Charmed Role Reversal



Something Witchy This Was Can't Come - Or Can It?

T he small box slipped from the young woman's grip, bounced off of the two-foot high, smooth beige wall that separated the street from the boutique Beverly Hills hotel's small parking lot, and fell to the sidewalk, getting Stuart's attention as it landed.

It was a typically pleasant early May afternoon in Los Angeles in the spring of 2000. With the temperature in the low 70s, comfortable humidity and a cloudless sky above, the city was the picture-postcard image of the Golden State.

Stuart had decided to enjoy the fifteen minute walk to the tony Rodeo Drive shop rather than drive his rented car from the hotel where he was staying. He was, after all, on his yearly Southern California vacation, having flown in from New York the previous morning. Enjoying his leisurely walk past the occasional hundred-foot high palm tree on the uncrowded street, he found himself only a few paces behind the young woman. He quickly caught up to her and, kneeling down, retrieved the box.

"Thank you," she smiled as she turned to him.

"You're welcome," he smiled back, returning the box to her. As he did, he stared at the young woman.

"You...you're Phoebe - aren't you?" he asked in surprise.

"Yes," she chuckled. "Actually, I'm Alyssa Milano."

"Of course," he said, a bit embarrassed. "I just think of you as Phoebe. I watch Charmed every week. I must tell you that it's the best program on television. Well, that isn't saying much as most of what's on isn't all that good. But Charmed is wonderful in absolute, not relative, terms."

"Thank you," she said. "That's nice of you to say that."

"Oh, uh...my name is Stuart...uh...Stuart Weston," he said, a bit nervously as the realization that he was speaking to a Hollywood star hit him. He paused for a second and took a deep breath.

"Charmed is well acted and well written," he said, more calmly. "It portrays real emotions with realistic affects and consequences. And it brings out real emotions in me as I watch it."

"We try to keep it realistic. As much as a show about witches can be," she replied with a slight smile.

"The first two seasons were terrific," Stuart said. "I'm really happy to see that you've been renewed for a third season."

"So am I," Alyssa said, her smile broadening.

"All three of you are great," he added. "But I do have a special leaning towards Phoebe. There's just something about her character - I'm not sure I can put into words just what it is."

"Thank you," she said. "I'm glad you like my role."

"Well, I'm sure you have more important things to do than talk to a fan," Stuart said, "so I won't keep you. It was a real privilege to meet you."

"It's always nice to talk to someone who likes the show," Alyssa said. "And thanks again for picking up the box".

"My pleasure," he said. "Have a good day and best of luck with Charmed."

"Thanks. And keep watching it," she added, smiling again.

Alyssa turned and began to walk away but Stuart just stood there watching her. Wow, he thought, I actually met Alyssa Milano. She seems to be as nice in real life as her character is on Charmed. Hmm...I should have asked her for her autograph.

The screeching tires interrupted Stuart's thoughts. He turned to his left and saw a black car tearing up the cross street that ended at the hotel parking lot. The car was heading straight for Alyssa. She was less than a dozen feet in front of him and he started to run towards her.

Now Alyssa turned and saw the black car headed right at her. Before she could react, Stuart threw his arms around her and pushed her forward, falling to the ground and rolling over her. He thought they should have been to the left of the car and clear of it but he sensed the car pull leftwards after them. He pulled Alyssa over him and rolled her again further left. As he did, Alyssa instinctively reacted by throwing her arms around him to hold on. The car hit the hotel parking lotís small beige wall, shattering part of it, and came to a halt.

"Ahhh," Stuart moaned from the contact of the sidewalk with his forehead. The left corner of it was scraped, a little blood flowing from it.

Alyssa slowly lifted her head and looked at the front wheel of the car which was no more than a foot to their right.

"You...you saved my life," she said. "That car was coming right at me...you jumped in front of it and saved my life."

"I wouldn't let you get hurt," he said, grimacing slightly. "But who's in the car? Do you see the driver?"

It caught Alyssa's eye before she could reply. Bright yellow, it was the shape of a medicine caplet only much larger - about one foot long and half as much in its width. It's edges weren't sharp but rather fuzzy. And it was heading straight for them.

"What the-" she started to say as it made contact and engulfed her body in a yellow light. Her arms were still around Stuart and the light spread to cloak him in it, too. For the next ten seconds, all either of them could see was the yellow light all around them. And then abruptly the yellow light was gone.

"What was that?" Alyssa asked and turned to look around her. "The car! Where's the car?" She pulled herself half off of Stuart allowing him to prop himself up. As he did, he saw that the car was gone.

"The wall," he said. "This is not the wall from the parking lot. That one was smooth. This is...this wall is made of stone!" Alyssa stood up and Stuart quickly did, too.

"Where are we?" she asked, confusion in her voice as they both looked all around. There was no hotel, no parking lot. Behind the low stone wall was a stately looking older house, set back from and a bit above the street.

"We're not...in Beverly Hills...anymore," Stuart said slowly, as he looked off to the distance and saw landscape and buildings that he recognized. "We're not even...in Los Angeles." Shaking his head in disbelief, he took a deep breath and slowly exhaled.

"We're in...San Francisco."



Click speaker for Opening Credits Theme Song

"San Francisco? That's impossible!" Alyssa said. "We can't suddenly go from Beverly Hills to...to someplace else."

"Somehow Alyssa...we did. You can see the top of Coit Tower over there," Stuart said, raising his arm and pointing at the city's landmark cylindrical structure. "Up...up on Telegraph Hill." He slowly exhaled again. "I don't know how...but we are...in San Francisco."

"Alyssa!" a voice shouted.

Stuart and Alyssa turned around and saw Charmed's other two stars hurrying down the block towards them.

"What is going on here!?" Shannen asked.

"I was at my ranch when suddenly this yellow light surrounded me," said Holly. "And the next thing I knew I was standing here."

"And I was walking out of the Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills...and the same thing happened to me," added Shannen.

"I was almost run over by a car," Alyssa said, "and-".

"What?" interjected Shannen.

"And Stuart saved me," Alyssa continued. "And then a yellow light surrounded us...and suddenly we're here. Oh," Alyssa said, turning to Stuart. "uh...Stuart Weston, this is Holly Combs and Shannen Doherty."

"Yes, I recognize you," Stuart said. "Piper and Prue.I always watch Charmed."

"Uh - hello," Shannen and Holly said together.

"What do you mean you were almost run over and what is going on here?" Shannen asked in one breath.

"And where are we?" Holly demanded, looking around.

"We're in San Francisco, despite how impossible...that would seem to be," Stuart answered and turned back to the house. "This house.It's familiar...I've seen it somewhere."He stopped for a second and exhaled."Phew! It's from Charmed.It's...your manor.The Halliwell Manor."

"What?" exclaimed Shannen.

"He's right," Alyssa said. "This is the house."

"We only use it for exterior shots," said Holly."We've never been inside it.In fact, that house isn't even in San Francisco."

"Well, it is now," said Stuart, "along with us. And along with the rest of the block, from the looks of it."

The SUV pulled out of the next driveway and slowed down as it approached them.

"Hi Piper," the driver said as he waved.

"Greg?" asked Holly. On Charmed, Greg Vaughn played the role of her next door neighbor Dan. And it was Greg that Holly was now staring at.

"Greg? Who?" he replied. "It's me, Dan." He brought the SUV to a stop in front of them and saw the bewildered look on her face.

"Dan...your neighbor," he said slowly, not understanding why Piper was staring at him, speechless. "Piper, are you OK?"

"Huh?" is all Holly could manage to say.

"Look, I'm late for an appointment," he said. "I'll stop in later when I get back." He gave it gas and drove off.

"Uh...what just happened?" Holly asked, to no one in particular.

"Hi, Ms. Halliwell," the mailman said as he walked past them. He had grey-white hair that extended below his uniform cap to his neck and a matching thick, grey-white mustache. They hadn't noticed him coming and he startled Holly.

"Just left you a package by your door," he said. "You said it was OK to do that when no one's home."

The three women stared at him as he continued down the block.

"I'm dreaming," said Holly, "tell me I'm dreaming."

"Dreams are not this precise with so much detail," Stuart answered. "And time skips around in dreams. Everything here is happening in real time. And if it was a dream, we'd all have to be having the same exact one simultaneously."

"Now what?" Alyssa asked.

"The house," Stuart answered. "We have to go up to the house. We were put here in front of it. And it is The Charmed Ones' Manor."

"We don't even know the people who live there," she said.

"Well, as you said in Apocalypse Not, 'let's introduce ourselves'. Come on Alyssa." Stuart started up the steps. Alyssa tilted her head, made an expression with her eyes and went up right behind him. Shannen and Holly looked at each other, shrugged, and for lack of a better idea, followed.

"Let's see the name of the family," said Alyssa as she looked at the doorbell. "No - this can't be. It says 'The Halliwells'." She took a deep breath and pressed the bell. They could hear it faintly ring inside but no one answered. She rang it again.

"No one will answer," Stuart finally said, "because you're all out here."

"No," said Shannen, "this is not our house, we don't live here. The Manor on Charmed is not real."

"The mailman said there was no one home when he left this package," Stuart calmly replied as he picked it up from beside the door. "And if you stay out here, no one will be."

"What!?" said Holly. "You want us to go in? To break in-"

"No," Stuart said. "With a key." He thought for a second. "Look in your pocketbook," he said.

"For what?" Holly replied.

"For the key," Stuart said

"What are you talking about-" Holly started to say.

"Just look," Stuart said firmly. Holly opened her pocketbook and stuck her hand inside.

"There's not going to be-" She stopped in mid-sentence as her hand brought forth a key ring. "That's not mine," she said. "I've never seen it before. Where did this come from?"

"Try it," Stuart said.

Holly looked at the others and slowly approached the door. She put one of the keys in the lock and turned it. The door opened.

"I don't believe this," she said. Slowly they walked into the foyer.

"Hello. Is anyone here? Hello?" Alyssa called out.

"This is too much," Shannen said as she walked into the living room. "This is a duplicate of our set. Only...it's real." She turned to look at the back side of the wall. "The walls are all real...on both sides. And thereís a real ceiling, too."

"Sets don't have ceilings...and two-sided walls like in real-" Alyssa slowly started to explain to Stuart. But something grabbed her attention before she could finish.

"On the wall by the staircase," Alyssa said, pointing, as she walked past Shannen.

"The picture of 'Grams'," Stuart said."I...think we'd better check upstairs in the attic and see what's there."

"Why?" asked Holly. "Whatís in someone we donít knowís attic that would explain any of this?"

"I have my suspicion," Stuart said, putting down the package on a chair. "Would you please?"

Holly walked over to the staircase and looked up.

"The staircase...is real, too," she said uneasily and gave Shannen a look.She slowly started up the stairs as the others looked around in amazement.

