Charmed Role Reversal

The Witch Who Went Out Into The Cold

Phoebe tucked the collar of her sand-colored double-breasted raincoat underneath the curls of her long, shoulder length red hair and cinched the coat's belt at her waist. She adjusted the sunglasses that she was wearing, even though the sky was overcast, and held her newspaper folded in quarters in her right hand. She started walking purposefully, her head facing forward straight in front of her, the sound of her shoes reverberating through the empty piazza. Empty, that is, except for the dozens of pigeons congregating in her path. They dispersed as she approached them and then, as soon as she had passed, returned and stood about as if they had never been disturbed.

Phoebe had almost crossed the entire piazza when, turning her eyes but not her head, she spotted Stuart some twenty-five yards off to the side. He was standing in one of the identical archways that lined the entire left side of the piazza. Seeing him raise and then lower his trenchcoat collar, she continued walking.

She came to a small café at the piazza's far edge and looked at the name on the sign above its doorway.

Náměstí Kavárna

Café on the Square, Phoebe thought, remembering the rough translation of the Czech name she had been given and what she had been told about it - one of Prague's smaller cafés, somewhat out-of-the-way, where it was less likely that 'they' would be looking for her.

Satisfied, Phoebe sat down at one of the three square tables that was nearest to the café's wall. Despite there not being any bright sunlight, the low hanging green and orange table awning had been deployed. Though her back was to the piazza, Stuart was still visible to her from the corner of her eye.

Phoebe ordered a cappuccino, then partially opened her newspaper, leaving it folded in half. Acting as if she was reading the front page, which of course she wasn't as she did not understand Czech, she took something small from her coat pocket and slipped it into the newspaper's fold. The waitress brought the cappuccino and Phoebe moved the newspaper to the right side of the table, making room for the waitress to put the cup down in front of her.

"Thank you," Phoebe said, but then remembered the two Czech words she had learned. "Dĕekuji váám," she repeated and the girl gave her a small smile in acknowledgement.

Phoebe began slowly drinking her cappuccino, a few sips at a time. After a moment a small man emerged from the café. A stubble of a beard on his dark complexion cheeks, his large, bulging eyes darted nervously across the piazza's expanse. Seemingly satisfied at what he saw, he took a few steps towards Phoebe's table. Seeing her newspaper lying on it, he motioned with his hand if he might look at it. Phoebe nodded and the small man sat down at the side of the table to her right. The low hung awning obscured his face from the piazza though from his chair he could see anyone who was there.

Phoebe drank some more of her cappuccino, staring ahead at the café and ignoring her table companion. As the man took the newspaper, he put his hand into the fold, removed what Phoebe had put there, and discreetly held it below the table's edge on his left thigh. The small, square translucent object fit easily into the palm of his left hand. A yellow light was pulsing quickly in the square's lower right corner.

The man turned the square clockwise and the light moved to the right side of the square. He moved the square closer to his right pants pocket. The light turned red and was pulsing so rapidly that it appeared to be steady. He put his right hand into the pocket and pulled out a small ruby.

Satisfied, the small man put both the ruby and the square into his pocket. He looked up and scanned the piazza, then looked to his right at the café. Seeing no one approaching, he took out a small, folded over manila envelope from the inside pocket of his suit jacket. Moving the newspaper closer to him, he placed the envelope inside its fold. He flipped the newspaper over as if to read the lower half of the front page, sat that way for a minute, then replaced the paper on the table as it had been. He stood up and bowed his head slightly to Phoebe in a courtly 'thank you'. She gave him a polite smile and as he walked away, went back to her drink.

Finishing her cappuccino, Phoebe moved the newspaper closer to her, discreetly took out the manila envelope and placed it inside her coat pocket. She stood up, took the newspaper and left some money on the table. From the corner of her eye she saw Stuart raise and lower his coat collar, giving her the ‘OK’ signal again, and she began to walk back through the piazza.

Phoebe was halfway across the piazza when she heard a cry from behind her. She turned around and saw two tall men in dark suits holding the small man from the café up against the café wall. A light crackled from the hand of one of the men to the small man's chest. The small man screamed again and collapsed to the ground. The two men starting going through the small man's pockets.

Phoebe turned back and resumed walking. But presently the sound of her steps was joined by the sound of other feet. Feet that were running. She looked over her shoulder and saw the two men running towards her. She turned her head back and started running away from them. She reached the edge of the piazza and ran to a small red Citroën parked at the curb, pulled out a key from her pocket and jumped inside. She started up the car and with a screech of tires pulled away.

The two men had run two-thirds of the way across the piazza when they saw Phoebe drive off. They stopped and one of them pulled something out of his jacket pocket. A photograph of a large black sedan. The two men placed their right hands on either side of the photograph, holding it between their palms. Suddenly the picture began to expand in three dimensions. A real car began to form. They each stepped backwards to give it room and in five seconds a full car stood between them. They jumped into the black sedan, drove across the rest of the empty piazza and took off after Phoebe.

The red Citroën was tearing down one narrow curving street after another. Phoebe barely slowed down as she turned right on a sharp corner. Both left wheels of the car lifted off the ground and the car began to tip over. But suddenly it righted itself and the wheels hugged the street again.

The black sedan was following Phoebe and now it was gaining on her. Two teenage girls started to cross the street in front of Phoebe and she swerved, barely missing them. The girls saw the black sedan racing down the street and, realizing it didn't care about them, jumped back just in time to the safety of the narrow sidewalk.

Phoebe turned right at the corner, racing the red Citroën down another narrow street. She had driven less than a block when she saw, in her mirror, the black sedan turning onto the street behind her. The sedan's driver thrust his left hand out of his window and a bolt of energy shot from his hand towards the red Citroën. Phoebe saw it coming in the mirror and swerved. But a second bolt of energy followed and destroyed the side mirror next to her.

"EYYE!" Phoebe screamed, startled. She floored the gas pedal and zoomed passed an intersection. She drove another block and as she passed the next corner, a white van pulled out from the cross street behind her and blocked the intersection. Stuart jumped out of the van and ran back down the cross street he had come from. He was not ten yards from the intersection when he heard the crash. He looked over his shoulder and saw the car and van enveloped in flames. Then he turned his head back and kept on running away.

Stuart ran another block, then turned right and ran another half block until stopping by a small grey car. He jumped into it, started the engine and pulled away. He made two right turns and then a left turn, pulled up at the back of a warehouse two-thirds of the way down the block and waited with the motor running. In a moment, the red Citroën turned onto the street from the opposite direction, made a sharp U-turn and pulled over to the curb in front of Stuart. Phoebe hurried out of her car and jumped into the passenger side of the grey car. Stuart floored the gas pedal and they sped away.

It began to drizzle as they drove quickly through the narrow streets of Staré Město - the Old City - and past the National Theater. They continued across the Legions Bridge that spans the Vltava River that runs through the heart of Prague. The bridge brought them into the Mala Straná section of the city on the river's west bank. Umbrellas began popping open on the narrow sidewalks. Stuart had to slow down because of the rain-slicked streets but in a few minutes they pulled up to a small brick structure attached to larger buildings on either side of it. Phoebe stared at the garage door painted on the small building's wall.

      "Door that is gone but was here before,    

       Be briefly again and open once more."

The painting shimmered and transformed into a real garage door. Then it opened and Stuart drove the grey car into the garage. As Stuart shut off the motor the door closed behind them, then changed back to being just a painting. Phoebe pulled off her sunglasses and red wig.

"I got it," she said, pulling the folded manila envelope from her coat pocket.

"Perfect," Stuart said. "Including dressing for the part with that spy disguise so you wouldn't be recognized by any demons afterwards. Just the way Hollywood would do it."

"Not quite," Phoebe said. "In Hollywood, they would have shot a few closeups of me sitting in the Citroën. In post-production, they would have edited them in before, during and after the car chase to make it look like I was driving. Which I wouldn't have been. A stunt driver would have really been driving the Citroën. And he would have controlled the car better than I did. I had to use a spell to keep its wheels on the ground and not roll over on those wild turns." She stopped and exhaled.

"And in Hollywood," she added, "they wouldn't have been really trying to kill me."

"Here's one thing that I know Hollywood would have us do after this kind of chase and intrigue," he said with a small smile, "especially when we're wearing trench coats." He leaned over, turned his head to her and gently kissed her.

"Well," Stuart said, "maybe after this you won't need a stunt driver back in Hollywood."

"If we ever get back to Hollywood," Phoebe said, staring at the manila envelope and fingering it in her right hand. "If we ever get back to Hollywood alive."

Click speaker for Opening Credits Theme Song

Phoebe took off her coat as they came into the small flat above the garage and threw it onto the sofa, along with her wig and sunglasses.

"I've seen this white-van-blocks-pursuing-car so many times in movies and on television," Stuart said as he locked the door behind them. "To think that this over-used chase-scene cliché actually worked..."

"Life imitating Hollywood," Phoebe said.

She carefully opened the manila envelope and took out a CD. She went over to the cabinet, unlocked it, took out a laptop computer and started it up.

"My spell to make that square find precious gems really worked," she said. "Vadim tried it before he gave me the disc."

"A lot of good it did him," Stuart said. "They killed him."

"Ruthless evil," Phoebe said.

"Ruthless evil," Keir said.

It was two days earlier. Two days before Phoebe's cappuccino at the café. Two days before her life and death car chase through the five-hundred year-old, narrow winding streets of the Czech Republic's capital, Prague. They were in the house with the bagpipe and the pictures of the girls dancing the Highland Fling, the house with the park and walking oval outside. The house they had been brought to the day they had met Melinda Warren.

Now they were there again, sitting on the sofa, opposite Keir who was standing in front of the fireplace. Whatever humbling he had experienced at their previous success in defeating Salem’s Abigail Eames was not evident, Piper thought. He was as supremely self-confident and dogmatic as he had been the first time. And he looked and sounded even more like Donald Sutherland to her this time, if that was possible, though the condescending tone was gone. Short, rotund and balding Meriwether, in the same ill-fitting black suit he had worn when last they saw him, sat off in a corner.

They were listening to Keir tell them about who they would have to vanquish. Only this time it wasn't a time-traveling witch from Salem.

"That's the difference between these demons and the ones you've been up against until now," Keir said. "These demons don't need a reason to torture or kill someone. They do it as normally as you breathe."

Piper exhaled. She was getting a bad feeling about where this was leading.

"And the other difference is that these demons work clandestinely," Keir continued. "They're much more hidden and secretive in using their powers than are normal demons."

"Clandestine, secretive, torture," Stuart said, with a hint of a smile. "It almost sounds like some secret spy you're talking about the old Russian KGB."

"I am," Keir said. He stared coldly at Stuart who quickly dropped the smile.

"Demons need to insinuate themselves into mortal society," Keir continued, "to do their evil. They need money for clothes and for places to live so that they can fit in. And they're willing to invest time and effort for that. Working their way into the KGB was worth it to them.

"The KGB gave them the money they needed to live like normal people. And just as important, it gave them the access to mortal societies and the opportunities to do their evil. Torturing prisoners in Lubyanka Prison until they died so that they could take their souls, fomenting revolutions, upheavals, assassinations...leading to more death and destruction."

"You're saying the whole Russian KGB was made up of demons?" Phoebe asked.

"No, not all of it," Keir said, "but important parts of it. The chairman and deputy chairmen weren't demons. But some of the directorate chiefs and a good number of KGB agents were. There are at least half-a-dozen political murders done prior to nine years ago, when the Soviet Union still existed, which resulted in riots, revolutions or civil wars around the world, that your mortal CIA attributes to the KGB. But they couldn’t figure out how the murders were accomplished.

"And the reason they couldn't figure it out is because they weren't accomplished by mortal methods. They were done by KGB demons using demonic powers."

This was all beginning to overwhelm Phoebe. Spies and demons being mixed together, being one in the same. This all sounded like some scary movie. But it wasn't. The scary part was that it wasn't a movie. It was all very real. And they were being put right in the middle of it.

"When the Soviet Union imploded nine years ago," Keir continued, "major changes were happening. The KGB started being broken up into other organizations and its activities began to be scrutinized, both because of the changed foreign policy and to be sure of loyalty to the new government. Some of the demons wound up in the SVR, the Foreign Intelligence Service or in the FSB, the Federal Security Service.

"Most of the demons decided that these new services no longer gave them the facilities and opportunities they needed and so they left. But a handful stayed on. After a while, the chief demon saw that he would no longer be able to cover up these remaining demons' activities and protect them from discovery. Lie detectors were being employed and the demons could not pass them."

Keir paused for a moment and took a deep breath.

"The chief KGB demon was afraid they would be discovered," he resumed, "so he forced a warlock to cast a spell on them. A spell that made them forget that they were demons. Not having anything to hide, they could pass any investigation of them, even lie detectors, and still keep their positions. Positions that would be key to any future evil plan's success.

"Four days ago, the chief demon got a warlock named Vadim to remove the spell from those demons so they would remember who and what they are. He undoubtably has a plan for evil that is important enough to awaken those sleepers."

"Sleepers?" Leo asked.

"That's an espionage term for agents who for years do nothing at all, living perfectly normal lives, until the time comes for them to be activated," Stuart said.

"Hmmm...sort of like you," Leo said to the girls. "Your powers were bound as children. You lived normal lives and didn't even remember that you were witches who had powers until the time came for you to become The Charmed Ones."

"We lived normal lives because we never were witches to begin with," Piper muttered under her breath.

"I don't know why the chief demon chose right now to execute his plan," Keir said.

"I can guess," Piper said. "The eve of the solstice is approaching."

"Perhaps," Keir said.

"And you know about all of this through your demon spy?" Phoebe asked. "The same one who told you about Abigail Eames time traveling?

"Yes," Keir acknowledged.

"So," Piper said, "you want us to vanquish these leftover KGB demons before they can put their plan into action."

"That's right," Keir said.

"OK," Prue said. "Tell us who they are and we'll vanquish them."

"We don't know who they are," Keir said.

"What?!" Phoebe exclaimed. "Your demon spy who told you all about this couldn't give you their names? How can we vanquish them if we don't know who they are?"

"Your first job," Keir said, "is to find out who they are. And then to vanquish them."

"And just how are we supposed to do that?" Piper asked, squinting at him. Her bad feelings about all of this had just gotten stronger.

"The chief demon has a computer file with the names and positions of the three demons," Keir said.

"Demons use computers?" Prue asked, amazed.

"The demons were KGB," Keir replied. "They've been using technology all along. It's perfectly natural for them to keep their demonic information that way."

"I wonder if there's anything in the Book of Shadows about vanquishing demon computers," Phoebe quipped.

"The chief demon offered Vadim something big for reversing the spell," Keir said. "But Vadim was suspicious and checked around. He found out that the warlock who cast the spell to make them forget was never seen again. Vadim realized that the chief demon wasn't leaving anyone around who knew who these demons were and that the same thing would happen to him after he removed the spell. But it was too late for him to back out of it. He already knew too much for the chief demon to leave him alive.

"The chief demon had a copy of that computer file on a computer CD," Keir continued. "Vadim had planned how to escape after removing the spell. When he did, he also stole the CD. He's offered it to us in exchange for something that will let him become rich enough to go someplace far away where the chief demon won't find him. And live there comfortably."

"What does he want?" Leo asked.

"A way of locating precious gems," Keir replied.

"That's all?" Prue asked. "Why didn't he ask for something bigger."

"He did," Keir answered. "We told him no deal. He negotiated with us through an intermediary. But he knows that this CD will be worthless once the demons' plans are used and so he settled for the gem finder."

"Do you have such a thing?" Phoebe asked.

"No," Keir said. "That's another job you have. To come up with a spell to give some innocuous object this ability."

"Is that all," Piper said, with sarcasm.

"No, it's not," Keir said and Piper squinted at him again. "Then you have to deliver it to Vadim and carry out the exchange for the CD."

My bad feelings about all of this were right, Piper thought.

"Look," Prue said, "those demons may have been KGB spies but we aren't. We don't know anything about acting like spies. We're just...witches."

Keir stared at Prue silently for five seconds.

"You're experienced," he said flatly. "You can play the parts."

At those last three words Phoebe and Piper turned to each other. Play the parts? Piper thought. Was that merely a figure of speech? Or did Keir purposely choose those words? We never did figure out last time whether or not he knew who we really were.

