Charmed Role Reversal

The Lady and the Diamonds

T he swirling fire filled the center of the warehouse's high-ceilinged, double-height first floor. The flames did not spread outwards towards the warehouse walls, nor upwards to the mezzanine half-floor that contained rooms overlooking it, but remained contained within a circle. The blaze's acrid smoke blocked the view of what was burning inside the ring of fire. And the roar of the inferno drowned out any sounds that came from within it.

And then the fire suddenly burned out and self-extinguished. There were no charred remains of anything in the area where the fire had been. The only evidence that something had burned there was a circular scorch pattern on the warehouse floor.

Sisters Prue and Piper Halliwell stared at the empty concrete. Kelly Anderson, formerly their junior but now considered by them their equal as a good witch, stood next to them. Female demons who had recently killed three people had been tracked to the warehouse. Though the three witches had not seen the demons before that day, nor had known how many demons were involved in the killings, they knew enough about how they had killed their innocent victims to make up a spell to vanquish them. A spell the three witches had just used to create the fireball that had accomplished that objective.

Kelly slowly approached the scorched floor. Slim, with a slightly long but attractive face and a blond ponytail, at a little over five foot nine she fairly towered over the much shorter Halliwells. As she stood at the edge of the circle, Kelly felt a sense of accomplishment. In vanquishing the two demons they had once again rid the world of evil.

Piper walked over to join her. She too felt good about what they had done. But she also felt something else, something she couldn't quite understand. She was feeling that somehow the evil they had followed here wasn't really gone.

While the witches had found the two demons on the warehouse's first floor, Stuart Weston had gone up the stairs to check that no one else was on the mezzanine half-floor. As Kelly's fiancé, he regularly accompanied her to help her fight demons. Though a normal mortal without any powers, he nevertheless insisted on joining her to combat evil. Just as he had done when he had been part of the demon fighting effort of the Halliwells when he had lived in their house. Before he and Kelly had fallen in love and he had moved out to be with her.

Stuart ran down the mezzanine hallway, opened the door to the first room and looked inside. Windows along the right wall overlooked the warehouse floor below. Finding the room empty, he quickly left it to check on the next room.

As he went into the second room he stopped short. An older woman was standing at the window, staring down at Kelly and the Halliwells. She held something in her hand which she raised to the window.

"You'll all die -" she started to say but Stuart's entrance interrupted her. He realized she must be a third demon who had been party to, with the two vanquished demons, the killing of the innocent people.

The demon turned to Stuart, moved her hand away from the window and held it out towards him. In her hand was a square metal box. Two small, flat pieces of metal extending from the box' front began to move as the demon turned something on the box' back.

Suddenly, Stuart felt as if two hands were at his throat. He instinctively raised his own hands to them but nothing was there for him to grasp and pull away. Yet he felt the grip around his throat tightening. He had to quickly get help from the witches below or he would die. He grabbed a folding chair that stood next to him and, though choking, with difficulty threw it at the window to get their attention. The chair smashed through the window, sending shards of glass falling to the warehouse floor below.

Kelly and Piper, startled by the falling chair and glass, jumped back away from the circle. Then all three girls looked up at the broken window.

"What was that?" Piper asked.

"Something..." Kelly began to say. "Stuart's up there!" she exclaimed. She dashed to the stairs leading to the mezzanine half-floor, Piper and Prue hurrying right behind her.

The door to the second room was open and Kelly headed straight for it. She burst in and saw Stuart on the floor choking, his hands at his neck in a what had been a useless attempt to free his throat.

The demon recognized Kelly and aimed the box at her. But before she could use it Prue came into the room. She quickly waved her hand at the demon, using her telekinesis power to send the demon flying against the far wall, the box falling from the demon's hand and sliding across the floor. Prue waved her hand twice more, each time sending the demon harder into the wall.

Stunned, the demon couldn't get up. Kelly, Prue and Piper quickly joined hands, then repeated the spell they had used on the first two demons. A circle of fire appeared again, enclosing the third demon inside of it. The smoke filled the room but in a few seconds it, the fire and the demon were gone.

Kelly, coughing from the smoke, dropped to her knees next to Stuart and cradled him in her arms. She called his name but he was un-conscious and didn't respond.

"He was choking," she cried. Piper dropped down next to them, pulled Stuart from Kelly and lay him flat on the floor. She tilted his head back and his chin up, then pinched his nose. She sealed his mouth with her own over it and began CPR rescue breathing into his mouth.

After a minute Stuart began to cough. Piper released his mouth and together with Kelly sat him up, propping him up against Kelly's chest.

"Stuart...Stuart," Kelly called to him.

"Just take slow, deep breaths," Piper told him.

He did as she said, coughing in between the breaths. He raised his hand to his throat, closing his eyes in pain as he touched it.

"Let me see that," Prue said, as she kneeled down next to them. She very gently ran a finger across the side of Stuart's throat. The skin was smooth, not a even a red mark visible on it. "Can you swallow?" she asked.

Stuart's breathing was starting to return to normal but as he tried to swallow the pain returned to his face.

"What did that demon do to you?" Kelly asked.

Stuart swallowed again and pointed to the box lying on the floor. Prue went over to where the box lay and retrieved it.

"What is that?" Piper asked.

"I don't know," Prue replied as she brought it to them. The box was made of medium grey, slightly textured metal, with rounded edges where the sides, top and bottom came together. On the back panel was a dark red, knurled knob with a glass top, a red light shining through it.

Next to the red knob were two larger, dark brown knobs with gold colored metal caps and gold colored stripe position pointers. A yellow semi-circle stripe with a directional arrow was above each of the brown knobs, the arrows pointing towards each other and at the space that lay between them. On the front panel of the box were two flat, outstretched metal pieces.

Prue turned the box around so that she could see the knobs and the metal pieces at the same time.

"Apparently some kind of device," Prue replied. "The angle of these...arms in relation to each other matches the angle of these two knobs' positions in relation to each other."

"The demon was using this?" Kelly asked Stuart. He couldn't speak and just nodded his head in agreement.

"Aim it at me," Piper said. "We have to know what it does."

Prue hesitated but Piper nodded her head to do it. As Prue aimed it, Piper began to gasp, her hands coming up to her neck. Prue quickly turned the knobs in the opposite direction of the arrows. The two metal "arms" moved away from each other. Piper coughed twice and caught her breath.

"I'm OK," she said. "I felt like I was being choked."

"These...'arms' - for lack of a better word - were squeezing your throat," Prue said. "Somehow...from a distance it was choking you."

"A demon using an electronic piece of equipment to kill," Kelly said in wonderment. "I haven't come across that before."

"Nor have we," Prue replied.

"Where did it come from? And why was she using it instead of her own demonic power?" Piper asked.

"We're going to have get those answers," Prue agreed.

"But first we have to help Stuart," Kelly said.

"We'll get him back to The Manor, find Leo and have him heal Stuart," Prue said. Leo was their whitelighter who, in addition to guiding them, had the power of healing. Kelly and Piper helped Stuart up. They put their arms under his shoulders and slowly walked him down the stairs to their car.

Stuart was lying down in one of the Halliwell Manor bedrooms. Leo's power to heal had restored Stuart's neck and throat so that it was no longer damaged. But he was still feeling weak so Kelly insisted that he rest.

"This red knob turns the device on and off," Prue said as she turned it, being careful that the metal "arms" weren't pointing at anyone. "The red light indicates it's on."

"And those other two knobs control the positions of the metal 'arms'," Piper said, "how close they are together. And how tight their affect is on someone's throat."

"But how does it do that?" Kelly asked. "How did they get a demonic power into an electronic device?"

"Who made it - and why?" Piper asked.

"I'm going to look at it carefully," Prue said, "maybe even take it apart."

"Uh...can I talk to you for a minute, Piper?" Kelly asked.

"Sure," Piper replied. Realizing that she wanted to talk to her privately, Piper motioned Kelly to join her in the parlor.

"You helped me make Stuart remember our being in love, after he lost his memory about us when we returned from the alternate reality," Kelly said after they sat down. "You cared about me and about getting Stuart and me back together."

"Of course I cared about your happiness," Piper said, "and I still do. What's the problem?"

Kelly took a deep breath.

"Stuart," Kelly replied. "This is the third time in the last few weeks that he's almost been killed. The fourth time if you count what happened in the alternate reality just before we came back here."

Kelly and Stuart had been banished by demons to an alternate reality, which was also five years in the future. It was after they had abandoned all hope of getting back to this reality, having exhausted every spell Kelly could think of trying, that they allowed themselves to fall in love. And eventually become engaged to be married.

But after two years of normal lives in that reality, demons appeared there. Kelly returned to what she knew was her responsibility, to protect innocents from evil, with Stuart with her at her side. It was at the end of their last battle that Stuart had been wounded and left dying. It was only the suddenly discovered way of using a time-travel watch to return to their own reality, where Leo existed and could heal Stuart, that saved his life. But that return with the time-travel watch had cost Stuart his memory of having been with Kelly. Piper later helped Kelly restore it to him, despite Piper's other sister Phoebe wanting to use his memory loss to give her a second chance to get back together with Stuart, having bungled her first opportunity with him.

"I love him - and I can't protect him," Kelly said, a small tear forming in her left eye. "And...he won't stay behind when I go after evil."

"No...he won't," Piper said. "We saw that when he was with us, before you went to the alternate reality. He always insisted that he was part of what we did and wouldn't stand aside and not help."

"He says he and I are a team, and not just emotionally and romantically," Kelly went on, the tear rolling down from her eye onto her cheek. "And...he's right. We are a good team in everything we do - including fighting demons and other evil." She paused and took another deep breath. "But I...I can't keep letting him go where he can be..." Kelly couldn't bring herself to finish the sentence.

Piper moved over to Kelly and put her arm around her. "Any one of us could be killed at any time fighting demons and other evil," she said. "It's something we have to live with."

Actually, we really wouldn't have to live with it, Piper thought, if The Elders hadn't made Charmed part of the real world, turning our Charmed Halliwell characters, and ourselves, into real-life witches. And if they hadn't brought Stuart along with us. And we wouldn't have to keep living with it if they would just take Charmed out of the real world and put it back to being a TV show - and us as its stars in it. And put Stuart back to his very normal, demon-free, life. They brought us here to save the world from major evil - and we've done that more times than I can count. It's way past time for them to have sent us all home.

Piper exhaled. But I can't tell Kelly about Charmed - and about how we became the real-life Halliwells. And it wouldn't matter even if I could. It wouldn't change the danger that we, and Stuart, keep facing as long as we're kept here.

"If I keep doing what I have to do to eliminate evil and protect innocents - going after demons - Stuart's going to insist on coming with me," Kelly said. "And protecting innocents is my responsibility. I won't...I can't give that up."

Piper thought for a moment. "You don't have to give it up. Stuart has been through a lot lately. And you have, too, because of that. Maybe...maybe just take a break for a little while. No fighting evil, just for a bit. So that both you and Stuart can catch your breaths. And recuperate."

Kelly was silent for a moment then looked at Piper. "I can't. There's evil -"

"Out there," Piper said, finishing Kelly's words. "Prue, Phoebe and I will handle it. It'll just be for a while."

Kelly took a deep breath, then nodded her head in agreement. "Thanks, Piper. I knew I could come to you. You're...being like a big sister to me. Again!" Kelly was twenty-one years old in this reality. She was actually twenty-three, when adding in the two years she had lived in the alternate reality's future. But those years didn't chronologically count here, as she had returned to this reality at the same instant, and therefore the same age, she had left it. Nevertheless, Piper was still at least two years older than her and could well fill that role.

Piper smiled. "That's exactly how I feel about you, Kelly," she said.

They returned to the living room as Prue was hanging up the phone. "That was Phoebe. She checked into that diamond robbery."

"Morris called this morning about a robbery in the Mission District," Piper explained to Kelly, referring to their friend Police Inspector Darryl Morris. "Diamonds were stolen but it wasn't clear how it was done. Just a strange symbol where the safe was corroded, allowing the thief to get inside of it. And it hadn't been corroded before the theft. Morris has learned that when he comes across something strange at a crime scene, he calls us. Sometimes we can help him."

"Phoebe said it was a symbol she once saw in the Book of Shadows," Prue said. "It was used for acid secretion, a power to generate corrosive acid. That's how whoever it was got into the safe."

"That seems strange that a demon would care about stealing diamonds," Kelly remarked.

"It gets even stranger," Prue replied. "The diamonds stolen were new and recently cut. But in the same safe were the Madison Diamonds, a set of three matching orangey colored gems that have a history going back almost seventy-five years. They're worth more than ten times the value of the two dozen stolen diamonds. But they weren't taken."

"That is strange," Piper agreed. "Maybe the demon thief figured the Madison Diamonds are well known and can't be readily sold - assuming that was his intention."

"Except that the new diamonds were already registered using the Gemprint method," Prue said, referring to an identification technology that records diamonds' optical 'fingerprints'. "They'd be recognized as stolen by anyone checking before buying them."

"None of this makes sense," Kelly said.

"No, it doesn't," Prue agreed. "Phoebe's staying there to see what else she can find out."

"Wasn't one of the three people killed by the demons we vanquished today a gemologist?" Kelly asked.

"Uh...yes..I think you're right," Prue said. "Maybe it was the first man they killed, Archie Lenner."

"Were any diamonds stolen during his murder?" Kelly asked.

"We didn't look into that," Piper admitted.

"We don't know why the demons picked him to kill," Kelly said. "The other two innocent victims were involved in organizations that helped people straighten out their lives, something demons want to stop. But as far as we know Lenner wasn't doing anything like that."

"It could be a coincidence," Piper began, looking at Prue. "Except..."

"Yes - I don't believe in coincidences," Prue acknowledged. She took a deep breath. "I'll go look into this now and we'll see whether there's a connection. You work on figuring out the device, Piper."