"Staircases on sets also aren't real," Alyssa added, shaking her head, confusion evident in her voice.

"I'm going to call my home," said Shannen. "I know someone should be dropping by now." Shannen pulled out a cell phone from her pocketbook. "What's this? This is not my cell phone. This is..."

"Like the one you use on Charmed," Stuart said.

"Yes...it is," Shannen said with a confused look and dialed her number. "What!? Let me dial it again." She did and they could see she got the same response."I got a recording that this is not a working number," she said.

"Phew!" said Alyssa.

"I'm going to call my agent," Shannen said. "He'll get to the bottom of this." She dialed the number. "This is Shannen Doherty. Let me speak to David Adamson.

"Shannen Doherty!" she repeated firmly, annoyance in her voice.

"SHANNEN DOHERTY!!!"she shouted.

"No, I am not a new actress.†I've been represented by ICM for-" Shannen stopped in mid-sentence. She was visibly shaken as she took the cell phone from her ear, gave it a funny look and closed it.

"She...hung up on me," Shannen said."She said she never heard of me and that they were not interested in un-established aspiring actresses.I don't believe this!"

"Do you want to try believing this?" Holly asked. She had come down from the attic and was standing at the bottom of the staircase, a look of bewilderment on her face, a big, thick, oversized book in her hands.She held the book up for everyone to see the cover.

"The Book of Shadows!" Alyssa said.

"And it's not empty," Holly said. "I opened it.It's completely filled in.With...exactly what The Book of Shadows would have...if it existed."

"This is a joke.It's an elaborate joke that someone is pulling on us," Shannen said.

"I don't think so," Stuart replied. "This would have to be some joke with half the world in on it. Greg, the mailman, your agent, the telephone company, this whole house set up this way. A real Book of Shadows. No, I don't think so. And jokes can't transport people suddenly from LA to San Francisco."

"Then how do you explain it?" Shannen asked.

"I can't explain how or why," he said. "But I can tell you what I think happened.

"Some demon or some other evil sent those yellow lights to bring you here.Somehow, in doing that, you became real.That is, the Charmed Ones became real. But whoever did it is afraid of the Power of Three so they tried to kill you Alyssa, so that when you'd arrive here you'd be dead."

"You're saying that car purposely tried to run me over?" Alyssa asked.

"It swerved towards you even after I pushed you away from it," Stuart said. "Maybe whatever they did to get you here had to be done for all three of you.Maybe they couldn't change that so they had to try to kill you before that yellow light reached you."

"Demons?" Shannen asked."This is the real world.This is not a Charmed episode.Demons...they don't try to kill us.We're not witches. That's only on the show."

"Do you have a better explanation for what's happened?" Stuart asked. "Not the 'why', just the 'what'?"

"Whoever is doing the 'what' forgot that we're Hollywood actors," Holly said, putting down the Book of Shadows on the coffee table. "We know all about making illusions seem real. Especially Charmed illusions.

"There has to be...some normal explanation," she continued."We just have to think calmly and we'll figure it out. And we'll also figure out who's behind it."

"Normal explanation?" Stuart asked, and shook his head. "We have to accept the facts whether we like them or not."

"Facts?" Shannen asked. "What facts?"

"Fact," Stuart said, emphatically. "We're here, in San Francisco, when just a few minutes ago we were in LA.Fact - we're in the Halliwell Manor for which Holly had the key."

"Someone could have slipped it into my purse," Holly said.

"Think so?" Stuart asked."Let's see. Shannen, wave your hand towards the vase on the table."

"What?" Shannen asked.

"Go ahead," he said, "try to move it."

Shannen looked at the others."OK.There," she said, casually waving her hand.Nothing happened.

"No," Stuart said."Concentrate on moving it, and control your hand more.Just as Prue would do on Charmed."

Shannen gave Stuart a look, then turned back to the vase."Concentrate, huh?" she said. Staring at it, she waved her hand, this time more slowly.The vase started to move along the table.

"I don't believe this!" she said, staring at it.

"Don't stop," Stuart said."Keep moving it."Shannen waved her hand again and the vase resumed its travel."Try bringing it back.Hold your hand the way Prue would."Shannen pointed her hand past the vase then moved her hand towards herself.The vase moved back as well.

"This is rigged," Shannen said."It's hooked up somehow and someone is moving it."

"Really?" he said. "Then let's try something else.Holly, come here and check me out for any wires or anything else attached to me." †††††††††††††††††††††††††††

Holly glanced at Shannen then walked over to him.She felt around his chest and arms."Nothing there," she said.

"OK Shannen," he said, "concentrate and wave your hand at me."Shannen hesitated."Go ahead," he insisted, "try it."

Shannen looked straight at him and briskly waved her hand.Stuart went flying across the room, hit the wall hard and fell to the floor.

"Arghhh!!" he moaned, grimacing.Shannen and Holly stood there, staring in disbelief but Alyssa ran to him.

"Are you OK?" she asked, kneeling beside him.

"Arghhh!I guess so," he said as she took his hand.

"Ohh!!"Alyssa suddenly stopped, her eyes staring ahead, her mouth open.

"Alyssa, what is it?"Shannen worriedly asked.

"I...I saw something.I saw...me," Alyssa said.

"A premonition," Stuart said.

"A what?" said Holly.

"Tell us what you saw," Stuart said

"I saw...I was standing by a wall," Alyssa said, "and as I turned, someone...came charging at me with a dagger.And then you jumped in front of me..." she turned to Stuart, "and...he stabbed you with it."

"Were you hurt?"Stuart asked after a few seconds of silence.

"No...I don't think so," Alyssa said. "But you..."

"As long as you weren't hurt," he said. "I won't let anyone hurt you, no matter what."

"This is all too much," Holly said as Alyssa helped Stuart to his feet."We're mature people. We know this just...can't really be happening."

"But it is," Stuart replied.

"You know, you don't seem to have any problem accepting any of this," Shannen said to him."Moving objects, premonitions, this house.You seem to know just what to expect next.

"Just who are you?What's your connection to all of this?Maybe you're a demon or a warlock yourself," she added mockingly.

"You can always prick my finger and see if I bleed," he replied. The absence of blood after pricking someone's finger proved that the person was really a warlock.

"That's the best suggestion I've heard since we came here," Shannen said.Her glaring look told Stuart that Shannen would have liked to do a lot more to him than just prick his finger.

"Look - I'm just a plain person," Stuart said. "Nothing more.I don't know how or why this is all happening.I'm here by accident.Alyssa was holding on to me when the yellow light hit her so I got brought along, too.I didn't make it happen."

Stuart saw from the look on Shannenís face that she didnít believe a word he was saying.

"Yes, I can accept it, more easily than you," he admitted. "Because I've seen you - Iíve seen Charmed - from a different perspective.You've seen it as snippets of dialogue and action in one or two minute scenes, acted on a set and shot out of sequence.

"But I've seen it as a single, connected entity," he continued."You, your powers, the house and the demons in realistic, complete storylines.So, except for my being a part of all of this, I'm not surprised by your powers, nor what's in the house.Because what I'm seeing here isn't any different from what I've seen before - each week, for two years, on Charmed. Within this context, its all perfectly logical and plausible.Even...if it should be quite impossible.

"And I've been in a situation before that I couldn't explain.Not on this scale, but something that was also quite impossible, could not happen - but did.I couldn't understand at the time how or why - I still don't.But I nonetheless accepted it.Because it did happen - and denying it wouldn't change that."

"Well, I don't accept it," Holly said defiantly."I suppose you'll tell me that now I can freeze people."

"Why don't you try it?" he said to her. "Go ahead, raise your hand, the way Piper does."Stuart saw the angry expression on Holly's face.Suddenly, it changed to one of shock.And now she was standing by the chair instead of by the sofa.

"You tried it, didn't you," he said."And it worked.You froze me."

Alyssa nodded.

Holly closed her eyes."This can't be," she said. "This just...can't be."

"You think I made believe?"Stuart asked."I couldn't -"

Meowww.

Holly looked down."Kit?" she asked with disbelief as the small, light beige colored cat came into the room.Alyssa bent down and picked her up.She fingered the medallion on her collar, then turned it over for everyone to see.

"The Triquetra," Shannen said.

"She's real, right Alyssa?" Stuart asked.

"Real Kit?" Alyssa asked. "I donít -"

"Real cat," he said, smiling."Go ahead Holly.Freeze the cat."

Alyssa put her down on the table and the cat started walking towards the edge.Holly looked at Shannen and raised her hand.

"I...I have to sit down," Holly said, looking ill.

"Uh...uh...do...something," Shannen said, looking at Stuart and the cat, both frozen.

Holly looked at them and with a pained expression, raised her hand again.

Stuart saw that suddenly Holly was sitting. "Convinced?" he asked her, realizing that it had worked.

"So what are you saying...that we've been transformed into...witches?"Shannen asked. "That I'm not myself anymore? That I'm a role that's come to life?"

"Everything that is here, everything that we've seen, is exactly as it would be if Charmed was real," Stuart answered. "Which...is what it now obviously is."

"You can't tell me that I'm...I'm...Piper Halliwell. That I'm locked into some...some...make-believe world," Holly said.

"This doesn't look make-believe," Alyssa said.

"No, I don't think it is. It's the real world, just...somehow changed," Stuart said.

"No," Shannen said. "This...can't really be happening. It's impossible and I won't accept it."

"The longer you refuse to accept it," Stuart said, "the longer it will take to figure out what to do.Don't waste your efforts, your ideas, your time on fighting what are facts.You are here, you have powers.You are The Halliwell sisters."

Holly closed her eyes and shook her head.

"Didn't you ever see one of those TV shows," Stuart continued, "where someone is left in the middle of nowhere and has to figure out how to survive?But he doesn't know anything about the surroundings, doesn't even know where he is.And he has no one to help him.He has to start from scratch on his own.

"You have to survive here but you don't have to start from scratch.You know where you are.You have lives that exist here, you have friends and people that know you here.And you have each other.You have to accept the fact that you are here, even if it seems impossible, even if we don't understand how.

"You can't afford to keep fighting the reality.You - we - have to use everything that's here to survive - and to help us find a way back."

For a moment everyone was quiet.

"You're right," Alyssa said breaking the silence."Denying what has happened won't help us figure out what to do.We have to accept the reality even though we can't understand it."

"And just what are we supposed to do?"Holly asked.

"Get as much information as you can from people you see in your normal routine," Stuart answered, "so maybe we can figure out the 'why'."

"What routine?" Holly asked. "We don't have a routine here."

"Yes, you do," he said. "You have a club, P3.Go over to it and see what's going on.You probably should be there now, anyway."

"Club?" Holly asked. "Ah...club...where is this club supposed to be?The one on Charmed is a set on a sound stage."

