Disclaimer: Phoebe, her sisters, and the concept of Charmed are not mine. They belong to Constance M. Burge, Brad Kern, and Spelling Entertainment. Robert, however, is mine.
Author's Note: Merry Christmas, Jen!
Author's Note: Merry Christmas, Jen!
Phoebe Halliwell stopped in front of the door and took a deep breath. What was she doing? In all the time she had been a columnist, she had never agreed to speak to a high school journalism class. Normally, the teacher’s call would have never reached her desk. However, something had forced her to take it, and something in Mr. Waters’s voice influenced her into coming. Swallowing her nerves, she reached out and knocked on the door.
Within a few seconds, the door opened, and a pimply-faced teenager let her inside. She smiled as she surveyed the classroom. Unlike a traditional room, the desks sat in a U-shape with the teacher’s desk behind them. The U faced the chalkboard, which was situated at the front of the room. As her eyes swept over the faces sitting in the desks, she realized that none of them were old enough to be the teacher.
Just as she was about to pose her question, a door at the back of the room opened. A tall man entered, his face obscured by the boxes he carried.
“Here are the latest editions, hot off the presses,” he announced as he made his way to the desk. He set down the boxes and looked towards the front of the room, staring at Phoebe with the greenest pair of eyes she had ever seen. He wasted no time in crossing the room, meeting her at the front. He smiled as he held out his hand. “Ms. Halliwell, I’m so glad you could make it.”
Phoebe froze, her heart pounding a mile a minute. He was a handsome guy, with brown hair to match the green eyes. However, it wasn’t the eyes that surprised her; it was the smile. He had Melinda’s smile. After seeing her future daughter in a recent vision, she had memorized every inch of her. While Melinda would have Phoebe’s dark hair and eyes, it was obvious she would have someone else’s smile. The smile that she was currently seeing.
“Ms. Halliwell? Is everything all right?” he asked, concerned.
“Of course,” Phoebe answered, flashing a smile of her own. “You must be Mr. Waters,” she said, reaching out to take his hand.
The vision hit her the minute they touched. Mr. Waters knelt on the floor, his face contorted in pain, screaming. A scaly hand clutched his chest, draining the life completely out of him. The hand belonged to a female, who had dark hair and blue scaly skin. The two were in a room that Phoebe didn’t recognize.
When the vision cleared, Phoebe found herself staring into Mr. Waters’s green eyes, which were etched with concern.
“Ms. Halliwell, why don’t you come over here and sit down,” he said as he led her to the chair behind his desk. As she sat down, he immediately turned to a girl in the front row. “Clara, go and get a cup of water from the cafeteria.” He focused on another student. “John, get the nurse.”
As Clara and John both stood up, Phoebe waved them off. “No, I’m fine. Really. Just give me a few minutes.” The teenagers glanced at their teacher, and then left the room, ignoring Phoebe’s statement.
A subtle noise swept over the room as the students began to talk to each other. With her empathy kicking in, Phoebe could feel their confusion and fear. None of it was as thick as her own, though. She had to get home and find that creature in the Book of Shadows. The man sitting next to her was not only Melinda’s future father, but he was an innocent that needed to be protected.
When she attempted to stand up, Mr. Waters pushed her back down in the chair. “I’ve never seen anyone jerk and go that pale before. I thought you were going to pass out,” he admitted as he crouched down beside her.
“I’m sorry if I scared you, Mr. Waters.”
He smiled that glorious smile again. “Call me Robert. Mr. Waters is too formal.”
“All right, Robert.” Phoebe returned the smile. “Call me Phoebe.”
The look of concern returned to his eyes. “Do you feel well enough to talk to the class today or should we try again another day?”
“Well, we might have to try again later. I should get home.” She attempted to stand again, but Robert wouldn’t let her.
“You should wait for the nurse.”
“I’ll be fine. I just didn’t eat very much.” Her brown eyes locked on his. “But if you’d like to meet for dinner tonight, we can discuss a day when I can come back.”
Robert’s brows shot up. “Okay. But you have to promise to at least let the nurse have a look at you.”
Phoebe sighed, knowing that the nurse wouldn’t find a thing wrong with her. However, she agreed to stay. The longer she could keep Robert in her sight, the longer he would stay alive. She could tell her sisters and research the demon afterwards.
* * * *
“So, let me get this straight. You believe this guy is your future child’s father, yet his life is in danger?” Piper Halliwell narrowed her dark eyes, trying to work though all the information her younger sister had given her. “You’ve lost me.”
Phoebe shook her head as she flipped though the book. “Never mind the details. All that matters is that we find this crusty monster and stop her before she kills him.”
“Were scales the only distinguishing marks?” Paige Matthews asked as she peered over Phoebe’s shoulder.
“That, and they had a blue tint.”
Piper crossed the room and peered over Phoebe’s other shoulder. “A blue scaly monster. I just love it when your premonitions give us details, Pheebs.”