Prue grabbed the car keys, went out the back to their car and drove off.

"This device is really strange," Piper said, "but we'll figure it out together."

"Actually, I want to take Stuart home. He'll rest better there," Kelly said. "Especially being away from anything related to going after demons," she added quietly.

"Right - we're keeping him away from all of that for now," Piper agreed. "Depending on what I find examining this device I might need to go somewhere and Prue has the car. How about I come with you in your car and help you get Stuart settled at home. We can look at the device together for a little while, then I'll borrow your car and come back here with it."

"Sure," Kelly replied. Piper left a note for Prue, saying where they were going. She put the device into her pocketbook as Kelly helped Stuart stand up. He tried to shrug her off but when she gave him a firm look he sheepishly grinned and let her help him to the car. She eased him into the back seat and then got in next to him, as Piper got in the front behind the wheel.

"I gave him 'orders' to take a nap," Kelly said smiling, as she came out of the bedroom in her Russian Hill home that she shared with Stuart. A quiet residential neighborhood, it was still close by Fisherman's Wharf, where she and Stuart loved walking. Past the restaurants and tourist shops, they would stand by the quiet waters of the Inner Lagoon, looking back up at Russian Hill. Then they'd stroll further down along the bay past The Cannery to Ghirardelli Square and its view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

"Good," Piper said. While waiting for Kelly to get Stuart settled, she had taken the device out of her pocketbook and was looking it over intently.

"I'm not sure whether I should start with the Book of Shadows or with a screwdriver," Piper quipped.

Kelly was about to respond when Leo orbed in.

"You have to go right -" Leo began when Kelly shushed him.

"Stuart's sleeping in the bedroom so keep your voice down," she admonished him.

Leo made a face, showing he was annoyed that Kelly would think that Stuart's rest was more important than what he had to say.

"There's some kind of demon and warlock activity going on in the SoMa," he resumed, lowering his voice. SoMA was the acronym for the South of MArket district, a mixed neighborhood of old warehouses serving the underground music scene, bars, stores - some eclectic and others just empty - and a few museums, both small and large.

"Demons and warlocks? Together?" Piper asked. "What are they up to?"

"The Elders can only tell that something may be happening there," Leo replied. "There have been a few demons and warlocks coming and going since yesterday but they don't know what they're up to. That's why you have to go there now and find out."

"Hmph...that'll be easy. I'll go over there and blend right in with them," Piper responded sarcastically. "I'll just say my demon battery is run down so I can't produce energy bolts."

"This isn't funny," Leo said. "You both have to be very careful while you're snooping around there."

"It's not both of us - I'll go myself," Piper said. "Kelly can't go."

"What? Why?!" Leo demanded.

"Because...I have to -" Kelly began.

"Take care of Stuart," Piper cut her off, giving Kelly a look. A look that made it clear that their conversation about keeping her and Stuart away from demons for a while was just between them. And not Leo's business.

Kelly took a deep breath. "This is too dangerous for you to go there by yourself, Piper. I'll...make arrangements." Piper started to protest but Kelly held up her hand to stop her. "Just give us the location, Leo. We'll be there as soon as we can."

After writing down the information, Leo orbed out. Before Piper could say anything Kelly picked up the phone and dialed a number.

"Hi - it's Kelly. Yes - I'm OK, thank you. I know it's your day off and you are probably in the middle of doing something enjoyable. But I need two big favors from you. I need you to come over to my house right away. And I need you to tell a big lie."

It was less than twenty minutes later when Alexis Bourné walked into Kelly's living room. A little shorter than Kelly but still tall, Alexis had a slightly broader build but was just as slim. She had a pretty but squarer face than Kelly's, with green eyes and a medium complexion. Her curly, brown hair stopped a few inches above her shoulders.

Alexis worked with Kelly at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, where Kelly was an Assistant Curator. Alexis had wondered about some of Kelly's strange comings and goings, including her showing up one day in a Coast Guard officer's uniform. But as they were best friends she didn't push Kelly for explanations. Until Alexis was recently kidnapped and almost killed in a demon instigated plot. After she was saved, Kelly decided her friend deserved to know the truth about her and the Halliwells. And that she could be trusted to keep their secret of being good witches.

"Now that I know how you spend your time off, I worry about you," Alexis said. "Are you in danger now?"

" the moment," Kelly hedged her response, then motioned for Alexis to come into the kitchen. "Stuart's resting and I don't want him to overhear us. I have to go with Piper to check on some demon activity in SoMa."

"Then you will be in danger," Alexis protested.

"There's always danger with whatever we do but we'll be very careful," Kelly replied. "It's just reconnaissance but I can't let Piper go by herself." Then she explained the issue with Stuart and how she and Piper had decided to keep him safe. "So I need you to lie to him that there's a problem with tomorrow's Dixon exhibition and I have to go in now to the museum to fix it." Maynard Dixon was an American artist from the 1920s and 1930s, whose paintings were predominantly of scenes from the West.

"Stuart knows I was preparing the exhibition. Tell him you're not that familiar with it so you agreed to stay with him while he rests so I can go in and straighten out the problem. Will you do this for me?"

"You're my best friend, Kelly," Alexis replied. "Of course I'll do it for you. Just...promise me you'll be careful. Both of you."

"Thanks, Alexis. And yes, we'll be careful. We're not tackling the demons, just seeing what they're up to." They walked back into the living room.

"Ready?" Piper asked quietly, putting the demon's device down on the coffee table. Kelly nodded her head and the two girls went out to Kelly's car.

"With the mixture of what's in this neighborhood, the demons' and warlocks' comings and goings wouldn't be noticed here," Piper said.

"There's the building," Kelly pointed, looking at the address Leo had given them. "It's an empty, double-width storefront. Back or front?"

"Front," Piper chose. They approached the front door and Piper carefully tried the knob.

"It's unlocked. They're probably coming and going through here," Piper said.

"Then let's see if we can get in un-noticed through the back," Kelly said.

They went to the corner, turned down the side street and came around to the back of the building.

"The door's locked," Piper said, trying the handle.

"But that window next to it is slightly open," Kelly said. "Let's see if we can open it some more." The two girls put their hands under the window and together pushed it upwards.

"I'll give you a boost up," Kelly said. She put her hands together and as Piper put her foot on them Kelly lifted her so she could grab the ledge and clamber over it. Then Piper put her arms out the window and helped Kelly climb inside.

They heard indistinct voices coming from an inner room. Quietly they made their way to a corner wall between their outer room and the inner room. In one side of the wall was a half-partition to the inner room and they carefully peeked above it. Two figures stood about fifteen feet away but neither was looking in the direction of the partition and didn't notice that they were being watched.

"Do you have the payment, warlock?" the figure on the left asked.

"Right here, Nespun," the second figured replied. He took out a soft, purple velvet pouch from his pocket. He pulled on its yellow drawstring and opened its top, just enough so that the first figure could peek at its contents. "But first, demon, I want to see what you've brought to sell."

Kelly and Piper watched the demon Nespun remove something from a small box that he was holding. From their distance, it appeared to be a metal cylinder, perhaps five inches in diameter and three inches tall.

"If a witch tries to use a spell on you, press this red button," Nespun said. "It will omit a high frequency tone that will interfere with the witch's words and prevent any sound to come out of her mouth. She'll be just mouthing the words but not actually saying them. So she won't be able to cast her spell to vanquish you."

"That's quite useful," the warlock said. "Let me try it."

"On your own time, warlock," Nespun said. "I have one more customer coming and I need this transaction completed before then. Hand over the payment." He placed a cloth on a stool that stood next to them. "Pour it out."

The warlock opened the purple velvet pouch and poured its contents onto Nepsun's cloth. Piper and Kelly clearly saw the diamonds that now lay on it.

"All new gems as required," the warlock said.

Kelly quickly took off her tan scarf from around her neck, opening it in her hands as she concentrated on the diamonds on the cloth. In a few seconds the scarf was filled with diamonds, too.

"I know someone who'd be interested in what you're selling," the warlock said.

"I have to re-stock my inventory. I'll get one extra device for your interested party. Tell him to be here tomorrow at the same time," Nespun replied. He took the purple velvet pouch from the warlock, poured the diamonds back into it and put the pouch in his pocket. "The price is the same."

"What are you doing?" Piper whispered to Kelly. "Why did you replicate the diamonds?" One of Kelly's unique powers was replication. If she concentrated on something she was seeing, she could precisely replicate it.

"If that...thing the demon gave to the warlock is real, we can't let him keep it," Kelly replied in a whisper. "Follow the warlock, freeze him and take it away from him. I'll follow Nespun. We have to know where he comes from and where he got that thing. I'll use my locating power to follow him."

Piper thought for a moment. "I remember that power of yours. If you touch someone's hand and immediately say a short spell, you can find wherever that someone is."

"Within forty-eight hours," Kelly added. "And I'm going to touch his hand."

"How?" Piper asked.

"By being the second buyer that he's expecting," Kelly answered, as she carefully folded her scarf so that the diamonds wouldn't fall out, then put the scarf in her pocket. "When I give him these diamonds as payment I'll touch his hand."

"That's too dangerous," Piper said. "That other buyer - a demon or warlock - could walk in while you're there."

"I'll have to risk it," Kelly whispered back. "We have to know where he's from. As soon as I've made the purchase I'll leave, then follow Nespun. I'll call you, tell you where Nespun went and you can meet me there." Kelly flipped open her clamshell Motorola StarTAC cell phone to be sure it was charged, then closed it and clipped it back onto her belt.

"I don't like the risk you're -" Piper whispered but stopped. The warlock was about to leave. If they were going to do this there wasn't time to argue about it.

"Quick - out the back window," Kelly whispered. "You follow the warlock when he walks out. I'll come in the front door the way Nespun's buyer would." They helped each other out the back window, then raced around to the front of the store. The warlock had just walked out of the storefront. "Go!" Kelly said.

"Be careful," Piper replied and began to follow the warlock. Kelly took a deep breath, opened the store's front door and walked inside.

She made her way to where Nespun was standing, his back towards her. At the sound of her approach he turned around.

"Who are you?!" he demanded.

"Your buyer," she replied. Nespun looked her over from head to toe.

"Hmm. I wasn't expecting someone so...attractive," he said.

"And I wasn't expecting someone who would care about my looks. I'm here for a business deal...and nothing else." Kelly gave him a hard look into his eyes.

Nespun took a deep breath and exhaled. "Show me what you have," he said.

Exuding self-confidence, Kelly walked over to the stool that was next to Nespun. She took the tan scarf out of her pocket, placed it on the stool and opened it. Nespun looked at the diamonds that glittered in front of him. He picked up one and examined it, then another.

"These look identical to the diamonds another buyer just paid me," he said, putting them down. "And diamonds are always different." His tone was ice cold. "You're trying to pull something."

Kelly gave a small chuckle. "Diamonds aren't different when they come from the same cluster. Your other buyer - the warlock - was lazy. He just grabbed what he saw in the front. He didn't bother to look at what was hidden behind it in the back of the safe. I did. The other half of the cluster. And they certainly will look identical."

"You followed that warlock to get diamonds?" Nespun asked in surprise.

"Why do extra work when I can just piggy-back off a warlock," Kelly answered. "And a lazy one at that. I knew he would find newly cut diamonds and take the first ones he would get his hands on. I figured there would be more he wouldn't bother to look for. And I was right."

"Very clever," the demon said, admiration evident in his voice. He put his hand on the diamonds again.

"Now we stop until you show me what you have," Kelly said, grabbing his hand and lifting it off the diamonds. As she did she saw a triangular shaped ring, with red crystals inside of it, on his finger. It seemed familiar to her but she couldn't remember where she'd seen it before. He exhaled, then took his hand back and turned to a small box on the floor next to him. As he did, Kelly turned her head to the side and quickly and quietly said the short locating spell.

"This will be useful for you," Nespun said. He opened the box and removed a small rectangular object. Kelly saw it was made of grey metal, with soft corners. Two round opening were on the object's front. As Nespun turned it around, she saw two eyepieces on the back.

"When you want to kill someone, be it a witch or a normal human, aim the device at him and press the red button on the top," Nespun began. "That will shoot a miniature dart at him. Even if he breaks it off, the tip of the dart will be under his skin. If he runs into the dark, just hold the eyepiece to your eyes and press the green button. The outline of his image will be visible to you. So he can't hide in the dark and you can find and kill him."

"At what distance?" Kelly asked.

"One hundred feet," the demon answered.

"That is useful," Kelly said. Nespun put the device down on the floor, then took out the purple velvet pouch the warlock had given him. He poured Kelly's diamonds from her scarf into the pouch, then closed the yellow drawstring securely.

"Our business is done," he said. Keeping her eye on Nespun, Kelly knelt down and, feeling for the device with her hand, picked it up. She stood up and wrapped her tan scarf around it, tying it securely. She walked past the demon, half-turned so she could see what he was doing, until she reached the door and walked outside. Crossing the street, she went to the corner and found a hidden spot from which she could see the entrance to the abandoned store and know when Nespun left it.

After five minutes Kelly started to worry. The demon said there was one more buyer and Kelly had filled that role, as far as he was concerned. No one else had walked into the store so the real buyer hadn't come yet. So why hadn't Nespun left? Kelly closed her eyes and concentrated.

"No!" she said after a few seconds. "No, no!" She opened her cell phone and dialed Piper. But as she was following the warlock, Piper didn't want her phone ringing and giving away her presence and had turned it off. And so Kelly's call went to voicemail.

Kelly exhaled as she waited for the voicemail greeting to end. "Piper, it's Kelly. I used my spell to know how to find Nespun. It worked and I do know but it''s not just where he went. It's when he went. He's gone back in time. I can't wait for you to come here. If I don't follow him right now and he leaves the place where he went the spell won't help me find him. Going back in time will make it more than forty-eight hours from when I said the spell and it won't work anymore. I'll have lost him." Kelly paused.