"It'll be real here," Stuart said. "Look in your pocketbook.You probably have something with the club's address on it."

Holly gave him a disdainful look but opened her pocketbook and looked through its contents. "I've never seen this before," she said, as she pulled out a card.

"P3," Alyssa read as she took the card from Holly. "Fillmore at Greenwich. Classy card."

"Fillmore...that's in Pacific Heights, near the Marina District," Stuart said."Nice neighborhood. Good location."

"And how do I get there?" Holly asked.

"Your car," Stuart answered."You have a car, remember?"

"I have a car but it's back at my ranch," Holly said, annoyed.

"You have a car here, too," he said. "Your key ring?The one with The Manor's key on it?"

Holly pulled out the key ring and selected a car key from it.

"I'll show you on a map how to get there," Stuart told her.

"And who will I talk to there?" she asked.

"Everyone you know on Charmed will eventually show up," he replied. "Just as Dan did."

Ding-dong, the doorbell chimed.

"Right on cue," Stuart noted curiously. "Hmm...even Charmedís scene cues have become real."

The girls looked at each other. Shannen nodded her head at Holly, who after looking over at Alyssa, went slowly to the door.

"Dorian!!?"Holly said in surprise, as she cautiously opened it.

"Itís Darryl," he said, giving her a funny look."Piper, are you OK?"

"Everyone seems to be asking me that today," she said. "Uh, come in Dor...Darryl."

"Stuart Weston, this is Inspector Darryl Morris of the San Francisco Police," Alyssa said, accepting, for the moment, what was happening.

"Pleased to meet you," Stuart said, extending his hand.

"Likewise," Morris said."I have to talk to the three of you."

"It's OK, Darryl," Alyssa said."You can talk in front of Stuart.He's a close friend."

Morris gave him a once over look then turned to the women.

"There's been a murder," Morris said."A young girl near the Ferry Building.There were strange symbols on her body and on the ground around her."He pulled a photograph from his pocket.

"A pentagram," Shannen said, recognizing it from Charmed.

"One of the people we interviewed at the scene thought it was some supernatural sign," Morris said. "And I know that if there's something strange going on I'd better see you about it."

"And what do you want us to do?" Shannen asked.

"Come down with me to the scene.Look at these symbols and their position relative to the body. See if there's anything you can tell me that would help."

"I think that's a good idea," Stuart said."Maybe you can help Inspector Morris and we can discuss it afterwards, when Piper gets back from the Club."

Shannen gave Stuart a look and was about to say something but Alyssa cut her off.

"Go ahead...Prue," Alyssa said, "and see what's there.Stuart and I will check on some things here."

Shannen looked at Alyssa and Holly."OK," she said reluctantly, thinking that it might be best to see how it would play out."We'll meet back here in three hours."


"Even though I think I accept it, itís still a lot to accept," Alyssa said, after the others left. "If I've really become Phoebe, and really have powers, and there really is a demon trying to kill me..." She shivered.

"That must have been a demon that you saw in your premonition," Stuart said.

"I think I'd better have a look at The Book of Shadows," she said opening it. "It's...blurry."

"You need your reading glasses," he said to her.

"I don't wear glasses," Alyssa protested.

"But Phoebe does," he replied.

"Those aren't real," Alyssa said. "They're just plain glass props."

"If youíve really become Phoebe, then you have her eyesight, too," he said. "And the glasses will be real.See if they're in your pocketbook."

Alyssa picked it up from the table and looked through it.She pulled out a pair of glasses and put them on, then looked at the open page.

"You're right.I can read it now."She walked over and looked at herself in the mirror.

"Phoebe Halliwell.This is what people see every week.And now, I'm really her."She stood there silently for a moment."It's frightening," she said, "to suddenly become someone else."

"At least you know who that someone else is," he said. "And you have an existence here that you're familiar with. I don't.I called my number at work.Or where I did work, because no one by that name works there.And my home telephone number belongs to an aerobics center.And my bank has no record of my account nor of my credit card.

"I may have been confident about you being The Charmed Ones.I could place you, see you fit in as real here.But I...I'm here by accident.I don't seem to exist.I have no money, no home.I don't even have any other clothes to wear.I don't know what's going to happen to me here."

"You saved my life," Alyssa said. "You're staying with us.Whatever happens will happen to all of us."

She took his hand and flashed a smile."The four of us are in this together."


"At least we have some leftovers in the fridge," Alyssa said as they sat down at the table in the kitchen that evening.

"Good.I'm starved," Shannen said.

"I called my mother," Alyssa said.

"And?" Piper asked, anxiously.

"I called her cell phone, I called her other numbers,"Alyssa said and shook her head. "Other people answered. They never heard of my mother. Then I called my father, my brother...

"They're...all gone."

"They're not gone," Stuart said, trying to re-assure her. "They're OK. They're just not in LA. They're wherever they would have been had they not had a daughter who was an actress.

"Just like, uh, whatís his name...Siegel, right?Your agent at Endeavor," Stuart continued. "He didnít know who you were when you called and spoke to him. But nothing had happened to him.He was fine.

"The same is true with your family. Nothingís happened to them. Whatever has happened...has happened to you."

Alyssa was silent for a moment, lost in thought. Then she took a deep breath and sighed.

"What happened at the Club?" she asked Holly.

"The bartender and some of the waitresses were there but not many customers," Holly replied. "They told me thatís usually how it is that early on a Wednesday evening.

"And they all knew that I was...that is, they all thought that I was Piper.

"I didn't find out much other than that the Club is doing well," Holly continued. "I found the Clubís books on my...uh, the owner's desk.

"Oh, and that The Cranberries are playing there tomorrow night."

"That makes sense," Alyssa said. "They did a Charmed episode."

"And I made five phone calls to LA," Holly continued. "No one, not even the telephone company, ever heard of me. Not Holly Combs...and...not..." Holly hesitated.

"Not...as Piper Halliwell." She exhaled. "I asked," she reluctantly admitted.

"Then I called anyone I could think of at Spelling," she continued, "at Paramount, at the network....including Brad and JP."

Stuart gave Piper a quizzical look.

"Brad Kern is Charmed's Executive Producer," Alyssa explained. "Jon Parť is the Unit Production Manager, but everyone at the studio calls him JP."

"I even called Shawn Papazian at the studio," Holly continued.

"Whoís that?" Stuart asked, starting to feel like a real Hollywood outsider.

"Heís the Vice-President and Studio Manager of Ray-Art Studios where Charmed is filmed," Holly said. "I tried reminding him about what happened that time his dog started licking me. But it was the same story. Holly Combs just...doesn't exist." She sighed. "I don't exist."

"Yes, you do exist," Alyssa said, taking Holly's hand.†"You're right here with me."

"That's not much comfort," Holly said, glumly. "You don't exist, either."

"How about you Shannen?" Alyssa asked.

"She was twenty-three years old," Shannen said. "I didn't see her...her body, but I saw the scene marked up. This is a lot harder in real life than it is on Charmed, I can tell you that.

"There were four pentagrams on the sidewalk all around where her body had been.But they were inverted."

"Didn't you once say on an episode that the inverted pentagram was taken by evil demons as their own?"Stuart asked Alyssa.

She thought for a moment."Yes, that's right," she said. "At least that's what the script said.They try to be accurate about things like that so it must be right."

"Which means that this is the work of some demon," Stuart said.

"Or just some deranged person who maybe saw that episode and wants everyone to think he's a demon," Shannen said.

"You still won't accept what's happened, that Prue's become real - and that you're her?" Stuart asked.

"No," Shannen said, "I don't believe any of this.Do you hear that, whoever's behind all of this? You will not convince me that I've - that the three of us have been...pulled into a Charmed episode."

"No," Stuart said, shaking his head, "you haven't been." He paused for a second.

"The Charmed episode has been pulled into you." he said. "More precisely, the Charmed episode - all of Charmed - has become part of the real world."

"Charmed has directors and cameramen," Shannen said. "They make it look as if we have powers but we don't.What we do have are special effects people.And no matter how it looks when you see it on television, its all made up. It's just scenes, shot separately, and edited to look realistic. But there is no Manor, no Halliwells, no Charmed witches with a Power of Three. None of it is real.And neither is any of this."

"Hmm...that makes a lot of sense," Stuart said."But...there's just one problem."He paused for dramatic effect.

"The writers aren't here," he said, "the directors aren't here and the cameramen aren't here. But you are here. And so are your powers.

"Oh, and the special effects people aren't here either.

"Unless...that's it!" Stuart exclaimed, snapping his fingers. "They're invisible. The special effects people are invisible. It's inconceivable that reality can be changed and that you can be transformed into a witch. But it's perfectly logical that the special effects people can be made invisible.

"Hmm...invisible special effects for the special effects people. How fitting," he added.

"Perhaps it's the writers who are invisible," Shannen said sarcastically, "and they're feeding you what you think is cute dialogue."

She shook her head slowly.

"This is all preposterous," Shannen said. "And impossible."

"You're right," Alyssa said. "It's preposterous that you can move things by waving your hand. And it's preposterous that Holly can freeze people, and that I can have premonitions.

"But what's impossible is denying that this has happened to us" she added. "And that we're really here."

"Why are you so eager to accept all of this?" Shannen asked, a fierce resistance showing in her eyes. "Why are you so willing to believe this absurdity that you really are your Phoebe Halliwell character? That you're no longer yourself."

"I don't want to be anyone except Alyssa Milano," she answered. "I want to go home, I want to be with my family...I want to be myself. But I won't put on blinders and deny that what's happened to me - what's happened to all of us - hasn't happened," Alyssa continued. "No matter how much I don't want this, nothing about me is the same as it was this morning. What I accept...is that I can't undo it."

"How can the San Francisco Police Department suddenly think that it has an inspector named Daryl Morris?" Holly asked.

"How can Brad Kern suddenly forget that he has a star named Holly Combs?" Stuart asked rhetorically. "It's the same thing, just like the people on the block think that The Manor, and you, belong here. I don't understand the power that brought us here. But I do understand that it is very strong. Strong enough to change the world and alter how people think.

"Make no mistake about it. This is not some fantasy 'Charmed World' you've been put into. This is the real world. The same real world that we've always been in. But you've had a role reversal of your characters. You're not acting your roles anymore. You are your roles. Charmed - and the roles you play - are now real. In the real world.

"Look around you," Stuart continued. "This isn't something make-believe re-created on a set.The city, the country...the whole world.This is all real, itís the same world that existed before. Nothing has changed.Except for what affects Shannen Doherty.Except for what's related to all of you being the Halliwell sisters. To that extent, the real world has changed. And you are at the heart of that change."