Experienced, Phoebe thought. Did he mean as witches? Or as actresses?

"You'll handle the exchange," Keir said. "Vadim is terrified that the demons will discover he has the CD and find him. He refuses to travel anywhere lest he be spotted by one of them. It has to be brought to him. And it has to be done by a witch who could handle the demons if they did show up."

"Where is he," Phoebe asked.

"He's in Prague," Keir said. "You leave for there tonight."

"Prague?" Prue repeated. "What's he doing there."

"That's where he's been hiding since he stole the CD," Keir said. "It's not in Russia but it’s not that far away from it, either. He apparently had connections to secretly get him there."

"Wait," Piper said. "We have to go to Prague where we don't know our way around and where the demons who are trying to kill Vadim will probably come after us to kill us, too?"

"No," Keir said. "You don't. And neither does Prue. Only Phoebe is going."

"What?!" Phoebe exclaimed.

"Vadim doesn't trust us, either," Keir explained. "He's afraid we'll send a witch who'll use her powers to steal the disc from him. And he can detect witches' active powers. If he senses either of your sisters' powers there he'll run away. And we won't get the CD. But your power is not active. It can't do too much so he won't care about it."

"Thank you," Phoebe said. "I certainly know who to come to when I need a boost for my morale."

"We are not letting Phoebe go halfway around the world to meet a warlock who the demons are after all by herself," Piper said with a steely look.

"She won't be going by herself," Keir said. "Your mortal friend, Stuart, will be going with her. He won't frighten off Vadim. And there may be some things that he will be able to do for this.

"Charmed spies, KGB demons," Phoebe said, as she slipped the CD into the laptop's drive. "Brad Kern would never write an episode like this. It would be too far-fetched for Charmed's viewers to accept."

"With everything that's happened to us the past few weeks," Stuart said, as he hung up his trenchcoat in the closet, "and with what we're in the middle of now, we've learned that truth is a lot stranger than Brad's Charmed fiction."

The laptop clicked as the CD began loading.

"Well, at least we got to see some of Prague," he said,  "even if we were trying to escape from demons while we saw it."

"Here it is," Phoebe said as an image appeared on the laptop.

On the left side of the screen was a head shot of a middle-aged man in a military uniform. On the right side of the screen were lines of words. There were two words on the first line:

              Сергй Количов

"It's in Russian," Phoebe said, "as we suspected."

"Had all of this been part of a Charmed episode," Stuart said, "the writers would have come up with some lame excuse for everything being in English so that we, and the audience, could read and understand it. But this is real life. These demons were KGB. While I've no doubt they speak English, they have no reason to write in it." He stared at the Cyrillic-written words on the screen for a few seconds.

"Sergei Kolichov," he read. "Directorate K, SVR.

"It's a good thing you have some knowledge of Russian," Phoebe said.

"I can read names, titles and places," Stuart said, "And I can get the gist of descriptive sentences with my limited vocabulary. But in conversation I'm pretty weak. The Russian-English dictionary we loaded down on the computer will help fill in the rest."

Stuart looked down the rest of the screen and his expression suddenly changed. He became silent as his eyes fixed on two words near the bottom.

"What is it?" Phoebe asked, realizing it must be something bad. Stuart pointed to the words.

              химическое оружие

"Khimicheskoye oru-zhi-ye," he read and exhaled. "Chemical weapons."

The two words sent a chill down Phoebe's spine.

"What is this demon planning on doing with chemical weapons?" she asked. Stuart shook his head.

"I don't know," he replied. "It doesn't say. But there's a name just below it." He pointed to it.

              Полковник Илья Лобачевски

"Polkovnik Ilya Lobachevsky," Stuart read. "Polkovnik means colonel. Whatever Kolichov is going to do will somehow involve this army colonel."

"What's that word under the name, on the last line?" Phoebe asked.

"Novichok," Stuart said.

"What does it mean?" she asked. Stuart shook his head.

"I don't know," he said. "We"ll have to use the downloaded dictionary for this one."

"OK. But let's have a look at the next page, first," Phoebe said, and pressed the down key.

              Владимир Петроков

"Vladimir Petrokov," Stuart read. "FSO - Federal Protective Service. They operate underground command centers and protect strategic facilities."

Stuart looked down the screen at the rest of the Cyrillic text.

"There it is again," he said. "Chemical weapons. And below it..." he paused for a second, trying to make out the words.

"Militziya baza...uh, that means army base," he said. "Novgorod. That's the name of a city."

"Must be a base that's near it," Phoebe said. "Anything special about it?"

"Not that I know of," Stuart said. "Novgorod is somewhere in Russia but I'm not even sure where."

"This is getting to be...really...frightening," she said, slowly.

"Demons and chemical weapons," Stuart said. "A recipe for a really big disaster."

"This certainly fits in the ‘major destruction’ category that we were brought here to stop," Phoebe said.

"It does," Stuart said. "But to stop this we need to know just what ‘this’ is. How they're planning on using these weapons. It would have been helpful had there been some reference to this on
The Demon Dimension."

"Maybe there's something more here that will help us," she said, and pressed the down key again.

"Wow!" Stuart said. The waist up picture of the blonde woman caught him by surprise. She was in her mid-thirties, slim, her hair falling attractively across her forehead. Stuart thought her high cheekboned, slightly oval face was beautiful, her lips sensuous, her expression one of complete self-assuredness and self-confidence, complemented by a sense of strength imparted by her army uniform.

But her eyes...her eyes were the coldest, most merciless eyes he had ever seen in a girl.

Despite that, Stuart found her to be very seductive. And found himself being seduced.

"Attracted?" Phoebe asked.

"Intrigued," Stuart answered, fudging the truth.

"Who is she?" she asked.

"Ivana Zhinovsky," Stuart read. He stared at her picture silently for a few seconds, finding it difficult to look away from her.

"And?" Phoebe prompted.

"Uh..." he said, finally managing to shift his attention from the picture to the text beside it.

"She's in the FSB - the Federal Security Service," he continued, "in its Counter-Intelligence Department."

"There's a lot more written here than on the prior screens," Phoebe said. "What's it all mean?"

Stuart looked at the text for a moment then slowly shook his head.

"I can make out a few words here and there," he said, "but not enough to interpret it all. It's time for the dictionary."


Stuart had finished writing the translation on the computer and Phoebe looked at it as he displayed it on the screen.

"Use spell to launch chemical weapons cannisters through the air," Phoebe read, "open up when over major cities and pour out the weapons over the populace." She stopped as the dimension of the demons' plan hit her.

"This isn't just major destruction," she said. "This is...annihilation."

"This Zhinovsky’s got to be one powerful demon to be able to do that," Stuart said.

"Entire stockpile of chemical weapons will be available," Phoebe said, reading the last line on the screen.

"How will they get the weapons, when will they do this...and how do we stop them?" Stuart asked. "Those are the questions we need answers to."

Phoebe exhaled and stared at the screen.

"The sooner we get back home to The Manor," Phoebe said, "the sooner we can start trying to find those answers."


"Hello, Darryl," Prue said.

"Prue," Morris said, looking up from his paperwork. "What brings you here?"

"I need your help," she said, sitting down on the chair to the left side of his desk. "Big help."

"What's wrong?" Darryl asked, getting worried. "Did something happen to Piper or Phoebe?"

"No, no, it's not them," Prue said. "They're OK. At least for now. It's...everyone else."

"Everyone else?" Morris repeated. "Prue, what did you get yourself into this time?" He stopped and looked at her. "I know I'm going to regret asking you that question."

"You have connections in Washington," she said.

"Connections?" he repeated.

"Uh, huh. Andy told me," Prue said, making it up. It was never explicit in a Charmed episode, she thought. But it was plausible, even logical that in the Charmed past Morris had been given by The Elders he would have worked with or would have known people in Washington. At least, she had to take the chance that it was logical.

"He did?" Morris asked. "Why...would Andy even talk about that?"

"It...just...came up in conversation one night over dinner," Prue said.

"Andy was talking shop with you on a date?" he asked, in surprise.

"We were in a restaurant and...the service was slow," she said, shrugging her shoulders. "Uh, Darryl, it's really important. I need information."

"Information from Washington about..." he said slowly, bracing himself. Prue took a deep breath.

"Russian chemical weapons," she said. "I need to know if there's anything that's supposed to happen to them."

Morris stared at her motionless. He wanted to say something but was too taken aback.

"Uh...I must have not heard you right," he finally said. "It sounded like you said...chemical weapons."

"I did," Prue said, with a slight grimace.

"You're involved with-" Morris stopped, gave a quick look around the room and lowered his voice. "...with chemical weapons?"

"It's important that they don't fall into the wrong hands," Prue said, in a way of explanation.

"The...wrong hands," he repeated, staring at her again.

"And you want get you information about them?" he asked, with incredulity.

"Yes," Prue said, then hesitated. "I need to know if there's anything unusual that's happened to the Russian ones, or if anything is supposed to be happening with them."

"Oh," Morris said, "is that all."

"Uh, no...actually, it isn't," Prue said. "I also need information about a Colonel Ilya Lobachevsky in the Russian army. I think he's connected to their chemical weapons program."

Morris sat motionless for a moment, silently staring at Prue in disbelief.

"Look, Darryl," she said, "I can't explain it this time-"

"You never can explain it," he said.

"But it's very important," she said.

"It always is," he countered.

"Darryl, please," Prue said, "there isn't much time. Millions of lives are at stake. Any information you can get from your contacts on the Russian weapons and Lobachevsky will help."

"Russian weapons," Morris repeated. "American chemical weapons aren't good enough?"

Prue shook her head.

"Prue," Morris said, "you want to me to start asking questions about things that are not only none of my business, but that must be so top secret classified that their none of anyone else's business, either."

"But if you try I know you can find out," she said.

Rrr...ring...ggg   rrr...ring...ggg

Morris turned to the telephone on his desk and picked it up.

"Morris," he said into the mouthpiece.

"Then you are going to try, aren't you," Prue said to him.

"Yes," Morris said into the telephone.

"Good," Prue said, and stood up. "Thank you."

"Uh, no," Morris said. "Uh...I didn't mean no," he said into the telephone. "I mean yes to you,"

"I know I can depend on you, Darryl," Prue said as she hurried towards the door.

"Uh...wait," Morris called after her. "No...I don't mean you should would wait," he said into the telephone. He watched Prue walk out, then leaned back in his chair and exhaled.


Prue was sitting at the table in front of her laptop as Stuart came into the conservatory.

"I thought I could find information on Internet about chemical weapons that would help us," she said. "But there isn't much out there. And the little there is in highly technical terminology that I don't understand."

Stuart sat down next to her and briefly glanced at the screen.

"Wendy could help," he said.

"Who's Wendy?" Prue asked.

"Wendy Zyczek, a girl I..." Stuart began, then hesitated for a second. "...I knew a while ago in New York. She was on her way to becoming a chemist. She really understood this stuff."

"You had a relationship," Prue said, sensing it in his tone. Stuart nodded.

"How close?" she asked.

"Not as close as we thought it was," he said, "or at least not as close as I thought it was. We had been seeing each other for over five months. They were really...really good months. I've never felt so when Wendy was lying next to me with her arms around me." He stopped for a second and gently exhaled.

"But then Wendy decided that though she felt it had been good and that she liked me," Stuart contined, "but that long-term isn’t wasn’t going to be...’right’. Whatever...'right'...meant to her."

"You still think about her?" Prue asked. "Uh, no...I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked."

"It's OK," Stuart said. "Sometimes I do. Because I get reminded of her."

"By Phoebe?" Prue asked.

"No, by Piper," he said. "There's some resemblance between them. Similarities in the shape of their faces and their features. They're almost the same height. And they even wear their long, dark brown hair the same way."

"Breaking up must have been hard on you," she said.

"It hurt," Stuart said, simply. But from the look on his face, Prue knew that it had hurt him a lot more than he was saying. And still did.

"But there were no bad words or bad feelings," he said. "We split up on good terms."

"Good enough that you could call her to get information on these weapons?" Prue asked.

"Yes," Stuart said, "I could have. If the real world hadn't been altered. But in this Charmed modified reality, Wendy doesn't know me. I'm nobody to her. I never existed for her." He stopped and exhaled. "I never existed for anybody."

Prue heard the melancholy in his voice. And she realized that the whole time they’d been in this changed reality she hadn’t heard it before. She took hold of Stuart's hand.

"You exist for us," she said, squeezing his hand. Wendy's wound hasn't healed, she thought, and it's triggered his melancholy about his not really being himself here.

"We may not be everyone you ever knew," Prue said. "But you belong with us and we care about you."

Stuart took a deep breath.

"I'm sorry," he said. "Since we got here I've been trying to be strong for the three of you, to give you support about what's happened to you. I'm...I'm sorry, I had a weak moment."

"According to Connie Burge and Brad Kern,” Prue said, “I'm supposed to be the strong, oldest sister who supports Piper and Phoebe. But I miss existence, as Shannen Doherty, too. We each have our weak moments. And we help each other get through them."

Stuart looked at Prue and squeezed her hand.

"Thanks, Prue," he said, and she gave him a re-assuring smile.

"So," she said, "we don't have Wendy to help us."

"Umm, maybe we do," he said. "As she became more involved in chemistry, Wendy, along with some of her budding chemists-in-the-making friends, became interested in chemical weapons. Wendy did a lot of research and compiled the information she found on a website she created for them to share. But she felt that some of this information was not safe for the whole world to see. So she set it up to require a userid and password to access the site. Each of her friends had one.

"I didn't really have an interest in it," he continued, "but given our relationship..." he paused for a moment, the words stirring up the memories again."...given our relationship, Wendy gave me a userid, anyway."

"This is going to be great," Wendy said. She was sitting next to Stuart on the sofa, the PC on a small table in front of her. She was wearing a tailored maroon blouse, charcoal grey pants and black loafers, the outfit Stuart liked her in the most.

"We're going to be able to understand a lot of what's really going on with all of these chemical weapons," she said.

"Is it really a good idea to have all of this information?" Stuart asked. "I mean, the wrong people could learn things they wouldn't otherwise have known."

"It needs a userid and password to get in to it," she said. "I've giving them only to my trusted friends who are in this with me. And I'm giving one to you."

"To me?" Stuart asked. " you think I should have access-"

Wendy turned to Stuart and gave him a coy smile. Then she swung her left leg over his thighs, turning herself around as she did, and sat herself squarely in his lap facing him, her knees hugging his hips, her long dark hair swinging freely into his face, her lips and her eyes very close to his.

"If I can't trust you and give it to you," Wendy said, "who can I give it to?"

She put her arms around his shoulders and pulled him closer to her. Her eyes smiled at him as their lips met, locked and kissed.

"Stuart," Prue called to him. "Stuart."

Stuart’s eyes were staring off into nowhere.

"Uh...uh..." he mumbled.

"You were back with her in your mind," Prue said.

"Uh...yeah," Stuart said and sighed. "I was...back with Wendy."

"So," Prue said, bringing Stuart's mind back to the present, "your userid would have given us access to the site and the information on it. But since your relationship...didn't happen in the changed reality, you can't logon with your userid."

"No," Stuart said, then hesitated for a moment. "But I can logon with Wendy's userid. I know her password. If it didn't change along with all the other things that changed when Charmed became real."

"Since the three of us don't know her, neither as our real selves nor as The Halliwells, it should not have been affected in this reality," Prue said.

"But I know her," Stuart said. "And despite my not being part of The Elders' plan in making Charmed real, I am here."

"We have to try it, Stuart," Prue said. He hesitated, then nodded his head, turned the laptop slightly to him and typed in the website address. A screen came up requesting a logon.

"OK," Stuart said, "here goes," and typed in chemist1 for the userid

"Now the password, l-o-n-e-l-y." He said each letter as he entered it.

A new screen popped up. Welcome to Wendy's Web World was prominently displayed on it.

"You did it," Prue said, "we're in."

"Wendy used to tell me," he said, "that I gave her a reason to change that password. But she never got around to doing it...and then we broke up." He exhaled. "It seems she hasn't found anyone else to give her a reason to change it."

Prue put her hand at the nape of Stuart's neck and gave him a supportive squeeze.

"Come on," she said, "let's see what Wendy can tell us."