"I remember your time travel spell that you gave me to use two years...uh, a few weeks ago." It was actually two years ago, before Kelly was banished to the alternate reality. But in this reality, from Piper's perspective it had been just a few weeks. "Don't tell Stuart what I'm doing. And...wish me luck."

Kelly went around the corner and found an alley. Checking that no one was looking, she said the time travel spell. And disappeared.

Kelly found herself in a dark room. A tiny sliver of diffused light came in through a crack in a boarded up window. It was just enough for her to see that she was alone in the room. Had she been too late? Had Nespun already left this place, wherever it was?

Then she heard a slight noise. In the darkness she could barely make out a door along the far wall. The sound had come from the other side of that wall. Quietly she made her way to the door and tried the door knob. It turned and slowly she opened the door.

This second room was pitch black. The light in the first room was so slight that leaving the door between the rooms open did not help. The sliver of light didn't reach inside this second room. Kelly could see nothing.

Suddenly two hands grabbed her from behind. She was spun around and a fist connected with her chin. She staggered and the hands came for her again. But Kelly turned and kicked her leg hard against the back of her opponent's knees, knocking the legs out from under her adversary. She heard her opponent hit the floor. Kelly tried to take the advantage but her adversary quickly got up. Two hands grabbed Kelly's arm and, using Kelly's body as leverage, whirled her around and flung her against a wall.

Stunned, Kelly used the wall to keep herself from sliding down to the floor. As she did her arm felt a switch on the wall. She raised her hands to protect herself and used her elbow to push the switch up. A light went on.

Kelly's opponent was a girl.

The two stood within three feet of each other, staring at each other, their fists raised.

"You're...not Nespun," Kelly said, catching her breath.

"Who?" the girl asked.

"Nespun," Kelly replied. "I followed him here."

"I don't know who Nespun is," the girl said in a clear, articulate English accent. "I followed someone here whose name I don't know. I caught a glimpse of the back of his head before he came into this building. You're not him!"

The two girls looked at each other, then cautiously put down their fists. The English girl was about two to three inches shorter than Kelly, with dark brown, curly hair that reached almost to her shoulders and styled with a side part. She wore a light blue tailored top with grey trousers and a semi-wide, dark belt. And deep red lipstick on her lips.

"Why were you following this Nespun?" the English girl asked.

"He's been selling things to, to evil people," Kelly answered. "Dangerous things that are weapons...of a sort."

"The man I was following has been stealing weapons," the English girl said.

Kelly thought for a moment. "Could we both be after the same...individual?" she asked.

"That does seem to be a distinct possibility," the English girl replied.

Kelly's body relaxed and she extended her hand. "I'm Kelly Anderson."

The English girl hesitated for a moment as she looked Kelly over very carefully. Then satisfied, she put out her hand to shake Kelly's. "I'm Peggy Carter."

Click speaker for Opening Credits Theme Song

"Do you know who's been working with Nespun to steal the weapons?" Carter asked.

"No...I'm not from here," Kelly replied.

"Then how did you follow him to this place?" Carter asked.

"I have...tracking skills," Kelly said. "Do you know where Nespun has been getting these...weapons?" Kelly asked.

"Yes. They've all been stolen from Howard Stark," Carter replied.

"Who's that?" Kelly asked.

"Howard Stark. You don't expect me to believe that you don't know who he is?" Carter asked with skepticism in her voice.

"I told you I'm not from here," Kelly said.

"You don't have to be from Los Angeles to know of Howard Stark." With her English pronunciation, it came out sounding Los Angeleese. "All of America and most of Europe know who he is."

"I've...been away," Kelly replied. She knew that wouldn't satisfy Carter if Stark was as famous as she said he was. Carter eyed her curiously. Something about Kelly Anderson wasn't adding up.

"Howard is probably the greatest inventor alive," Carter replied. "His work on critical projects was essential to winning the war."

"And that's what Nespun stole?" Kelly asked.

"Howard kept developing various devices, many of which weren't ready in time to be produced and used in the war," Carter replied. "Just the prototypes exist. And yes, those are what this Nespun, as you call him, stole."

"And you followed him here...with the devices?" Kelly asked.

"Last year, all of the prototypes were stolen by Leviathan, a conspiracy of Soviet Union spies," Carter explained. "Thousands of lives were in danger. I helped get the inventions back. Afterwards, Howard had to promise the government he'd do something to protect against that happening again. To keep that promise, he developed a tracking device that he soldered into every one of his inventions. Amazingly small but it can't be removed without destroying the device, which would make the weapon useless.

"Even if they would be stolen again, which we didn't expect to happen, we could find them. But once some were stolen again, we began to worry that there were more agents in Leviathan than we had realized. And they were making a second attempt to get and use Howard's devices. The man I saw - or the back of the man's head I saw - had two of those devices."

"Was it well known that trackers were put into the devices?" Kelly asked.

"Howard announced it at a government arranged press conference," Carter answered. "It was part of what he was required to do to make the public feel safe."

"So Nespun knew he couldn't get away with using the devices here - though he might quickly try out just one of them - and he couldn't keep them," Kelly said. "At least, not here where they would be tracked. But he could keep them where they couldn't be tracked..."

"There isn't any place where they couldn't be tracked," Carter countered. "Howard's tracker works across an incredibly long distance over land and water."

"Across distance of land and water. But not across..." Kelly, talking to herself, left the sentence unfinished.

"Not across what?" Carter asked. "Even if the device was up in an aeroplane..." She stopped when she saw something on the floor near the far wall. "What's that?" she asked. Kelly saw it was her StarTAC cell phone. It had fallen off of her belt clip while they were fighting. She went over to retrieve it but Carter was faster and picked it up first.

"This came from you," Carter said. "It wasn't here when I came into the room. The light was on then and I looked all around. I shut the light after I heard you in the outer room." She fingered the small antenna. "Is this a walkie-talkie? It's quite small." She played with it and opened the clamshell lid.

"Buttons with numbers and letters...just like on the dial of a telephone," she said. "But there's no dial." She looked at the small display. "It says 'No service'. Whatever this is can't work in here?"

"Give it to me," Kelly insisted but Carter ignored her. She pressed a button and the display read "Phone Book". She pressed another button and names followed by numbers were displayed.

"A phone book with names and numbers," Carter said slowly. "But they're different from regular phone numbers. There aren't any letters for the exchanges. And there are ten digits for each phone number."

Carter looked it over carefully.

"It says 'StarTAC' and 'Motorola' on the inside and on the cover. Motorola makes fine home radios and walkie-talkies that we used during the war. But they don't have anything like this. Even Howard doesn't."

Carter pressed a button and the phone book disappeared, then pressed a second button. The display read "Aug 04 2000". She showed it Kelly.

"Today is May 17th," Carter said. "1947!" she added with emphasis.

Kelly exhaled. "I know it is," she said defensively. "It's...broken." Carter grabbed Kelly's arm and twisted it around so she could see her watch.

"Your watch has a date on it, which also says August 4th. They can't both be identically broken," Carter said. She released Kelly's wrist, closed the StarTAC cell phone and handed it to Kelly. "Where are you from?!"

Kelly took a deep breath. "You won't believe me if I tell you."

"I'm an agent with the Strategic Scientific Reserve," Carter replied. "I've seen amazing scientific advancements. And I've also seen many of Howard's inventions. Whatever you say won't faze me."

Kelly looked into Carter's eyes. "Where I'm from is San Francisco," Kelly said, then paused. "The date you when I'm from."

"I don't believe you," Carter said with strong conviction. "For a while Howard was fascinated with the possibility of time travel, to use in the war effort. He finally came to the conclusion that the laws of physics would prevent any machine from manipulating time. While Howard may occasionally be a bit creative with the truth, he's never done that when it came to matters of science. He said a time machine can't be built. And so time travel is impossible!"

"My presence here proves that it is possible," Kelly said.

"Proves? You haven't proved anything. Where is your so-called 'time machine' that brought you here?" Carter demanded.

"I don't have one," Kelly replied. "Your Howard Stark was right about that. No one has invented a time machine."

"Yet you claim you're from the future," Carter countered.

"I am. From 2000. But I didn't use a time machine to get here." Kelly hesitated. "I used a spell."

"A spell?" Carter asked, looking at Kelly quizzically.

"A witch's spell," Kelly replied. "I'm...a witch."

Carter's expression changed from uncertainty to disbelief to challenging. "A in children's fairy tales' evil witches?"

"A in real-life witches," Kelly answered. "But a good witch, with a responsibility to save people. I understand that things that seem impossible are hard to accept."

"Miss Anderson, I've seen Zero Matter created from an atomic bomb test. Hostile exposure to the Zero Matter would dissolve a person. An explosive exposure to it would remove a person's physical form, making him invisible.

"But these were physical effects and the laws of physics, though in a different way, applied to them. Howard figured those out. That is not the same as a witch and her 'magical power'."

"Look," Kelly said, getting frustrated, "I came after Nespun and he was here. The more time I waste with your questions the more time he has to get away. If you want to work together with me that will make things easier. If you don't want to, then I'm going while I can still try to find him."

"If you are from the future, then you should know all about Howard," Carter said. "Besides being an inventor he's also a movie director. Didn't you learn history in - 2000?"

"Yes - in art," Kelly replied. "I'm the Assistant Curator in the de Young Museum. Stuart, my fiancé, is....was, a history teacher. He would know about your precious Howard Stark." Stuart had taught high school history in the two years he and Kelly had lived in the alternate reality.

"Show me one magical witch...thing," Carter challenged her.

Kelly took a deep breath. Then she concentrated on Carter's dark belt. After about ten seconds a black belt appeared in Kelly's hands. "It's my power of replication," Kelly explained.

Carter looked at the belt for a few seconds. "Though I like my belt it's common. Perhaps you had one under your jacket. With a bit of slight of hand..."

Kelly exhaled in frustration. "Oh for goodness' sake." She turned to the wall and concentrated on the light switch. After a few seconds, an identical switch appeared in her hand. "Do you think I walk around with this in my pocket?!"

Carter carefully examined the switch. "Very well Miss Anderson. I can accept proof of new things. Though Howard may prove to be less accepting."

"No - you can't tell him when I'm from. You can't tell anyone when I'm from," Kelly said firmly. "Traveling through time has risks of changing the timeline. Even small changes can affect the future."

"Yet you came here knowing the risk," Carter pointed out.

"The future was already being affected by Nespun," Kelly replied. "It's my responsibility to protect people from evil like him - whatever risk I have to take to do that."

"Very well. We'll try to keep it your way, Miss Anderson."

"Thank you. And as we'll be working together, please call me Kelly."

Carter half-smiled. "Only if you call me Peggy."

"Agreed," Kelly said. "Now can we -"

They heard a noise in the adjacent outer room. Peggy quickly shut the light. Kelly quietly moved towards the door. Standing opposite Peggy, they were in position to together take down whoever came into the room. They heard someone come through the doorway, followed by footsteps. Peggy flipped the light switch and the two girls converged on the figure.

"Miss Carter, please! It's only me."

"Indeed it is," Peggy said, a trace of disappointment in her voice. "It's all right, Kelly. This is Mr. Jarvis."

Seeing Peggy relax, Kelly did the same.

"Mr. Jarvis is Howard's trusted butler, upon whom he relies for other duties, as well," Peggy explained. "This is Kelly Anderson."

"It is my pleasure to meet you, Miss Anderson," he said. Tall and slim, he was in his late thirties and had a refined English accent.

"I often rely on Mr. Jarvis myself," Peggy added.

"It has been my privilege to be of assistance to Miss Carter on a few occasions," Jarvis said.

"Why did you come in?" Peggy asked. "You were to wait in the car."

"I saw a man walk out," Jarvis answered. "The tracker didn't point to him and I didn't quite know what to make of him. I waited a few minutes until he hopped on to a trolley car. I briefly thought of following him but as I said, he hadn't triggered the tracker. And when you didn't come out, I thought it best to...see that you were all right."

"And that I wasn't lying un-conscious on the floor," Peggy said with a bit of frustration. "That man you saw take the trolley car was most certainly the one we were after."

"Oh...I'm terribly sorry Miss Carter," Jarvis said. "I seem to have let our thief get away."

"You meant well, Mr. Jarvis," Peggy replied. "Miss Anderson is familiar with him. She'll be working with us to track him down and uncover who else in Leviathan is assisting him."

"I don't believe Nespun to be part of Leviathan," Kelly said as they started to leave the room. "But tell me about it, anyway."

On the way to the car, Peggy gave Kelly a quick summary of her encounter with the Soviet Union spies the previous year.

Jarvis got in the front seat behind the wheel. Peggy and Kelly got into the back seat.

"What's that?" Kelly asked, pointing to a piece of equipment on the front seat next to Jarvis.

"That's the device tracker," Jarvis answered. "I turned it off before I went into the building." He turned a dial on it. Suddenly the equipment emitted a beeping sound. Two screens on it displayed some information.

"That's odd," Jarvis said, then turned around to face the back seat. "The tracker is pointing at you, Miss Anderson."

Peggy's body tensed as she turned to Kelly.

"Wait - I forgot," Kelly said. She put her hand into her jacket pocket, took out her scarf and opened it on her lap. "I bought this from Nespun earlier today...uh, that is, before I came here." Kelly realized that in the timeline she had actually bought it not earlier but much later - in the future.

"That's one of Howard's devices," Peggy confirmed. "How did you pay for it?"

"In diamonds," Kelly replied.

Kelly was absorbed in thought during the ride from the warehouse. She hadn't been in LA since she was a fifteen year old teenager. A wave of emotional nostalgia came over her as the image of a photograph from that trip, taken by her father in Griffith Park, the city's oldest and largest parkland, came to mind. In the picture, which her father had kept on his desk, she was wearing Mary Janes with white socks, Kelly green shorts - even at that age she already had an affinity for her namesake color - and a jonquil Hollywood t-shirt, a panoramic view of the city stretched out below visible behind her.

