Charmed: The New Power Of Three
By Julien Gregg
Chapter Ten:
The Firestarter's Gifts

The salty air was exactly the same as it was in Drake's dream. He looked around the beach and found it nearly deserted. No one had seen them shimmer in. He was happy for that. He had Aaron with him, and the guardians were still at Halliwell Manor in Storyville. They'd never think to look for them here. He turned to face Aaron and was saddened by the look in his eyes.

"Drake, we can't do this," said Aaron, taking both of Drake's hands. "They'll find us here, and I can't turn my back on my destiny. So much is riding on being a guardian. It was what let me come back to you in the first place."

"I can't lose you again, Aaron," moaned Drake as he wrapped his arms around him. "It will tear me apart. They can't take you from me again."

"Shh," murmured Aaron, kissing the top of Drake's head. "Everything will work out. I promise you we'll find a way to be together. It might take a little time, but once the guardians realize how much we love each other they'll let us be together."

"What if they don't?" Drake asked, holding him tighter. "Aaron, just stay here with me. We can keep shimmering all over the world to stay away from them."

Aaron didn't reply. He just took Drake by the hand and led him along the beach. He had to make Drake understand that he couldn't leave the guardians. Drake couldn't leave his charmed destiny behind, either. He had no idea what could happen if he abandoned his cousins and set out on the course he was planning to take. Countless innocents would be lost, and evil would win the battle eventually. The charmed ones were the only thing that tipped the scales in good's favor. Drake had to understand that. There had to be a way to make him understand.

"I can't," said Aaron, stopping in his tracks when he realized where he'd been leading Drake. The beach house apartments stood three feet in front of them. It was here that Aaron had died, and police had been involved. Everyone in this city believed that he was dead. Walking in there would only cause more trouble for the guardians to clean up.

"We live here, Aaron . . ."

"No, Drake," said Aaron, pulling him back slightly as Drake tried to pull him forward. "Don't you understand? Everyone in that building saw the coroner take me out of there in a body bag. Drake, I'm supposed to be dead. These people believe that I died when Dax hit me with that energy ball. If we walk in there, they're going to see something they aren't supposed to see, Drake."

He held tight to Drake's hand and orbed into the living room of their apartment. Luckily it was completely empty of people. The furniture was covered with white sheets, and all of the blinds on the windows were closed. Aaron supposed that was done to keep the morbidly curious from looking into the apartment, hoping to catch glimpses of the crime scene. He knew that the local police had no clue what really happened. The investigation had stalled due to lack of forensic evidence. What they had by way of evidence had been erased from existence by the guardians to keep Aaron's destiny cloaked in secrecy.

The bedroom door was open, and Aaron could see the bed where he had slept next to Drake for the year that they'd lived together following the death of Drake's father. It was almost unbearable to be back in the apartment seeing all of their possessions either covered by white sheets or hanging under a blanket of dust. The whole apartment just seemed so empty to Aaron. He could sense that Drake was feeling pretty much the same way.

The place was as dead as the life he'd had before Dax had killed him. He had to find a way to make Drake understand that even here they weren't safe from the watchful eyes of the guardians. He had to make him understand that they had to go back. Drake had to go back to his cousins. Everything depended on the charmed ones remaining whole. If Aaron allowed this to progress in the direction it was heading all could be lost. He didn't want to be part of the cause for the destruction of good.

He watched as Drake went around the apartment taking the sheets off of the furniture and finding clean linens for the bed. He fully expected them to live in the apartment. He believed that they were in the last place the guardians and his cousins would look for him. Aaron smiled a sad smile as he watched. His love was so naive when it came to guardians and white lighters. The guardians would find them sooner than even Aaron thought if they stayed there. The white lighters would always be able to sense Drake and where he was. It was only a matter of time before one being or another orbed into the apartment.

Instead of voicing his thoughts, he let Drake lead him by the hand into the bedroom. He sat down next to Drake on the bed and took him into his arms, inhaling the scent of him and feeling his heart break with the knowledge of how doomed they were if this continued. They lay back on the bed and Aaron cuddled Drake in his arms.

"It was so strange when it happened," he said softly. "There was darkness all around me, and all I could feel was this horrible pain. I knew I was dead, and I didn't understand why I had to feel the pain. It was as if every part of my soul was in agony. When the white light came for me it wasn't exactly what I'd expected.

"There was no long dark tunnel, and there were no doors to the rooms of the past," he continued. "There was only the blinding white light. In its own way it was just as painful as the darkness. I knew that inside that light I would be gone from this life forever, gone from you and the love that we shared. I tried to fight it, but it just kept pulling me inside until it wrapped around me. The pain went away almost instantly, and I nearly forgot everything about my life.

"There were men and women standing on nothing inside that light, and they were each saying soothing things to me. I didn't understand what they were saying at first, but soon a single voice rose above them all. It was a guardian. He told me that I had lived a special life, and now that it was over I was to live an extraordinary after life.