"Novichok may be the most powerful nerve gas in the world," Prue said. Phoebe and Piper were listening carefully as Prue explained what she and Stuart, sitting next to her on the sofa, had found on Wendy's website.

"It's called a V-gas," Prue continued, "because it has some similarities to a chemical weapon agent called VX-gas, which had been thought to be the most lethal nerve gas agent around. Until the Russians secretly developed this one."

"Novichok," Stuart said, "Russian code name Substance 33. No other country has it. It's classified as a persistent agent, meaning that it remains effective and dangerous for about a week after its release."

Piper's expression turned unpleasant.

"The thought of demons possessing this..." Piper said, her voice trailing off without finishing.

"Or any other chemical weapons," Stuart said. "The plan for Petrokov didn't refer to Novichok so there are probably other types of chemical agents involved."

Piper closed her eyes for a moment then looked at Prue.

"This is...this needs...other people," Piper said.

"Professional secret agents," Phoebe said, "who know how to deal with such things better than..."

"Better than three actresses turned witches," Piper said, finishing Phoebe's thought. "But...we couldn't tell them how we know this, nor that they'd be up against demons."

"And they wouldn't be able to go up against these demons," Prue said.

"And we can?" Piper asked. Keir had arrogantly and un-caringly thrown them into this, she thought. It was a more dangerous combination of evil than anything they'd been up against in the five and a half weeks they’d been there - Russian KGB demons.

Piper closed her eyes again. In her mind, she pictured her ranch, her horses in the stable, and the garden surrounding the main house, beckoning her. She wanted so much to be there now, to be just Holly Combs, to get away from all of this. She wanted to jump into that picture she saw in her mind and not look back.

But she couldn't jump into it, any more than she could get away from where she was. She had to look back. She opened her eyes. Innocents, she thought. The Charmed Ones couldn't turn their backs on innocents. Especially when the innocents were the whole world.

The world had to be saved from these demons. And, she sadly admitted, if there was a chance that it could be saved, it was going to take three witches, including one named Piper Halliwell, to do it.


"I'm afraid this is where I must say good-bye, Mr. James Bond," the evil looking heavy set man said.

"Pity," Bond said, his hands securely fastened by metal u-shaped rods attached to the wall. "We were having such a stimulating conversation."

"You don't have time for any more conversation," the man said. "See that small skylight above me? The sun will soon be shining through it. When it does, its rays will strike the chemicals in that dish on the table causing it to produce a most toxic fume that will fill this room. It works very quickly,
Mr. Bond, so you won't suffer. At least, not much.

"As for the microdot with the plans for the super missile warhead, it is safely locked up in my desk. A shame you won't get to see the destruction it will produce."

"Neither will you," Bond said. "You will never use that weapon against the world."

"Ah...your sense of superiority and total self-confidence are legendary, Mr. Bond," the man said. "But even that will not help you this time. Good-bye."

The man motioned with his head and his two henchmen followed him out of the room.

Bond looked up at the skylight. He could see the sky brightening and the sunlight approaching. He wiggled his left hand and with his pinky managed to reach his cufflink. Pushing it onto the metal rod holding his left hand, he pressed the cufflink and a small laser beam came out of it and began burning through the rod.

The sky was getting brighter as the rod split in two and fell to the floor. Bond pulled his left hand over the other rod holding his right hand and aimed the laser beam again. The first rays of the sun were beginning to peep over the edge of the skylight.

The second rod fell as the sun's rays became more visible. Bond dashed over to the table where the dish with the chemicals sat. In one motion he grabbed the dish and dove with it to the floor near the wall, just as the full rays of the sunlight shown through the skylight and onto the table where the dish had been.

"Phew," Bond said, calmly standing up and dusting himself off. He tried the door's handle, slowly opened the door and walked into an office. He hurried over to a desk and looked at a drawer with an electronic lock.

Bond took the other cufflink from his right cuff, pressed a small button on it and aimed it at the lock. The cufflink began to hum and resonate as it connected to the lock's electronics. After ten seconds, the drawer popped open. Bond saw the small plastic circle with the microdot inside of it. He grabbed it and put it into his pocket just as the evil man's henchmen came into the room.

The first henchman threw something curved and sharp at Bond but he quickly lifted up the desk chair. The object sliced through the chair but it deflected the object’s trajectory and it landed off to Bond's left. He dove for the object and threw it directly back at the henchman, slicing him straight across the chest.

The second henchman pulled out a gun and fired. But Bond rolled over and over across the room, the bullets just missing him each time. He finally reached the body of the first henchman, pulled the gun from the dead man’s pocket and shot the second henchman squarely in the chest.

The sound of gunshots brought the evil man with more henchman running into the room.

"Stop him!" the evil man commanded.

Before the henchmen could reach him, Bond pulled two tabs on the back of his extra-thick pants belt and pulled two straps over his shoulders and attached them to the front of his belt. He ran to the large picture window and jumped through it, the glass shattering.

With bullets flying, Bond pressed a button on his belt and a large, multi-colored canopy opened up. Attached to what was now a harness over his shoulders, it immediately halted his fall. Bond manipulated it away from the side he had jumped from and he slowly descended the mountainside to a waiting speedboat on the shore below.

"That's easy for you," Piper said, looking at the TV screen. "You have actors, stuntmen, special effects crew - and a director using a nice script where everything works out in the end."

She squinted at the image on the screen.

"I challenge you be a secret agent in real life, Double-O-Seven," she said, "with real Russians, real intrigue, real major destruction weapons - and real demons. Try shaking your martini and doing what you do with all of that without a safe script."

Piper leaned forward and placed her elbows on her thighs. She cupped her chin in her hands, watched Bond escape safely and exhaled.

"I wish we were in Hollywood doing all of this from a safe script," she said, wistfully.


The cell phone rang just as Prue reached the top step outside The Manor. She paused for a second in the nighttime darkness under the porch light and pulled the phone out of her pocket.

"Hello," she said into the phone, as she opened the front door and walked inside.

"Prue, it's Daryl," the voice on the cell phone said. "Don't go home. Stay away from The Manor. They're waiting for you."

"Too late," Prue answered, tersely. She closed the cell phone and put it back in her pocket. Whoever it is who's here heard me come in, she thought. There's no getting away now.

The Manor was pitch black. Prue took a deep breath, placed her hand on the light switch and flipped it. Nothing happened. Cautiously, she made her way in the dark towards the living room.

"That's far enough," a voice commanded. A man's voice.

From the sound of it, Prue thought, he's not a young man. Probably someone in his fifties. And from the voice's direction, he's sitting in one of the living room chairs.

"Who are you?" Prue asked.

"I'm the one who'll be asking the questions," the voice said.

"Not in my house," Prue countered.

Prue detected an authoritarian tone in the voice. Someone used to being in control and getting what he wants, she thought.

The voice continued slowly and deliberately. "Why are you so interested in Russian chemical weapons?" he asked, ignoring Prue's response.

Prue said nothing. Neither did the voice. For a moment there was absolute silence in The Manor, each one using the silence as a display of being in control. Each trying to out wait the other in a silent match of strength and patience.

"I'm doing a story on chemical weapons and I need information for it," Prue finally said, deciding that conversation to find out who he was, was worth her submission. "I work for a magazine."

"Four One Five," the voice said, in a knowing tone. "You've been there for less than a year. Before that, you worked at Buckland Auction House. Your father walked out on your family when you were six, your mother died when you were nine and you were then raised by your grandmother. After she died two years ago your youngest sister Phoebe moved back here from New York, even though the two of you didn't get along. You had an on again/off again relationship with Inspector Andy Trudeau before he was killed. You were once arrested for decking a neighbor on your block."

Huh? Prue thought. Where did that come from? The writers never included my doing that in any of Charmed's episodes.

"You often turn up in the middle of unsolved murders, without any logical connection to the victims," the voice continued. "And you were the target of a professional hit woman for reasons still unknown".

"You seem to have taken a lot of interest in me," Prue said, toughness in her voice. "The only thing you've missed is the tattoo on my left ankle," she added, fibbing.

"You don't have a tattoo on your left ankle," the voice said confidently, then exhaled.

"You do nice work," he continued un-rushed, "even though you have no professional experience in photography." He paused. "But you're a photographer. Not a writer. You're not writing any story about chemical weapons or about anything else.

"So I'll ask you again. Why are you digging around the Russian chemical weapons?"

"Which side are you on?" Prue asked.

"The side that wants to know what you're up to," the voice answered brusquely.

"I should think both sides want to know that," Prue said.

"Don't play cutesy with me," the voice said.

"Oh, but I so love to play cutesy," Prue said. "I always play cutesy with someone who breaks into my house."

"I didn't break in," the voice said, matter of factly. "The front door was un-locked."

"Hmmph...right," Prue admitted. "I have to get the writers to change that. They always have us leaving the door un-locked so the storylines can have someone walk right in to The Manor and threaten us."

"What's that?!" the voice asked, reflecting a little confusion mixed with a lot of annoyance. "Listen Halliwell, I don't have much patience. And what little patience I do have you've already used up. If you think we're not going to get the answers out of you...think again."

Prue heard a noise to the left of the voice. Someone else was in the room. And he was doing something. Even in the Manor's darkness she could detect some motion. She sensed the other person was coming towards her. Was that something in the other person's hand?

"Think again?" Prue asked. "OK, I will. And you want to know what I think? I think you're CIA. And you've come here to try to bully me. But you can only do that outside of the U.S. It's illegal for you to be nosing around domestically. So you want to stay in the dark so I can't see you and you can deny having been here.

"Well, let's do something about that."

Prue aimed her hand at the bulbs in the lamps and made a turning motion. Then she waved her hand at the switch and flipped it up. The lights in the living room came on.

"What the..." the man started to say. Prue could see him clearly now. And, she thought, her analysis was on the mark. He was sitting on the chair, a bulge below his arm under his dark grey suit betraying his gun. His worn, somewhat weathered slightly long face and thinning brown hair put him in his mid-fifties.

The second man standing on the left was younger, in his late twenties, about six feet tall, dirty blonde hair, handsome features but with a take-no-prisoners look in his eyes. And he was wearing a dark, three-piece suit. For a second a smile crossed Prue's face. Is it because of Charmed's becoming real, she thought, that he looks exactly like the standard Hollywood version of a bad-guy government agent? All that was missing from the TV stereotype were the sunglasses, which she now found herself half-expecting him to be wearing, even in the dark room at night.

But her smile evaporated when she saw the syringe in his hand. And he was standing only three feet from her.

"You'd better put that away," she said to him. "You might stick yourself."

The younger man stared at Prue then took a step towards her.

"No!" the man in the chair said, firmly. The younger man continued staring at Prue, then carefully capped the syringe and put it in his pocket.

"Care to show me identification?" Prue asked.

The man in the chair gave Prue an icy stare, exhaled, and stood up.

"I thought not," she said.

He approached Prue and placed his face just inches from hers.

"If I find out that you had anything to do with the missing chemical weapons..." he said, then paused. "Or if anything...anything at all happens to stop their turning over the rest of them to us, I'll be back for you. And with more people and more IDs than you can imagine. Only you'll be out of here and locked up so fast you won't have time to read any of them."

He motioned with his head to the younger man, brushed past Prue and walked towards the front door. The younger man followed and as he passed Prue she stared incredulously at something sticking out of his vest pocket.


The middle-aged man walked outside and the younger man followed him, not bothering to close the door behind them. Prue went to the door, stood in the threshold and watched them walk down the steps.

"Good night to you, too," she said in a confident, slightly superior tone. Satisfied that they were gone, she stepped back inside and closed the door.

"The heck with the writers," Prue said, and locked the door securely.


"Well, your little encounter with the CIA last night confirms that some of the chemical weapons are missing," Stuart said, then finished the last of his breakfast pancakes.

"And the demons must have them," Piper said, taking a bite of her muffin.

Prue took a sip of her coffee and put the mug down on the kitchen table.

"But there are more weapons that they don't have yet," she said.

"That the Russians are supposed to turn over to someone," Phoebe said. "The demons are going to want to get those, too."


"I'll get it," Stuart said, getting up from the table.

"Maybe that's why the spell on the demons was removed now," Prue said. "They need to get the weapons before whatever is supposed to happen to them happens."

"And we don't how or when they're going to use them," Piper said.

"Good morning, Darryl," Phoebe said, as Morris and Stuart came into the kitchen. "You're up and about rather early, aren't you?"

"Good morning," Morris said. "I'm glad you're all right, Prue. I couldn't stop them from coming. All I could do was try to warn you. I checked afterwards that they hadn't done anything to you. They came after you because of my asking for that information. It made its way around Washington and stirred up a hornet's nest. I warned you what you were asking about would cause problems."

"It can't be helped, Darryl," Prue said. "That's the risk we have to take."

"They're still keeping an eye on you," Morris said. "Honestly, I don't know how you managed to get them out of here. Those guys make their own rules and work in the shadows."

"Let's just say I threw some light on them," Prue said. "Did you find out anything?"

Morris nodded his head.

"There's a guy in one of the agencies who I helped out a few years ago," he said, pulling out a notepad from his pocket. "I gave him some assistance - and cover - for something he was doing. It wasn't exactly within his jurisdiction, if you know what I mean. He was actually on the wrong trail and I helped him find the right one. Some people in those circles can have short memories but he hasn't forgotten what I did for him. He's the one Andy told you about."

"Andy told you?" Piper asked, somewhat astonished, knowing that could never have happened.

Prue gave her a discreet half-wink. Phew, Prue thought. He does have a contact. There really is some logic than can be used in what The Elders did to reality.

"He has a friend in the DIA - the Defense Intelligence Agency," Morris said. "They have a list of key Russian army officers that as a matter of course they keep tabs on. This Colonel Ilya Lobachevsky is one of them." Morris stopped and flipped a page in his pad. "He heads up one of several army units that are responsible for the maintenance and deployment of chemical weapons."

"And the weapons his unit was responsible for are missing," Prue said.

"You know this already?" Morris said, surprised and a little disappointed.

"It was an assumption," Prue said, "but this confirms it. Is he under suspicion?"

"Not as far as his DIA friend can tell," Morris said. "He told me the Russian military is not the most open to outside investigations. This Lobachevsky hasn't done anything to point to him being involved. And besides, the Russians don't really care. They're a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, a treaty to eliminate chemical weapons that they ratified a couple of years ago. Russia is officially getting rid of it's stock of chemical weapons by turning them over to us for a verified disposal. So they're not interested in a few cylinders that disappeared."

"When is this turnover supposed to take place?" Phoebe asked.

"Tomorrow," Morris said. "At an army base near a place called Novgorod."

"Bingo," Phoebe said.

Prue glanced at Phoebe and silently exhaled.

"Did he tell your contact anything else?" Stuart asked.

"Just that there was one odd thing," Morris said. "There's a diplomatic reception the Russians are throwing tonight in conjunction with this turnover, to burnish their international image. It's for all high level consular officials and their military attachés in Moscow, as well as those of any other country that's a signatory to the treaty. High level Russian officers will also be there."

"What's odd about that?" Phoebe asked.

"He had a list of the invitees," Morris said. "Lobachevsky's name is on the list, along with one of his junior officers."

"That's still not unusual," Prue said. "They were probably invited because of his involvement in the turnover, before his weapons disappeared."

"That's what the DIA guy also thought," Morris said. "But there are two lower level Russian officers who aren't related to chemical weapons and were also invited. But they shouldn't have been. They don't have any connection to the turnover."

"Somebody pulled some strings to get them invited," Stuart said. "But why?"

"Did your contact give you their names?" Phoebe asked.

"Yeah," Morris said, "but I don't remember them. He was afraid to stay on the phone too long. I was writing down what he was saying as quickly as I could and didn't get those names down. I remember he said they weren't regular army. They're from some alphabet group, S-V something."

"SVR," Stuart said, "the Foreign Intelligence Service."

Prue looked at Stuart. Their eyes locked for a moment and then she turned back to Morris.

"Could one of the names have been Sergei Kolichov?" she asked.

Morris thought for a minute.

"Yeah," he said. "That was it. Kolichov."

"Double bingo," Phoebe said. "Kolichov was getting the chemical weapons from Lobachevsky. We thought he had already gotten them."

"But maybe he hasn't," Prue said. "Maybe Lobachevsky got Kolichov invited to the reception to give him the weapons there."