It was a happy and generally carefree time in her life. She had felt so content in the closeness she enjoyed with her father. Though she knew that she was a witch, she was considered too young to be called upon to use her powers. Her life's responsibility to combat evil and protect innocents, and her knowledge of and relationship with, and her crush on, her whitelighter Leo, were still over four years away.

Kelly took a deep breath. She wanted to be back there again. But though she had time traveled back and was now in the past, there were some pasts that you couldn't go back to.

She resumed looking at the scenes that surrounded her as she rode in the open convertible. She remembered some of the buildings and neighborhoods as they passed by but others were new to her. Or perhaps, she thought, some had changed or no longer existed when she was last here, forty-seven years in the future.

"This is a beautiful...uh, home," Kelly said as they turned off the street and drove up the driveway. She was even more impressed by the palm trees, surrounding the outdoor swimming pool in the inner courtyard, and once inside, by the half dozen rooms they passed on their way to a spacious living room.

"It's Howard's Los Angeles mansion," Peggy replied. "He let's me stay here."

"Howard Stark is generous, to say the least," Kelly remarked.

"I expect that you'll be staying here as well while in Los Angeles, Miss Anderson," Jarvis said.

"I, uh, don't know how long I'll be, uh, in LA...." Kelly began.

"You'll be here until we catch Nespun and his associates," Peggy interrupted her. "Yes, Mr. Jarvis, Kelly will be staying with us."

"Delightful," Jarvis replied. "I'll prepare a room. Tea?" he offered.

"Thank you," Kelly said as he placed the tea service on the coffee table.

"When were the devices stolen?" Kelly asked.

"We don't know. Sometime within the past three days," Peggy replied.

"Isn't the building where they're kept guarded?" Kelly asked.

"Yes, but the guards did not see anyone break in," Peggy answered. "Howard had been regularly checking the room where he keeps the devices. But the last few days he hadn't because he was occupied...entertaining."

"Hollywood parties - I've heard they can be extravagant," Kelly remarked.

"This was a party of one," Peggy said derisively. "Which actress was it this time, Mr. Jarvis? Lana Turner? Joan Leslie? Jennifer Jones?"

"I believe Mr. Stark's guest was Miss Hedy Lamarr," Jarvis replied. "In addition to her, uh, other talents, she's also an inventor, which gave them more in common to talk about."

"As if Howard ever lacks what to say to a beautiful woman," Peggy remarked.

"If there is nothing else now, I'll go assist Ana," Jarvis said. "My wife," he explained to Kelly.

"That's fine, Mr. Jarvis," Peggy said and he left the room.

"Now that we're alone and you don't feel inhibited speaking about your circumstances, how did you manage to purchase that device from Nespun?" Peggy asked.

"He's been selling your devices to warlocks and demons," Kelly said. "I posed as one of them - his customer."

"Warlocks? Demons? Who are they?" Peggy asked.

"Evil beings with powers they use to cause death and destruction," Kelly replied.

"You mean they're not human?" Peggy asked, cautiously.

"Demons and those similar to them aren't. Warlocks are sort of human - just think of them as witches who have gone over to the evil side."

"And Nespun is a demon?" Peggy asked. Kelly nodded her head in agreement.

"Why was he selling them? And how and why in your year 2000? Demons can travel through time just as you do?" Peggy asked.

"Demons don't all have the same powers," Kelly began. "I've only come across two others who could time travel. One wasn't even a demon but a siren - yes, sirens do exist. She kidnapped my fiancé Stuart to the past. My friends and I rescued him. The other was a demon who went back in time and kidnapped me when I was nine years old to kill me. These same friends rescued me from him."

"That must have been very traumatic for you," Peggy said, sympathetically.

Kelly hesitated for a few seconds. "I've put that experience behind me. As to why Nespun is selling Stark's devices, I don't know. But he clearly knows he can't sell them in 1947 because you'll track them down and then he'll have very angry customers coming after him."

"And you don't believe he has a connection to Leviathan," Peggy said.

"Not from what you've told me about them. It doesn't make sense that they would still be around in 2000," Kelly answered. "I certainly never heard of them. And Russia then isn't what it is in this time - uh, I really should limit what I tell you about the future. The timeline can be fragile."

"I suppose I shall have to accept the timeline's safety limitations placed on what I can know," Peggy said, sounding unhappy but resigned to that restriction. "What powers besides time travel does Nespun have? I want to know what I'm up against."

"There isn't any way to know for sure. Just consider him extremely dangerous," Kelly answered. "One power he doesn't have is shimmering. That's the ability to teleport from one place to another. You saw him walk into the warehouse. And Mr. Jarvis saw him walk out of it and then take the trolley car. He has to use conventional means to get around."

"That puts us back to the question of how he got into Howard's storage room to steal the devices without being seen. And how to find him now," Peggy added.

"I have a way to do both," Kelly answered. "I know where he'll be tonight. I heard him say to a warlock to tell a potential new customer to be at the same place tomorrow at the same time. That is, tomorrow in 2000. He also said he has to replenish his stock and will get something extra for that new customer while he's doing that."

"However he's stealing the devices he's surely not doing it in broad daylight. We'll spend the night inside the storage room waiting for him," Peggy said. "What's the connection of the diamonds to this? Are all of Nespun's...customers paying him the same way?"

"It appears that way. I used my replication power on a warlock's payment so that I could have my own diamonds to buy that device," Kelly answered. "And he told the warlock that the new customer's payment has to be the same."

"We have all afternoon to look into that," Peggy said. "Let's see if my friend Daniel Sousa can help. He's Chief of the Los Angeles Branch of the Strategic Scientific Reserve."

Alexis sat down on the sofa in Kelly's living room. Stuart was still sleeping so she didn't have to do anything for him - nor tell him a lie about Kelly. She was about to pick up a magazine when her attention was drawn to the device Piper had left on the table. Alexis stood up, went over to the device and picked it up.

Not knowing what the device did, her museum training of carefully and gently examining new objects prevented her turning any of the dials. She held the device between her thumb and middle finger and looked over all of its details.

Alexis had a good mind. It didn't take her long to figure out the functions of the knobs and their relationship to the 'arms.' And from where the device had come.

The doorbell rang. Alexis put down the device and went to see who was there. Seeing that it was Prue, she opened the door, then motioned for her to keep her voice down. After walking into the living room, Alexis quietly explained to Prue that Stuart was sleeping.

"What did you learn?" Alexis asked. Prue gave her a questioning look. "I'm in the middle of this so I may as well know something about it."

Prue hesitated. Then she told her about the strange diamond robbery that Phoebe had gone to check on and their suspicion about there being a diamond connection to the demons.

"New diamonds were missing from the dead gemologist's office. It looks like the demons picked him to kill in order to get those diamonds," Prue said. "So we have demons robbing and killing for diamonds and we have no idea why.

"And then there's that device that the demon was using," Prue added, pointing to it. "We're trying to figure out how a demon made it and imbued it with demonic powers. And why."

"A demon didn't make that device. It was made in the 1940s," Alexis replied.

"The 1940s? do you know that?" Prue asked.

"Before I came to the de Young Museum, I worked for seven months at the Museum of American Heritage in Palo Alto," Alexis answered. "The museum specializes in technology and inventions from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. I learned quite a bit while I was there."

She picked up the device. "The soft, rounded edges where the sides come together, and the medium grey textured metal, were pretty much standard on equipment back in the 40s. As were the Bakelite knobs with their distinctive dark brown color."

"How did it get from the 1940s to a demon today?" Prue wondered. "And with demonic powers in it?"

"It doesn't have demonic powers," Alexis said. "At MOAH, as the museum is called, I helped the Curator put together an exhibit about the technology of World War II weapons. Most had became commonly known after the war - like the AZON radio-controlled guided bomb and the Norden bombsight - but some were very advanced and quite strange. Almost all in that latter group never got past the prototype stage. And none of them were ever made public.

"This device was one of those in that group. We had a picture of it in the exhibit. It wasn't made by a demon. It, along with the other devices in that group, were all made by Howard Stark."

The afternoon LA sun shone brightly as Peggy and Kelly stood on a Hollywood street corner. The sign above the entrance to the building read Auerbach Theatrical Agency. Peggy opened the door and led Kelly inside. A woman sitting at a reception desk looked up. She smiled when she saw Peggy but her expression changed to concern and alert when she saw Kelly.

"It's OK, Rose. Kelly Anderson, this is Rose Roberts," Peggy said in introduction. "Kelly is working with us on the theft of Howard Stark's devices."

"Pleased to meet you," Rose said, standing up from her desk. She was a somewhat heavy-set woman in her forties, with red hair and glasses.

"Likewise," Kelly replied.

"The theatrical agency is the SSR branch's front," Peggy explained to Kelly. "Rose is our very able gatekeeper. And a trained SSR agent who can work in the field, as well."

"Only when they let me out from behind this desk," Rose complained.

Peggy led Kelly through a door in the back, then through a maze of desks until coming to an office door. Peggy knocked and went in.

"Hello Daniel," she said to the man seated behind the desk.

"Hi Peggy -" he began, then saw Kelly standing beside her. He gave Peggy a questioning look.

"This is Daniel Sousa, SSR Los Angeles Branch Chief. Daniel, this is Kelly Anderson."

Sousa looked at Kelly. "Hello," he said, clearly alarmed at Kelly's presence.

"Kelly, would you give us a moment please?" Peggy asked.

"Sure," Kelly replied and walked outside.

"You brought someone into headquarters?" Sousa asked with astonishment.

"Kelly is working with me on locating Howard's devices and who's been stealing them," she replied. "She brings unique talents and skills that we need for this."

"Such as?" he asked.

Peggy hesitated. "I can't go into her background. Just trust me on this, Daniel," she said.

"I need to know -" he started to say but Peggy had come around the desk. She put her arms around him and before he could say anything more planted a long kiss on his lips. When the kiss ended she said "Just trust me, Daniel."

Sousa looked deeply into Peggy's eyes and took a deep breath.

"OK," he said. "Bring her in." Peggy went to the office door and motioned for Kelly to join them.

"What have you learned?" Sousa asked.

"I followed someone who had some of the devices to a warehouse but he eluded us," Peggy said. "Thanks to Kelly, we know his name is Nespun and that he's been selling Howard's devices for diamonds."

"Diamonds? Not cash? That's odd," Sousa said. "Cash is untraceable."

"These diamonds are untraceable, too," Kelly added.

"That makes finding him harder," Sousa said.

"Perhaps not," Peggy replied. "I'm sure you have contacts in the diamond business. Contacts from whom you can learn which dealer has suddenly come into a significant amount of new diamonds in the past two or three days that he's looking to move."

Sousa thought for a moment, then nodded his head in agreement. "I'll send a couple of the boys around right now."

"Thank you, Daniel," Peggy said and started to lead Kelly out of his office.

"Where are you off to?" he asked.

"To have a substantial meal," Peggy replied. "Kelly and I have a long night ahead of us."

"Wait a minute," Sousa said. "I don't like bringing a civilian along if you're planning something that's dangerous. I'll come with you, instead."

"Thank you, Daniel," Peggy said. "You know how much I always appreciate your presence. But in this case, I need Kelly's...skills. And three people will be one too many."

Sousa gave her an unhappy look.

"But if having a civilian involved is a concern, make Kelly a Special SSR Agent," Peggy said. "You have the authority as Chief to do that."

Sousa was about to protest that he couldn't make someone about whom he knows nothing an SSR Agent. But he was close enough to Peggy that when he looked at her he could read her mind. Just trust me it was saying. He hesitated for a moment, then opened the bottom drawer of his desk, pulled out a badge and flipped it to Kelly.

"Don't make me sorry that I'm doing this," he warned them.

"This is delicious," Kelly said and took another bite of her Bedfordshire Clanger, "and interesting. A sweet filling on one end and a savory filling on the other end."

"Preparing excellent English cuisine is another of Mr. Jarvis' talents," Peggy said, as they ate in the mansion's dining room. "Though when I'm not here he doesn't often get to do that. Howard is very American in his culinary tastes."

"Then that's a shame," Kelly said, "that his brilliant mind doesn't extend to his palate."

"Howard feels that between his inventing new devices - and inventing new ways to have female company - his brilliant mind is quite busy enough." Kelly was only half successful in restraining a grin from her face.

"After dinner they'll be enough daylight to get to Howard's facility and hide out in the storage room that has the remaining devices," Peggy said. "And wait for Nespun to show up."

"We'll learn how he's been getting in there," Kelly added. "And then I'll vanquish him."

Kelly and Peggy sat on the floor behind a low cabinet. Though they were hidden by it, they were not taking any chances of warning Nespun of their presence. Though just below the wall light switch, they sat in the pitch black room, not even a small flashlight shining to relieve the darkness. And they didn't speak aloud, whispering in each other's ear to be sure that neither dozed off.

Kelly put her hand around her watch, to prevent any glow from being visible by anyone else, and looked at the time. Half-past twelve. They had been sitting there for almost four hours.

"Patience," Peggy whispered in her ear. Kelly nodded her head in agreement, then realized how silly that was as Peggy couldn't see her head move in the dark.

Suddenly they heard a small noise from across the room. Peggy tapped Kelly's hand twice. Kelly responded by tapping Peggy's hand three times. The arranged signals meant they were both aware that something was happening.

There was a small sound of something lightly banging against the far wall, followed by the sound of metal scraping. And then the clear sound of someone gently landing on the floor. There was movement followed by a flashlight being turned on, its light tracing around the shelves that contained Stark's devices.

Slowly Peggy and Kelly eased themselves up. Her hand on the wall switch, Peggy flipped it on, and Kelly prepared to use her spell. The room was now fully lit and they stared at who stood across the room from them.

It wasn't Nespun.

"Dottie Underwood!" Peggy exclaimed in surprise.