"He told me what it was that I was to become, and the next thing I knew I was orbing into the construction site to try and lift the curse from Sebastian." His voice grew softer with every word until he was silent. He looked into Drake's eyes and finished his story.

"When I saw you everything they'd made me forget came rushing back," he said. "I remembered the pain of my death, the hollow feeling of losing you and all of the sadness that came from knowing that I was dead. I remembered you."

"We're together now," said Drake, pulling Aaron closer to him and holding on tight. "It doesn't matter that you forgot, Aaron. We're together now and you remember."

"I also know that we can't stay here, Drake," said Aaron softly. "They'll come for me no matter where we are. Guardians can sense each other, Drake. Your white lighter can sense you no matter where you are. He'll come. He'll probably bring your cousins with him. Drake you can't turn your back on your destiny. Not for me or anyone else."

* * *

Dax threw fire at Arlissa only to have to duck when the flames rebounded off of the demonic cage she'd summoned him into. She laughed at him and taunted him. He had to get out of there. He was vulnerable inside that invisible cage. He had to get back to the charmed ones.

"Not a demon, but not quite human," cackled Arlissa. "Dax, what is it that allowed me to summon you using a spell to summon a demon? You are no good witch. The blood of countless innocents is on your hands. I can smell the sweet fragrance of the taint of evil all over you."

"My brother and his cousins will come for me," said Dax defiantly. "When they do they'll vanquish your sorry ass. Let me go, Arlissa."

"The charmed ones don't even know that you're gone," she replied flatly. "Your brother isn't even with his cousins at the moment. He's decided to leave his destiny behind and hide from everyone to save his love."

"You're lying," he cried, but he knew she was probably telling him the truth. Drake would do anything to keep Aaron in his life. He'd shimmered to the underworld to find Dax to bring him back from the dead. After that, Dax believed Drake would do anything it took to keep his relationship with Aaron.

"His cousins are probably dead already," mocked Arlissa. "Mordin will have seen to that I'm sure. After all, he went to kill them shortly after I summoned you."

She waived her hand in front of her, and Dax suddenly couldn't move. He didn't understand what kind of power was this? A seer didn't have the power to do anything but look into the future. He looked at her in horror. How had she done it?

"Bringing Ash back from the spirit realm gave me an added bonus," she said as if she had read his mind. For all he knew she actually had.

"My father is gone," he said coldly. "They vanquished him. You can't bring back a vanquished demon."

"Oh, but with the power of an alchemist I can bring back more than just vanquished demons," she said, stepping closer to him. "You have no idea the power I have now, Dax. I'm no longer just a seer. Oh, how fun it was killing the demons to gain their powers . . ."

"The Kin will kill you for this," said Dax, thinking that she had killed members of the faction to steal their powers. He knew three demons in The Kin who could freeze a person like she'd frozen him. It was almost like Damon's power. If she had killed any of the three demons to get this power, The Kin would do more than kill her.

"The Kin won't do anything to me," she snapped. "All of the members of their faction that aren't vanquished are alive and well. Now that Ash is back, and he has me to thank for that, he'll make sure that The Kin is no worry of mine."

Could it really be true? Had she brought Ash back? He couldn't think of what she could possibly gain by lying about it. If Ash was back then Drake and his cousins were in real danger. Maybe she really had sent Mordin to kill them. If he'd killed them, all hope of ever getting free of the underworld was gone. Dax knew that without the power of three he would be Arlissa's prisoner for eternity.

He jerked when he felt her hands on his chest. She was chanting something that he couldn't understand. Being a witch without demonic powers had taken all of his demonic abilities away from him. He couldn't understand the demonic tongue now. He had no idea what kind of ritual she was attempting, but when he looked at her alter, he knew. He had to fight her. He couldn't let her turn him evil again. He couldn't.

"Spirits of air, sand and sea, converge to set the demon free. In the flesh I say this rhyme, bring the demon back to him one more time," she said, and Dax's entire body shook.

It also severed whatever hold she had on him that kept him frozen. He lifted his arms and twisted his body away from her touch. Seconds later he was howling in agony as he felt his entire body convulse. He lifted his hands and let loose the fire inside of him. Arlissa was too close to him to be safe now, and she was engulfed in the flames.

She twisted and screamed, but he reached out and held her in place. He nearly let go of her in shock as he saw his red arms. He knew what she'd done now. He was a demon again. He held her until her body exploded and she was nothing but a pile of ash on the cavern floor. When he brought his hands to his face, he saw the black pointed nails on his fingers. He howled in anger and fear and he felt his body convulse again. His hands were normal human flesh once again.

What was happening to him? He could feel the demon inside of him, but touching himself revealed that he was human again. How could this be? He couldn't be both demon and human at the same time. There hadn't been a demon like that in ages. The last demon to have both a human and demonic form had been vanquished in the days of the female charmed line. Belthazor had almost become the Source, but he'd been vanquished by the female charmed ones. Dax didn't want to be another Belthazor.