"No," Shannen said, shaking her head, "I won't accept that.I can't.Actressesí roles donít suddenly come to life. And fictional characters in a TV series canít become real.

"And tomorrow, I'm going to take a plane back to LA.And I'll find a way somehow to straighten this out back there."

"Maybe not," Alyssa said."You had a call while you were out with Morris.Or rather, Prue had a call."

"A call?" Shannen asked. "From whom??"

"Four One Five Magazine," Alyssa replied.

"What?" Shannen said. "That..that isn't a real magazine."

"It is now," Alyssa continued."I checked their number and called them back.They really exist. And...last month's issue was in the parlor."She picked it up from the table and handed it to Shannen."There are a couple of pictures in there credited to Prue Halliwell.

"The girl who called," Alyssa continued, "said that the time and place of tomorrow's shoot have changed.It's at one-thirty at The Stanford Court."

"Who am I...who is Prue supposed to be shooting?" Shannen asked.

"Tori Spelling," Alyssa answered."And I checked with the hotel.I said I was from the magazine and had to verify something about the shoot.She is staying there."

"Good," Shannen said. "Tori will help me straighten this out."

"Check over your cameras tonight," Stuart said."Make sure they're in order."

"Cameras?I'm not going to take any pictures," Shannen said. "I'm just going to see Tori and then together we'll get to the bottom of this."

"I don't think they'll let you in without your equipment," Stuart said. "And if you turn out to be Prue, you'll look a bit foolish coming to a shoot without a camera."

"Stuart's right," Alyssa said."With everything that's happened, you should be prepared...in case you have to be Prue."

"I don't have to be Prue," she replied, unfazed. "I'm me, Shannen Doherty, and Tori will make that clear to everyone."

"OK," Stuart said."Just be careful while you're there that you don't wave your hand at anything - or at Tori."

That made Shannen pause. After a moment she looked at Alyssa.

"Your equipment...Prue's equipment, is up in her bedroom," Alyssa said, gently. "I found it before while Stuart and I were going through the house."She nodded slightly to Shannen, indicating she should take it.

Shannen hesitated. "I'll...take a look at it," she finally said, reluctantly.

Alyssa got up and went over to the sink and Stuart joined her.

"I'll be sleeping right outside your room tonight," he told her."Just in case."

"In case of what?"

"Demons tried to kill you today," he said. "And you had a premonition that they would try again.I'm not letting you out of my sight."

"And...if a demon comes, what are you going to do?" she asked.

"Stop him," he said. "Or at least make enough noise trying to that you'll have a warning.I'm a light sleeper so if anyone even approaches your room I'll wake up."

"You don't have to do that," she said. "We don't really know yet if...I really do have premonitions.Don't worry, I'll be fine."

"I won't worry, or at least I'll worry less - because I'll be blocking your door," he said.

Alyssa saw that he was serious."I'll try not to step on you if I have to, uh, go to the bathroom during the night," she said, smiling.

Shannen strode through the lobby of the hotel to the Front Desk, her camera bag slung over her shoulder. Despite her determination to be herself, she listened to Alyssa and brought along the equipment.

"I'm here to see Tori Spelling.She's expecting me," she said to the young girl behind the desk.

"Just a moment," the girl said as she picked up the telephone to dial the room."Your name please?"

"Shannen Doherty."

"Hello, this is Michelle at the Front Desk.Shannen Doherty is here to see Ms. Spelling...she said she's expected..." Michelle listened silently for a few seconds.

"I'm sorry," she said to Shannen, "they don't seem to know who you are."

Shannen took a deep breath."Tell them...Prue Halliwell."

"Prue Halliwell?" the young girl said into the phone."OK, thank you."

Michelle discreetly wrote something on a slip of paper.

"This is her room number," she said, eyeing Shannen suspiciously as she handed the paper to her. "Elevators are over there," she added, pointing to them.

Shannen took the paper and went to the elevators.She got off on the eighth floor and walked down the hallway to the room, and knocked on the door.

"Yes?" a woman said opening the door?

"Uh...Halliwell," Shannen said.

"Come in.Have a seat," she said ushering her into the next room.After a moment, the door opened.

"Tori, hi!"Shannen said, jumping up and hugging her."It's so good to see you."

"Hi," Tori said, caught off guard by the enthusiastic greeting.

"Tori, don't you know who I am?" Shannen asked.

"Yes...you're Prue Halliwell from Four One Five Magazine," Tori replied.

"Tori...it's me, Shannen Doherty...We used to hang out together!"

"Shannen who?" Tori asked. " I'm sorry, I don't understand.Have you shot pictures of me before?"

Shannen stood there bewildered, not knowing what to say."Pictures...uh, yes... when you were on 90210. You...and Brenda."

"That was a long time ago," Tori said. " If you took pictures of Neve Campbell and me back then, I don't remember it.It's been about six years since Neve stopped playing Brenda and left the show."

"Neve..."Shannen shook her head in disbelief.In a daze, she turned and slowly started walking to the door.

"Uh, the pictures," Tori said. "Aren't you going to take my picture?"

Shannen turned back, looked at her camera bag sitting on the floor, and slowly picked it up.

"Where do you want me to sit?"Tori asked.


"Who's there?" Holly asked answering the doorbell.

"Exterminator," the voice answered.

She opened the door half-way and saw a big man. "I'm back."

"Back?" Holly asked.

"Yes," he said, "I was here yesterday but no one was home. You called about the mice."

"Mice?" Holly made a face.

"Mice," he said. "You said you saw a few mice and you wanted me to come right away."

"Oooo. Uh, come in," she said, opening the door all the way.

"I'll start in the basement," he said. "Which way is it?"

Holly showed him and went back into the kitchen.

A confused and dejected Shannen thrust open the front door, dropping her camera bag on the floor.

"Holly?" she called.

"In the kitchen," came the reply.

As Shannen passed the basement door the big man was coming through it and heading for the living room.

"Who was that coming from the basement?" she asked Holly.

"The exterminator," Holly said. "The Halliwells called him about mice in the house.He's weird looking for an exterminator.Not that I've really known any personally.

"How was your meeting with Tori?" Holly asked. "Were you able to make some sense out of all of this with her?"

"Uh, no...she didn't even know me...and...I was never Brenda on 90210," Shannen said. "My whole past...is gone.

"Uh...but wait, something here doesn't make sense," Shannen continued."If this is supposed to be The Manor from Charmed...do you recall any episodes that had mice in The Manor?"

"No.I don't," Holly said.

"So if everything here is supposed to be just like what's on Charmed," Shannen continued, "and we never had mice in the scripts, how could this house have any?

"And if it did, wouldn't...Kit have gotten rid of them?"

Shannen looked at Holly with a sudden sense of fear. "He was going into the living room." Shannen said.

"Alyssa's in there," Holly said. Shannen turned and started running to the living room with Holly right behind her.

"I never really paid attention on the show to what was on the mantel," Alyssa said as she and Stuart stood by the wall looking at it.

"Don't mind me - just the exterminator," the big man said as he came into the living room.He went to the side of the coffee table, put down his box and removed his white coat.Opening the box, he removed something large from it, accidently banging it loudly against the coffee table.

Alyssa turned her head at the sudden sound and looked over her shoulder.The exterminator, now wearing a dark cape and with a dagger in his hand, was running straight at her and was but a few feet away.She started to turn to defend herself but there wasn't enough time to do anything.

"No!!!"Stuart shouted as he rushed to jump in front of her.The man could not stop and plunged the dagger straight into Stuart's chest.

Shannen ran into the room with Holly right behind her. She saw the man withdraw the dagger from Stuart. Instinctively, Shannen flicked her hand and the man went flying across the room.He smashed into the far wall, knocked off a framed picture and fell to the floor, the dagger falling from his grip and landing in between pieces of the broken frame.

Shannen stared at her hand, realizing what she had done without even thinking.But the man's move to recover the dagger re-focused her attention and she waved her hand again, the dagger sliding across the floor out of his reach.Frightened, the man scrambled to his feet and crashed through the window to escape.

Alyssa had thrown her arms under Stuart as he collapsed against her.She had eased him down and now she sat on the floor holding him, his head cradled in her arm.

"Arrgghh...are...you...arrgghh...hurt?" he weakly asked.

"No...Iím not hurt," she answered. This is eactly what I saw in my premonition, she thought.

"Good," he said.But Alyssa saw the fear on his face.The fear that came from the realization that he was dying.

"I...told...ugghh...I...wouldn't...let... ugghh...hurt you," he whispered with difficulty.

Alyssa didn't need any special effects to produce the tears that began filling her eyes.

"I...f..feel.....numb...all....."His eyes closed and his head slowly fell towards Alyssa's chest.

"An ambulance.I'll call an ambulance," Shannen said, snapping out of her shock."Where's...where's the phone?"

"An ambulance won't come in time," Alyssa said firmly."Leo.We need Leo.Leo can heal.Holly, call Leo.Hurry!"

"Huh...Leo...Leo isn't real," Holly replied."Leo...doesn't exist."

"He'll exist here.Call him Holly.NOW!" Alyssa shouted.

Holly hesitated.

"Uh...Leo...uh," Holly was sputtering."Leo...we need you.Leo...hurry."

"Tell him it's an emergency!" Alyssa's voice rising in desperation.

"Leo, it's an emergency," Holly continued."Leo hurry.Leo we-"

Holly stopped in mid-word as the white light began to form.She and Shannen looked on in astonishment as Leo materialized.

"Heal him Leo," Alyssa, unfazed by his appearance, commanded.† "He's dying. HURRY!"

Leo shot a quick glance at Holly then rushed to Stuart.As he placed his hands on Stuartís chest an aura of light surrounded them.

"Brian?"Holly, in a state of shock, asked softly.

Leo kept his hands on Stuart's chest and after about ten seconds the aura disappeared.Alyssa, tears on her cheeks, called his name.

"Stuart?Stuart?Are you...are you...?" Alyssa called to him.

"I'm...OK...I think...I'm OK," he said, breathing a bit heavy but with strength returning to his voice. "Nothing hurts."Then, remembering that Phoebe could converse with ghosts on Charmed , he asked "Am I really alive?"

"He's OK," Leo said."He'll be all right."

"Lee-o," Holly, still in a daze, answered herself softly, as if confirming that what she thought she was seeing was really happening.

"What's the matter," Leo asked seeing the look on Shannen's and Holly's faces."You've seen me heal before."

"Uh...sure they have," Alyssa said thinking quickly."It's just that...they haven't seen you do it to someone so close to us."

"What happened here?"Leo asked

"A demon tried to kill me with a dagger," Alyssa said. "Stuart jumped in front of me and saved me."

"He saw what I just did for him," Leo said.

"It's OK," Alyssa assured him."He knows all about us.And about you."

"He does!?" Leo asked. "How?Who is he?"