"Hello Peggy. I expected we'd run into each other again." The woman was slim and almost as tall as Kelly, with long blond curly hair down to below her shoulders. Her triangular, pretty face exhibited a look of confidence.

"Who is she?" Kelly asked.

"A trained agent of the Soviet Union," Peggy replied. "A part of Leviathan."

"Formerly," Dottie corrected her. "Now I'm independent."

"And working for Nespun," Peggy said.

"With Nespun," she said, and gave a small shrug. "A girl's gotta do what she's gotta do to survive."

"How did she get in here?" Kelly asked.

"Through the vent shaft," Peggy answered, pointing to the vent's grating that was dangling by a single screw. "Its opening was the metal scraping we heard. The shaft leads to a huge fan that provides ventilation for this part of the building."

"How could she squeeze past that fan and through such a narrow shaft?" Kelly asked.

"Dottie was trained in incredible acrobatics," Peggy said, "doing things with her body that normal people can't do. It was part of her intensive training as an assassin at the Russian Red Room Academy, the Soviet Union's school for very young teenage girls."

"As was hand-to-hand combat," Dottie reminded her. In a lightning move she pushed Peggy aside, then kicked Kelly in her stomach. As the young witch doubled over, Dottie landed two blows on Kelly's head, followed by a hard chop at her neck. Kelly slumped helpless to the floor.

From behind her, Peggy kicked Dottie's leg, bringing her down to one knee. Peggy landed two punches on Dottie but the trained assassin brought up both of her legs, ensnaring Peggy's head tightly between them. Her head being tightly squeezed, Peggy fell to her knees, but managed to hit Dottie hard on her side. From the force of the punch Dottie's legs momentarily opened and Peggy pulled her head out from between them.

They grappled, landing blows on each other and throwing each other across the room, knocking some of the devices from the shelves to the floor. Backing away for a few seconds, Dottie pulled a switchblade knife from her pocket. Peggy quickly grabbed a lab coat that had fallen to the floor and wrapped it around Dottie's arm. Pushing Dottie back with her foot, she yanked hard with the lab coat on her arm, the knife falling from her grip.

Peggy pulled the lab coat free, swung it tightly around Dottie's neck and used that leverage to throw her against the far wall. As Peggy came at her, Dottie grabbed one of the devices from a shelf and crashed it across Peggy's head. Stunned, Peggy fell backwards against a cabinet. Taking the opportunity, Dottie jumped up into the ventilation shaft and, with the device still in her hand, quickly began crawling through the shaft to escape to the outside.

It took Peggy a few seconds to recover. Then she rushed to the shaft but Dottie was not in sight. Peggy knew that there wasn't any way that she could maneuver herself through that shaft. She turned and went to Kelly, lying un-conscious on the floor. She shook her hard and Kelly slowly began to revive.

"I'm going after Dottie," she said to Kelly, then hurried out of the room. She made her way around the building until she got to the large ventilation fan. She saw that it had been ever so slightly moved. She looked all around. Dottie was gone.

Ana finished cleaning the blood off of Peggy's face, attending to the cut on her lip and the scraped skin above her eye.

"I'm sorry we disturbed you in the middle of the night," Peggy apologized. They had tried to come in to the mansion quietly. But Jarvis and his wife had heard them.

"It's never too late at night to help you, Miss Carter," he said. "Nor you, Miss Anderson."

"'ll be good as new in a day," Ana said to Peggy, then turned to Kelly. "I'm afraid that bump on your head will take longer to go away," her Hungarian accent making it sound more serious than it was.

Kelly removed the soft ice pack from her head and gingerly touched her scalp. "I've had worse happen to me. That was kind of you to help me. Thank you."

"How are you going to find Dottie Underwood?" Jarvis asked.

"She took one of Howard's devices with her. That will let us track her in the morning," Peggy said. "Right now we all need some sleep."

"Stay home with Ana," Peggy said to Jarvis early the next morning. "This will most certainly be very dangerous and I don't want you in the middle of it."

"That hasn't stopped me from helping you in the past," Jarvis replied. "You need someone to help you."

"And you have helped me Mr. Jarvis," Peggy replied. "But I won't be alone. Kelly is with me."

"Nevertheless, and not taking anything away from Miss Anderson's abilities, there are things that I can do to help which she can't," he said.

"Such as?" Peggy asked.

"Drive Mr. Stark's car," he answered.

Peggy turned to Kelly. "You don't drive a car in the...uh, where you live?"

"I do drive...but not manual shift cars. Only automatic transmissions," Kelly admitted.

"Miss Anderson mentioned that last night when I offered her the keys to drive the car when you went to Mr. Stark's facility," Jarvis said. "Though Hydra-Matic transmissions are becoming quite popular in newer models, most automobiles use manual transmissions. Not being able to drive them puts you at a disadvantage, Miss Anderson. But I'd be happy to teach you how to do that."

"Uh...thank you Mr. Jarvis," Kelly answered. "Perhaps...if there'll be time...after we've stopped Dottie Underwood and Nespun."

Daniel Sousa had called Peggy first thing in the morning. His agents had uncovered a jeweler who let it be known that he had a significant inventory of new diamonds. Sousa gave Peggy the information and was going to meet her there. But she stopped him. She didn't want him involved with a demon who had unknown powers. She told him about Dottie Underwood. She didn't expect him to find her but keeping him busy trying to do that would keep him safe.

"From what Dottie said last night, I got the impression that there's some personal rivalry between the two of you," Kelly observed, as she sat next to Peggy in the back seat of the car.

"We've had our run-ins a few times," Peggy explained, "and have knocked each other out. Dottie thinks of it as a competition of sorts. I finally caught her in New York last year. But I broke her out of custody earlier this year and arranged for her to come to LA. I needed her skills in dealing with the Zero Matter. She understood she had to do as I said or I'd turn her over to Soviet Union agents. She did not want to go back to Russia."

"You're certainly daring," Kelly said with admiration. "What happened?"

"Dottie did as she was told up to a point," Peggy replied. "Then things didn't go as planned and she escaped."

Jarvis pulled the car over near the Henry Stevens Jewelry Store on Hill Street, just off 6th Street in the Jewelry District. "Kelly and I will go inside and see what we can find out," Peggy said. "Mr. Jarvis, please turn on the tracker and see where it leads you. But do not approach Dottie. See where she is, go to a pay phone and call your wife. Tell her where you are. We'll call her later and she can tell us where to meet you. Understood?"

"Perfectly, Miss Carter," Jarvis replied. "But be careful in there."

"We will," Kelly assured him as she and Peggy got out of the car. They looked over the storefront, then slowly walked inside. A bell above them jingled as the door opened. A man came out from a back room. He appeared to be in his late fifties, shorter than Peggy, with grey hair and rimless eyeglasses. He wore a grey pinstripe vest over his white shirt, his sleeves rolled up to his elbows.

"Mr. Stevens?" Peggy asked.

"Yes. Can I help you?" he asked.

"We're interested in diamonds," Peggy replied.

"Earrings? Or perhaps a necklace?" he asked.

"I'm actually more interested in loose gems," Peggy said, "that I could do with as I wished. Specifically new ones."

"New ones?" Stevens repeated. He looked Peggy over carefully, thinking as he did. "How many?"

"I should say two dozen at the very least," Peggy replied. "Probably three or four."

The man looked at her carefully again. "If I had that many they'd be very expensive. Can you afford them?"

"I have a generous benefactor," she replied, smiling.

"I see," Stevens said, seeming a bit cautious. "Just a moment." He turned around and went into the back room. In a moment he returned, a purple velvet pouch in his hand. He laid a cloth on the showcase counter and poured out the pouch's contents. Half a dozen diamonds lay on the cloth.

Kelly moved to the counter. As she bent over and looked closely at the diamonds, her eyes took in the purple pouch next to it. Then she looked up at Peggy and gave a tiny nod of her head.

"These are good but hardly enough," Peggy said. "Get more of them. I'll came back in a day or two. Perhaps you'll have them by then. Good day Mr. Stevens." A concerned look crossed the man's face but before he could say anything Peggy and Kelly turned around and quickly went out the door.

"I'm not a diamond expert but I'm sure those are the diamonds I replicated," Kelly said as they walked a little way down the block. "And I definitely recognize Nespun's purple pouch with the yellow drawstring."

"That means Nespun has already conducted his business with Stevens with yesterday's diamonds. He moved quickly," Peggy observed. "We still don't know what that business is."

"Nor why he goes specifically to the year 2000 to sell the devices," Kelly added. "That's been bothering me. Why didn't he pick some other year? Or why not go to the past before Howard built his tracker?"

"From the look on Stevens' face I believe we've rattled him a bit," Peggy said. "Perhaps enough for him to contact Nespun."

"Let's hope so. We can wait across the street for a while and see if he comes," Kelly said.

"I caught only a glimpse of the back of his head yesterday so I wouldn't recognize him. My watching for him won't be of help," Peggy said. "I'm going around behind the store and have a look there."

Prue opened the door and let Piper in to Kelly's home.

"I got the device that Nespun sold to the warlock," she said, placing it on the table.

"That warlock will be on alert now that he knows that someone, probably us, is after him," Prue noted. "That could be a problem."

"No, he won't be," Piper assured her. "I froze him, took everything from his pockets, then hit him over the head with a piece of wood and quickly re-froze him. When he unfroze, he'll have thought he was just mugged and all of his things stolen."

Alexis looked closely at the device. "I'm pretty sure that's a high frequency interrupter. It's supposed to stop words from being vocalized and heard, so that enemy soldiers can't alert anyone of the Allied soldiers' presence, nor call for help. The MOAH exhibit had a picture of this one, too." Prue quickly explained to Piper about Alexis' familiarity with the devices.

"So these devices are coming from the past," Prue concluded.

Piper exhaled. "We don't know how many more devices Nespun has brought from the past and sold here," she said, concern and worry in her voice. "And there isn't any way for us to find them."

"Actually...there is," Alexis said.

"What? How?" Piper asked.

"Howard Stark soldered a tracking device into each of his inventions, so that if any were stolen he could find them," Alexis explained. "And he built a tracker to locate them. It was quite a sophisticated and advanced system for its time. It was part of the MOAH exhibit."

"A picture of a tracker won't help us," Prue said.

"Not a picture," Alexis corrected her. "We had the actual machine. And it's still locked away at MOAH."

Prue and Piper stared at each other. "If we had that tracker, we could find the other devices that Nespun stole and brought here," Piper said. "But how could we get it? I doubt the museum would believe us that we need it to track devices being stolen by a time traveling demon. Just the paperwork to make an official request to use it would take forever."

"If it even still works," Prue said. "It's been almost fifty years since it was made."

"Oh, it works," Alexis assured her. "A couple of engineers on MOAH's staff decided to see if they could make it work. They got some vacuum tubes - they're still available if you know where to look for them - to replace the old ones and they were able to power it on. We had just one other of Stark's actual devices in the museum. When they turned the tracker on it found that device right away."

"Then we'll just have to 'borrow' it," Prue said.

"Borrow?" Alexis looked at Prue. Then she understood. "You'd have to break in. And un-noticed. The museum has security alarms and cameras."

"We can do that with Leo," Prue replied. She explained Leo's orbing ability to Alexis.

Alexis took a deep breath. "Then I have to go with him," she said. "I'm part of all of this, now."

"No!" Prue said emphatically. "You may know that we're witches and know some of the things that we do. But you're not part of doing anything dangerous. Or illegal."

"Leo won't find the tracker without me being with him," Alexis said. "Even if I could explain where they keep it - assuming they haven't moved it elsewhere - he wouldn't know the museum layout if something went wrong. And he wouldn't know how to disable the security cameras and avoid triggering an alarm." She paused. "Stark's devices in the hands of demons and warlocks would be a catastrophe.

"Look - I don't have your witch powers. But neither does Stuart. And he does a lot more dangerous things than this. I'm Kelly's best friend. I'm ready to do this to help her - and you."

Piper wanted to remind Alexis about they're keeping Stuart safe for a while - because of the danger he'd been in. But Prue didn't know about that arrangement. And if Kelly hadn't told her then she wasn't going to.

"OK - you can do this with Leo," Piper said. Prue turned to her and started to say something but Piper shook her head at her. Alexis was right. They had to get Stark's devices from whomever had them. Only the tracker could find them and Alexis' help was critical to their getting it.

"I'll call Leo. We have to do this right now," Piper said. "Then I'll prepare you for what orbing is like," she told Alexis.

Peggy went to the corner, then walked around it onto Sixth Street. A little way down the block she saw an alley that ran behind the stores all the way to Fifth Street. There wouldn't be an alley back here in New York, she thought, but this is typical for LA.

She carefully made her way down the alley. Back doors to the stores on Hill Street lined the right side. She approached what she thought was the back of the jewelry store when she saw a door start to open. She pressed herself against the back wall of the adjacent store that was just before it. Peggy held her breath as from the corner of her eye she saw the jeweler come out. He locked the door, then turned down the alley in the opposite direction from Peggy.

Peggy exhaled and moved away from the wall, just as Kelly came into the alley. She motioned for Kelly to be silent. They watched the jeweler until he was almost at the Fifth Street end of the alley.

"He put a 'Closed' sign on his door so I hurried back here," Kelly whispered.

"Perhaps instead of summoning Nespun here, he's going to him," Peggy whispered back. "We'll follow him carefully."

They saw Stevens turn left onto Fifth Street. They hurried to the end of the alley just in time to see him turn right at the next corner onto Olive Street. Following quickly but quietly, they went onto Olive, too, and saw him go into the side door of a closed-up movie theater. They were about to follow him inside when a car pulled up a few feet from them.

"What are you doing here, Mr. Jarvis?" Peggy asked. "You were supposed to follow the tracker's signal."

"I did, Miss Carter," he replied. "It brought me here."

"Then Dottie's somewhere around the theater, too," Peggy said. "Wait nearby, Mr. Jarvis, while Kelly and I go inside. If the tracker signal moves, follow it."