"A trade," Stuart said. "Lobachevsky wouldn't give them away. He'd insist on getting something in return."

"Money," Prue said. "He's selling the weapons to Kolichov. And using the reception as a cover to make the transaction. A safe place with lots of people around."

"So they don't trust each other," Piper said.

"We can use that to our advantage," Prue said.

"Prue," Morris said, "you're not thinking of getting in between these Russians, are you?"

Prue just looked at Morris silently.

"Uh...Piper, some sense into your sister," Morris said. "You've already got American agents ready to pounce on you over this. You don't want to have the Russians after you, too."

"You're right, Darryl," Piper said. "We don't want to have the Russians after us." She paused for a second. "But we don't seem to have a choice if we want to save everybody from these weapons falling into the wrong hands and being used."

"There you go, too, about falling into the wrong hands," Morris said. "Look, you're not secret agents. You can't get involved in something like this."

"We're already involved," Piper said.

"Then tell the CIA, the DIA - tell anyone in the government," Morris said. "Tell them what you know and let them take it from here."

"We can't," Prue said. "They wouldn't believe us. And...we can't explain how we know what we do."

Morris looked at each of them in turn, then exhaled.

"Well," Morris said, "the reception is at seven-thirty. At least I know you can't possibly make it to Moscow from San Francisco by tonight." The girls responded with silence. Morris slowly looked at each of them. "Don't tell me you..." he started to say.

"No, Darryl," Phoebe said, "we won't tell you. And you don't want to know, anyway."

"Here, at least, I can try to protect you," Morris said, "with whatever influence I can muster. I can't protect you if you're...uh...uh..."

"We know you would help us if you could, Darryl," Phoebe said. "Thank you for caring about us. But we'll be fine."

"We will?" Piper asked. "I, uh...mean, we will," she said, forcing a half smile for Morris' benefit.

Morris turned to Stuart.

"Try talking some sense into them," Morris said to him, then exhaled in frustration. "I'm making you responsible to watch out for them and protect them."

Protect them? Stuart thought. It's the other way around. They usually wind up protecting me.

"I'll do my best," Stuart said.

"I don't understand what you're doing," Morris said. "But whatever it is...just be careful!"


"We don't have much time," Prue said, after Morris left. "The reception is tonight."

"And the turnover of the other weapons is tomorrow," Phoebe said. "And Petrokov is going to be there to get his hands on them, instead."

"First things first," Prue said. "What time is it now in Moscow?"

"San Francisco has a...a nine hour time difference," Stuart said. "So it's a little after six o'clock in the evening there. So we're going to go to the reception and take the weapons?"

"It's enough we're going to have Kolichov and his demons looking for us once we do this," Prue said. "We don't need to have Lobachevsky and half the Russian army after us, too. We're going to do this with finesse."

"Well, that would certainly disappoint Keir," Piper said sarcastically.

"Stuart," Prue said, "make up a list of words in Russian that could refer to a bank account. Lobachevsky will want a lot of money for stealing the weapons. It's unlikely that Kolichov would risk carrying that much cash to the reception. And he doesn't have to. Former KGB demons probably have something like numbered Swiss accounts set up for things like this. They could let Lobachevsky transfer it if they give him the password and account number."

"But Lobachevsky would have to bring the weapons with him," Piper said. "Kolichov wouldn't make the deal without getting them first."

"This Novichok doesn't take up much room," Stuart said. "It might even fit in a large attaché case. Which would not raise any suspicions at a reception with lots of high level military officers, some of whom might well have need to be carrying their own attachés."

"Piper," Prue said, "we're going to call Leo. He's going to escort you to the reception. Do you have something appropriately designer-class to wear?"

"I do," Piper said, "in my closet, back at my ranch. If The Elders want to send me back I'd be happy to get them. Piper Halliwell's wardrobe is decidedly less fashionable."

"On Charmed," Stuart said, with a small smile, "the writers usually have Piper and Phoebe borrowing your clothes, Prue, for special occasions."

Prue gave him a squinting look. She thought for a second, then exhaled.

"Go through my wardrobe," she reluctantly said to Piper, "and pick out something that will fit in at a diplomatic reception. Phoebe, come up with a way for Piper to verify if the chemicals are real."


"Wow!" Stuart exclaimed as Piper came down the staircase. It was all he could manage to say as her appearance left him speechless.

Piper was wearing a red, satin-like strapless gown. Her hair was done up high, with a single curl coming down the side of each ear, reaching her ear lobes. A golden linked necklace with a center diamond was around her neck.

"Wow!" he said again, and Piper gave him a smile. Phoebe and Prue came bounding down the staircase behind her.

"I had to use a spell to make the necklace," Phoebe said. "We didn't have anything that looked right with the dress. But I set it to be undone in twenty-four hours so we don't risk having any personal gain from it."

The light began to form and Leo, wearing an army uniform, appeared.

"Wow!" Leo exclaimed, looking at Piper.

"That seems to be everyone's favorite word here," Prue said. "Can we try some other words? Like, the other things that we need now. Are they ready?"

"Here's the list of words in Russian," Stuart said. He handed it to Leo and he put it in his uniform’s pocket.

"I came up with the potion," Phoebe said. "Pour a little onto whatever Lobachevsky has and hope it turns green." Piper took the vial from her and placed it delicately into her bosom.

"Uh, Leo...what are you wearing?" Prue asked.

"My old army uniform," he said. "You said I have to look like I'm in the military and Piper is accompanying me."

"Leo," Prue said, "you were in the army in World War II. That uniform is over fifty years old. It's not used anymore. They'll spot you not belonging there right away."

"It's the only uniform that would fit that I could get on such short notice," Leo said. "Besides, who's going to notice one uniform among so many?"

'Leo's right," Phoebe said. "They"ll be a hodge-podge of uniforms at the reception. With so many different countries' military represented there, and each one's uniform different from the next one, they"ll just think Leo is from yet some other country."

"Let's hope you're right," Prue said. "It's seven-thirty now in Moscow. Ready, Piper?"

Piper nodded her head. Leo walked over to her and put his arms securely around her.

"Piper," he said looking into her eyes, "may I have the pleasure of escorting you to the Moscow reception?"

Piper felt herself melting in his arms.

"Yes, indeed, Leo," she said, gazing back into his eyes.

"Leo!" Prue exclaimed. "You're after demons and chemical weapons. You're not taking Piper on a date!"

Leo paid Prue no heed and his smile widened as he and Piper disappeared together in the light.


Piper could not help but enjoy herself. She had been the object of more than a few men's approving looks, which also helped to keep their attention away from Leo and his uniform. The hors d'oeuvres were delectable and the caviar, of course, first class. The champagne was delightful, though she refrained from taking more than a few sips so as to keep her mind clear.

And of course, she was with Leo. He looked so extra handsome to her in his army uniform. No reticence, no questioning, she set her feelings about Leo free and happily submitted to them.

They had spotted Kolichov almost from the moment they had discreetly orbed in. At first, he and the Russian officer presumably with him had stayed more or less on one side of the ballroom, which made it relatively simple for Piper and Leo to keep tabs on them.

But at a quarter past eight, the two Russians split up. Kolichov remained where he had been, enjoying another drink, while the other Russian seemed to be taking a tour of the ballroom. Leo remained near Kolichov while Piper moved amongst the guests trying to follow the other Russian officer.

But then a handsome tall man in a tuxedo, a drink in his hand, stepped in front of Piper.

"Buona sera," he said, his eyes smiling at her. "Piacere di conoscerla. Mi Chiamo Gavino Santavenere." He paused for a moment and looked Piper over.

"Come sei bella," he said. "Come si chiama?"

"Uh...I'm sorry," Piper said, trying to keep one eye on the Russian. She didn't understand what the man had said but it sounded Italian. "I don't speak Italian."

"Oh, you are American," the man said. "Pardon me. I am Gavino Santavenere. You are so very beautiful. I am pleased to meet you. What is your name?"

"Uh...uh...Holly," she said. She was getting frantic. She couldn't see the Russian anymore. "Uh...excuse me. There's someone I'm looking for. Uh...nice to have met you."

Piper left the somewhat startled diplomat and made her way to the other side of the ballroom. She looked all around her and started to panic. She had lost the Russian officer.


Leo, seeing Kolichov put down his drink and start towards the staircase, moved across the room towards Piper. Getting her attention, he nodded his head and Piper quickly made her way to the staircase to follow Kolichov. As she reached the top of the stairs she saw him turning the corner at the end of the corridor. She hurried to the corner, peeked around it and was relieved to see the other Russian soldier with Kolichov approach the last door at the end of the hallway. He must have gone up ahead of Kolichov to see that it was clear, she thought. As Kolichov raised his hand to knock on the door Piper raised her hand, too.

She rushed to the two frozen Russians and quickly began going through the pockets on Kolichov's jacket. But there was nothing in the outside pockets. Piper eased her hand inside his jacket and felt around. There were upper and lower inner pockets on both the right and left sides.

Why do Russian uniforms need so many pockets? she thought. They're too small to fit guns in them. All they can put into them are little pieces of paper that I can't find. Urggh!

Having finished with both inner pockets on the jacket’s right side, Piper was up to the inside bottom pocket on the left side when her hand felt something and she pulled it out. It was half of a standard sheet of paper folded in two. She unfolded it just as Leo turned the corner.

"No one followed you or them," he whispered. He took out a piece of paper from his pocket and held it for Piper to see.

The paper Piper had taken from Kolichov's pocket had one word on it, followed by a set of numbers. She glanced back and forth between it and the paper Leo was holding, trying to see if one of the words on the list Stuart had written for her matched what was on the paper she had taken from Kolichov.

"There," she whispered, "the third word on the list. That's it. Now get these two out of here before they unfreeze."

Leo nodded silently, then grabbed Kolichov and orbed out. After a few seconds he returned, took hold of the other Russian and orbed out again.

With them gone, Piper took a deep breath. She was about to knock on the door when Leo orbed back in, startling her.

"I just wanted to tell you," he said, "not to be nervous about your role. You're going to be fine. You can do anything you set your mind to do. I know that if you had set your mind to become an actress, you could have been a very good one."

"Could have been?" Piper said, her reflexive indignance making her forget to whisper. "What do you mean could have been?" she added, squinting at him.

Seeing the confused look on Leo's face she caught herself. I'm Piper to him, not Holly, she remembered. But I have to be Holly Combs again when I go through that door.

"Go," she said, making a shooing motion with her hand. "Go."

Leo looked longingly at her as he orbed out. Piper turned to the door, took a deep breath and cleared her mind. I'm an actress again, she thought. And the set is just beyond this door.

She raised her hand to the door and knocked twice. After a few seconds the door opened partially. Just enough for her to see a large face and part of a Russian uniform jacket.

"Uydi-te!” (Go away!) the Russian barked and tried to close the door. But Piper, anticipating his action, had wedged her foot in the doorway. Now she pushed back the door against the Russian. He had not been prepared for that and with her leverage Piper pushed both him and the door back into the room.

"Major Kolichov sends his regards," she said, and confidently walked passed the Russian and into the room.

"Amerikanskiy!" (An American!) the Russian exclaimed, in surprise.

Piper walked over to the sofa, sat down and surveyed the room.

The Russian standing by the door was big. Big shoulders, big chest, big face. He appeared to be about sixty. He was wearing a full military uniform, with a series of medals pinned onto his jacket, but was without his cap, which lay on an end table. At the other end of the room a young, slim blonde Russian soldier in his mid-twenties, also in uniform but without his cap, sat at a computer laptop set upon a small table.

The younger Russian stood up and glanced at the older Russian.

"I think it would be best if you closed the door, Colonel Lobachevsky," Piper said to the older Russian, with a hint of a smile. "Don't you agree?"

Lobachevsky eyed Piper carefully. He closed the door without taking his eyes off of her, walked over to the sofa and looked down at her.

"Kotoriy vih? Gdye Mayor Kolichov?" he asked, then stopped and exhaled. "Who are you?" he asked again, in a heavily accented English. "Where is Major Kolichov?"

"I'm Holly Combs," she replied. "Major Kolichov felt it would be best if he remained at the reception until we've concluded our business."

"Hmmph," Lobachevsky grunted. "Kolichov does not trust me. He fears for himself. But he sends a defenseless woman in his place."

"I'm not defenseless," Piper said, with a steely look.

"No?" Lobachevsky asked, looking her over. "What could you do to defend yourself against us?"

"Trust me, Colonel," Piper said. "You don't want to know."

Lobachevsky looked her over again with an experienced eye, taking her measure. This was a beautiful and, in that red dress, sexy girl, he thought. She has a lot of bravado, coming in here as if she is in control but with no weapon to support herself.

He nodded his head slightly and sat down in a chair opposite her.

"You have account?" he asked.

"I do," Piper said. "Show me the merchandise."

Lobachevsky gave a single nod with his head. The young soldier went over to a narrow closet in a corner of the room and opened the door. He removed a black case, brought it to Lobachevsky and placed it on the floor between the Colonel and Piper. The case was almost square, about eighteen inches in each dimension, and well padded. A chain was attached to one corner of the case. An open bracelet dangled from the other end of the chain.

Lobachevsky undid the two buckles on the side and opened the case. Piper saw three black cylindrical cannisters inside. On the end of each cannister was stamped a bright yellow Н

Novichok, Piper thought, recognizing the Н as the Cyrillic letter for ‘N’, as Stuart had shown her. The deadly V-gas in its liquid form. At least, that's what was supposed to be in the containers.

Piper put her hand inside the bosom of her dress and pulled out a small vial.

"Of course, I have to test it," she said. "To be sure."

"Test?" Lobachevsky asked. " cannot test this."

"But I can," Piper said. "Mixing a little of this with the agent."

"Nyet!" Lobachevsky said firmly. "This is dangerous chemical, Novichok."

"That's exactly what I want to make sure," Piper said. "That this is Novichok."

"Nyet!" Lobachevsky said again with more emphasis, getting nervous. "You cannot open container. You cannot put anything in container. Novichok will escape into air and kill us!"

"This will not activate the agent," Piper said. "It will only confirm what it is. You'll be safe."

"Nyet!" Lobachevsky said again, and closed the black case.

"Da!" Piper said forcefully, 'no' and 'yes' being the only words in Russian she knew. "Or we have no deal."

"You are unarmed," Lobachevsky said, pulling out his gun from beneath his jacket. "You do not make demands."

Piper squinted at Lobachevsky and raised her hand. She stood up, took the two steps that separated them and took the gun from his hand. She sat down again on the sofa and looked at the gun for a second. Then she crossed her legs, looked at Lobachevsky and raised her hand.

"What were you saying about me being unarmed?" she asked.

It took Lobachevsky a few seconds to react. He stared incredulously, first at his empty hand, then at his gun that was now in Piper's hand and aimed at him.

"Chto?!” (How?!) he exclaimed. The two Russians looked to each other in disbelief.

" did you do that?" a shaken Lobachevsky asked.

"I warned you, Colonel," Piper said. "You don't want to know what I can do. Nor how I do it.

"Now, we will test the agent. Take out the right cannister."

Lobachevsky stared at his gun in Piper's hand. Sweat broke out on his face and forehead. He swallowed hard, then slowly re-opened the black case and moved his hands to the right cannister. Carefully, he lifted it out of the case and set it down on the floor.

"Open the lid," Piper commanded.

Lobachevsky stared at Piper, took a deep breath and did as she said.

The liquid inside the cannister was colorless. It could pass for plain water, Piper thought. But she hoped it wasn't. How strange, she thought, that she didn't want it to be something innocent. That instead she wanted it to be the most dangerous chemical agent in the world.

Piper removed the stopper on the vile with her right hand even as she kept the gun pointed at the Russian. With her left hand she poured about half the vile's content into the cannister.

Piper saw the fear on the Russians' faces, then glanced down at the cannister. The colorless liquid was turning a bright green. The chemical agent was real. It was Novichok.

"OK," Piper said, "the test confirms that it's V-gas. Close the cannister and put it back in the case."

Lobachevsky gingerly replaced the lid. Piper put the stopper back on the vile and returned it to her bosom as the Russian slowly lifted the cannister and put it gently back inside the case. Then he took out his handkerchief and wiped the sweat from his brow.

"Here is the account number," Piper said, handing him the piece of paper.