"Uh...a close friend," Alyssa said. "From New York.And how is not important right now."

Stuart tried to sit up.

"Oooh," he said as he fell back on to Alyssa."I guess I'm just a little weak."He lifted his blood-filled shirt and ran his hand over his chest.It was covered with blood but there wasn't any wound.He was completely healed.

"Thank you Leo...for saving my life," Stuart said.He turned his head towards Alyssa."And thank you...if not for you, then-"

"You're thanking me?" she said. "You just saved my life for the second time in two days."

"What?! What happened?" Leo asked.

"A car tried to run me down yesterday," Alyssa said. "Stuart jumped in front of it and pushed me out of its way."

"Was it a demon?" Leo asked.

"We didn't see who, if anyone, was in the car," she said.

"Was it here near The Manor?" Leo asked.

"No, it...uh...wasn't around here," she replied ambiguously.

Shannen, digesting what she had seen, decided that there wasn't anything else to do but to accept that it did happen.

"Hello, Leo," she said.

"Prue," he acknowledged her.

"Hi...Leo," Holly said, having trouble comprehending what was happening as she came out of her daze.

"Piper," Leo said as he went to her, "are you OK?"

"No, actually I'm not," she said as she sank into a chair."I...I think I need some air."

"Me, too," said Shannen, reflecting on what she saw, "and also something to eat.I'm feeling...a little weak."

"Maybe you all should go to the Club," Alyssa suggested."You'll get outside into the fresh air and have some food.And you can fill Leo in."

Shannen gave her a what did you say? look.

"I mean on what Darryl told us and showed you," Alyssa said. "And maybe Leo can come up with some ideas that would be helpful...for all of us."

"What will you do?" Shannen asked

"I'll stay here with Stuart," Alyssa said. "He needs to rest. And," looking at her own clothes which were stained with his blood, "we both need to get cleaned up."


"It's a good thing we went shopping for clothes for you this morning," Alyssa said as Stuart came out after showering and changing."It would have been a little awkward walking around with that blood stain on your shirt."

"It's a good thing Phoebe Halliwell has a credit card," he said."Of course, the clothes in your room fit you so you had what to change into.But that shouldn't surprise you."

"It doesn't," she said. "I even recognize some of the outfits that I wore on Charmed.

"It's weird.In a way it feels strange wearing these clothes here.But in another way, I feel very comfortable.I feel like Phoebe. My power, the demon, the Manor - everyone and everything just as it should be if Charmed was real." She looked around her then back at Stuart.

"The reality is that I am Phoebe, whether or not I want it or understand it.Trying to fool myself that it isn't so won't make it go away.I have to act within this reality, as Phoebe Halliwell, and try to figure out what to do."

"The sooner Shannen and Holly stop fighting it," Stuart said, "the sooner you'll be able to work together and find the answers."

"Maybe after what happened this afternoon they will," she said. "In the meantime, let's go up to the attic.I want to see if I can find that dagger in The Book of Shadows." They walked out of her room and started up the stairs.

"Uh, just a second," Alyssa said.She went back into her room and came back with her reading glasses."OK.Phoebe is ready," she said.

"You know what else feels weird?" she said, as they walked up the staircase."Wearing these clothes without first sitting for makeup."

"You don't need the makeup," Stuart said. "Your natural beauty is all you need."

"Thank you. Imagine how much time I could save in the studio's makeup wagon every day if everyone felt like you," she quipped.


The dagger lay on the stand next to the Book of Shadows. Stuart picked it up as Alyssa opened the Book. She began turning the pages, looking for a reference to the dagger.

"An index to the Book of Shadows in real life would have been helpful," she said after ten minutes. "On Charmed, I didn't have to actually go through every page to find something. I just read it from the script."

"Oh," she said, looking at the page she had just turned to. "This drawing of a dagger. I think that's it."

Stuart placed the dagger next to it. "It is," he said.

"There are three matching daggers," she read. "They belong to the Frubos, who use them for killing people who do good for others.

"Oh! But if the Frubos place all three daggers together in their triple scabbard on the eve of the long sun, they become invincible."

"The long sun?" Stuart asked. "What's that?"

"I don't know," she said. "It says this can only happen in the year of the millenium. There's a spell here to vanquish them, but it needs the Power of Three for it to work."

"That's why they've been trying to kill you," Stuart said. "To make sure that the spell could not be cast."

"Well, as long as we have one of the daggers, they can't put them together," Alyssa said.

"No," Stuart said. "But I doubt they'll give up that easily."

"I don't think they'll be coming back so fast after they saw...Prue's power," she said as she closed the Book of Shadows. "But we'll have to be careful."

Alyssa took off her glasses."I have to remember to keep these around, even if they don't do anything for my appearance."

"On the contrary," Stuart said. "Glasses enhance a girl's appearance, give it more depth.And they add to her attractiveness as she takes them off."

"Umm, I'll have to remember that," she said. "I'm hungry.Let's go downstairs and get something to eat."

"You really do know how to cook," Stuart complimented.

"Both of me's do," she said smiling, "but there wasn't much cooking here."

"You can try to be modest but I taste otherwise," he said.

"Let's see what you say after dessert," Alyssa said. "It's my super concoction - coming straight from a package in the freezer."

Stuart laughed.

"Tell me," she said sitting down across the table from him. "Why did you do it? I mean really why? Twice. You could have died trying to save me."

"It's just what I do when I care about someone...and I care about you," he said. "You know me for only two days. But I've known you for two years because I've watched Charmed every week. So I know who you are - very well."

"That's Phoebe you're seeing on Charmed, " Alyssa said.

"Yes, it is Phoebe I'm seeing," Stuart said, "and it is Phoebe that I'm attracted to. But it's also Alyssa that I'm attracted to."

"You haven't seen me," she said. "Many people come to believe that the actress is the character."

"I'm not some wild fan who can't distinguish reality from role-playing," he said. "Most actresses get into their roles and take on their characters' personalities. That's when people confuse them and think that the actress is the character. But there's the rare actress who brings her own character to the role - her own personality, her own inner qualities - and imbues her role's character with them.

"You're that rare actress, Alyssa. You bring your own qualities to Phoebe. I can sense that's not so much you acting - as it is just you being yourself.

"It's not the actress becoming the character. It's the character becoming the actress."

"What you're telling me is that I'm an especially good actress," she said with a slight smile.

"What I'm telling you," he said. "is that you're an especially good person."

Alyssa's smile widened and she looked down modestly for a second.

"I've had other kinds of roles where I was playing someone not so nice," she said, and raised her eyes to look at him again.

"Yes - exactly," Stuart replied. "You were playing those roles. But with Phoebe, you aren't playing. You're just being natural. I don't mean her...quirkiness. But the honest caring, the basically good person that Phoebe is on Charmed - that's just your natural self. You don't have to act the part and therefore you aren't." He paused and thought for a moment.

"And there's another thing," he added. "It's...hmm, there's a word for it in other languages - in Hebrew, for example, it's called khain - but there's no real word for it in English. It's...an intangible inner beauty, a radiance reflected from inside of you, that's visible on your face. It's more than just your smile - it's the essence of who you are. You can portray how a character is supposed to be. But if the essence isn't real, if it isn't intrinsically part of the actress, it won't be there." He paused again.

"So, a long answer to a short question," he said. "That's why I care about you, Alyssa. Because the good person I've seen for the past two years in Phoebe is just the same person that I've seen for the past two days in real-life. And when I care about someone, I do whatever I have to, whatever I can do, for her. It's just that simple.

"Yesterday, I said that I didn't know just what attracted me to Phoebe but now I'm starting to understand.Ē

"Once you get to know me, you'll see the real me," she said, "not who you imagine me to be."

"Well...I've gotten to know you these past two days," he said. "I've seen your intelligence and confidence that complement your other qualities. What I've seen is just what I expected the real you - Alyssa - would be like." He took a deep breath.

"I hope that you can look inside me and see who and what I am," he added.

"What I've seen so far is pretty good," she said. "You've saved my life twice."

"And you saved mine today. I guess that makes you pretty good too," he said with a smile.

Alyssa looked into Stuart's eyes and leaned over towards him. He slowly leaned towards her and their lips met. Gently, for just a few seconds and then separated.

They both felt something good, something warm. Something right.

Alyssa leaned forward again and their lips touched. They held the kiss longer, not afraid this time to let whatever they felt come through.

There's definitely something here, she thought. She couldn't articulate her feelings and gave up, letting herself just feel them without words.

"I'd better get that dessert I promised," she said getting up.

Stuart sat watching her by the counter, feeling something wonderful.

"Today," he said, after a minute. "Today is Thursday, isn't it."

"Yes," she said.

"What time is it?" he asked.

"Almost nine o'clock," she said.

"Nine o'clock?...What happens every Thursday night at nine o'clock?" he asked.

She thought for a second. "Charmed is on at nine o'clock."

"Only it can't be on if The Charmed Ones have become real," he said. "So whatever is on in its place may be related to what's happened to us."

Stuart grabbed Alyssa and pulled her into the living room."I don't know which channel is The WB here," he said picking up the remote control."We'll just have to go through each one."

"On NBC Thurs-" Click

"-Fox Television." Click

"-On Dawson's Creek, next week on The WB."

"Got it," he said, and they sat down on the sofa.

"Now stay tuned for The Demon Dimension on The WB Thursday," the voice announced.

Stuart and Alyssa looked at each other.

"We've been cancelled and replaced," she sighed.

The teaser began with a young man in work clothes looking into the window of a jewelry store.The camera zoomed in on the ring he was looking at, a small oval diamond.It switched back to a shot of despair on his face.

He sighed and as he started to turn away, he bumped into a man standing beside him.He appeared to be about thirty years older than the younger man, with a look of someone who is very much in control.

"Oh, sorry," the young man said.

"That's all right," the older man said."That's a nice ring you were admiring."

"Uh, yes.It's very nice," the young man said.

"Planning on getting it for someone special?" the older man asked.

"Well, uh...I wanted to get it for my girlfriend," the young man said. "I wanted to ask her to marry me.But, I'm not getting it.It's...more than I can afford."

"That's a shame," the older man said. "But...step into the doorway over here for a moment, I may be able to help you." He motioned to the younger man to follow him into a hallway.

Once inside, the older man opened his jacket and pulled out a small black ring box, opening it for the younger man to see.

"That's...the same ring I was looking at in the window," the young man said with surprise.

"Yes it is," the older man said. "It...fell into my hands, if you know what I mean.I can let you have it for one-third of what the store wanted."

"Uh...no.I...don't want it," the young man said.

"It's not a fake," the older man said. "We can go down the street and have it appraised before you pay me.Your girlfriend really shouldn't have to wait until you can afford the store's price."