"Very well, Miss Carter," he said, "but do be careful in there."

Peggy and Kelly eased open the theater's side door and slipped inside. The room was dark but some light came in through an open doorway leading further inside the theater. They quietly went through that doorway and found themselves in a vestibule. Beyond them they heard voices. They moved closer to the edge, which led into what had been the theater's concession stand. Now they could clearly see Nespun and the jeweler Stevens and hear what they were saying.

"...asking pointed questions. And she wanted only new stones," the jeweler said. "And I heard from another jeweler that government agents were nosing around yesterday, asking about new diamonds, too."

"No one could know about our business," Nespun said with assurance.

"Someone obviously knows something," Stevens retorted. "I wasn't looking for this business. Remember - you came to me. You had this grand idea of selling devices that would cover the tracks of demons and warlocks in the future so their evil doings wouldn't be obvious to any good witches. They would seem to be ordinary criminals' activities. And some devices that would also protect them. And you wanted to eventually go there yourself so you'd be protected in your own activities.

"You offered new, guaranteed un-traceable diamonds from that future in exchange for payment: one-quarter in cash to your lady friend and three-quarters from my supply of zorkon crystals for your zorkon ring. Which, when you relieved some unfortunate demon of it for your own use, was almost completely depleted."

"Zorkon ring," Kelly whispered. "Of course. When I saw a triangular ring with red crystals in it on Nespun's finger it looked familiar but I couldn't remember why. Now I do. I saw it in the Book of Shadows."

"The what?" Peggy asked.

"The book that tells us about demons," Kelly replied. "It had a drawing of the ring, with the red zorkon crystals in it."

"What does the ring do?" Peggy asked.

"What indeed?" a female voice asked. They turned around. Dottie Underwood stood some ten feet behind them. With a gun pointed at them.

"Get your hands up. Both of you! " Dottie said. "Don't try any of your heroics, Peggy. I'm far enough from you that you can't reach me quickly enough and close enough that I can't miss if I shoot. It would be such a shame to end our relationship that way. Now move inside!"

Peggy and Kelly turned around and walked into the concession stand area.

"What...what's going on here?" a startled Nespun asked.

"They were in the vestibule listening to your conversation," Dottie said. "A most interesting conversation, I must add."

"Those are the two who were just in my store looking for new diamonds," Stevens said.

Nespun stared at Kelly. "You bought one of the devices yesterday. In 2000 - in the future. How did you get here?"

"The same way you did," Kelly answered.

"Who...what are you?" Nespun asked. He looked at Kelly's hands. "You don't have a zorkon ring."

"I don't need one to time travel," Kelly said.

"Time travel?" Dottie repeated.

"You've been stealing Howard's devices and giving them to Nespun," Peggy said to Dottie. "And he's been selling them...elsewhere."

"In...the future? In...2000? How is that possible?" Dottie asked.

"That's not important," Nespun said.

"That ring," Dottie said, staring at it on Nespun's finger. "That can take you to the future?"

"Nonsense," Nespun said.

"No - it isn't," Dottie replied. "I heard the two of you talking about getting diamonds from the future." Dottie was trained in the Red Room Academy to never be overwhelmed. If she were suddenly faced with a new reality, she learned to accept it and use it to her advantage.

"While I've been stuck here trying to avoid being caught. I could have gone with you." Peggy started to make a move towards Dottie but she turned back towards Peggy. "Don't!" she warned Peggy.

"We were supposed to be partners, splitting whatever you got for the diamonds fifty-fifty. And you've been holding out on me. Un-traceable diamonds from the future? They can be worth a fortune. A fortune I could use. A fortune much more than the small amount you were paying me."

"The future? No, no-" Nespun began.

"I've seen Zero Matter," she said. "I know that things that were thought to be impossible can be real."

"Who are these women?" Stevens asked, his impatience finally showing.

"Peggy is an agent for the Strategic Scientific Reserve," Dottie said. "As for her friend - she may be one also. But a poor one. She can't take a punch the way Peggy can." There was a touch of admiration for Peggy in her tone.

"I am an agent, too, but a new one," Kelly said. "I haven't had Peggy's agent training yet. But I am very well trained in spells."

"Spells?" Nespun asked. Then something clicked in his head. Spells, time travel - a witch! "Shoot -" he started to tell Dottie. But Kelly was already saying the spell very quickly.

   "Selling devices from the past in the future
    The danger you bring to that time must stop;
    With this I vanquish you out of both times
    And therefore from this world you now drop."

A ring of gray smoke began to encircle Nespun. Dottie stared at him as the smoke thickened and he started becoming translucent. Then she moved quickly. She stuck her hand through the smoke, grabbed the zorkon ring and pulled it off Nespun's finger. She pulled out her hand just as Nespun became even more translucent and he screamed. After a few seconds he and the smoke were gone.

Dottie stared at where Nespun had been. Then turned away and aimed her gun again at the women.

"What are you?" she asked Kelly.

"She's a witch," the jeweler answered.

"Huh...a witch. And a time travel ring," Dottie said. "Look at what I learned today. How does the ring work?" When no one answered she backed up and pointed her gun at the jeweler, too.

"Pressing the right side takes you forward in time," he said. "Pressing the left side brings you back."

"Well, well," she said, putting the ring on her finger. "All of this makes Zero Matter look like child's play." She pressed the right side of the ring. And disappeared.

Peggy stared at where Dottie had been. "She's escaped to the future. She could be anywhere."

"No, not anywhere," Kelly said. "One of the drawbacks of the zorkon ring, compared to a witch's spell, is that its time travel power has an inherent limitation. It has some characteristics of a loop. When it goes forward it can take the wearer only to a later time than the last one in which he'd been. And when he returns it can't be any earlier than the time from which he'd left."

"That's why he couldn't go back to a time before Howard made the tracker," Peggy said.

"Nor go forward to some year before 2000," Kelly added. "He stole that ring from some demon who must have used it to travel to my time. The good news is that we don't have Nespun, nor apparently that other demon, to worry about."

"The bad news is that Dottie has escaped," Peggy replied.

The jeweler started to quietly edge to the concession area doorway. Peggy pulled her gun from an inside jacket pocket and aimed it at him. "You're not going anywhere," she said.

"What do we do with him?" Kelly asked.

"How did you have the spell you used on Nespun?" Peggy asked.

"I made it up last night while we were waiting in the storage room," Kelly answered.

Peggy stared at Stevens. "Then you make up a special spell to use now on him," she suggested.

"I'm not a demon, nor even a warlock," he said matter-of-factly. "Prick my finger if you don't believe me." He pulled a pin from his shirt pocket and offered it to Kelly.

"Warlocks don't bleed," she explained to Peggy, as she took the pin and pricked his finger. A little blood came out.

"And if I was a demon I would have used a power on her to get that ring back," he said.

"Then just what are you?" Peggy demanded.

"A purely human purveyor to the dark world," he replied. "I've come across things that are valuable to them. I sell them to give me additional income to my jewelry business."

"We don't have time to waste on him," Kelly said. "I have to go after Dottie. Put him in handcuffs and arrest him."

"Daniel won't be able to prove any charges against him," Peggy replied. "He won't have receipts for purchasing the diamonds but as they're un-traceable they can't be proven to have been stolen. We have to leave him here so I can go after Dottie with you."

"No...that's not a good idea," Kelly began.

"You're experienced in dealing with demons, not with a Dottie Underwood," Peggy said.

"We have police in 2000 -"

"Who aren't trained to track down a highly trained assassin like Dottie. I am. I know her."

"Going to the future means you'll see things...that you shouldn't know," Kelly said. "The timeline -"

"Is fragile, I know," Peggy assured her, her English pronunciation making the word rhyme with 'argyle'. "I'll be sure to treat it very gently."

"We don't know how far in the future she went. Nor where," Kelly said.

"The bottom border of the ring can be manipulated to push the time further forward," Stevens said. "I didn't tell her that. So it will default to approximately six hours from when it last left the future. And from the same place."

"Well - that's very helpful," Kelly said.

"Keep in mind that I did that, should you have a change of heart later about arresting me," he said.

"I suppose that's fair enough," Peggy said. "We'd better get going. How does this work?"

Kelly took a deep breath. "Hold my hands tightly and don't let go," she said. And then she began to say the time travel spell.

Leo and Alexis had taken the tracker from MOAH. Her familiarity with the security system had saved their endeavor from setting off an alarm when Leo almost triggered an infrared sensor. She showed Piper and Prue how to use the tracker and follow its display. They put the tracker in Prue's car and Piper and Prue went out in search of the stolen devices.

It was almost three hours later when Piper and Prue came into Kelly's house, together carefully carrying Howard Stark's tracker.

"The tracker worked like a charm," Prue said, as they placed it on the coffee table, along with a large bag. "It pointed to four devices and we found them," motioning to the bag.

"Did you have any trouble?" Alexis asked.

"No one was around three of the devices," Piper said, "but we did have to vanquish a demon to get the fourth one. He was similar to a demon we had vanquished before so we knew the spell to use on him."

"You've been going after demons?" Stuart asked as he came into the room.

"Not really - just some things they had which we took away from them," Prue replied.

Stuart glanced at the tracker, then looked inside the bag. "Those are rather old devices," he said. "Why would demons want them?"

"We're not really sure," Prue said.

"I want to examine them," Alexis said, taking them out of the bag. "Actually holding them is a once in a lifetime experience that can never happen again."

"We should get the tracker back to the museum," Piper said.

"Museum?" Stuart asked.

"MOAH, where Alexis used to work. We had to 'borrow' it," Piper said.

A look of confusion crossed Stuart's face. "Why? And speaking of museums, Kelly isn't back yet," he said, looking at his watch. "How much work can that exhibit still need?"

" always so particular that exhibits should be just right," Alexis said. "She doesn't look at the clock when she does that."

"I know. I'll call her and see how it's going," he said. Before Alexis could think of a way to stop him, he was dialing Kelly's cell phone.

"That's strange," Stuart said. "It went straight to voice mail. Just as it would do if her phone was turned off. Or out of range."

Thirty minutes later Kelly and Peggy appeared in the warehouse where Nespun had been. Kelly had tried to set their arrival time to be just before the six hour return time of the zorcon ring.

"That certainly was faster, and more comfortable, than traveling by aeroplane," Peggy remarked.

"This is where Nespun was when he was last in 2000," Kelly said. "If what Stevens told us was true this is where Dottie will come by default. "

Peggy took a look around. "It's rather dim. It doesn't look much different from an old warehouse in 1947," she noted.

"That's good," Kelly answered. If Dottie shows up here and we capture her, I can avoid exposing Peggy to the world of 2000 and its concomitant risk of the timeline being altered.

"We'll wait over here," Kelly said, leading Peggy to the half-partition behind which she and Piper had earlier hidden while watching Nespun.

"Chasing after demons must interfere with your personal life," Peggy remarked, making conversation as they waited.

Kelly thought about Stuart and what the risks of going after demons had done to him. "It doesn't come between my fiancé Stuart and me. He insists on fighting evil with me. And that's the problem. He's always at risk doing that."

"As are you," Peggy said. "I suppose it's in some way the same as with Daniel and me. We're in love. In our jobs we often are working together. And he's at risk just as I am."

"At least Daniel can defend himself with a gun -". Kelly stopped as they heard a whooshing sound in the other room. They peeked over the partition. Dottie stood there, in the same place where Nespun had stood. She looked around, trying to understand just where it was that she had arrived.

Peggy pulled out her gun from her jacket pocket. She and Kelly slowly moved out from behind the partition. In the dimness of the warehouse, they hadn't noticed a piece of metal lying on the floor just beyond the partition. And they banged into it.

The noise got Dottie's attention and she quickly turned around.

"Peggy. Won't you ever give up?" she asked.

"Raise your hands," Peggy replied.

"And your witch-agent. We've never been properly introduced."

"Stay behind me, Kelly," Peggy said.

"Kelly, is it. Well Kelly - you're really going to have learn more about how to be a real agent. Especially if you're going to try to keep up with me," Dottie taunted her.

"I have handcuffs in my back pocket. Take them out," Peggy told Kelly.

"That won't do you any good," Dottie said.

"Keep your hands up until I tell you to put them behind you," Peggy said.

"Of course," Dottie agreed. In the warehouse's dim light Peggy and Kelly could see Dottie's hands were raised. But they couldn't make out that she was holding something in one hand. And then she pressed a button on it.

"Ahhh!" Peggy shouted, her hands going to her head.

"Ahhh!" Kelly also shouted. She felt herself becoming disoriented. She started to lose her balance, turning to the partition wall to hold herself up.

Peggy felt the warehouse suddenly swimming around her. She tried to steady herself but lost her balance and fell to her knees.

"A very useful weapon Stark has here," Dottie said. She looked down at Peggy. "I can't say it hasn't been fun." Then she turned around, saw the front door and made her way out of the warehouse.

It took a few minutes for Kelly and Peggy to regain their equilibrium. As they made their way out of the warehouse and looked around, they were not surprised they did not see Dottie anywhere.

Kelly had left her car at the warehouse when she had been there the first time. Reluctantly, she ushered Peggy into the car with her and drove home.

"Try not to look...too much," Kelly told her. "It's the -"

"Future, I know," Peggy replied. "You can trust me, Kelly. I will not tell Howard about what I see here so that he doesn't invent anything before its time."

"It's not that I don't trust you," Kelly said. "But you're seeing a new world, at least from your perspective. And human nature is..."

"To tell new things one comes across to people - especially to friends," Peggy said. "I'm a trained SSR Agent. I know how to keep secrets."

"I'm sorry," Kelly said. "I didn't mean to offend you."

"No offense taken," Peggy replied. "You're being thorough and careful. As an SSR Agent must be."

