. Once they were clear he could see that Paige was on the verge of tears.

"This is her third time being hospitalized over her lifetime. She works at a university in their experimental physics lab, she is a brilliant woman but every now and then the illness reduces her to the equivalent of a child who is afraid and confused. One thing you should always remember is that this illness does not take away their intelligence but it can take away their personality," he said.

"What do you mean?" Paige asks.

"It's called ambiguous loss, the person you once knew is no longer there. Their body is still here but their mind somewhere else and it's like talking to a stranger. She was very outgoing and very extroverted but over time she became very shy and does most of her research at home, isolating herself from society, her friends and family. For them there's no way to morn the loss as the person is still alive," he replied and Paige could feel fear creep up on her. "Starting tomorrow I will have you work with some of the patients. Coming out of psychosis can be a very lonely experience especially if there's no one around. There's confusion, fear and the feeling of worthlessness along with depression. Have you looked at the dos and don't s for someone in an episode?" he asks.

"Yes," she replied.

"Good follow them and you should be fine," he said and they left the hallway they were in and went back into the other one

To be continued...