Lobachevsky glanced at the paper, then back at Piper. Without taking his eyes from her, he stretched out his hand to his left. The soldier took the paper from him, sat down at the laptop and started to type on its keyboard.

Lobachevsky was silent as he stared at Piper. His earlier Soviet army training and his more recent Russian army command of a chemical weapons regiment had left him experienced at analyzing his enemies, analyzing his adversaries...analyzing anyone who posed a challenge to him.

But Piper was an enigma. He looked her over carefully, trying to find some clue as to who, and what, she was. His mind raced through all sorts of possibilities. But it was to no avail. He could not reach any satisfactory conclusion. Piper remained a beautiful, confident - and powerful - enigma.

"Sdelano, Polkovnik Lobachevsky (It is done, Colonel Lobachevsky)," the soldier said, looking up.

"Khorosho (Good)," Lobachevsky replied. "Done," he said to Piper.

"Good," Piper said. "I'll take the case, now."

Lobachevsky closed the buckles on the black case, then lifted the chain and open bracelet. Piper stuck out her left arm and Lobachevsky placed the bracelet around her wrist. He removed a small key from his pocket, locked the bracelet and extended his hand with the key.

"We trade now," he said.

Piper looked at the gun she was holding. She gave it a good twirl around her finger, then handed it to Lobachevsky as she took the key from him with her left hand. Lobachevsky looked at his gun and felt it in his hand. He stared at Piper for a few seconds, then exhaled, and put the gun back in its holster.

Piper put the key in the bosom of her dress and motioned towards the door. Lobachevsky got up from the chair and walked to the door, opened it a crack and looked out into the hallway. Satisfied, he opened it fully and Piper walked over to him.

"It's been a pleasure, Colonel," she said, with an enigmatic, self-confident smile. She stepped past him into the hallway and heard the door close behind her.

"Phew!" Piper said.

She walked quickly down to the end of the hallway. As she turned the corner Leo orbed in.

"Got it," she said to him.

"I told you you could do it," Leo said."Now I'm tempted to go back downstairs with you to the reception. It's not every night that I get to take you to such an affair."

"Hmmm...that does sound good," Piper said. "But this case chained to my wrist makes me conspicuous. Especially when Kolichov and his friend get back from wherever you left them and start looking for it."

She sighed. "We'd better get this out of here."

Leo exhaled and nodded. He placed his arms around her, holding her even tighter than before, and looked into her eyes.

"Then we’ll have to do something to make up for it," he said.

"That works for me," she said and smiled as they disappeared together into the light.


"Darryl didn't know what time today the turnover would be," Piper said, "so we may already be too late."

"I know," Prue said, "uh...we just have to hope we're in time. And remember the plan."

"It's not much of a plan," Piper said. "We see Petrokov and I freeze him. Unless he's out in the open that's too big to freeze and he's about to do something. Then you wave your hand at him to stop him. In front of the Russians, the CIA and whoever else is there. And then they’ll all know that we’re witches and come after us."

"OK...OK," Prue said, "uh...let's hope it doesn't come to that. Maybe, somehow, this transfer will really happen."

Crouching between the small open Russian Army trucks parked at right angles gave Prue and Piper some cover. Beyond the trucks in the army bases's parade grounds to their right were two larger Russian trucks, their backs enclosed in camouflage canvas, parked alongside a low, rectangular barracks building. Some fifty feet parallel to them was another large army truck, this one sporting American flags on its fenders and sides.

American and Russian officers and a few civilians were standing together by the two Russian trucks. The canvas was lifted from the first truck and the group examined its contents. Piper could just make out large cannisters stacked in the back. After about ten minutes the group moved to the second truck and repeated the examination.

"Where is Petrokov?" Piper asked. "I don't see him anywhere."

"Maybe he isn't here yet," Prue said.

"Maybe some other witch got to him first and vanquished him," Piper said, half seriously.

"Wishful thinking," Prue said. "That would make things easier for us. But at this point Keir wouldn't dare send someone else after Petrokov without telling us." She paused, looking around at all of the soldiers. "Truthfully," she said, "with what we could be up against here, I wouldn't mind it if he had sent another witch."

The group completed their examination of the cannisters in the second truck. Piper could make out some nodding of heads. Then one of the Russian officers gave an order. Half a dozen Russian soldiers approached the first truck while another soldier rolled over a high dolly to the truck's back. The soldiers then began carefully unloading the cannisters from the truck onto the dolly.

When the dolly was fully loaded, the soldiers began to roll it away from the truck.

"There he is!" Piper exclaimed. "On the side of the other truck."

Prue looked over at the truck with the American flags. Petrokov was standing to the left side of the back of the truck, watching what the soldiers were doing. Prue saw his right hand begin to slowly twist.

"We wanted to avoid using your power," Piper said, "but it's too big an area for me to-"

Before Piper could finish the sentence a fire suddenly appeared above Petrokov. It quickly enveloped him and he gave a short scream. Then the fire consumed him and he was gone.

Prue and Piper slowly stood up and stared in disbelief at where Petrokov had just been.

"Uh...what...uh..." Prue stuttered.

"It...looked like...uh...someone...vanquished him," Piper said slowly. "But...who..."

They looked all around the parade grounds. The Russian soldiers were still rolling the dolly. All of the officers and civilians were carefully watching them. No one was out of place. And no one else was around.

"" Piper asked.

Prue started to shake her head. Then realizing that they were exposed, she grabbed Piper and yanked her back down again with her.

"I don't know," Prue said.

From their crouching position, they watched the Russians roll the dolly to the American truck, then carefully unload the cannisters and place them in the truck. Then the soldiers went back and repeated the process with the remaining cannisters from both Russian trucks.

The transfer completed, there were handshakes and salutes between the Russians and the Americans. Camouflage canvas was pulled over the back of the American truck and tied securely, so that the truck's load was not visible. Some documents were placed on the dolly and two Russian and American officers signed them.

Two Russian soldiers emerged from the barracks. Each tied down the camouflage canvas covering each of the now empty Russian trucks. Then each soldier climbed into each truck’s cab and got behind the trucks’ wheels. Two American soldiers got into the cab of the American truck containing the chemical weapons while the other Americans hurried into two black cars and a second truck parked on the other side of the grounds. The Americans made their way towards the base's exit. Clearing the guardhouse, they turned onto the road that led away from the base.

Having waited for the American convoy to depart, the two now empty Russian trucks started up and slowly made their way out of the base.

"I don't understand what happened," Prue said.

"What happened," Piper said slowly, "is that Petrokov was stopped and the transfer made. The chemical weapons are safely in American hands for disposal. But...I don't understand how."

"Neither do I," Prue said. "Let's get out of here."


"The Chemical Weapons Recovery Team reported back that they are in control of the weapons and are proceeding as planned," Morris said. "Given what they did with you the other night, Prue, I was able to pry that information out of them."

"Thanks, Darryl," Prue said into the telephone. "And thanks for all of your help. I owe you."

"No, you don't," Morris said. "You and your sisters are my friends. I...I didn't want you to get hurt. I hope this is over now."

"It...may be. I'll be in touch," Prue said and hung up the phone.

"So," Piper asked, "where are we?"

"The Recovery Team reported everything is secure and under control," Prue said.

"Petrokov is vanquished," Stuart said.

"And we have the Novichok," Phoebe said.

"We do," Piper said. "And we really need to do something about not having it. Like turning it over to the CIA."

"When we're done," Prue said.

"What's left to do?" Piper asked. "Zhinovsky is still around but without any chemical weapons the demons' plan is finished."

"Maybe," Prue said. "But something...something isn't right."

"Petrokov?" Stuart asked.

"I checked," Leo said, "and neither Keir nor The Elders sent, nor know of, any other witch who was there at the army base."

"So who vanquished him?" Phoebe asked.

"I don't know," Prue said and exhaled. "And that’s what’s bothering me."


"Phoebe, Stuart wake up!" Prue shouted in the hallway, then turned towards Piper's room. "Piper!" she called, then hurried down the stairs.

In a moment, Phoebe and a half-asleep Stuart came down to the living room.

"Leo! Leo!" Prue shouted as Piper came down the staircase. Then Prue saw that Leo was just a step behind Piper.

", uh...orbed in...quickly," Prue said, staring at him.

"I...uh..." Leo stammered.

"Spent the night with me," Piper said, emphatically and squinted at Prue.

"Uh...uh...oh!" Phoebe said, raising her eyebrows and making an oversized smile at Piper.

"What's wrong?" Stuart asked.

"Plenty," Prue said. "Morris just called. The chemical weapons are gone."

"Gone?" Phoebe asked. "Gone from where?"

"From the American army truck," Prue said. "The Recovery Team went to show it to someone this morning. When they opened the truck there was nothing there."

"Someone stole it during the night?" Leo asked.

"It was under heavy guard the whole time," Prue said. "Morris' contact told him they used some sophisticated equipment to examine the truck. And there wasn't a trace of anything relating to chemical weapons. It was as if they had never been there."

"Petrokov," Stuart said.

"We saw him vanquished," Piper said.

"Maybe what you saw...didn't really happen," Stuart said.

"What do you mean?" Phoebe asked.

"Remember that Charmed episode...uh, Chick Flick," Stuart said, "the parody of teen slasher movies? Where you ran around screaming cliché Hollywood frightened girls."

"Episode? Parody?" Leo asked. "What are you talking about?"

"Uh, Leo...just ignore that part," Piper said. "And don't ask me to explain it. Because I can't."

Leo looked at Piper with a confused expression.

"Just trust me, Leo," Piper said strongly, then turned to Stuart and squinted at him. "You were saying?" she said to him, equally as strong.

"That...uh...time..." he said, getting Piper’s message, "uh, that you had a run-in with the demon who could get into the movies. You followed him to the movie theater and you said a spell, Phoebe, and it looked like he had been vanquished."

"Only...he wasn't," Phoebe said, the episode coming back to her. "But he was able to make it appear to us as if he had been."

"But Petrokov didn't even know we were there," Prue said.

"He couldn't have seen us," Piper said. "We were well hidden."

"And even if he had seen you, he wouldn't have known who you were," Phoebe said.

"Then maybe he wasn't doing it for you," Leo said. " was just part of something else that he was doing."

"What something?" Piper asked. "You said yourself there weren't any other witches there."

"No, not witches," Prue said, slowly. "But there were Russian soldiers, American officers and CIA agents who were there."

"What's the connection?" Stuart asked. Prue was silent for a moment, thinking. Then her expression changed and she exhaled.

"I think you're right, Leo," Prue said. "Petrokov didn't know that we were there. But he did know that all those army officers and CIA agents were there. And he had to get the weapons without them stopping him." She hesitated for a moment.

"Remember that demon who was killing witches by making their fears seem real?" she asked.

"The Fear Demon," Phoebe said.

"That Charmed episode-" Stuart stopped and squished his face. "I mean, that time with the demon who could make witches see or feel what they feared most. It was all real to them."

"That was the demon who almost made me drown because of my fear of drowning like Mom," Prue said, looking at Leo as she carefully chose her words. "He could make us see and feel what we didn't want to.

"Maybe the opposite can be true, too," she continued. "Maybe Petrokov has a demonic power to make people see what they do want to. Like that movie demon."

"I said it would be nice if someone vanquished Petrokov and eliminate our problem," Piper said. "And you said, Prue, it was wishful thinking. But you'd like it too."

"You both wanted to see Petrokov vanquished," Phoebe said. "And that's what you saw."

"Petrokov was twisting his hand before he...he disappeared," Piper said. "I'll bet the Fear Demon did the same thing."

"He did," Stuart said. "I remember watching him...uh, I mean I remember you telling me, Prue," he said for Leo's benefit, "that's what you saw him do to you."

"And the army officers, the CIA, us...everyone wanted to see the transfer made successfully," Prue said. "And that's what everyone saw."

"Then...the weapons were never transferred," Stuart said. "They never left those two Russian trucks. It only looked like they did because that's what you all wanted to happen."

"Those two Russian drivers who came out of the barracks must have been working for Petrokov," Prue said. "That's why they made a point of pulling the camouflage canvas over the back of the trucks and tying them down, even though the trucks were supposed to be empty. They didn't want anyone outside of the base, who wasn't affected by Petrokov's power, to see that the cannisters were still in those trucks.

"And that would also explain the reaction to Petrokov's scream when he was supposedly vanquished," she continued.

"There wasn't any reaction," Piper said. "No one besides us seemed to hear it. It was as if it didn't happen."

"Exactly," Prue said. "The army, the CIA...they wanted nothing to happen that could interfere with the transfer. They saw what they wanted to see. And nothing else. That's why they didn't react to it."

"Is this possible, Leo?" Phoebe asked.

"In theory, yes," Leo said. "He could have such a power. There are demonic powers that we don't know about."

"But The Book of Shadows should know," Stuart said.

"We couldn't find anything in it when we looked for Petrokov," Prue said. "But now we know what power to look for. I'm going to start going through it."

"No, Prue," Leo said, "you've got to get out of here, now. With the cannisters missing those CIA agents are going to be coming back for you. They said as much."

"Leo's right," Phoebe said. "We'll go through The Book of Shadows. You get out of here. Leo, take Prue somewhere safe."


"We're going to handle Zhinovsky another way," Keir said. "You're going to go to three places in Russia that encircle seven hundred miles of the general area where the chemical weapons were taken. When you're all in place you'll say a spell to prevent her from sending those weapons."

"A spell?" Phoebe asked. "From seven hundred miles away?"

"What spell?" Prue asked.

"This one," Keir said.

"Where did it come from?" Piper asked.

"From a witch who came up with it," he said.

"A witch," Phoebe repeated. "One of your better witches?"

"Not now, Phoebe," Prue said.

Keir gave Phoebe a long, cold look.

"She has experience with this," he said.

"Experience in being in three places at once so she could use this spell?" Piper asked.

"Stop," Prue said, "it doesn't matter. As long as it will work."

"We don't know that it will work," Phoebe said. "If it doesn't-"

"It will work," Keir interrupted her. "As long as Zhinovsky doesn't bring the weapons to the area around Staroye."

"Staroye?" Phoebe asked.

"A place in Russia," Keir said.

"Why?" Stuart asked. "Is it outside of this circle?"

"No, it's within the circle," Keir said. "Staroye is a gateway to a demonomy."

"What's that?" Stuart asked.

"A dominion of demons," Keir said his tone implying that Stuart should have known that. "The word is in the dictionary."

"Hmm...guess I must have skipped some of the words under ‘D’ when I read it cover to cover," Stuart said, with a bit of sarcasm.

Keir gave Stuart another one of his long, exasperating looks, then exhaled.

"The demonomy is a source of evil," Keir said, "a mother lode of demonic power. All witches spells are powerless at its gateway to overcome a demon. Think of it as the core of a volcano. You may be able to divert the lava flow at some distance. But the energy at the volcano's rim is too great to be contained."

Leo slowly nodded his head.

"You've heard of a demonomy?" Phoebe asked.

"I've heard there could be such a place," Leo replied. "But as far as I knew it was just a legend."

"It's not a legend," Keir said. "And if Zhinovsky goes there with the weapons the spell will not work. Nothing will. She'll be un-stoppable."

"Why wouldn't she go there?" Stuart asked. "Why don't all the demons go there to do their evil?"

"Because most demons don't know about the demonomy," Keir said. "Those that do know also think it's a legend, like Leo, or don't know where it really is. It's location has been lost over time."

"But you know that demonomy gateway is real and exactly where it is," Stuart said, with a hint of skepticism.

"I know many things that no one else knows," Keir said, staring at Stuart. "About places. And about people."

Was that another ambiguous hint that he knows who we really are and where we came from? Piper thought.

"If demons don't know where it is, then why would Zhinovsky know about Staroye?" Prue asked.

"She likely doesn't but it's a risk I can't take," Keir said. "The stakes are too high. I have to be sure that she doesn't know about it."

"And how do you propose we find out?" Piper asked.

"By going to Zhinovsky's stronghold," he said. "That data disk said where it is."

"And find a way to vanquish her there," Phoebe said.

"No," Keir said. "You can't vanquish her until we know where the weapons are and get them back. There are other former KGB demons that could be called in to do something with those weapons, even if they don't have Zhinovsky's power."

"So then, what are we going to do there?" Phoebe asked.

"Snoop around, listen, look," Keir said.