"Honey - there you are," Stuart said as Kelly and Peggy came in to the house. "What happened?" Peggy saw Stuart's face light up when he saw Kelly. That is indeed real love, Peggy thought.

"Uh...something came up," Kelly replied, then gave him a small smile. "This is Peggy Carter. Peggy, this is Piper and Prue Halliwell, and my best friend Alexis Bourné." They nodded acknowledgments. "And this is my fiancé, Stuart Weston."

"It's a pleasure to meet you," Peggy said, extending her hand as she looked into his face. "Kelly has told me much about you."

"She has?" Stuart asked in surprise.

"I can see that she was quite right," Peggy continued, looking from him to Kelly. "You clearly love each other very much."

"Uh...uh...yes,," he replied, startled by Peggy's unexpected analysis.

"We've been tracking down a former Russian operative, Dottie Underwood," Kelly said. "She's now independent - and very dangerous. But we no longer have a way to find her, now."

"" Stuart started to question her.

Looking around the room, Peggy saw the table.

"What?..." Peggy began, then walked towards it. " have...a way," she said slowly. "But how can this be here?"

"You recognize that?" Prue asked.

"Howard's tracker," Peggy replied.

"You're familiar with it?" Piper asked in surprise.

"Intimately," Peggy answered. "I've spent the better part of the past three days using it to track down Howard's devices that Dottie and Nespun stole."

"Just who are you?" Prue asked.

"OK...OK - just listen," Kelly began defensively, then took a deep breath. "Peggy is an agent with the SSR." She saw blank faces on everyone - except Stuart. As a former history teacher, she wasn't surprised that he knew what it was. "The Strategic Scientific Reserve, a government agency created during World War II that continues to combat spies and other dangerous operatives. At least it Peggy's time. Peggy is...from 1947."

"What? You brought someone from the past here?" Prue said, getting upset. "The timeline has to be protected. It's hard enough when we have to go back in time to make sure that we don't change anything that would affect our present. But bringing someone here who sees what for her is the future...the mention of anything she sees when she goes back to her time, even the slightest hint about something in our time, could alter the timeline. And wreck havoc in the world as we know it. You can't just do something like this on your own."

"We're not used to going after and confronting a spy and assassin like Dottie Underwood," Kelly emphasized. "We need Peggy's SSR knowledge and experience."

"Perhaps we're not used to it but Darryl Morris is a very experienced police Inspector," Prue countered. "He would know how to take down this Dottie."

"No, he wouldn't," Kelly replied. "Look Prue - I'm not the impetuous, novice witch who did things without thinking them fully through, any more. The two years I spent in the alternate reality changed me."

"Alternate reality?!" Peggy and Alexis asked simultaneously.

"I thought this over very carefully," Kelly continued. "Dottie was trained by the Russians and has extraordinary abilities. Almost like that of a witch or a demon."

"Did you consider that she might be just that?" Prue asked.

"No - she isn't," Peggy interjected. "I've been dealing with Dottie, in one way or another, for the past year. That is, in my time. She's human. With extraordinary skills, yes, but still human. Kelly didn't want to bring me here but I convinced her it was necessary. If you want to blame someone for my being here then you can blame me."

Prue thought for a moment then exhaled. "I'm not blaming anyone. And you're right, Kelly. You have matured and I can - and I do - trust your judgment. I'm sorry for what I said," Prue apologized. "It's just that I worry about the timeline's integrity."

"So do I," Kelly replied.

"And I understand enough about it that I do, as well," Peggy said. "Now that we're all in agreement about being careful to protect the timeline, we can put that aside. Now tell me how Howard's tracker that I just left in 1947 can be sitting here on your table."

"We took it from MOAH, a museum about inventions and technologies, including those from the 1940s," Piper said. "They had some of the original inventions from that period, including Stark's tracker. Alexis used to work there and had seen a demonstration of the tracker locating the only other Stark device that the museum has. We used the tracker to locate four of the devices that Nespun sold here. We have them in that gray bag in the corner." After having her thrill of handling the devices, Alexis had returned them to the bag.

"After all these years it still works," Peggy said, a little amazement in her voice.

"I helped put together an exhibit that included Howard Stark's inventions," Alexis said. "Aside from the tracker and that one device, all we had were pictures of them. But they were amazing inventions. And now that we've retrieved the stolen devices I've seen the actual inventions." Alexis paused. "And you, know him?" she asked with a bit of awe.

"Howard is a dear friend of mine," Peggy replied. "He is a brilliant and good person but has a propensity for getting himself into...predicaments. And then needing someone to extricate him from them."

"What I still don't understand is how you got into this with Peggy," Stuart said to Kelly.

"Later honey, when there's time and it's quiet I'll explain it to you," Kelly answered, though she wasn't looking forward to that conversation. "But right now we have to find Dottie. She is extremely dangerous. And the more she sees of our time the more risk there'll be to our time when Peggy gets her back to 1947. She's not going to be concerned about protecting the timeline."

"Wait a minute," Piper said to Kelly. "You brought Peggy here but how did Dottie get here?"

"Nespun was using a zorkon ring to travel between 1947 and 2000," Kelly explained. "Dottie grabbed the ring from his finger while I was vanquishing him. And then she used it."

"How is the tracker going to help us find her?" Prue asked.

"Dottie still has one of Howard's devices that she stole so the tracker will lead us to it - and to her," Kelly answered.

"But we don't have a way to overcome what that device does," Peggy pointed out. "She already used it rather successfully against us."

"We can't overcome the device but we can stop her from using it," Kelly said. "With Piper's and Prue's powers." She explained to Peggy about Prue's telekinesis power and Piper's power to freeze things.

"Let's take the tracker back to the car and find her," Prue said.

"I'm coming with you," Stuart said.

"No, honey," Kelly said, still trying to keep him away from any danger. "The tracker takes up a seat in the car so there's room just for the four of us."

"There's no telling where she is. She could be in some deserted place that could turn into a trap," he said.

"We won't be in any trap. She doesn't know that we can track her so she won't be expecting us," Kelly said. She saw that wasn't placating Stuart. "I'll call you and tell you where we are so you won't worry about where it is."

"But -"

"Honey - trust me," Kelly implored him.

Stuart took a deep breath and exhaled. "OK. But call me as soon as you know where it is that the tracker points to."

"Thanks," Kelly said, and gave him a small kiss.

"I've got the inventions we recovered," Piper said, taking the gray bag. "Peggy can take them back with her to 1947, where they belong, when she takes Dottie back."

As they headed for the door Kelly pulled Alexis aside. "I know I've asked a lot of you today, but please - don't let Stuart out of your sight until we're back."

"Sure. I won't," Alexis replied.

"Slow down," Peggy said and Prue pulled the car over to the side. "The tracker is pointing at that building."

"That's The Cannery," Piper said.

"Food is canned in there?" Peggy asked.

"Used to be," Piper replied. "Now it houses shops, restaurants, galleries and open air arcades."

"Lots of places inside where Dottie could be," Prue said. "Let's store the tracker in the trunk." She got out of the car and together with Peggy took it from the back seat. As Piper opened the trunk for them, Kelly called Stuart to let him know they were in a safe public, populated area.

"The Cannery has three levels. We'll have to split up to cover all of it," Kelly said, "but only Peggy and I know what Dottie looks like. Go with Peggy, Piper and I'll go with Prue."

Stuart sat down on the living room sofa next to Alexis. He felt better after Kelly's call but still wished that he was there with her.

"You know about Howard Stark because of his inventions. I know about him because of his movies," Stuart said. "The Blue Chrysanthemum with Veronica Lake was a classic film noir. And Mandalay Girl with Gene Tierney was a riveting wartime story."

"I'm not really up on old movies," Alexis admitted. "I'm more familiar with older items in my fields of work at de Young and MOAH - art history and old inventions."

Stuart was about to respond when something clicked in his mind. "Inventions," he repeated. He jumped up from the sofa and hurried over to the chair in the corner of the living room.

"Stark's choking invention," he said as he picked it up from the chair. "Someone was examining it and left it on the chair, so it wasn't with the other devices in Piper's bag. This has to be returned to 1947 or the timeline..." He paused as thoughts raced through his mind.

"You knew what this device is because of the picture of it in the MOAH exhibit. If it's not back where it should be when the pictures of the devices are taken..." he continued.

"Then I wouldn't have recognized it," Alexis said.

"And everything that was done here because of that might be changed," Stuart said, fear growing in his voice. "The timeline could be irrevocably damaged." He took a deep breath. "I have to get this to Peggy to take back with her to her time. I'll bring it to her at The Cannery." He hurried to the front door.

Alexis realized that she couldn't stop Stuart. And she had promised Kelly she wouldn't let him out of her sight. "I'm going with you," she said. "I want to get a last look at it while you drive," she lied.

Piper and Peggy had quickly explored the outside courtyard that ran the length of The Cannery, checking all of the tables and benches that sat beneath the olive and magnolia trees. The red-bricked Cannery had been split internally, when the preservation renovations for the historic building were made in the 60s, into two buildings, and now Piper and Peggy hurried into the left building.

Kelly and Prue had gone into the right building's first floor, examining each shop and restaurant on that level, checking each person they saw. They reached the last shop at the end of the corridor, a two-room art gallery. No one was in the outer room, though they could hear a voice coming from the inner room.

As they made their way to the doorway between the rooms, they heard steps coming from the corridor behind them into the gallery. They turned around and saw Dottie standing in the middle of the room, facing them.

"The future...this so amazing," she said. "Much more exciting than 1947."

"Too bad you find that year so dull, Dottie. You're going back to it," Kelly said.

"I don't think so," Dottie said. "An SSR Agent has to learn from her experience what to do differently the next time, not to simply repeat it. And have the same result." Dottie took Stark's device out of her pocket and held it in her outstretched hand.

"But you haven't learned that an SSR Agent will come prepared with something up her sleeve," Kelly replied. "In this case, up my friend Prue's sleeve."

Prue stretched out her arm and waved it at the device in Dottie's hand. The device went flying from it, landing against the gallery's far wall. Prue waved her hand again and Dottie went flying backwards, landing on the floor to the side of the gallery's corridor doorway.

"There you are, Kelly," Stuart said, as he walked into the gallery from the corridor. "You left one of the devices at home, honey, so I brought it for Peggy to take back with her."

In a flash Dottie jumped up and was standing behind Stuart, her left arm tightly around his neck. In her right hand was a gun, held tightly against his head, her finger on the trigger.

"I don't know how you did that parlor trick with your hand but don't try it again," Dottie warned. "The slightest movement of the gun, or my hand, and the gun will fire. Whoever this is is sweet on you, Kelly. You don't want anything to happen to him."

Prue knew that Dottie was right. She couldn't use her power against Dottie's hand, or the gun, without the movement making it go off.

"If you hurt Stuart you won't have anything left to stop us from taking you," Kelly said.

"And if I don't threaten to shoot him you'll certainly take me," Dottie answered. "So I have nothing to lose. But you do!"

Dottie started to slowly back out of the gallery into the corridor, holding Stuart tightly, her attention focused on Kelly and Prue.

Suddenly Dottie gave a gasping sound. She let go of Stuart, instinctively pulled the gun from his head and waved it behind her, before dropping it. Her left hand went to her throat while her right elbow made a strong backwards motion, as if defending herself against someone attacking her, someone right behind her with hands on her throat.

But the only person behind her was twenty feet away. Alexis stood there, turning the knobs on Stark's choking device that she had held in the car, pointing its "arms" at Dottie and bringing the "arms" closer together. Dottie manipulated her body, jumping up and off of the wall, landing close to Alexis. She managed to get to her knees and tried lunging at Alexis. But with her air cutoff, she finally lost consciousness and keeled over onto the floor.

They were in a back corner of the corridor, in the stairwell behind the staircase that led to the upper levels. Most people didn't use that staircase, preferring to take the elevator between floors. They couldn't go outside where they would surely be seen. They had no choice but to stay in the corner where they'd be less likely to be discovered.

Kelly and Prue had dragged Dottie into the corner while Alexis had called Piper on her cell phone to tell her where they were. They had been promptly joined by Piper and Peggy, who put handcuffs on Dottie's wrists. Alexis found an art supplies shop down the corridor and bought drafting tape, which Kelly used to tie around Dottie's legs and to seal her mouth, lest she made noises that would draw attention to them.

"Howard's Stark's devices all accounted for," Piper said, as she came back from the car with the gray bag of the inventions. Kelly dropped in the device that had fallen from Dottie's hand as Alexis held the choking device.

"This was designed to give soldiers the ability to take out an enemy without getting close enough to be in danger themselves," Peggy said as she looked at it. "It wasn't ready to be used in the war - but it was a complete success today. It worked as Howard envisioned it and kept Alexis safe."

Alexis looked at the device one last time, then dropped it into the bag. "I wish I could thank him for that."

"So do I," Stuart said, "but at least I can thank you, Alexis. You saved my life. It was very brave of you to do that."

"Well - I'm ready to take Peggy and Dottie back to 1947," Kelly said.

"And I'll take everyone else home," Prue said. Stuart started to protest but Kelly shook her head at him. "Go home with them. I'll be fine - we won't be in any danger. Just leave my car here so I'll have it when I get back."

Stuart took a deep breath, then reluctantly nodded his head in agreement. The four walked out the back exit and headed for Prue's car.

"Ready when you are," Peggy said. Dottie started to come to and Peggy knelt down to grab her arm.

"I heard them in the corridor, maybe around the corner," they heard a woman's voice from the gallery say.

"I'll check it out," they heard a man say. Before they could do anything a Cannery security guard came around from the corridor into the stairwell corner.

"Hey! What's going on here?!" he shouted, then started to grab his radio from his belt.

"Stop! Federal Agents! Put back your radio!" Kelly commanded him.

The guard halted, his hand poised by his belt. Kelly took out her SSR badge that Daniel Sousa had given her and held it out for the guard to see.