The sisters went quiet as they continued to pour over the yellowed pages. Monsters, demons, and other magical beings stared at them from the book, but none of them seemed to match the one in Phoebe’s vision. Phoebe was about to give up hope when she turned the page and recognized the demon face glaring back at her.
“This is her!” she cried.
Paige peered at the description. “A Mothuchan demon,” she read. “It says, ‘she kills her victims by sucking their emotions out of them, rendering them an empty shell.’ Sounds creepy.”
“This can’t be right,” Phoebe shook her head as she pointed to the middle of the description. “It says she only preys on empaths and future empaths because emotions are linked to their souls.” She looked at Piper. “Why would she be after Robert?”
“You only saw a moment in time, Phoebe. Maybe it’s you she’s after. I mean, you’re an empath as well as a witch. Maybe by associating yourself with Robert, you put him in harm’s way,” Piper suggested.
Phoebe felt her heart sink into her stomach. “Are you saying my vision could’ve been a warning? That if I don’t see him again, he might be safe?”
“Yeah,” Piper replied.
Phoebe bit her bottom lip as she crossed the attic floor and sat down on the couch. All of a sudden, her brief moment of happiness seemed to vanish. Just when she felt that she was closer to Melinda, to her beautiful future, it appeared to slip through her grasp. She felt two pairs of arms wrap around her, and she knew her sisters were there for her.
After a minute or two, Paige broke the silence. “So, are empaths witches?” she asked.
Phoebe and Piper exchanged a look. “That’s right. We haven’t dealt with an empath since Prue. You wouldn’t know about them,” Phoebe observed.
“No,” Paige shook her head.
Piper straightened up. “Well, as I remember it, empaths are kind of like whitelighters. They’re humans that fulfill a destiny after they die.”
“That’s right. In life, they have the ability to feel other’s emotions, and some of them can learn to harness that ability. When they become a full empath they blend in by taking jobs as doctors, nurses, preachers, and…” Phoebe’s eyes grew wide with realization, “…teachers.”
“Isn’t that what Robert is? A teacher?” Paige asked.
“You don’t think?” Phoebe sprang from the couch and ran to the book. She reread the entry on the Mothuchan demon, looking at her sisters when she finished. “If he is an empath and the demon is after him, the only way I can protect him is to be around him.”
“And if the demon is after you?” Piper asked.
“Then we should be ready for both situations.”
A grin spread across Paige’s face. “Looks like you’ve got a dinner date to keep tonight.”
Phoebe returned her sister’s smile. “Exactly. And I’m going to be armed with my cell phone and this Power of Three spell.”
* * * *
Robert tapped his fingers on the steering wheel as he neared the restaurant. He hadn’t been on a date in years, and a woman as beautiful as Phoebe Halliwell made him nervous. In fact, he still wasn’t sure why he had agreed to meet her. Maybe he was swept up in her emotions and just couldn’t resist. It had happened to him before.
‘No, that couldn’t be it,’ he thought. He had always thought she was beautiful, from the first time he saw her picture in The Bay Mirror . No, all the emotions were his own this time, and he wasn’t about to resist.
Pulling into a parking space, he peered up at the Italian restaurant looming before him. ‘It’s not too late,’ he told himself. ‘You can still turn around.’ Then he saw her walking to the door. No, there was no turning back now.
Phoebe smiled at him the minute he reached their table. Her color had come back, and she looked completely healthy. Absolutely gorgeous, in fact. She gestured to the chair in front of her, and Robert sat down.
They made small talk about the weather and the food. Robert even spoke about his students and how much he loved his job. He wasn’t sure what it was about Phoebe, but she was extremely easy to talk to. He was in the middle of telling a story about a student who everybody thought was a bad kid when Phoebe asked a question that always made him squirm.
“How long have you been a teacher?” she asked.
Robert shifted in his seat. “A while now.”
Her eyebrows lifted. “Ooh, Mr. Mysterious. I can appreciate that.”
Thankfully, she didn’t pursue his answer, but an uncomfortable silence settled over the table. As Robert dived into his plate of spaghetti, an overwhelming feeling of joy swept over him. It wasn’t his, that he knew for sure. He set his fork down and searched the room. Several people were smiling and enjoying their meal, but the feeling wasn’t coming from any of them. His eyes finally landed on his date and realized that it was coming from her.
Phoebe leaned in conspiratorially. “You felt that, didn’t you?” she whispered.
“I…I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Robert desperately tried to appear interested in his spaghetti.
That’s when another strong emotion hit him, this one full of desire. It was so strong that he dropped the fork, reached across the table, and pulled Phoebe into a deep kiss. He was caught up in the emotion and almost forgot they were in public as his hands moved from her shoulder down to her breast. Phoebe immediately broke the kiss, and the emotion weakened.
“You certainly felt that,” she laughed.
He narrowed his eyes. “How did you do that?”
She shrugged and said softly. “When you’re both an empath and a witch, you pick up a few tricks.” She waved the waiter over, her attention still on Robert. “You and I need to talk, and I wouldn’t mind finishing that kiss.”