"No, I buy only... from legitimate stores," the young man said, nervously."I...don't buy things like that."

"Really.Never??" the older man asked.

"Never," the young man answered.

"Honest," the older man said."And innocent."

He quickly pulled the ring out of the box and pressed it against the young man's heart.The young man's eyes opened wide and he slowly fell to his knees.Then his eyes closed and he collapsed on the floor.

The older man returned the ring to the box and put it back in his pocket.He stood up tall and took a long, deep breath.

"Ahh!Another innocent soul to give me more power," he said. "Soon, I'll have all the power I need."

As the camera zoomed in for a head shot, his eyes glowed brightly, an evil look on his face.

"Very soon," he said.

After fading to black, the image of a normal town filled the screen as the voice over began.

"The world.People at work.Children at play.Families at home.

"The world.As they know it.With sunshine. With happiness. With hope.

"The world.As they expect it to continue to be."

The image changed to that of a large sinister looking man, obviously a demon, surrounded by burning candles with smaller demons on either side of him.

"But there are others who want a different world," the voice over continued. "A world of pain. A world of darkness and despair. Of souls taken and lost forever. Of destruction and devastation and domination by evil demons.

"And so they plan.And when their plans are ready, they will act."

A series of clips of the show's three stars replaced the demons as the voice over continued.

"Only a handful have the powers that could thwart them.Only these few stand in their way.Only they can save the innocent.Only they can save the world.

"And they themselves are in constant danger from the demons because of that.Because only they can stop

THEDEMON DIMENSION

Stuart looked at Alyssa as the commercial came on but said nothing to her as she stared silently at the screen.

"Samantha...one of the people they showed...who's trying to stop the demons," she said after a while, shaking her head. "That was the name of my character on Who's the Boss. And the actress playing Samantha..." She hesitated.

"Do you know her?" Stuart asked.

Alyssa stared at the screen in bewilderment.

"I...recognize her," she said. "That's Lori Rom.† She...she was the original Phoebe in the Charmed pilot. Is Samantha...supposed to be...me?"

They said nothing further as the episode's opening credits began to roll over an image of demons gathering in a room.


"Phew," Stuart exhaled, sitting back on the sofa when the next commercial break came on.

"Wow,"Alyssa said, as what she had seen sank in.

They both sat in silence, thinking about what they had just seen.

"We've got it backwards," Stuart said after a minute."We thought the forces of evil sent you here. But it wasn't them.It was the Forces of Good,Leo's side.It was The Elders."

"And that's why a demon tried to run me over," Alyssa said."And why one tried to kill me today.To break the Power of Three."

"You're the few, Alyssa...Phoebe, the few they said who can stop them," he said. "The Charmed Ones. Weíre in the real world, so these demons...they must have existed all along in the real world. But no one knew about them. So now that their plans are coming together and theyíre ready to use them there was no one who could stop them. That's why there's a role reversal; that's why your characters were somehow made real."

"To save the world," Alyssa said, as the full understanding set in. "We have to save the world from major destruction and devastation by demons. By our roles becoming real, we were given the powers in real life to use against them."

"And this show that's on instead of Charmed, " he said, "this Demon Dimension. It must be there as a way for us - for you - to learn things about them."

"This is more than about just being Phoebe," she said. "This is about taking on a responsibility, about fighting evil in real life the way we do on Charmed. †But I'm an actress not a fighter. What do I know about fighting evil?"

"What did your characters on Charmed know about fighting evil?" Stuart said. "The scripts said they knew enough to do it. Just like them, you know enough, having acted the part, to really be one of the Charmed Ones. Otherwise, The Elders would not have brought you here and entrusted you with saving the world.

"And the caring, kindness and goodness that Phoebe displays is really yours as well. Otherwise, they wouldn't have left this in your hands, either."

"You have a lot of confidence in me," she said.

"My confidence in you is just a reflection of who you are," Stuart said. "For you to see what you are capable of doing and to believe in yourself the same way that I believe in you."

"I never thought about being some kind of savior who fights evil," Alyssa said.She was quiet for a while, then took a deep breath."But I wasn't asked and I don't think I have a choice.Sometimes, life puts you in a position you can't shirk away from.If all of this is true, if we are truly the only ones who...can save the world...then I will have to be Phoebe Halliwell and try to save it."

The break ended and they silently watched as the show resumed.

Stuart turned to Alyssa as the closing credits rolled. "I'll get a calendar," he said, pulling one out of his wallet and holding it for her to see.

"The eve of the summer solstice," he said. "They said their plans have to be executed by then for them to succeed."

"That's about seven weeks from now," Alyssa said, looking at the calendar. "We have less than two months to save the world."

"Ahh!!"Stuart jumped up, a knife in his hand, as he looked all around the hallway.Holly laughed and continued on her way to the bathroom.The door opened behind him and Alyssa stuck her head out.

"What happened?" Alyssa asked, the morning sunlight shining through the doorway into the hallway.

"It's just your knight in shining armor defending you against a half-asleep witch," Holly told her as she opened the bathroom door and went inside.

"Sorry," Stuart said, sheepishly. "I told you I'm a light sleeper. And I guess I was also dreaming about that demon we saw on The Demon Dimension last night."

"How'd you sleep?"Alyssa asked.

"OK, more or less," he said. "Actually, a lot less than more.I kept waking up at the slightest sound, including Kit's meowing.Is there something about a witch's cat that she doesn't sleep at night the way normal cats do?"

Alyssa smiled.

"Hmmm," Shannen said as she inspected the hallway floor, then looked underneath Stuartís mattress.

"What are you looking for?" he asked.

"Traces of demon blood," Shannen said. "Surely after bravely defending the hallway all night you must have vanquished at least a few demons."

Stuart opened his mouth to answer her but nothing came out.He turned instead to Alyssa. "I...I...I...think I'll go get dressed now."He started to go to his room but then turned around as he remembered something.He flashed a half-smile, bent down to lift the edge of his mattress and self-consciously dragged it back to his room.

Shannen covered her mouth with her hand as she chuckled.She continued down the hallway and reached for the bathroom doorknob.

"Oh no!"Shannen turned around, leaned against the door jam and folded her arms.

"How could Charmed's writers have put only one bathroom in a house this size?" she complained.

The last of the morning fog was quickly dissipating as Holly sat on the top step of the porch. Her elbows on her thighs and her chin in her hands, she stared silently at the street below. Shannen opened the door and came outside, picked up the newspaper from the porch and sat down beside her.

"Yesterday when I woke up," Holly began slowly, a hint of melancholy in her voice, "my first thought was that what happened on Wednesday...our being here, the powers...it was all a bad dream.But when I opened my eyes we were still here.Then everything that happened yesterday...the attack on Alyssa...you and Tori...and Brian...or whoever, whatever he is..." She stopped and exhaled.

"And today is Friday and we're still here," she continued. "Three days! If this is a bad dream, we're trapped inside it."

"Or maybe," Shannen said, "it's just a bad episode from The Twilight Zone that we're trapped in." Holly half smiled in response and Shannen put her arm around her and pulled her towards her.

"All of this," Holly said, "...it can't really be happening. Yet...it is. We're sitting here. On the steps of..." she stopped and exhaled again. "...of the Halliwell Manor. In San Francisco."

"We're going to find out what's really going on," Shannen said, "not what someone wants us to think is happening.And we're going to start with Stuart.He has to be connected to all of this.Heís wanted us to accept all of this from the very beginning. I'm going to find out just who he really is."

"How?" Holly asked. "We don't exist here.We don't even have anyone to help us."

"There's Four One Five," Shannen said.

"Four One Five?" Holly asked, incredulously. "That made up magazine from Charmed? That's going to help us get back to reality?"

"I was thinking," Shannen said."I have the pictures I took of Tori.I'll take them down to the address that's in the copy of the magazine we found in the house.And if...there...really..." Shannen stopped and gritted her teeth.She was having difficulty saying the words. "...is...a...magazine there...I'll use their resources to check on him.

"One thing that Stuart said is right," Shannen continued."We have each other. We're in this together."

"I wish Brad was in this together with us," Holly said."Then maybe he could have written us out of here."

They looked at each other and chuckled."We have to keep our sense of humor," Shannen said, "so that we can keep thinking clearly."

Meow.

The cat came out the open door, walked over to Shannen and jumped onto her lap.

"You seem to know your way around here, don't you," Shannen said, running her fingers through her white and caramel fur."You're the only who really belongs here."

"I also know my way around here," Holly said. "Everything is the way The Manor is laid out on the set. What if that means that I...that we...really belong here, too."

"No!"Shannen said, taking Holly's hand and squeezing it."Prue Halliwell does not exist off of the Charmed set.And neither does Piper, nor Phoebe nor any of the other characters.And we have to keep reminding each other of that."

"If I said that to Brian," Holly said, "somehow, I don't think he'd know what I was talking about." She sighed.

"What if Alyssa is right?" Holly asked. "What if this is all real...and we can't do anything about it?"

"No!!" Shannen exclaimed. She dropped the cat into Piper's lap and stood up. "No one is going to convince me that I'm not Shannen Doherty. I'm going to find our what's really happening here. Stuart has to be the key to this and I'm going to start with him.

"I'm not Prue Halliwell and you're not Piper. And we don't belong here."Shannen turned around and went inside the house.

Meow.

Holly lifted the cat's head and looked into her eyes.The cat stared back, her eyes locked on Holly's.Thereís something in how the cat is looking at me, she thought. As if...she knows something. About us.

Meow.

Holly slowly shook her head.

"What if we really do belong here?" she asked, frightened. "What if we really do?

 

"We don't know anything about you other than what you've told us," Shannen said to Stuart as Holly came into the living room and sat down next to her on the sofa."And as you don't seem to exist here we can't find out anything, either. I tried to all morning using Four One Fiveís computers and came up with nothing."

"The magazine is real...isnít it?" Holly asked rhetorically, knowing the answer.

"I know I donít exist here," Stuart said."All I can do is ask you to trust me."

"We're in a situation that we can't logically explain," Shannen said, "and where we're in danger. Trust is in short supply just now."

"Remember the episode where Bane kidnapped you?" Stuart asked. "Piper and Phoebe came to rescue you only to find...uh, to find you telling them to trust Bane.And they didn't want to, they thought you were, uh...out of your mind."

"That was a TV show," Holly said, "from a script. We're talking about real life here."

"The Charmed Ones have become real," Stuart replied, "and everything associated with Charmed has become part of the real world, too. I've no doubt that if you check on the list of inmates at the state prison, you'll find Bane Jessup there. That episode was real here.

"When your lives were in danger, you asked Piper and Phoebe to trust you about Bane.They did - and you were right to trust him. I'm asking you now to trust me."

"We are out of cat food," Alyssa announced as she marched into the living room."I just fed Kit the last can we had.Some things were overlooked when shopping was done this morning."