"Like the spies that we aren't," Piper said.

"Don't worry, you aren't going," Keir said. "Stuart is."

"What?!" Phoebe said.

"His knowledge of Russian will let him pickup information," Keir said.

"It's limited," Phoebe said. "He can't speak the language.

"It's more than you and your sisters know," Keir said, "which is nothing."

"I'm going along with him," Phoebe said.

"No, you're not," Keir said. "You have to work on the logistics of saying this spell. And coming up with a way to vanquish Zhinovsky. That has to be ready the minute you find the weapons."

"Prue and I can do that," Piper said. "Phoebe can go with Stuart."

"He'll be less obtrusive by himself," Keir said.

"Forget it," Phoebe said. "Stuart's not going alone."

"Keir's right," Stuart said. "I could blend in better by myself."

"Exactly," Keir said. "Look for a round glass with a pentagram inside of it. That could be a pointer to the demonomy."

"I don't like this," Phoebe said.

"It'll be OK," Stuart said.

"Fifteen minutes," Prue said. "No more. Leo, stay there with Stuart."

"No," Keir said. "Thirty minutes. Leo, you'll come back here. There are other things you have to do in preparation that can't wait. You'll go back for Stuart in thirty minutes and meet him at the same place you bring him to."

Phoebe turned to Stuart, put her arms around him and drew him closer.

"Be careful," she whispered, and kissed him gently. "Don't take any chances."

"Chances and spies go together," he whispered back, and exhaled. "At least, according to Hollywood."

"This isn't Hollywood," she said, "and this isn't a Charmed episode. Be careful. I love you"

Stuart nodded his head, stepped back and turned to Leo.

"I need a little time to prepare," Stuart said to him. "We'll go in fifteen minutes."


Leo orbed out and Stuart peered around the corner. The hallway was clear. Carefully, he made his way down the corridor to a door on his right. Putting his ear to the door, he listened carefully and heard nothing. Slowly he turned the knob and opened the door.

No one was in the small room. A desk and chair stood in the middle while a map lined the back wall. Stuart closed the door behind him and made his way to the desk.

A few papers and a document lay strewn across the desk. Stuart picked up the first and slowly read it, then did the same with the second paper. Throwing it back on the desk, he glanced at the first page of the document. Too big, he thought, to deal with a demonomy.

He turned around and looked at the map on the wall. A dozen pins were stuck in cities across Europe, as far west as Iceland and as far south as Sicily and Greece. Three words had been written in broad letters with a black magic marker across the top of the map.

              химическое оружие цельы

Chemical Weapons Targets, Stuart translated in his mind. Major destruction and devastation more far reaching than he had imagined if Zhinovsky succeeds, he thought. These demons must be stopped.

He looked at the map again, trying to find Staroye on it. He looked around within the circle Keir had shown them and after a minute he found it. There was nothing marked around it, no pin stuck into it. Nothing to indicate that Staroye had any significance in the demons' plan.

He turned away from the map and started towards the door when it suddenly opened. A Russian soldier peered into the room. Seeing Stuart, the soldier came inside and stared at him. Stuart saw the sub-machine gun slung over the soldier's shoulder.

"Vih dela-ete zdes? (What are you doing here?)" the soldier asked.

"Ya ostavil chto-to zdes (I left something here)," Stuart answered. He was pretty sure he had understood the question and used one of the stock answers he had prepared.

"Vih ne ot nashey grew-pih (You're not from our group)" the soldier said.

Stuart hesitated. He wasn't sure he understood him this time.

"Ya dolzhen poyti na-zad teper (I have to go back now)" Stuart said slowly, picking another stock answer he hoped would work.

The soldier looked at him for a second, then pulled the sub-machine from his shoulder and pointed it at Stuart. He motioned with the gun for Stuart to get in front of him and walk outside.

I guess that was the wrong answer, Stuart thought.

"Prodolzhat! (Go on!)" the soldier said firmly.


The rope, which had been tied to a beam in the ceiling and from which Stuart hung, was wound tightly around his wrists, cutting into his skin. Two Russians, one in an army uniform and one in a dark suit, had been standing off to the side. The soldier, about thirty, with a medium build and close-cut, blonde hair, approached Stuart. A black truncheon was in his left hand as he circled Stuart.

"Kotoriy vih? (Who are you?)" the soldier asked

Stuart looked at him but said nothing.

The soldier's hand moved quickly and deliberately, the truncheon striking Stuart across his ribs.

"Agghh!" Stuart cried.

The soldier struck the truncheon again across Stuart's back.

"AGGHH!" he cried, even louder. And then the soldier brought it to bear with all his might across the side of Stuart's head.

He screamed again and his head, blood trickling out, fell downward to his chest.

"Op-yat...kotoriy vih? (Again...who are you?)" the Russian demanded.

Stuart couldn't raise his head.

"My," he managed to whisper in his pain.

The door to the room opened and Ivana Zhinovsky walked in.

"Amerikanskiy (An American)" the man in the suit said.

Zhinovsky walked over to Stuart and looked him over.

"He is with the ones who interfered before," she said. He is with the witches, she thought to herself.

"Take him down, untie him and bring him into my private room," she said.

"Your private room?" the soldier asked.

"Da!" she said, turned around and walked out.


The two Russians dragged a hurt Stuart into Zhinovsky's private room. She motioned towards the couch and the Russians threw Stuart down on it. She withdrew a small bottle from her desk drawer, removed the cap, poured a few drops of its contents onto her fingers and then dabbed them on her cheeks and neck. The fragrance of a sweet yet subtle perfume could be smelled in the air.

"We should be torturing him to get information out of him," the man in the suit said, speaking in Russian. "Instead, you are going to...have fun with him?" The Russian soldier standing beside him chuckled.

Zhinovsky gave an icy stare at the man. Then, without warning, she raised her hand and smacked him hard across his face.

"Idiots!" she said, speaking in Russian as well. "If these were the old days, I'd have you both sent to a training station in Siberia for your impudence.

"Vi imyeyete uzkie umy. (You have narrow minds.) Vi znayetye tol'ko stariye pooti. (You know only the old ways.) Oo myenya yest' namnogo loochshiy poot'. (I have a much better way.)" She turned and looked at Stuart.

"When we embrace and are together as one," she said, "his mind will be open to me. I will be inside it. I will know what he thinks, what he knows. And I will know all about him and those working with him.

"Teper poyditeh! (Now go!)"

The two Russians, in fear of Zhinovsky, turned and silently left the room. She locked the door behind them then slowly walked over to the couch where Stuart, in severe pain, was lying. He was sure a rib had been broken and his head was black and blue, blood continuing to trickle out from his wound. He tried to steady himself against whatever she would do to him.

Zhinovsky sat down on the couch and stared into Stuart's eyes. Despite the pain, despite everything that had happened, despite knowing she was a demon, he felt his eyes locked onto hers. And he couldn't look away.

He didn't want to look away. It was just as it had been in Prague when he had first seen her picture on the computer. He had felt himself being seduced by her. Only now she was there with him. And now, being next to her, the seduction was even stronger. Nothing else besides her mattered. All he wanted was to feel her lips on his, to feel her arms around him.

Zhinovsky slowly un-buttoned her jacket and blouse and removed her army uniform. She looked down at Stuart as she unbuttoned his shirt, took it off of him and started removing the rest of his clothes. She stared into Stuart's eyes and a small smile crossed her lips. But there was no warmth in her hard, ice cold eyes. She leaned over, slipped her arms under him, and lifted him towards her. And their lips met.

Stuart felt their lips becoming one, his mind becoming one with her. His whole being was becoming one with her.

But he didn't resist. He knew he couldn't make it stop.

And...he didn't want it to stop.


Zhinovsky was adjusting her uniform jacket in the mirror as the two Russians came in.

"There are three who are working with him," she said in Russian, turning to them. "I know who and what they are. And I know their plans. We will use the weapons. And then I will kill them.

"We are not going to the cavern. Have the trucks moved immediately to Staroye. I will meet them there."

" said it wasn't safe to move the weapons," the Russian in the suit said.

"That was before I knew what they were planning," she said. "Now do it!"

"What about him?" the soldier asked, looking at Stuart lying weak and semi-conscious on the couch.

"I have no further need for him," she said. "When you're packed up and ready to leave for Staroye, put some clothes on him, take him out and shoot him. And then dispose of him."


The light shone as Leo orbed in.

"Where's Stuart?" Phoebe asked.

"I don't know," Leo said. "He was supposed to meet me at the place where we orbed in but he wasn't there."

"Didn't you look for him?" Phoebe demanded.

"Of course I did," Leo said. "I checked some of the rooms but the place is full of Russians. Mostly soldiers but some in civilian clothes. One of them spotted me and pulled his gun. I had to orb out. Stuart's probably been caught...maybe even taken to Zhinovsky."

"We're not leaving Stuart there!" Phoebe said.

Keir looked at his watch.

"That's exactly what we're doing," he said. "Get your vanquishing spells ready. You're all going to Staroye."

"Staroye?" Piper asked. "The demonomy gateway? Why?"

"And what about saying the spell to stop Zhinovsky?" Prue asked.

"Staroye isn't a gateway to a demonomy," Keir said. "And the spell I gave you isn't real."

"What?!" the three girls exclaimed together.

"There isn't any spell that can work from a distance of seven hundred miles to stop Zhinovsky from using those weapons," Keir said. "The only spell you have is what you come up with to vanquish her."

"If...if Staroye isn't a demonomy gateway," Piper asked with a confused look, "then why would Zhinovsky go there?"

"Because Stuart thinks it is a demonomy gateway," Keir said, and looked at his watch again. "And by now, Zhinovsky should think so, too."

"I don't understand," Leo said, shaking his head.

"One of that demon's powers is be seductively irresistible," Keir said, "and overwhelm any mortal. Make him think of nothing but her. And a second power is to get into that mortal's mind when they embrace tightly. By now, she's gotten into Stuart's mind. And knows what he thinks to be true."

"You used him," Phoebe said, angrily staring at Keir.

"I had to flush out the weapons," Keir said. "The only way to do that was to get Zhinovsky to move them to a place I know and that I can send you to. Staroye is a perfect, sparsely inhabited place in the middle of nowhere in Vologda province. Two hundred miles east of St. Petersburg, thirty-five miles southwest of Lake Beloye and over five miles from the nearest main road. Not many people around there to take note of Zhinovsky bringing the weapons there. And once you vanquish Zhinovsky the weapons will be safe there for a while.

"The only way to get Zhinovsky to move the weapons to Staroye was to make her think that you had a spell to stop her unless she and the weapons were there. The only way to get her to believe that was for her to get it out of Stuart's mind. What she gets that way can't be faked."

"That's why you insisted Stuart go alone," Piper said.

"You knew he'd be captured," Phoebe said. "You wanted him to be captured. sacrificed him."

"Tens of millions of people will die if those weapons are used," Keir said, dispassionately. "One person's dying saves them all."

Phoebe stared at Keir, her anger growing.

"You have no right to make that choice for him," she said.

"You and Piper made the same choice for Prue," he said. "Or have you forgotten?"

"What are you talking about?!" Phoebe asked angrily.

"Uh...uh..." Prue said, "that episode-...uh, that time with the apocalypse."

"The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," Piper said, recalling the episode. They had shot it in late March, less than three months before, so she remembered it well.

"Prue and one of the Horsemen were sucked into a vortex," Piper said. "The only way to prevent the apocalypse was to leave that Horseman in it, because they couldn't make it happen with just the three of them. But the only way to save Prue's life was to say the spell to release her together with the other Horsemen. That would have gotten both Prue and The Horseman out of the vortex."

"And you made the decision, Phoebe, to leave me there forever," Prue said. "To sacrifice one life in order to save the world from the apocalypse that would have happened if The Horseman had been freed with me."

There was something...some hurt, in her voice when she said that, Prue realized. On Charmed, she had to deal with their sacrificing her, she thought. In that scene, she had to show in her voice the difficulty she was having coming to terms with it. But this is real life. Even if Charmed's past is now real, she didn't really experience that past. Phoebe didn't really sacrifice her and it shouldn't bother her.

So...why is it bothering her?

"What if a building was on fire?" Piper said slowly, repeating the script's closing dialogue. "Do you save five strangers or one sibling?"

"Your answer was five strangers," Keir reminded them.

"How do you know what we said?" Piper asked.

"I've told you," Keir said, "I know a lot of things."

"That...that was different," Phoebe said. "This isn't the same...that was just...this-"

"Somehow seems more real to you?" Keir asked, with an un-expressive look. "It's quite the same logic."

There he goes again, Piper thought, ambiguously hinting that he knows who we are. Is he trying to use a Charmed script to justify sacrificing Stuart in real life? Or is it because that episode is now the past that really did happen three months ago.

"I am not leaving Stuart there to die," Phoebe said, firmly. "I'm going there and getting him out."

"You're not," Keir said. "He's likely dead already. Either way you're staying here and making sure you have spells to vanquish Zhinovsky, Petrokov and any other demon around those weapons."

"I am going," Phoebe said, defiantly.

"You're not," Keir said, un-emotionally, "and you have no way of getting there." He turned to Leo. "Have I made myself understood?" he asked him.

Leo looked at Phoebe then turned back to Keir.

"Understood," Leo reluctantly said.


Meriwether had clapped his hands and sent them back to The Manor to work on the spells they needed. The Book of Shadows lay open in front of them but no one was looking in it.

"I'm going for Stuart," Phoebe said emphatically, "and you're taking me there, Leo."

"You heard Keir," Leo said. "Taking you there means trouble for all of us."

"And not taking us there means death for Stuart!" Phoebe said.

"You work for The Elders," Piper said. "You don't have to take orders from Keir."

"The Elders assigned me to this joint effort," Leo said, "and it's being run by Keir. He's in charge. Going to Zhinovsky's headquarters means breaking the rules."

"Haven't you been breaking the rules, Leo..." Piper asked, "...every night...that you've spent here with me?"

Leo looked at Piper and thought for a few seconds.

"You're right," he said, slightly nodding his head. He took a deep breath. "I'll take you, Phoebe. And I'll stay there with you until we find him."

"Thank you, Leo," Piper said, softly. "But you're not going, Phoebs. There are too many guns around there. I'm going with Leo. My power will be needed against them."

"I'll go, too," Prue said.

"No," Leo said. "The more trips I have to make taking each of you back and forth the more risk of Keir finding out. And the more risk for whoever is staying behind there waiting for me to come back to get her.

"Stay here, Prue, and work on those vanquishing spells with Phoebe," Leo continued. "We're going to need them right away."

"Finding Stuart at that demon headquarters won't be easy," Prue said.

"I have an idea," Phoebe said. "I have that spell I used for Vadim, the one that made that square I gave him find precious gems. I can change the spell to make it find Stuart, instead. You just see on which side of the square the yellow light is pulsating and go in that direction. When it turns red you'll know you're close to him."

"But Vadim had the square," Prue said. "And he's dead."

"It's just a translucent square, nothing special about it," Phoebe said. "I picked it up at the potion store. They come two in a package so I have a second one. It's the spell that made it work."

"Go get it and use the spell on it," Piper said.

"Leo, don't let anything happen to Piper," Prue said, as Phoebe went to get the square. "Nor to Stuart."

Leo exhaled.

"I won't," he said.


They orbed into the spot where Leo had left Stuart. Piper held up the square.

"Nothing," she said. "It's not working."

"Maybe we're too far away from Stuart," Leo said. Piper nodded her head and they started down the corridor. They turned a corner and came upon two soldiers. Piper raised her hand before the soldiers realized they were there.

Piper turned to Leo and un-froze him.

"Let's go," she said. They continued and came to two doors, one on either side of the corridor. The door on their right opened and a Russian in civilian clothes came out. Seeing them he quickly pulled his gun as Piper raised her hand.

Piper turned to Leo, un-froze him and exhaled.

"This is not going to work well having to keep un-freezing you every minute," she said, then looked at the square. A yellow light on its left side was pulsating.

"It's working," Piper said. "It's pointing to the other door."

"OK," Leo said. "I'll go first." He put his hand to the doorknob, turned it and slowly opened the door.

They were outside. Leo put his finger on his lips and motioned to Piper to follow him.

They walked to the corner of the building and looked around. There was nothing around the building but some fifty yards away from it was the beginning of a forest.