There had to be something that could be done to reverse the magic she had done on him. He had to be able to get rid of his demonic self and save his human self from destruction. The answer lie in the power of three. He knew that. If the charmed ones were alive, then perhaps they could help him. Would they help him again, though? Without Xander, could it be done? He had to get out of the cage before he could answer any of those questions. He had to get back to Halliwell Manor. Without thinking, he closed his eyes and shimmered.

* * *

The sound of the shower alerted Aaron that Drake was awake. He looked beside him in the bed and found it empty. With a sigh, he got out of bed and dressed as quietly as possible. Sitting at the same desk he'd been sitting at when the demon had come to kill him, Aaron wrote a letter to Drake to let him know how much he loved him. He tried to explain the reasons behind what he was about to do. He had to make Drake understand that they couldn't just hide from destiny.

He thought back to all of the times they'd shared together. He thought of how they'd just made love and fell asleep in each other's arms. With those thoughts in his mind he finished his letter. He folded it and left it on the desk as he stood to look one last time at the closed bathroom door. Beyond it was the man he loved. Tears ran down his face as he closed his eyes and orbed out of the apartment.

Seconds later, Drake opened the bathroom door. He noticed immediately that Aaron was gone. The bed was made, and his clothes were gone. He saw the letter on the desk and began to cry before he even sat down to read it. Aaron had left him. After all they had talked about and making love, he'd left him. He picked up the folded letter and began to read:

Dear Drake,

Writing this letter is the hardest thing I've ever done, but I have to make you understand. Being a guardian isn't just what I am, Drake. Its who I am. Just like being a charmed one is who you are. We can't turn our backs on our destiny to stay together. Guardians will come for me no matter what we do, and I don't want them to obliterate your memory of me or mine of you. Please understand that it has to be this way to keep our memories in tact. I don't want to be forced to forget you. I love you with all of my soul and I always will.

Go back to your cousins, Drake. Fulfill your destiny as a charmed one. Fight evil with every breath in you. It was what you were born for, and you can't turn your back on that. You need your cousins just as much as they need you. Through them you will come to terms with this. I promise you that this isn't the end. We'll find a way some day, but now is not that time.

I'll be gone when you read this, and you won't be able to follow me. The only place left for you to go is back to the manor. Drake, please follow the path you were born to take. I promise that it will lead you to a full life of happiness. I can't promise that the road will be smooth, but I can promise you that the end result will be glorious.

I don't expect you to wait for me, Drake. If you find someone that you fall in love with don't think of what I would say about it. You have my blessing to live your life to the fullest. That means finding someone to share it with. Drake, know that it hurts me to say this, but you have to go on with your life without me. My love for you is immortal, and I will always be watching over you.

With all my love,

Tears ran down his face as he read the words of goodbye from the love of his life. There had to be a way for them to be together and still follow their destiny. He couldn't live his life without Aaron in it. There had to be a way. He refolded the letter and put it back on the desk while he got dressed. He tried to put everything in the apartment back the way they'd found it when they arrived. The water in the shower would have to stay there, but he was sure it would evaporate before anyone came into the apartment again. He took the letter and put it in his pocket before shimmering out of the apartment.

He shimmered into the sun room of the manor, and Dax shimmered in right in front of him. The two brothers stood looking at each other for a moment without speaking. Drake was fighting with himself over the implications of what had just happened. Dax had shimmered.

"Where were you? I was looking for you everywhere," said Dax, trying hard to sound normal. He knew he couldn't tell them that he was a demon again. They wouldn't be able to help him without Xander. Damon would try to vanquish him, and he didn't want to die. He didn't want his brother to hate him, either.

"How did you . . ."

"Drake, I can shimmer for the same reason that you can," said Dax. "I only found out this morning when I went off to look for you."

Drake eyes his brother carefully. He supposed it could be true. After all, he could shimmer because he had demon blood running through his veins. Vanquishing the demon in Dax didn't necessarily mean that they'd rid him of his demonic genes. He wanted to believe it. The alternative was something he didn't even want to contemplate.

"Why were you looking for me?" Drake asked finally.

"I wanted to know if we could summon Mother again," replied Dax, surprised at how easily the lies ran off his tongue. "I want to ask her something."

"There you are," said Damon, coming in to the sun room. "Where did you go?"

Drake turned to face his cousin and thought again about shimmering back to Hawaii and making good on his threat to leave Storyville behind if he couldn't have Aaron. He knew it was selfish. He knew that it would probably be suicide to leave them. In the end he would just have to come back to them anyway.

"I shimmered us back to our apartment in Hawaii," he replied. "I was going to keep shimmering us all over the world to hide from the guardians if I had to, but Aaron left while I was in the shower. He left me a note that said for me to go on with my life."

Dax slipped away from them while Drake told Damon about the letter that Aaron had written. He had to think. How was he going to keep this secret? He thought about that all the way up to Drake's room. He was still thinking about it when he walked into the room and stood in front of the bed. He turned to look at himself in the mirror and was horrified as he watched himself reflected in the mirror. He slowly morphed into his demonic form.

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