"I checked the pantry to see what we were short of," Holly said."I really wasn't thinking about cat food, just human food."

"Kit does not do her own shopping," Alyssa said.

"All right.I'll run down to the store and get it," Stuart said, turning to Alyssa."Promise me you won't leave the house until I get back."

Alyssa tilted her head as she looked at Stuart."Promise," she said smiling.

"Car keys are on the kitchen table," Holly said.

"I'll go out through the back," Stuart said.

"Ohh-K," Alyssa said, after Stuart left."What have you been talking about without me."

"This...situation," Holly said.Alyssa could tell from her voice, and the look on Shannen's face, that a part of each of them was still holding out, and could not - or would not - stop trying to reject what happened.

"Look," Shannen said, "I'm really just Shannen Doherty the actress. I'm not really Prue Halliwell the demon fighter. Only..."Shannen hesitated and looked around her."This isn't really a Charmed set."

"No, it's not," Alyssa said."We didn't get pulled into an elaborate Charmed episode.This is the real world, the same real world we were in before we were brought here. The only thing that's changed in it...is us."

"And those close to us, like my agent - and Dorian," Shannen said.

"And Brian," Holly added."Why doesn't he know who he really is like we do?"

Alyssa shook her head. "I don't know," she said. "On Charmed, there were episodes where things happened all around us and no one besides us realized they had happened.The scripts said it had something to do with our being Charmed.Maybe it's the same here."

"Or maybe...it really isn't Brian," Holly said, fearful of the implication if that was true.

"That could be," Alyssa said. "Maybe, whoever he is, he has his own...appearance. Itís just that his manifestation is as ĎLeoí because thatís how he was portrayed on Charmed ." Holly closed her eyes for a moment and shook her head.

"Look," Alyssa continued, "we didn't ask to be brought here, we didn't ask for this to happen us. But we have to accept that it did happen. We have to accept that we've had a role reversal. That we're no longer playing the role of the Halliwells - but that we really are the Halliwells in real life. That Charmed is now part of the real world.

"I've been thinking about this a lot since last night," Alyssa continued. "Look at everything that's happened. Whether or not we want to be, we are The Charmed Ones now. And we have to accept the responsibility, to fight evil, to save the world from major destruction, that goes with it. Stuart's right. We have to stop fighting reality. We have to stop wasting our thinking, our efforts on trying to disprove what has in fact happened."

She looked over to Shannen.

"You still don't trust him, do you?" Alyssa asked.

Shannen hesitated.

"You have to admit," Shannen said, "that everything, all of this, started right after you met him."

"I trust him," Alyssa said."I trust him - and you just have to trust me."

"I still want to know more about him," Shannen said. "But as he doesn't exist here, we have no way of checking on him.Four One Fiveís computers couldn't find anything at all about him. We don't know who - or what - he really is."

"You admit that Charmedís magazine really does exist now," Alyssa said. "Then why are you still refusing to accept that the rest of Charmed exists now, as well?"

"Because Piper Halliwell isn't real...and I'm not her," Holly said. But there was more desperation than conviction in her voice.

"I am not about to...to give up my identity.I am Holly Combs.That is who I am, who I have been all of my life.I am not going to give that up."

"You're not giving up your identity," Alyssa said gently."When you do a scene on Charmed as Piper Halliwell, you're not giving up who you are.You're just putting it aside until after the scene is done.And during the scene, you think only as Piper and act only as Piper."She took Holly's hand in hers and looked into her eyes.

"We're in a scene now," Alyssa continued, "a very long scene, the most realistic scene we've ever done.And we don't know when the director will yell 'cut'.The only way we're going to make it through the scene, to accomplish what we've been brought here to do and maybe get...get off of this 'set', is to think and act all the time like The Halliwells."

"In the first episode of the show when we became The Charmed Ones," Shannen said, "we were the target of a warlock who wanted to kill us.And afterwards, we were the target of every demon that wanted to destroy good witches.But that was acting.This is real.In the episode, we didn't have a choice.We had already become witches.But here -"

"We don't have a choice either," Alyssa interrupted her. "We've already become witches, too. That Demon Dimension episode was there to show us why we brought here. Because The Charmed Ones, and their powers, are needed to stop these demons from wrecking major destruction in the world. And only we know how to be The Charmed Ones."

"You almost died yesterday," Shannen said.

"We all almost died yesterday," Alyssa said "if not for your reacting instinctively as Prue.That's why it won't work if I'm Alyssa Milano, if I stop and think each time 'what would Phoebe do now?'.

"I have to be acting instinctively and thinking instinctively as Phoebe.To do that, I have to remain in the role, to stay in character, all the time.I have to become, in real life, Phoebe Halliwell.

"And you both have to do that as well.You have to become, in real life, Prue and Piper."

Shannen was silent.She turned her attention to the vase on the table and using her power, slowly moved it to the far end and then back to its place.

The power. She really did have Prue's power. And despite her insistence that she wasn't Prue, and her determination that very morning not to accept that Charmed had become real, she had to admit to herself that after three days of trying she could not find any other explanation for it.

Ding-dong.

The doorbell interrupted their thoughts.

"Maybe Stuart forgot his key," Alyssa said. She went to the door, opened it, but no one was there.Looking down, she saw something by the doorstep and knelt down to pick it up.It was a watch with a note taped to it.'Answer the telephone' it said.

As Alyssa turned to go inside the telephone rang.

"Who was it?"Shannen asked but Alyssa ignored her and ran to pick up the phone.

"Who is this?" Alyssa asked.

"You have something of ours that was left behind yesterday," the voice said. "And we have something of yours.Your friend.That's his watch you're holding.Let's make a trade.Our dagger for your friend."

Alyssa took a deep breath but didn't hesitate.

"Where?" she asked.

"Come to the alley off of Second Street behind Mission at eight-thirty," the voice said. "You'll see a black metal door with an orange circle on it. "

"After what you tried to do to me yesterday I'm not going to come to you alone," Alyssa said. "I don't trust you for-"

"You can bring your sister with you if you're afraid," the voice said. "But not the one that moves things.If we see her anywhere around here, we'll kill your friend. This is a straight business trade.Nothing more."

"OK," but before Alyssa could say any more the line went dead.

"What-" Shannen began to ask.

"They have Stuart," Alyssa said. "They want to trade him for the dagger."

"Who has him?" Holly asked.

"The demons who tried to kill me yesterday," Alyssa said. "They sent his watch to prove that they have him."

"This watch - it could be anyone's," Shannen said.

"No," Alyssa answered, "I recognize it.Stuart was showing it to me last night.See the scratch on the bezel?It's his."

"The car," Holly said.They quickly ran through the kitchen and out the back door.The car stood in the driveway.Holly knelt down and picked up something lying near the front door.

"The car keys," she said.

They went back inside and sat down in the parlor.

Shannen was silent for a moment. "There is of course another possibility," she said. "That the watch wasn't really taken from him."

"You...you think Stuart's in on it!?" Alyssa asked. "You think he's part of whatever has happened to us?!After everything he's done-"

"I know what he's done for you,"Shannen said, then stopped, realizing how uncaring that sounded."For us. You're alive because of him.

"I'm just saying...that maybe...he's connected somehow to everything that's been happening - including this.Maybe he doesn't even know that he's being used.It's a possibility that, with our lives having changed in ways that we can't understand, and in danger, we can't just ignore."

"It's not a possibility," Alyssa said. "We have to trust each other, like real sisters.And you're just going to have to trust me, just the way Prue and Piper would trust Phoebe.Because that's who you and I are now.Stuart is an innocent.And we're going to bring the dagger to them and save him."

"And they want you to just walk in there and hand it to them?" Shannen asked

"They agreed to let Holly come with me," Alyssa said. "But not you.They know you have the strongest powers and can hurt them."

"It's a trap," said Holly, staring ahead blankly.

"What's a trap?" a voice asked.

"Leo!"His sudden arrival startled Holly.She could no more get used to it in real life than the writers said she could as Piper in Charmed's scripts.

"The demons kidnaped Stuart," Shannen explained."They want...Phoebe and Piper to bring them the dagger in exchange for Stuart."

"Of course it's a trap," he said.

"I know," said Alyssa."But I'm going anyway."

"You can't," countered Leo."I won't let you do this.It's suicide."

Alyssa looked Leo directly in the eyes.

"When a car was trying to run me down, Stuart saved my life," she said."He did it even though it was suicide for him to jump in front of that car.

"When the demon tried to kill me with the dagger, he jumped in front of me to save me, even though it was suicide to do that." Alyssa stood up, determination in her voice.

"He nearly died twice saving my life," she said. "I am not going to leave him there." She paused."It is our responsibility to protect the innocent.And I will protect him."

Holly closed her eyes and gently shook her head in disbelief.That was a line from the writers to explain the basic premise of Charmed. And now Alyssa had just said it in real life!

But what other choice was there, she reluctantly had to admit.She took a deep breath.

"We," Holly began slowly, realizing that there was nothing else she could do but agree with Alyssa, "...protect the innocent." The last vestige of stubborn resistance to who she was evaporating in her words.

"We are...The Charmed Ones," Holly said.And she was, she finally accepted, Piper Halliwell.

Silence.

"Phew," was Shannen's reaction.This is the reality, she thought.Already yesterday, Alyssa had accepted that she's Phoebe and now Holly had accepted that she's Piper, too.

Reality.They had somehow been transported here, there was Leo, there were demons and other supernatural things happening - and they had the powers.They really had the powers of The Charmed Ones.

Reality.If accepting the un-believable - that they had become in real life the roles they had created acting - made no sense, then continuing to deny it - after everything that had happened to them the past three days - made even less sense.

"You're right. We are Prue...Piper...and Phoebe," Shannen said, saying each name slowly and deliberately. "And we do protect the innocent." And she was Prue...the third sister.

They were no longer playing their roles as The Halliwells. They had become, in real life, The Charmed Ones.

The three actresses' role reversal was complete.

Shannen stopped for a second and concentrated on assuming her character - for real.

"We'll need a good plan to save Stuart," she continued. "And we'll have to come up with it ourselves. We don't have any writers to do it for us."

"Writers?" Leo asked.

"Never mind, Leo," Piper said.

"Go up to the attic Alyssa...uh, Phoebe," Prue told her, "and see what you can find in the Book of Shadows that will help.We'll stay here and try to come up with the plan."

Phoebe nodded her head.The three of us are finally in synch, she thought, the way we're supposed to be.We are, indeed, the three Halliwell sisters.

Phoebe lifted the coffee cup from the table.

"To the power of three, if we like it or not," she said.

"Delightful neighborhood," Piper observed, as they walked down a desolate street with warehouses and dark alleys.this part of San Francisco during Charmed's opening credits."