"It's pointing to the right," Piper said, looking at the square. They walked out a little further to get a view of the right side.

"It's turned red," Leo said, looking at the square in Piper's hand.

"There, by those trees," she said, pointing. They saw Stuart on the ground, propped up against a tree. A Russian soldier stood in front of him looking down at him. He pulled out his gun and pointed it at Stuart.

"No!" Piper shouted and raised her hand.

"It's too open, he's too far away for me to freeze," she said and was about to run to them.

"Wait," Leo said, grabbing her. "This is faster." He held Piper tightly and orbed out, then orbed in beside the soldier. As Piper raised her hand she heard the sound of the gun being fired.

She ran over to Stuart, fell to her knees and looked at him. The bullet was frozen but it had already pierced his chest and was partially inside of him.

She was about to unfreeze Leo but stopped. I can't risk the bullet un-freezing too, she thought.

She swallowed hard and took hold of the bullet. Slowly, she pulled the bullet out of Stuart's chest. Blood started to come out from the wound. She turned towards Leo and un-froze him.

Leo knelt down beside her and looked at Stuart.

"He's already been shot," Leo said.

"I know," Piper said, "The bullet hadn't gone in all the way yet and I pulled it out. Save him, Leo."

"If I still can," Leo said, "it will take some time. And we're going to be drawing attention here."

"Take Stuart back to The Manor and heal him there," she said.

"You're in danger here," Leo said. "I'm not leaving you."

"I can hold them off," she said. "Now go!"

Leo put his arms underneath Stuart and orbed out.

"AHH!" Piper screamed as bullets whizzed by her. They're too far away to freeze, she thought, and ran behind the cover of the trees.

A bolt of energy hit the tree beside her chest.

"Ahh!" she screamed again, startled. Soldiers and demons, she thought. I better move further back into the forest.

Piper carefully backed away from the tree, keeping it between her and the advancing Russians. There were three trees together a few yards away and she started towards them as more bullets filled the air.

Reaching the trees, she crouched behind them and could see the soldiers running towards the tree line. But she didn't see the demon coming around from the side of the tree behind her. He was just a few feet from her when Leo orbed in next to him.

The demon aimed his hand at Piper but Leo quickly landed his fist across the demon's jaw. The demon went down and Leo rushed to Piper.

"Are you all right?" Leo asked.

"I am now," Piper said. "And Stuart?"

"It was very close but he's OK," Leo said.

"Good," she said, relieved. "Now let's get out of here."

Leo put his arms around her and they orbed out.


"What have you come up with?" Leo asked.

He was standing in the attic next to Prue and Piper. Phoebe was sitting on a chair, holding a pen and pad.

"Once we knew what Petrokov's power was we knew what to look for in the Book of Shadows," Prue said. "And we found the spell to vanquish him."

"Only it's not that simple," Piper said, "because he can make us think we vanquished him, just like he did in Novgorod. So the Book of Shadows has the ingredients for a potion to put in our eyes. It will let us see what's really happening to Petrokov, not what we want to think is happening."

"Good," Leo said. "What about Zhinovsky?"

"Phoebe's been working on the spell," Prue said, "but that's proving to be more difficult."

"She's one powerful demon," Piper said. "We're going to need a powerful spell and the Power of Three to vanquish her."

"Phoebe did come up with a spell to stop her from launching the cannisters," Prue said. "As long as the spell is in effect those cannisters can't leave the ground."

"That also will take the Power of Three to work," Piper said.

"Which means you're going to have to be together the whole time we're in Staroye," Leo said. "That's going to make it a lot harder to find the weapons without being spotted."

"Not to mention finding Zhinovsky," Piper added.

"She's not expecting us to be there," Prue said. "With what she got out of Stuart's mind she thinks we're going to be somewhere else. Which means she doesn't have a reason to keep the trucks hidden."

"Keir said Staroye is sparsely inhabited," Piper said. "And big trucks in the middle of nowhere shouldn't be too hard to find."

"We can separate to look for Petrokov," Prue said. "That vanquishing spell doesn't need the Power of Three."

"According to Keir," Leo said, "it should take Zhinovsky about four hours to get to Staroye. Assuming she left right after we rescued Stuart, she should be there in a little over two hours from now."

"We don't know where the weapons are coming from," Prue said, "so we don't know how long it will take them to get there."

"That's why we have to be there when Zhinovsky gets there," Leo said. "The weapons may already be there by then." He turned to Phoebe.

"We go to Staroye in two hours," he said. "You've got to have the spell ready by then."


"Ready?" Prue asked.

"Ready," Phoebe said.

"Me, too," Stuart said.

"No, Stuart," Phoebe said. "You're not coming."

"What do you mean I'm not coming," Stuart said. "Of course I'm coming."

"You're supposed to be dead," she said.

"I'm not," he said, "and I'm coming to help you. As I've done all along."

"Not this time," Phoebe said. "Staroye is full of demons. Only our powers will work against them. I don't want to be distracted...worrying about you there."

"My place is beside you when you fight demons," he protested.

"You're always beside me," she said. "I feel you next to me whether or not you're physically there."

"And leaving me here to worry about you is OK?" he asked.

"I'll be with them the whole time," Leo said. "And It's better than putting Phoebe at risk. If she's distracted trying to protect you like..." Leo hesitated. He didn't want to finish saying what he was thinking.

Stuart gave Leo a confused look.

"Like...Mom," Prue said. "The...water demon in the lake. She was distracted...trying to protect Sam...and the demon killed her."

That was a Charmed episode, Phoebe thought. Why is Prue getting emotional about it? Phoebe looked at the emotion on Prue’s face.

It's become real for her, Phoebe thought. More than looking at pictures in an album and feeling some connection to 'Mom', the way she did after Norwell almost killed her. Mom has become as real to Prue as anything else in her life. As real as Charmed has become for everyone. She really is Patty Halliwell's daughter.

Phoebe extended her hand to Prue's and squeezed it. That seemed to snap Prue out of it. Or at least, got her back to what they were about to do.

Stuart wanted to say something. But he saw the same thing in Prue that Phoebe had and he let it go.


Leo orbed in behind the trees where he had left Prue and Piper. Phoebe let go of Leo and quickly crouched down together with them.

Most of the area was wooded but a small clearing lay off to the left. Two wooden huts lay beyond the clearing.

"There are a few Russian soldiers and a few people in civilian clothes coming in and out of those huts," Piper said, as Leo joined them. "Less than I would have expected."

"Zhinovsky probably doesn't want anyone she can't trust to know about this," Phoebe said.

"I guess she doesn't trust too many people," Piper said.

"Or too many demons," Prue said.

"Zhinovsky isn't expecting anyone to come here," Leo said. "She doesn't think she needs much security."

"That will work for us," Prue said, and stood up. "First thing we do is to find those weapons. Let's see what’s beyond those huts."

Carefully, they walked to their left, staying within the trees as they circled the clearing. They were behind the huts when the door to one of them opened and a man came out.

"Down," Leo said, and they dropped to the ground. They watched the man walk to the second hut, open the door and go inside.

"OK, let's go," Prue said.

They got up and continued walking. When they got past the huts they saw the remnant of a barn, the right wall in its length missing. Lined up against the other wall were two trucks. Their camouflage canvas had been pulled back to reveal their contents. Cannisters.

"We have to get closer to be sure the spell will work," Prue said.

Seeing no one near the barn nor the huts, they came out from the trees and approached the trucks.

"OK, let's do it," Prue said. She pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket and held it open for them all to see as they took each other's hand.

   "Weapons of destruction and death

     That we have now found;

     Defy any demon’s spell

     And not leave the ground."

A wind suddenly blew across the trucks, the rolled back canvas briefly bellowing.

"I guess that’s an indication that it worked," Piper said. Leo nodded in agreement.

"Now let's go find Petrokov," Prue said.

"I'm going to see what's beyond the barn," Piper said.

"We'll look around the other side of the hut," Phoebe said. "Stay out of sight, Leo. I don't want to have worry about you."

"OK, and you stay close to the buildings and trees," Leo said. "Try not to be out in the open."

"I know all about that," Phoebe said. "I was in a commando movie with Schwartzeneger. Uh...I mean...I saw the commando movie," she added, covering up.

Prue and Phoebe headed to the first hut. Piper circled around the barn on the side of the trees. Parked outside along the far side of the barn were five Russian Army vehicles. She carefully made her way from the trees to one of them and saw that it was empty. Checking that no one was coming, she moved to each of the other four and saw that they were empty, as well.

She was about to circle back to Prue and Phoebe when she heard a voice coming from inside the barn. She stealthily made her way alongside the barn's left wall, around the back wall and came in the open side next to one of the trucks loaded with the cannisters. She had edged her way a few steps in between the two trucks when she saw someone near the front of the barn.

Ivana Zhinovsky.

"Sluchilo? Pochemu ehto neh rabota-eht?! (What happened? Why isn't this working?)" Zhinovsky asked aloud as she moved her hand in an arc across the cannisters.

Piper started to back out but her elbow banged the side of one of the trucks and Zhinovsky turned towards her.

"You!" Zhinovsky said. "What...what are you doing here?"

Piper turned and tried to run. But Zhinovsky turned her hand and the canvas from one of the trucks fell out and blocked Piper's path. Piper tried to push it away but it had become hard and stiff and wouldn't budge.

"I know who you are," Zhinovsky said as Piper turned around to her. "Piper Halliwell, the witch. Your friend Stuart had a very good picture of you in his mind. But you are not supposed to be here. You and your sisters are supposed to be some two thousand kilometers from here making your spell."

"Well, we're not," Piper said. "We made our spell right here. And you can't send these chemical weapons anywhere. They won't budge."

"That is not possible!" Zhinovsky said. "Your spell cannot work here. This is the vorota."

"Vorota...I suppose that means the gateway to the demonomy," Piper said. "Surprise. We lied."

Zhinovsky pushed her blonde hair off her forehead and stared at Piper. Those are the coldest, most evil eyes I've ever seen, Piper thought.

"I had planned to launch the weapons and then come after you and kill The Charmed Ones," Zhinovsky said. "I will kill you first instead."

Piper raised her hand to freeze Zhinovsky but nothing happened.

"Your power won't work, you can't freeze me," Zhinovsky said. "But I can freeze you." She turned her fist over.

"Surprise, to you!" Zhinovsky said as something shot out from her hand at Piper. It was clear, thin and cylindrical, about one-half inch in diameter, and some six inches in length. Its one inch tip penetrated Piper's chest and imbedded itself just above her heart.

Stunned, Piper fell to her knees, her eyes staring straight ahead and her mouth slightly open. She extended her left hand to try to steady herself against the truck but couldn't reach it. Instead, she twisted half around and fell with her back against the truck, sliding down helplessly against the truck's large front wheel.

Zhinovsky walked over and looked down at Piper slumped against the truck's oversized tire. Piper's eyes were half open and she began to shiver.

"Feeling cold?" Zhinovsky asked. "You will be feeling very cold. Soon you will be so cold that your body will stop working. You will be frozen. And you will be dead."

Zhinovsky kicked Piper in the ribs with the toe of her army boot.

"I will kill your sisters the same way," Zhinovsky said. "And when the three of you are dead, your spell will be broken. And I will send these weapons on their journeys of destruction."


Phoebe and Prue made their way along the side of the hut, their backs hugging its wall. They reached the corner just as they heard the door opening. They pulled back and held their breaths. The heard the door close and someone take a few steps away from the door.

Prue edged to the corner and slowly peeked around it. She quickly pulled back, turned to Phoebe and silently nodded her head. Pointing to her eyes, she took the small vial out of her pocket. Phoebe did the same but Prue motioned to her to put it away. Prue squeezed a drop of her vial's content into each of her eyes.

Prue nodded silently to Phoebe who nodded back. Then they went around the corner of the hut.

Petrokov was standing about a dozen feet away. He was looking off at the barn, then at the sky and then again at the barn. As if something he expected to see happen wasn't happening. Prue and Phoebe began to say the spell before he realized that they were there.

       "Demon who changes what seems real

            And thus the truth doth he conceal,"

Petrokov turned towards them and began twisting his hand. Phoebe stopped and stared at him for a second but Petrokov's face filled with disbelief as Prue ignored him and continued saying the spell.

        "I vanquish thee from our midst

            As you spin and turn and twist."

Smoke began coming out of Petrokov's head and he began spinning around. Faster and faster he spun as more and more smoke came from his head. Until he became a whirling funnel of smoke - and then he was gone.

No screams, no cries - just gone.

"Wow," Phoebe said, "first, when you started the spell, I saw a fire all around him. Then, when you finished the spell, he was suddenly covered in smoke."

"That fire was the same thing Petrokov made us see in Novgorod," Prue said. "I had the drops in my eyes so I didn't see it. He looked the same to me as he did when we started the spell."

"That's why you didn't want me to put the drops in my eyes," Phoebe said. "If we didn't see the same thing then the drops were working and what you saw had to be what was really happening. Smart idea, sis."

"One demon vanquished," Prue said. "Let's go find Piper and vanquish the second one."

They saw no one between the hut and the barn and so they quickly ran to its open, right side and then around to the back of the right truck. Phoebe peeked around the corner of the truck to see if anyone was in the barn. The canvas from the truck that Zhinovsky had stiffened was lying limp against the side of the truck, allowing Phoebe a full view of what was between the two trucks.

"NO!" Phoebe cried and started running towards Piper and Prue quickly followed her. Phoebe kneeled down and took Piper in her arms.

"She's freezing," Phoebe said. She grabbed the cylinder sticking out of Piper's chest.

"Aggh...that's freezing, too," she said and had to let go of it.

Prue lifted up Piper's blouse, wrapped it around the cylinder to insulate her hand from the cold and took hold of it. She pulled it as hard as she could to try to get it out but it wouldn't budge.

"I'll get Leo," Prue said, and hurried out of the barn.

Piper's eyes were half open as she shivered in Phoebe's arms. Phoebe drew her closer, trying to give her some warmth.

"You're going to be OK," Phoebe said. "Leo will help."

Phoebe looked up and saw Leo edging his way towards them between the trucks. He knelt down and tried pulling out the cylinder from Piper’s chest. But he could not budge it any more than Prue had. His hands moved onto Piper's chest and light shown out from beneath his palms. He kept his hands on her for twenty seconds before taking them off.

"Why aren't you healing her?" Phoebe asked.

"I can't," Leo said. "This...Piper's freezing, isn't coming from anything physical, like a wound. It's demonic. It's coming from a demon's power that’s making her freeze."

"She must have run in to Zhinovsky," Prue said.

"As long as Zhinovsky’s power to do this is active," Leo said, "I can't do anything to stop it."

"This cylinder must be her connection to Piper," Prue said.

"And...and it's getting shorter," Phoebe said.

"It must be melting into Piper's body," Leo said. "The more it melts the colder she gets."

"And when it melts completely," Phoebe said, "and it's all inside her..."

"She'll be dead," Prue said.

"We have to get it out before it melts," Leo said. "Zhinovsky's power must be holding it in. The only way to get it out is to first vanquish Zhinovsky."

"And the only way to vanquish Zhinovsky is with the Power of Three," Phoebe said.

Prue looked at Piper, shivering and half un-conscious in Phoebe's arms.

"Catch-22. The only way we'll have the Power of Three," Prue said, " by first vanquishing Zhinovsky."


Stuart had nervously been pacing back and forth across the attic. It wasn't helping him be less worried, he realized, and so he stopped, walked over to the Book of Shadows and opened it. He turned a page and looked at it, then turned another and another. Suddenly ten pages flipped quickly by themselves.

"Oh...oh..." he said, "Book of Shadow pages turning by themselves. Uh...I've seen that before...on Charmed."

He looked at the open page.

Spell to temporarily weaken a demon's powers, Stuart read. If you are not strong enough to vanquish a demon, this spell will weaken the demon’s powers for a short period. Use this time to become strong enough to vanquish the demon.

Stuart looked at what was written next, in a larger script.

Beware!!  This spell can be used but once. After that it will not work again

Stuart began to read the spell when something by the door caught his eye. Startled, he looked up thinking it might be a demon. But then he recognized the short, rotund man with the bald-on-top round head and slightly ill-fitting black suit.

"Meriwether," Stuart said, then exhaled. "Keir knows that I'm here...and alive."