"I'm Agent Anderson and this is Agent Carter. And this spy is our prisoner," she added.

"Spy?" the guard repeated, somewhat bewildered. He looked closely at Kelly's badge.

"Strategic Scientific Reserve," he read. "I never heard of it," he challenged them.

Kelly thought for a few seconds. "What's your name?"


"Mr. Ory - what have you heard about the NSA - the National Security Agency?" she asked.

"Uh...I heard something about it being some super-secret government thing. But I don't know anything about it," he admitted.

"The reason you don't know is because it is a super-secret government agency. And you don't know about the SSR because it is even more secret than that," Kelly proclaimed.

"A...spy?" he asked.

"Yes. And we're taking her into custody," Kelly said.

"I...I have to report this...or I'll get into trouble," the guard stammered.

"No! There can't be any record of this. We can't risk it leaking and warning the others in her ring that we have her," Kelly said firmly. "Nor can there be a record that the SSR was here."

"But...give me your agency's phone number," he said. "In case this gets back to my boss I need to have this verified."

"We don't give out a phone number. We're a deeply hidden, clandestine agency," Peggy replied, in a perfect American accent.

Kelly did a double take. She quickly caught herself, turned back to the guard and thought for a moment. "If you need to confirm this you can call CGIS - that's the Coast Guard Investigative Service. Their headquarters is in the Coast Guard's Base Alemeda. Ask for Agent Jordanna Amsel. They're our partner in this so that we remain hidden. She will confirm that this is their operation, keeping us out of any public knowledge."

The guard wrote down the information. "Now let us finish this operation before you continue to endanger its completion," Peggy said sharply in her American accent.

"Uh...OK," the guard said. Feeling he was in way over his head, he turned around and went back down the corridor.

"I'm impressed," Kelly said, shaking her head slightly in astonishment.

"As an SSR agent I have to do many things in the course of an operation," Peggy explained, speaking normally again. "Including, at times, passing as an American. The guard was suspicious of SSR being an American secret agency and I did not want to increase his suspicion by sounding un-American. And your part was nicely done, too."

"Uh...there can't be any record of SSR activity in this time," Kelly said.

"What will happen if he calls the Coast Guard?" Peggy asked.

"Jordanna will cover for us," Kelly replied. "I'll call her as soon as I come back and let her know what to say. We've worked together and I know her very well."

"Then she knows who and...?"

"What I am? Yes - she knows I'm a witch. Though she isn't her mother is one, too," Kelly explained.

"You have a large number of witches in San Francisco," Peggy noted.

"And a good thing we do," Kelly said. "For some reason there's a lot of evil centered in this beautiful this city."

They lifted Dottie up, Peggy holding one arm and Kelly holding the other. Then holding both the bag and Peggy's free hand, Kelly said the time travel spell.

"Dottie Underwood is safely behind bars and all of Howard's devices have been recovered. And I could not have done it without Kelly," Peggy proudly said to Daniel, as she and Kelly stood in the SSR LA Branch Chief's office.

Daniel Sousa looked at them, then exhaled. "I'll admit that you were right about needing Miss Anderson's participation," he replied. "You did a great job. You both did." A vindicating smile came across Peggy's face.

"Be prepared, Daniel, for Dottie being very different from how she had been," Peggy warned him. "Since we captured her she's been babbling about witches being SSR agents and her traveling through time to the future. I expect she's having a breakdown."

"She won't get any sympathy from me. What about the jeweler, Henry Stevens?" Sousa asked.

"Kelly and I are going there now to retrieve whatever stolen jewelry he has left. They'll be returned to their owners as best as can be done," Peggy said. As best as Kelly can in 2000, she thought.

"We should bring Stevens in, too," Sousa said.

"No, don't Daniel," Peggy said. "He co-operated with us to a certain degree. Leave him where he is. You have leverage over him which may prove to be useful in the future." Sousa thought for a moment, then nodded his head in agreement.

"Well - I guess I should return this," Kelly said, as she started to unfasten her SSR badge.

"Now that you've proven your value, would you consider staying on here?" Sousa asked. "I'd get you formal training."

"That's very kind of you, Chief Sousa, but I need to get home to San Francisco," Kelly replied. "There are...things waiting for me."

"Including her fiancé," Peggy added. Sousa put out his hand to take the badge but caught Peggy's look. And as often was the case, he could tell exactly what she was thinking.

"On second thought, keep it Miss Anderson. You've earned it," he said, leaving it in her hand. "SSR doesn't have an office in San Francisco but probably could use one. If I could ever get funding for it. But if I do, maybe you'd be part of it."

"Thank you, Chief," Kelly said, re-fastening the badge. "Maybe." He extended his hand again and shook hers.

"Good luck, Miss Anderson," he said.

"You really wanted him to know that I helped you," Kelly said as they walked through the office bullpen.

"It helps whenever I can reinforce the point that Daniel should take my advice," Peggy replied, smiling.

The door's overhead bell jingled as Peggy and Kelly came into Stevens' jewelry store.

"Can I help-" he started to say, but then saw who they were. "Remember - I helped you!" he said in a panic.

"We do," Peggy said as she and Kelly brushed past him into the back room of the store. "That's why we're going to let you remain in business."

"Your jewelry business," Kelly clarified. She went to a standing cabinet and starting going through its shelves' contents. She took a small jar filled with red crystals and placed it in the bag she had brought with her. She continued going through the shelves, removing other jars containing various items and adding them to the bag.

"No - you can't do that," Stevens protested as Kelly proceeded to carefully look over every corner of the room, taking a few more items and putting them into the bag, as well.

"Your days as a 'purveyor to the dark world' are over," Peggy said. "You'll just have to make do selling jewelry."

"And not stolen jewelry," Kelly said, holding Nespun's pouch of diamonds she had taken from a back counter. "These are going back to their owners."

"It has been an honor to work with you, Miss Anderson," Jarvis said, as he and Ana stood with Peggy and Kelly in Howard Stark's mansion's courtyard.

"And it's been my pleasure to have met both of you," Kelly replied.

"Are you sure I can't take you to Union Station?" Jarvis asked. "You can still catch the Daylight Limited to San Francisco."

"Thank you, Mr. Jarvis, but Kelly has made other transportation arrangements to get home," Peggy interjected.

"Very well. Then have a safe trip," Ana said.

"Good-bye," Kelly said, then walked with Peggy to a part of the courtyard where she'd be hidden from view and wouldn't be seen disappearing when she said the time travel spell.

"This is 'good-bye' for me, too. I will miss you," Peggy said.

"I've come to know you - and to really like you," Kelly responded. "And to trust you with the timeline and the future."

"Your trust won't be misplaced," Peggy said. "I saw many wonderful and fascinating things in your time but no one in this time will know anything of them from me."

"I know." Kelly paused for a moment, then took a deep breath. "Prue told me to destroy this," she said, as she took the zorkon ring from her pocket. "She said it was dangerous if it fell into the wrong hands." Kelly took Peggy's hand, placed the ring in its palm, then closed Peggy's fingers around it. She put her own hand around Peggy's and squeezed it tightly.

"But it won't be if it fell into the right hands," Kelly told her. "I don't know what the future will be. That is, your personal future. You've been up against a demon once. Who knows - it might happen again. If you do...if you ever need my help, come for me. You know how to use the ring. And you've been in my house so you know where I live."

"I...having a great responsibility," Peggy said, overwhelmed by Kelly's generosity.

"I can't think of anyone whom I would trust more with that responsibility." Kelly took the jar with the red crystals out of the bag. "Here are the rest of the zorkon crystals, should the ring need to be refilled. Using the ring slowly depletes them."

"What will you tell Prue?" she asked.

"That I took care of it. I don't need to give her details of how I did," Kelly replied.

"Thank you...for your trust. And your friendship," Peggy said. "This will be kept in a safe place that no one else will know about."

"And here's some 2000 money so you can take a taxi to my home...and not have to walk there from wherever the ring brings you," Kelly smiled as she handed Peggy an envelope.

"Thank you, Kelly. You are a dear friend. Howard would have loved to meet you, had he been in town."

"Speaking of Howard, he should put you in one of his movies," Kelly suggested.

"I'm not an actress," Peggy demurred.

"I think you'd be a very good one," Kelly countered. "You have poise, confidence and a natural, fresh beauty. The hallmarks of a fine actress."

"An actress must know how to act," Peggy said, "and I don't."

"You did a good job of covering up the truth about me," Kelly replied. "No one, including Daniel, suspected that it was just an act on your part. I'd say that was pretty good acting. And if that perfect American accent you used with the Cannery guard wasn't acting, I don't know what is.

"In fact, Howard could make a movie about one of your operations, with you starring in it. He could call it simply 'Agent Carter'."

"I doubt people would be interested in what I've done," Peggy said. "People want danger and excitement in their films."

"That Zero Matter you told me about sounds to be very dangerous and exciting," Kelly said. "I wouldn't be surprised if one day that story about you and it is filmed."

Peggy gave a small smile, then opened her hand and stared at the zorkon ring. She took a deep breath as she put it and the envelope of money into her pocket. "Then perhaps...this isn't really 'good-bye'," she said.

"No...perhaps it's not," Kelly replied. They put their arms around each other and hugged each other in a tight embrace.

"You put yourself into real danger. You should never have done that," Kelly said. She was standing outside of her house, with Piper and Alexis, where Stuart wouldn't hear them.

"I was going to keep my promise to take care of Stuart," Alexis replied. "Look - it's not as if I don't know what you're doing. As your friend, I was in the middle of this anyway. And as your friend...I'll probably be involved in something you do, again."

"Regardless of what you know about us, that's not your job," Piper said.

"And it's not Stuart's job either," Alexis countered. "That plan to keep him away from what you were doing, and thereby from danger, didn't work out very well, did it Kelly."

" didn't," Kelly admitted. "He..." She took a deep breath. "...was almost killed at The Cannery, anyway."

"There are things that we can't control," Alexis said, "things that we can't outsmart. They're going to happen regardless of what we do," she added. "You can't keep him - or me - out of your life. I'm not anxious to put my life in danger. But I'm not going to refrain from helping you when I can - and when you need me to." She paused.

"The reality is that you certainly can't keep Stuart from doing that. You're going to be married. Your lives will be - and already are - completely intertwined. As your friend who really cares about you, take my advice. Accept that because of who and what you are Stuart will be in danger. Because he's already accepted that about you."

Piper looked at Alexis, took a deep breath, then turned to Kelly. "Alexis is right. You can't guarantee Stuart's safety anymore than we can guarantee our own." She exhaled. "We have to just accept that. And do the best we can for ourselves...and for each other.

"And that goes for you too, Alexis. You are part of us now. And we all will watch out for each other."

Kelly sat down on the sofa, tucking her legs under her. Her comfortable burgundy satin short robe, its squared-off bottom falling mid-thigh, was one she knew Stuart liked. She took his hand in hers as she turned to him.

"I said I would explain about today," she began, with dread. "I...wasn't really at the museum."

"I know," he said.

"You do?" she asked.

"You're very good at preparing exhibits. You would not have needed all day to add whatever was missing. And anyway, knowing you as I do, nothing would have been missing after you finished arranging it the other day. And if you had been working on it today you certainly wouldn't have had the time to chase after a spy assassin - here or in 1947."

"I'm sorry I lied," she said.

"You omitted things but didn't lie - Alexis did," he replied. "And I know she lied only to help you. Now tell me why."

Kelly took a deep breath and cuddled closer to him. "I worry about you...about you continually being in danger. And...getting hurt. I just...wanted to keep you safe for a while. Away from...from my fighting evil. And the dangers that go with it."

Stuart took Kelly's face in his hands. "I know this is your calling. That you won't stop using your powers for the greater good. And I worry about you being in danger. But I worry a lot more when I'm not with you. When I don't know what's happening my mind thinks of..." He paused as tears came to his eyes. "When I'm with you then we're in whatever it is together. And I can be there for you.

"I love you, Kelly. And being there with you - for you - is who I am. Just like your being there to fight the evil is who you are. I won't ask you to stop being yourself. Don't ask me to stop being myself."

Kelly closed her eyes briefly. When she opened them there were tears in them.

"I love you, honey," she said.

"Then we have a deal?" he asked.

Kelly nodded her head. "Deal," she said. She cuddled closer to him, nuzzling her face in his neck. Then she straightened out her long legs and swung them around to him. Below her short robe, her bare thighs now stretched across Stuart's lap. When he reacted to them, as she had wanted him to, she placed her lips on his and they kissed.

"I think it's time for bed," she said when their kiss ended. "It's been a very long...'day'."

"It has, indeed," he agreed. Kelly stood up, took Stuart's hand and, with a smile on her face, led him to their bedroom.



~ Author's Notes ~

Kelly's StarTAC model cellphone was the first clamshell/flip phone marketed. It was an amazing success for Motorola when it was introduced in 1996.

The movies Howard Stark directed, that Stuart recounted for Alexis, represent real movies. The Blue Chrysanthemum is a stand-in for the The Blue Dahlia - the two flowers are in the same family - that did indeed star Veronica Lake. It was directed by George Marshall. Mandalay Girl is a stand-in for Gene Tierney's China Girl, as much of the movie takes place in Mandalay, Burma. It was directed by Henry Hathaway.

MOAH is a real museum in Palo Alto. It houses a collection of over 5,000 artifacts on invention and technology from 1750-1950. Here is its website. The de Young Museum is a real fine arts museum in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Here is its website.

Hydra-Matic to which Mr. Jarvis referred was introduced by General Motors as an option and was the first commercially successful automobile automatic transmission. Though most of the cars in use in 1947 were indeed manual, as Mr. Jarvis said, the majority of GM cars sold in the immediate post-war years came with the Hydra-Matic transmission.

The Agent Carter TV series was broadcast fifteen years after the events in this story. So Kelly could neither know about the show nor be hinting to Peggy about it. But I do know about it and I was hinting - author's prerogative.

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