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[personal profile] sara_wolf
Title: My Heart Nearer to Thee
Rating: PG
Warnings: character death
Summary: When Phoebe's husband and son are abducted to a dangerous alternate universe, the sisters must travel across reality to save them.

*****

"I found this spell on one of my perusals of the Book," Paige explained, as they walked upstairs to the attic, "I don't even think we need to adapt it; with the right intent, it should bring us straight to Cole and your son."

The pages of the Book were already flipping by themselves as they entered the attic, and Piper shot Phoebe an encouraging grin.

"See?" she told her. "Even Prue wants you to get Cole back."

"To find a lost love," Phoebe read, looking at the entry that the Book was lying open to. "Paige, are you sure this spell is going to work?"

"I've done nothing for the past five months but immerse myself completely in magic, and I'm like a walking Wiccan encyclopedia," Paige told her, dryly. "Trust me; this is the spell we need."

"Well, okay, then," Phoebe said. Looking at her sisters, she asked, "What are we waiting for? Let's go."

"Wait a minute," Piper said. "Let's take a minute, figure out what we're getting into." When Phoebe glared at her, Piper held up a hand and stopped her before she could say anything. "Look, I want to rescue Cole and Josh just as much as you do. But, we aren't going to do either of them any good if we charge in there without any information and get ourselves killed."

"Piper's right, Pheebs," Paige said, gently. "We need to know what we're up against. I mean, you said that your alternate self was evil. Well, are we talking warlock, Fury, or like a really bad case of PMS?"

"Try Queen of the Underworld," Phoebe told them, nodding grimly at the dismayed looks on her sisters' faces. "Yeah, and she was ordering around demons, too. I think, maybe, in that world I stayed the Source's Queen."

"Except that would mean that Cole was still the Source," Paige reminded her, "and you said that he'd been killed. Was there anything extraordinary about the demons who were attacking him?"

"No," Phoebe answered. "They were just common, hive-mind demons. They were hunting in a pack, so I doubt they were Upper-Level demons."

"Okay, how does the Source of all Evil get taken out by a pack of bottom feeders?" Paige asked, confused.

"Maybe he'd been hurt in an earlier attack," Piper pointed out. "Phoebe, what else did you see? Were Paige and I there?"

"Everything happened so fast," Phoebe replied, sounding frustrated. "I didn't have time to see anything; I was just trying to protect-"

"Your son," Paige finished for her, when Phoebe broke off with a choked sob. "We're going to get them back, Phoebe. I swear."

"I know," Phoebe said, shakily. "I just – I'm scared. They're my family."

"They're our family, too," Piper told her. Turning to Paige, she asked, "Did you and your super-witch kick happen to stock up the potions supply?"

Paige nodded. "We've got some standard explosives, stunners, and a couple flash bangs."

"What's a flash bang?" Phoebe asked.

"Blinds anyone in the vicinity for up to ten seconds," Paige explained. She orbed down to the kitchen, stuffed the potions they needed in a small, mesh bag, and orbed back up to the attic. "I want a bag of holding," she informed her sisters, firmly. "Maybe we could take a battleaxe or two."

"Yeah," Piper snorted. "You figure out a spell that doesn't invoke the personal gain clause, and I'll get all over it."

"Don't think I won't," Paige muttered under her breath, slinging the bag securely on her shoulders.

"All right," Phoebe interrupted them, impatiently. "Are we ready? Can we go?"

"In a minute," Piper said. "So, are we assuming that Phoebe's alternate self stayed the Source's queen, and that Paige's and my alternate selves are still fighting to free her?"

"Given what little I saw," Phoebe replied, "it's a fair assumption."

"All right," Piper said, "then I think we should aim for the attic with our spell. With any luck, Paige and I still have control of the Manor, and it'll be easier to reason with our alternate selves than with Phoebe's." To Paige, she added, "This spell of yours, is it going to bring us to the other universe physically, or by astral projection?"

"Could be either," Paige admitted, running through the spell in her mind. "The original intent was for astral projection, and it could still work out that way, no matter what our intent."

Piper nodded. "Leo!" she called out, and a bright swirl of orbs heralded her husband's arrival. Piper quickly summarized what was going on, ending with, "So, if we astral project out, we need you to keep an eye on our bodies, but if we're physically gone, then I need you to open up the club, tonight."

"And call Elise and tell her that I'm sick," Phoebe added, hastily. "I can't afford to lose my job, not with a husband and son to support."

"P3 and the paper," Leo said, "Got it. Paige, anything?"

"Just the usual," Paige told him, with a sad smile, and Leo nodded.

After they'd vanquished the Source the first time, and she'd seen how upset her goodbye voicemail had left Henry, Paige had sat down and written him a long letter, just in case the worst happened and she didn't have time to talk to him in person. Leo knew where the letter was hidden, and he'd agreed to give it to Henry if there came a time that she didn't come back from a fight. Paige sincerely hoped that she never had to use it.