"He does not," Meriwether said. "Nor does he know that I am here. The Elders sent me."

"The Elders?" Stuart asked, surprised.

"We are working together on this," he reminded him.

"Oh yeah...that's right," Stuart said.

"The spell on the open page of The Book of Shadows," the short man said, "is needed by Phoebe." He came closer to Stuart and stood in front of him. "Read the spell aloud."

"Read the spell?" Stuart asked.

"Phoebe said that she always feels that you're beside her," Meriwether said, "even when you're not physically there with her."

" did you know she said that to me?" Stuart asked, surprised.

Meriwether ignored the question and placed his hands on either side of Stuart's mouth.

"Read the spell aloud," he said, "and she will hear you."


Phoebe looked down at Piper as Prue and Leo were silent in thought.

"What did you say, Leo?" Phoebe asked.

"I didn't say anything," Leo said.

"You did," Phoebe said, "I heard you..." She stopped and listened again.

"It's...Stuart," Phoebe said.

"Stuart?" Leo asked.

"He's..." Phoebe stopped again, lowered Piper to the ground and turned to her left, staring at the truck cab's door.

"I hear him," Phoebe said, "'s as if he’s standing right beside me." She realized what she had said without thinking, the words just as she had told him earlier in The Manor.

"I don't hear anything," Prue said.

"Shhh!" Phoebe said. "It's a spell. Stuart's saying a spell."

"There you are!" Prue and Leo looked up towards the back of the barn. It was Zhinovsky.

"Now I will freeze you, just as your sister is frozen," Zhinovsky said. "And you will die with her."

Prue waved her hand at Zhinovsky but a semi-transparent wall appeared in front of Zhinovsky for a second and nothing happened to her. Prue waved her hand again and the wall re-appeared. Zhinovsky stood un-moved where she was.

Phoebe, still kneeling, looked up at Zhinovsky and hearing Stuart’s voice, carefully repeated the words he was saying

.       "With the Charmed power of these that I now speak

           For a brief time I make this demon weak"

Zhinovsky's cold eyes stared at Prue as she held up her hand and turned her fist over. She stood that way for a few seconds expecting something to happen.

But nothing happened. Zhinovsky's expression changed to one of surprise as she lowered her wrist then raised it and turned it over again. But still nothing happened.

"The spell weakened her powers," Phoebe said. "Now, Leo. Hurry!"

Leo knelt down to Piper and grabbed hold of the cylinder.

"It's only temporary," Phoebe said, "I don't know how long the spell will last."

"Long enough to do this," Prue said, as she waved her hand again at Zhinovsky. This time no semi-transparent wall appeared to deflect Prue's power and the demon went flying backwards against the barn wall.

"Got it," Leo said, as he pulled the cylinder out of Piper's chest. He placed his hands on Piper's chest, the light again emanating from his palms.

Seeing that her power wasn't working, Zhinovsky got behind the back of one of the trucks and pulled out her army gun. The sound of gunfire was heard and they all ducked, the bullets ricocheting off of the trucks.

Zhinovsky peeked around the truck and fired three more times. But Prue raised her hand, stopping the bullets and sending them back. Zhinovsky pulled back behind the truck and the bullets hit the barn's back wall.

"Hurry up, Leo," Phoebe said.

"She's almost healed," Leo said.

"AGGHH!" Phoebe's scream and the sound of a gun firing were simultaneous. She fell forward on the ground between the trucks. Prue turned around and saw a Russian soldier at the front of the barn, his gun, having been fired, still aimed at them. She waved her hand at him, sending him flying and hitting the barn wall hard. She turned towards the back of the barn just in time to deflect more of Zhinovsky's bullets. Then she knelt down next to Phoebe.

Phoebe's blouse by her right shoulder blade was turning red from her blood. Prue lifted her up in her arms.

"Phoebe! Phoebe!" Prue called to her.

"Argh!" Phoebe moaned.

"Phoebe!" Piper called.

"She's healed," Leo said, then turned to Phoebe.

"There isn't time to heal Phoebe," Prue said. "We're in a crossfire and Stuart's spell may end any second. We have to say the vanquishing spell, now." She looked down at Phoebe.

"We need the Power of Three," Prue said. "Can you do it?" Prue caught Zhinovsky in the corner of her eye, turned and waved her hand at her, sending her into the back barn wall, again.

"Argh...yeah," Phoebe said, weakly.

Prue took hold of Phoebe's right hand and Piper grabbed her left hand.

            "Demon of strength, demon of evil

                  Demon who causes destruction and upheaval,

              Your time is over your days are done

                  Our three powers now vanquish you as one."

Zhinovsky looked around her in fear and disbelief as a fire surrounded her. It caught onto her blond hair and she started to scream. The fire burned hotter and her screams became more blood curdling. Then in an instant she, and the fire, were gone.

Leo quickly put his hands onto Phoebe and kept them there for half a minute.

"She's all right" Leo said, looking up at Prue and Piper, and exhaled in relief. He put his hand under Phoebe's arm and helped her up.

"Are you both OK?" Prue asked her sisters.

"Yes," Phoebe said.

"I'm warm," Piper said, nodding her head. "That’s all that matters."

A girl soldier and a man in a suit came running in to the barn. Prue turned to them, waved her hand and sent them crashing into the barn wall. Then she started towards them. But they picked themselves up and ran outside before she reached them. Prue chased after them and Leo, Piper and Phoebe followed her out of the barn.

Prue saw another seven or eight people, two soldiers and the rest in civilian clothes, running towards the barn. She waved her hand back and forth, sending them flying in all directions.

One of the non-soldiers got up, raised his hand and sent a power bolt towards Prue. But Prue quickly raised her hand, deflecting the bolt back at the demon. He screamed in agony as the bolt hit him and consumed him.

Seeing the demon vanquished, the others picked themselves up and dashed towards the army vehicles parked along the left barn wall. They jumped in whichever ones were nearest, started the motors, and drove them out as fast as they could.

Leo and the three girls watched them all depart. Satisfied that everyone was gone, they went back to the barn and looked at the two trucks.

"We did it," Phoebe said.

"We did," Piper said, a little in awe at their success. "I guess we are good at cloak and dagger stuff, after all."


"I will never complain about summer heat in LA again," Piper said, back in The Manor’s attic. "I was so cold that I couldn't even feel how cold I was."

"And being shot for real is not anything like acting being shot," Phoebe said. "It really hurts...and it's really frightening."

"How did you come up with that spell?" Prue asked Stuart.

"I didn't," Stuart said. "It was in the Book of Shadows. Here, I'll show it to you. I left a bookmark at the page."

Stuart walked over to the stand and opened the Book of Shadows at the bookmark. They joined him and all four stared at the page.

A completely blank page.

"Where is it?" Phoebe asked.

"It said the spell could be used only once," Stuart said. "It...must have been erased after you used it."

"The same thing happened on an episode early this season, didn't it," Phoebe said.

"Phew," Prue said. "Every little thing Brad and Constance wrote into Charmed is happening for real."

"It's a good thing they didn't write that the one who said the spell gets erased, too," Phoebe said.

"Well, if we could use the spell only one time," Piper said, "this was the time."

"And hopefully it's also the time that ends our having to be secret agent witches," Prue said.


The door of The Manor flung open and the middled aged government agent who had been there a few days earlier marched in. With him was the younger agent who had been with him that night along with four other men.

"I warned you Halliwell," the older agent said, "that if anything happened to those weapons I'd be back. Well here I am. You want IDs? You want papers? Go ahead boys, show her."

One of the men pulled out an ID holder from his pocket and flipped it open, showing a badge and photo ID.

"Special Agent Gilmore, FBI," he said. "You're under arrest for treasonous acts against the United States of America." He motioned with his head and one of the other men grabbed Prue's wrists, pulled them behind her back and locked handcuffs onto them.

"Hey! You can't do that to my sister!" Piper shouted as she came down the stairs.

"I can - and I have," the middle aged agent said.

"This is a search warrant to search the premises," Gilmore said.

"Every inch of it," the middled aged agent said, with glee.

Phoebe came running in from the kitchen just as a man came through the open front doorway. With broad shoulders, square face, focused eyes, somewhat curly black hair and standing over six feet tall, he appeared to be someone you did not take seriously only at your own considerable risk.

"I need a word with you, Morgan," he said, to the middle aged agent.

"Not now, Bancker," Morgan said.

"It has to be now," Bancker said.

"Tell me whatever it is right here," Morgan said. "I don't want to miss any of this. I'm enjoying this collar too much."

"There isn't going to be any collar," Bancker said and turned to Gilmore. "Remove the handcuffs and release Ms. Halliwell. And tear up that search warrant."

Gilmore stared at Bancker to be sure he had heard right.

"Do it!" Bancker ordered.

"Yes, sir," Gilmore said and motioned to the man who had put the handcuffs on Prue.

"What are you doing?!" Morgan asked angrily as Prue's hands were freed.

"I'm Special Agent in Charge Landon Bancker of the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office," he said to the girls, showing them his ID. Then he turned to Morgan.

"Late last night, identical phone calls were placed to the DIA and to FBI headquarters in Washington," Bancker said. "The caller said where the truckloads of chemical weapons that disappeared could be found. A half hour ago, agents confirmed that the weapons were found precisely where the caller said they were. All of the cannisters were intact and accounted for. And are now in our possession." Bancker paused.

"The person who placed the call was Prue Halliwell," he said.

"What?!" Morgan exclaimed. He paused for a few seconds. "I don't believe it!"

"The Bureau traced the call back to this house and also did a voice analysis of the caller," Bancker said. "Prue Halliwell did make those calls."

Morgan was silent for a moment as he fumed.

"That's not good enough," he said. "Those other chemical weapons are still missing, that...that..."

"Novichok," Phoebe said, helpfully.

"Halliwell is involved in their being missing," Morgan said. "I'm sure of it."

"They're not missing anymore," Bancker said. "They were found at the same place together with the other weapons. That was also in Halliwell's message."

Morgan turned to Prue as anger filled his eyes.

"How did you know where they were?" he asked, holding back his rage.

"I told you," Prue said, "I was doing research for a story."

"I want to see that story," Morgan said forcefully. "I want to see your notes."

"Not on your life," Prue said. "First Amendment, freedom of the press, freedom from illegal searches."

"Then I'll read it thoroughly and carefully when it gets printed in Four One Five," Morgan said. Every word of it. I know I’ll find something in it to catch you."

"To tell you the truth," Prue said, "I think my editor is going to spike the story. He's the kind of person who wouldn't want to embarrass his government about how the CIA managed to lose two truckloads of chemical weapons, not to mention the Novichok, that they were responsible to get and to dispose of. While at the same time managing to harass -" Prue paused and made an obvious look at the handcuffs in the FBI agent's hands, "and arrest the person who got them back for them."

Morgan's cold eyes stared at Prue.

"You're not getting away with this," Morgan said. "I'll find out what your game is."

"My advice to you, Morgan," Bancker said, "is to cut your losses. You know you have no jurisdiction. You're legally treading on thin ice here."

"San Francisco doesn't get cold enough to ever have any ice," Phoebe said to Morgan with a small smile, "but you've managed to get some for yourself, anyway."

Morgan stared angrily at Prue and exhaled. He turned around, motioned to the younger agent who had accompanied him, and stalked out of The Manor.

"On behalf of The United States Government," Bancker said, "I want to extend an apology for what you've been subjected to by...others. And a sincere thanks for what you've done for your country."

"Thank you, Agent Bancker," Prue said. "Apology accepted."

"If you don't mind," he said, "I am curious how you managed to find the weapons."

"Hard work, lots of research...and good connections," Prue said.

"Not to mention a lot of secret agent stuff," Phoebe said under her breath.

"What really matters," Prue said, smoothly deflecting his request, "is that the weapons didn't fall into the wrong hands."

"I don't know whether you meant what you told Morgan about killing the story," Bancker said. "But it would be greatly appreciated by the President if you did kill it."

"The President knows about us?" Phoebe asked, a bit wide-eyed.

"Indeed, he does," Bancker said. "And he is very grateful."

"Don't worry," Prue said. "This episode will never see the light of day."

"Unless we suggest it to Brad as a Charmed episode when...uh, if...we get back," Piper whispered to Phoebe.

"Once again, I want to thank you and your sisters for what you've done," Bancker said.

"We're always glad," Phoebe said, "to do our part to save innocents...uh...I save freedom." She smiled. "And democracy, too!"

"The three of you are true American heroes," Bancker said. "You're what makes America the great country that it is." He turned to the four men.

"Let's go," Bancker said and led them out the front door.

"Wow - the President really knows what we did," Phoebe said with a little awe, after the agents had left.

"I don't think of myself as a hero," Prue said.

"No," Piper said, "we just did what three actresses turned into Charmed witches turned into secret agents are supposed to do."

Phoebe turned to Piper with a small smile.

"But I do feel good about it," Phoebe said.

"Umm...I guess I do too," Piper admitted.

"Well," Phoebe said, "I just loved that look on Morgan's face when he stalked out of here."

"Uh, huh," Piper said, "almost as much as I loved the look on Keir's face when he had to thank us for saving the world a second time."

"The first time he didn't even say it himself," Prue said. "Meriwether did it for him. Keir couldn't bring himself to thank us."

"He'll get used to it," Piper said.

"He'll have to," Phoebe said, "as long as The Elders keep Charmed real. And keep us as real witches along with it."

"Speaking of The Elders," Prue said, "what did they do to Leo when they found out he broke the rules and helped us save Stuart?"

"Nothing," Piper said. "Leo asked them to forgive him. And they did."

"Just like that?" Phoebe asked. "Just because he asked them to?"

"And..." Piper began slowly, "...because I reminded them that actresses can be quite temperamental. That they've been known to walk off a set, stay in their trailers and refuse to play their roles if they're upset about something. And that The Manor looks just like a certain set we’re very familiar with. And that we would be quite upset if they did anything to Leo."

"You actually spoke to The Elders?" Phoebe asked, surprised.

"Not face to face," Piper said. "But I went up to the attic and said it rather loudly. And they do tend to monitor us some of the time so I knew they'd get the message."

"Good for you," Phoebe said.

"Good for all of us," Prue said.

"Well," Phoebe said, "since we're not off holed up in our trailers, let's see what's in "the set's" kitchen. Now that all of this is over, I could use a nice, relaxing dinner."


"It wasn't your fault," Phoebe said.

She was lying on top of Stuart in bed, her elbows on either side of his chest and her hands propping up her head. The low wattage light from the small night table lamp to the left of the bed partially, and romantically, illuminated their faces.

"That demon put a spell on you," she said. "You couldn't help being attracted to her like that. I understand. And I don't blame you...uh, I'm not upset with you for..." Though Phoebe meant what she was saying, it was still a little hard for her to say the words."...for...what you did...with Zhinovsky."

"I know," Stuart said un-comfortably, feeling the sudden tenseness in Phoebe's body. He hesitated for a few seconds."But...I'm still...embarassed. I felt...that we were part of each other. That we were one. That nothing else mattered except...our being together."

"Maybe I should make up a new spell to put on you to make you feel that way about me," Phoebe said with a smile.

Seeing the smile on Phoebe's face, Stuart felt better, exhaled lightly and relaxed.

"You don't have to put a new spell on me," he said. "I've been under your spell since that afternoon we met in Beverly Hills five weeks ago."

He exhaled.

"Still," he said, "being seduced by Zhinovsky was overwhelming."

"That does it," Phoebe said. "I am putting a spell on you."

"To seduce me?" Stuart asked.

"Exactly," she said. She closed her eyes, thought for a moment, then looked at Stuart and began.

       "You desire to feel me,

               You are helplessly seduced;

         You cannot resist,

              What my spell has induced."

Phoebe looked at Stuart and he looked back at her.

"Well?" she asked.

"Well, what?" he answered.

"What are you feeling?" she asked.

"The same as I felt before you said the spell," he replied.

"Huh," she said. " spell didn't work," she added with a look of disappointment.

"Maybe spells don't work when they don't have to," Stuart said. "Maybe they aren't meant to work when the way things already, naturally are give the same result."

"You mean I'm seducing you?" Phoebe asked, with a smile.

"You bet," he said.

With his right hand behind her, Stuart rolled Phoebe over onto her back. He stretched out his left hand to the night table lamp and, finding the switch, turned off the light.