* * * *
Phoebe allowed Robert to take her to his place. She could feel his annoyance rather strongly, and she knew he was making sure she could feel it. Once inside his house, he led her to the living room and went to his kitchen for a drink.
She froze the minute she saw his living room. It was familiar, from the dark bookshelves to the plush couch to the large windows. This was where he would be attacked, she was sure of it. Carefully, she sat down on the couch, but she refused to relax. She unzipped her pocketbook, poised to grab her phone just in case.
“Do you want anything?” Robert called from the kitchen.
“No, thank you.”
Within a few minutes, he appeared in the living room and sat down across from her on the couch. He gave her a piercing stare.
“How did you know?” he demanded.
“My premonition,” Phoebe answered. There was no point in lying to him.
She nodded. “I’m a witch, Robert. A Charmed One. Yesterday, when I shook your hand, I had a vision of you being attacked by a demon.” She told him about the Book of Shadows and all of the information she had about the Mothuchan demon.
When she finished, Robert stood up and began to pace. “Empaths aren’t supposed to deal with demons, that’s what they told me when I became one.”
“So, you’re a full Empath?”
He stopped pacing and gave her a half smile, “Your first time dating a dead guy?”
“No, just my first time not dating a demon,” she grinned. “So, when did it happen?”
Robert took a sip of his drink and sat down. “Not long ago,” he admitted. “Only about twenty years or so.”
“No wonder you avoid the ‘how long you’ve been teaching’ question. Most teachers don’t teach for what -- forty years – while still looking like they’re in their early thirties.”
“True,” he nodded. He peered out the window behind him. “I died protecting a kid from a school shooting so it was easy choosing the profession.” He met her eyes again. “Before, I could always kind of tell how others were feeling, but from that moment on, it was full-blown. Took me a while to adjust.”
“Same here,” Phoebe admitted. “I’m still very much alive, but empathy is one of my powers.”
“Interesting,” he smiled.
He leaned forward, ready to say something else, when the window between them shattered into a million pieces. Phoebe grabbed Robert’s hand, and they flew over the coffee table, landing hard on the carpeted floor. She looked up to see the Mothuchan demon standing on the windowsill.
She was a large demon, covered completely in blue, scaly skin, with long black hair. Her hands curved into claws, the fingernails as long and sharp as knives. She peered at her prey with black eyes.
“Empaths,” she hissed.
“Run!” Phoebe jumped to her feet, pulling Robert behind her. She ran through the first door she saw and straight into the kitchen. Glancing behind her, she saw the demon gliding towards them.
“Empaths,” the demon hissed again.
“Doesn’t have a big vocabulary, does she?” Robert observed. He grabbed Phoebe’s hand, and they raced towards the back door.
“Wait!” Phoebe’s eyes grew wide the minute she realized her pocketbook was still in the living room. She whirled around to see the demon entering the kitchen. She grabbed the cordless phone off its hook and dialed as she ran.
“Hello?” To her relief it was Paige.
“Grab Piper and get over here now!” Phoebe ordered. She and Robert spilled out into the backyard, the demon still hot on their heels.
Within a few seconds, blue lights swirled around in front of them and formed into Paige and Piper.
“Not a problem,” Paige chirped.
“How did you…?” Robert began, but Phoebe cut him off as she clicked off the phone and dropped it to the ground.
“No time!” She pulled the spell from her pocket, relieved she’d had the foresight not to put it into her purse.
The three sisters turned to face the demon, planting themselves between her and Robert. She was right on top of them, ready to pounce on Phoebe. Together, they recited the spell. When the last word died in the night air, the wind picked up and swirled around the demon. It circled faster and faster as the Mothuchan demon screamed in agony. She then exploded and was gone.
The wind settled down, and Phoebe took a deep breath. She turned to Robert, who stood as still as a statue, his mouth hanging wide open. She reached out and took his hand.
“Are you all right?” she questioned.
He blinked, finally realizing she was standing there. “Wow. Just…wow.”
“Robert?” she tried again.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m okay, just a little shell-shocked. Never been hit with that kind of determination before.” He walked over to the spot where the demon had been. “Is she gone?”
“For good,” Phoebe reassured him.
“Works every time,” Paige grinned, causing Robert to look at them for the first time. She waved at him. “Hi, I’m Paige, and this is Piper. We’re Phoebe’s sisters.”
“And we’re on our way home,” Piper added. “Paige, anytime you’re ready.”
“But, we just got here.”
“Paige,” Piper warned.
With a resigned sigh, Paige and Piper disappeared in a swirl of blue lights.
Phoebe started towards the door. “I’d better go, too. I think you should be safe now.” As she passed him, Robert took her hand in his.
“Didn’t you mention something about finishing a kiss?” he asked as he maneuvered her into his arms.
“Are you sure? I mean, demons like that attack me all the time.”
He touched his forehead to hers. “I’ve never been able to be completely honest with a woman before. I’ll take my chances.” With that, his lips touched hers, leaving her weak in the knees.