"Let's go," Piper said, pulling her out of her thoughts, and the three of them crowded around the Book, holding hands so as not to be separated.

"Wither my love,
Wherever they be,
Through time and space,
Bring my heart nearer to thee."


The attic filled with light, obscuring their vision, and Paige squeezed her sisters' hands tighter. The light grew to a crescendo, and when it vanished, they'd disappeared from the attic.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Josh stared in horror at his-mom-who-wasn't-his-mom. The woman with the dark hair and the blood-red lips was staring at him like he was a speck of dirt under her boots, and Josh fought the urge to cringe away from the woman's icy gaze. When he'd told his mom that he knew what evil felt like, he thought he'd been telling the truth. But, what he remembered as evil was nothing compared to the dark, yawning pit of the woman's soul.

'Mom, Dad, where are you?' he thought, more scared than he ever remembered being, before in his life. 'Help me, I need you.'

"No one's going to help you, little boy," the woman said, suddenly, her voice harsh, and Josh shivered at the realization that she'd read his mind.

"I don't understand why you took the little brat in the first place," a new voice said, in a bored tone, and Josh looked away from the first woman to see another, with long dark hair, watching him with a disinterested air. "What are you even going to do with him?"

"Torture him," the first woman said, with a shrug. "I only took the brat in the first place because his parents killed Cole."

"And that might actually mean something," the second woman said, "if Cole hadn't left you six months ago."

"Cole is mine," the first woman growled, her eyes flashing dangerously. "No one gets to take him away from me, especially not some do-gooder doppelgangers. But, since they did, I'm going to take what they care about," she added, glancing dismissively over at Josh, who was still cowering in the corner of the dark cavern. "I'd still have his mother, as well, if your idiot guards could do their job." The last was said in a snarled tone that had Josh pressing even further into the stone behind him.

A pair of demons lurking in the doorway cringed at the way her voice rose in anger, both of the clearly expecting to be vanquished any second. Josh knew how they felt; he was still expecting to see a fireball to come winging his way at any moment.

"My Lady," one of the cringing demons stammered, nervously, not daring to meet her fierce gaze. "Seer, we don't – the witch just disappeared-"

"Yes, yes," the Seer sneered, waving her hand at the demons. "Spare me your pathetic excuses, and be grateful that I am sparing your lives."

"Thank you, Seer," both demons said, quickly, talking over each other in their haste to be heard, and the second woman snorted in derision.

"Out, both of you," she ordered, sharply. "I'll call you when you're needed, again."

"My liege," the first demon said, respectfully, as both of them bowed low to the women and quickly left the cavern.

"You," the second woman said, looking over at the first, "are obsessed with Cole."

"You're hardly one to talk," the Seer said, a lofty tone in her voice. "Who was it took over the Underworld and became the new Source just because she got into a snit?"

"We were betrayed," the Source snarled, softly, her hands clenching into tight fists. "We gave her life, gave her a second chance, and she turned on us. And I am going to hunt her down and make her pay for it!" Her voice rang through the cavern, the small space falling into silence after she'd finished.

"You're all heart," the Seer said, dryly.

"Back to my original question," the Source drawled, "now that you've got the boy, what are you going to do with him?"

"You have an idea?" the Seer asked, and Josh swallowed nervously as the Source looked over at him, her cold eyes raking over him, quickly.

"Kill the boy and dump his body somewhere his parents are going to find him," she suggested, nonchalantly. "If these people really are alternate versions of you and Cole, seeing their son's dead body will kill them. It would have you, once upon a time."

The Seer actually growled at the Source, and Josh caught a flash of fury, bright and hot, from the woman. At the brief psychic burst from the woman, he cautiously pressed further into her mind, catching flickers of a trio of women smiling and laughing, of a too-still body lying in a coffin, of tears, and blood, and grief-

Josh tore himself out of the Seer's mind before she could catch him snooping. He was in enough trouble as it was; the last thing he needed was for her to find him poking around in her memories. Especially with her humanity burning at her like it was.

He looked up to see the Seer glaring furiously at the Source, her hands practically shaking, and then she flamed out of the cavern without a word. The Source laughed, a cold, hollow sound, and then she looked down at Josh.

"I guess killing you is going to be a last option," she informed him. "Your lucky day, boy."

Then, she turned and strode out of the cavern, barking a sharp word at the demons hovering outside the entrance. Josh felt his heart sink as the demons jumped to cover the entrance, effectively blocking any chance he might have had for an escape. He curled up against the wall, dragging his knees up against his chest and staring forlornly at the corridor beyond the demons.

'Mom,' he thought, fighting the urge to burst into tears, 'please help me.'

Continued here

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