They turned left at the alley and found themselves facing a black metal door.A large orange circle was in the center.Piper stood in front of it and put her hand to it but didn't open it.

"This was easy on the show," she said."We knew what was going to happen.Here, we don't have a script to rely on to make it turn out all right."

"I know," Phoebe said."We just have to rely on each other.And we have to remember that we really are The Charmed Ones."

Piper closed her eyes. She thought about her character, about how she would play Piper on Charmed when she was faced with danger and was going to use her powers. She let those thoughts, those feelings, that psyche fill her mind.

"I am Piper Halliwell," she said quietly to herself. She opened her eyes and thought about The Manor, about being in San Francisco, about the powers that she now had.About Piper Halliwell coming to life.

"I am Piper Halliwell," she repeated. She took a deep breath.

"OK, Phoebe," she said, her emotions a mixture of fear and resolve."Let's do it."

They entered a dark, short hallway and made their way to a door at the other end.Piper opened it and they found themselves in a large, dimly lit room.

"You came.But then I expected you would."He stood opposite them in the middle of the room.He was taller than the demon who had tried to kill Phoebe, who now stood to his left.A third demon walked in behind them and stood by the wall to the right of Piper.

"They came alone," he said to the tall demon.

"Stuart!"Phoebe saw him behind the demon.He was tied up in a chair, his mouth gagged and a blindfold over his eyes.

"He's not hurt," the tall demon said.

"I want to see that for myself," Phoebe said.

"First, the dagger," the demon said.

Piper opened the large pocketbook she was carrying.She pulled out the dagger but left the pocketbook open.

The demon stuck out his hand, motioning Piper to bring it to him.She shook her head and instead, knelt down and placed the dagger on the floor.

The large demon motioned to the demon next to him.The smaller demon went to Stuart and removed the blindfold.He blinked and squinted, trying to adjust his eyes to the light, dim as it was.The tall demon nodded and the smaller demon began undoing the ropes.

"Give me the dagger and we'll let him go," the tall demon said.

Piper kicked it to the far wall, away from the demons.The tall demon quickly went over and picked it up.

His hands free, Stuart pulled the gag from his mouth."Get out!It's a trap," he shouted. The demon who had untied him swung the back of his hand hard against Stuart, his knuckles making contact with his jaw, knocking him off of the chair onto the floor.

"Of course it is," the tall demon said, as he fingered the dagger in his hand."After all the trouble I went through to have you killed, I can't let this opportunity go by."He turned to a small table behind him and lifted a triple scabbard.He opened it to reveal the other two daggers inside.

"On the eve of the summer solstice, these will make me invincible," he said as he placed the third dagger in the scabbard.The three daggers began to glow.

"The solstice.That's what the Book of Shadows meant by 'the long sun'," Phoebe said.

"But first," the tall demon said, "this dagger has two more witches to kill."

Piper raised her hand but nothing happened.

"Oh," the tall demon said. "Did I neglect to mention that we don't freeze?That's why I didn't care if you came along. In fact, I wanted you to come so that I could kill you along with your sister.Sorry to disappoint you about your power."

"I'm not disappointed," Piper said."I didn't think it would work on you.

"Now!"Piper shouted into her open pocketbook.

In a couple of seconds, Prue appeared in the room, standing next to Piper.The demon who untied Stuart started towards her but Prue waved her hand at him and he went flying.She looked at the demon to Piper's right and knocked him back against the wall.The tall demon removed the dagger from the scabbard and began running towards them as they started the spell.

††† †††"Frubos who destroy

†††††††††† Your end is this day;

†††††††† Let the demons of daggers

†††††††††† Be taken away."

They had backed up against the wall as they said the spell.The tall demon was only inches from them as a fire appeared above the three Frubos and ignited their bodies.They began screaming in agony and as the fire intensified, the demons seemed to shrink until both they and the fire were gone.Three seconds later, Prue disappeared.

"That was close," Piper said.

 

Prue sat up in the armchair in the living room of The Manor.She bent over to retrieve the cell phone that had fallen from her hand to the floor when she had slumped over.

"It worked," she said to herself.

 

"It worked," Phoebe said to Piper with a tinge of excitement."They're gone.The spell really worked!"

"It worked ...because we really are witches," Piper said without enthusiasm, reluctantly accepting the final proof of their role reversal - and of who they now really were.

Piper and Prue were curled up on opposite armchairs later that night while Stuart and Phoebe sat together on the sofa.

"We did it," Prue was saying, a trace of awe and disbelief in her voice."We actually vanquished demons."

"We eliminated evil...and a threat to the world," Piper said, pausing."We did something good, something... that's really important. Yet...it doesn't feel real." She paused again.

"We weren't working from a script," she continued. "We were just using our powers in real life.There were no scenes,no cameras... It all felt...surreal."

"I know," Prue said, "I felt that, too.But what does that say about us?About how we look at things?Hollywood feels real to us...and reality doesn't."

"I'll tell you what feels real - we saved Stuart," Phoebe said, turning to him and squeezing his hand.

"You trusted me," Stuart said."In the end, you trusted me."

"Phoebe trusted you," Piper replied, "and we trusted Phoebe."

"We really do have to trust each other completely," Prue said."And - maybe Bane Jessup really does exist here," she added with a smile.

"You took a big risk for me," he went on, turning serious."If the Frubos' place turned out to be underground, or had thick walls around it, the cell phone would have been in a dead zone.And Prue would not have been able to hear you, focus on your voice and astral project into the room."

"Then we would have been in a dead zone," Phoebe quipped.

"How did it feel?" Piper asked Prue.

"I was there, in the room with you," she replied. "But I felt that some part of me was elsewhere.It's like a rubber band that you stretch.One end stays where it is and applies some resistance.You keep pulling the other end to where you want it to be.So I just pulled myself to be with you.But I can't keep it stretched for too long.Then I just let go and was pulled back to The Manor.

"At first, I didn't know what to do other than what I did on Charmed which was to just slump.And nothing happened.I kept thinking 'how is this supposed to work, how was Prue supposed to do this.'

"Then I realized that that was what was wrong.I was thinking like Shannen.'No - I'm Prue Halliwell', I thought.I let my acting give me the push into character but then I crossed the line and let myself become her, I let myself think naturally as Prue.And it came to me.Like something you know but can't remember.When you relax and let your thoughts flow naturally it comes to you.

"There is a technique to this astral projection and now I know how to do it.You were right, Phoebe.We have to be thinking in character."

"I wish it wasn't this way," Piper said, "but it is.The plan worked only because you did just that - and because I was...because I am, Piper Halliwell."

"Our lives here depend upon our reacting instinctively and instantly as The Charmed Ones," Prue continued."The only way we're going to do that, whether we like it or not,is by living our roles and being The Halliwells all the time."

Piper looked at her hands, turning them over slowly. Her hands through which she now had Piper Halliwell's power. Her hands that made her Piper Halliwell.

"We're going to have to get used to really being The Halliwells," Piper said, with resignation and acceptance. "That we really are our characters...and only our characters."

She sighed.

"So long Holly Combs," she said. "It was nice being you."

They became silent, thinking about who they really were now. No cameras, no scripts. Just real life. A Charmed real life. And in this real life, they would have to think, act and be The Halliwells in everything they did.

Prue took a deep breath. We'd better get used to this, she thought. They would be The Halliwells until...until The Elders undid the changes to reality, the changes that affected them and no one else, and Prue Halliwell once again existed only on the sound stages of Ray-Art Studios. I don't think that will be anytime soon, she thought.

"I think we did rather well with our plan," Phoebe said, breaking the silence."I don't think Charmed's writers could have done any better."

"Yes, you did," Stuart said."I think you should all get honorary memberships in the Writers Guild."

"Well, we should start to work on our next plan to find the other demons-," Prue began.

"Ahem," Phoebe loudly cleared her throat as she looked at Prue."Ahem, ahem."

At first Prue didn't understand, but then she caught on.

"On the other hand," Prue said. "it has been a long day.Maybe I'll just go upstairs and go to sleep and start fresh in the morning.Right Piper?"

"Uh.." Piper hesitated, "...r-r-right...right!I had no idea how tiring vanquishing demons in real life could be.So, uh, I'll go to sleep.Upstairs."

"And...we'll stay upstairs...not down here...with you," Prue added, looking at Stuart and Phoebe.

Piper got up and gave Phoebe a good-night hug.

"Don't do anything I wouldn't do," Piper whispered in her ear.

"Umm..." she added as she let go, reflecting on what she just said. "Maybe that wasn't such good advice."

Phoebe laughed as Piper turned and followed Prue up the stairs.

"The whole time I was tied up there," Stuart said, "all I thought about was you.I just wanted to see you one more time.But I kept hoping that you wouldn't come.I didn't want you walking into the trap.I didn't want anything to happen to you."

"There wasn't any way that I wasn't going to come, that I would let anything happen to you," Phoebe replied softly.

"But you hardly know me-" he started to say.

"I know," she cut him off, "you know me for two years but I know you for only two days.But today made it three days - that's a fifty percent increase.That's enough 'knowing you' to justify saving you."

"I've been thinking about what I told you," Stuart said, "that I didn't understand why I felt more towards you when I watched Charmed. Well, I don't understand how it could not have been clear to me." He leaned forward towards her. "It's absolutely clear to me now.

"I haven't really told you that you're beautiful," he continued. "At least, not the way others do when they see you.Of course you are. But when I look at you I see a different beauty. I see that you're beautiful on the inside.That's what real beauty is. That's what matters in a person. Thatís what matters to me.

"Your inherent goodness. Itís real. And that's what makes you so exceptional.

"And that's why I'm attracted to you, Alyssa. You...the real person.Not just the character Phoebe. Because this beauty inside of you...your very special character...isnít only Phoebe's. It's yours, too.

"Most people donít know who you really are.Theyíre attracted to you because you're famous, because you're a TV star.That doesn't mean anything."

"Really!"she said.

"Uh..uhh...that didn't come out the way I meant it," he said. "I'm glad for you that you're a TV star.You've worked hard at acting since you were a child.You deserve to be a celebrity.

"But to me, I wouldn't care if you were Alyssa Milano...secretary.Your being a celebrity is not what interests me.It's who you are...what you are inside of you.Itís that natural goodness of yours...that natural goodness thatís hard to find in people."

"Some things are clear to me also," Phoebe said as they looked into each other's eyes.

"Even though you vanquished the Frubos," he said, "there are other demons out there.We don't know whether they're also out to get you.So I'm going to sleep outside your room again tonight to protect you."

"I'd feel more protected," Phoebe said slowly, "if you slept inside my room."

They drew closer to each other and gently kissed.Then they stood up and, holding hands, went up the stairs together.



Top