“THE POWER OF ONE”
RATING: PG-13 Adult language and mild violence.
SUMMARY: A Vodoun sorceress develops an interest in Wyatt’s powers and becomes his new nanny. Set three weeks after “An Afternoon in Babysitting”. AU S6.
FEEDBACK: – Be my guest. But please, be kind.
DISCLAIMER: The Charmed Ones, Leo Wyatt, Wyatt Halliwell and Cole Turner belong to Constance Burge, Brad Kern and Spelling Productions. The McNeills, Cecile Dubois and Andre Morrell, are thankfully, my creations.
“THE POWER OF ONE”
Piper Halliwell examined last month’s profit sheet one last time and shook her head in despair. “Oh my God! I can’t believe this! I just can’t . . .”
“What’s wrong?” Paige asked. The Charmed Ones sat inside the manor’s Solarium, as they watched television. Actually, Paige and Phoebe watched TV, while Piper focused her attention upon her nightclub’s profit sheets.
Heaving a sigh, Piper continued, “Last month’s profits for P3. They’re . . . Oh my God! Has it really gotten this bad?”
Phoebe glanced away from the TV screen and frowned. “Profits are down?” She continued to gently rock Wyatt, who was fast asleep in her arms.
“That’s the understatement of the year,” Piper muttered. “They’ve been down before. But not like this. By at least twenty-five to thirty percent. I guess I’ve just been too busy with Wyatt.”
The middle Charmed One continued to rock her nephew. “So, what are you going to do about it?”
Her eyes still glued to P3’s account book, Piper answered, “Well, I’m going to fire Everett for starters. He had really let things slide. What in the hell had he been doing . . .?” She broke off with a sigh. “Looks like I’ll have to fix this. At least until I can get a new manager.”
“And Paige and I will take care of Wyatt, while you deal with P3,” Phoebe added, before planting a light kiss on the baby’s forehead.
One of Piper’s brows formed a dubious arch. “During the daytime, as well? While you two are working? And what about when you two are out on dates?”
“Get Leo to baby sit,” Paige declared. “I’m sure that he won’t mind.”
The mention of her soon-to-be former husband brought a grimace on Piper’s lips. “Well that sounds great. I’m sure that Leo had abandoned his family, so that he could baby sit Wyatt, in between Council meetings.”
Paige shrugged her shoulders. “I’m sure that Leo won’t be stuck in Council meetings forever. On the other hand, you can always consider hiring a new nanny or an au pair for Wyatt. Didn’t you once consider hiring one before he was born?”
Piper stared thoughtfully at her youngest sister. “You know, that’s not a bad idea. Except . . . how do we find someone willing or capable of dealing with a magically powerful baby? Or deal with demons or warlocks like those two who had tried to snatch Wyatt a few weeks ago? I’d consider rehiring that Elf Nanny, but you saw how she had reacted, after the last attack.” Two warlocks had recently appeared at the manor, disguised as employees from the city’s Publics Works Department, and tried to kidnap Wyatt. Without any help from the Charmed Ones, Piper’s infant son managed to stop the warlocks all on his own.
“Try placing an ad at some local occult shop,” Paige suggested. “I’m sure that Barbara might know which shops you can do that. Or maybe Chris or Leo can ask around in the Whitelighter Realm. Or, you can place an ad in one of the local Wiccan newsletters or newspapers.”
Impressed and a little surprised by her sister’s suggestions, Piper stared at Paige. “Wow! You sure got it all figured out, don’t you?”
“Just remembering some ideas I had the last time you thought about hiring a nanny.” Paige’s gaze returned to the TV screen. “Oh. By the way guys, don’t forget that we’ve been invited to dinner at the McNeills, one week from tonight.”
Phoebe frowned. “Why?”
“Cecile and Andre are coming to San Francisco,” the youngest Charmed One continued. “They’ll be here for at least a week or two.”
Now, it was Piper’s turn to frown. “Who?”
“Hel-lo? Cecile Dubois? Olivia’s friend? And her boyfriend, Andre Morrell? Who’s also Cole’s friend? Remember them?”
“Oh. Yeah.” Now Piper remembered. Olivia and Cole’s Vodoun friends. To be honest, she had forgotten about the dinner invitation. Concern over P3’s profits have occupied Piper’s mind during the past several days. And now, she has a new nanny for Wyatt to think about. Speaking of a new nanny . . . “Uh Paige, could you do me a favor and ask Barbara, Olivia or Harry about where I can place an ad for a nanny?”
Paige reassured the older woman that she would do as the latter asked. Satisfied, Piper returned her attention to P3’s account book.
Located near the northwest corner of Fredrick and Cole, the Red Pyramid happened to be a popular coffeehouse that also served as an occult shop for past 30 years. Not only did students of the occult frequent the place, but it also counted many of the city’s magic practitioners as regular customers. One of the Red Pyramid’s regular customers happened to be a bokor – or a sorceress named Daley Baker.
A native of nearby Oakland, Daley’s family had emigrated from Alabama to California, back in the mid-1930s to seek financial security during the Depression. At the age of thirteen, Daley had discovered that she possessed a psychic ability – namely, thermo kinesis. And even more importantly, a talent for sorcerery. Her grandmother suggested that she study under an old Vodoun priestess from Baton Rouge, which she did for several years. Although Daley’s skills in magic eventually developed, the spiritual aspect of Vodoun only eluded her. Quite frankly, she never had the desire to use her skills to help others. Only herself.
On one particular afternoon in late October, Daley dropped by the Red Pyramid to purchase some figure candles for her altar and gris-gris bags. She had tried the Botanica Yoruba on Valencia, but that particular shop did not have what she needed. While searching for her items, she overheard two voices from the other side of the one of the store’s shelves.
“. . . is dead,” a female’s voice said. “Can you believe it? Killed by a child.”
Her ears perked with curiosity, Daley held her breath. The woman’s companion replied, “Well, what did you expect? The boy is a child of one of the Charmed Ones.”
The Charmed what? Confused, Daley shook her head. What the hell was a Charmed One?
The woman exclaimed in a soft hiss, “A child of one of the Charmed Ones? You mean the Halliwells? The witches who had vanquished the Source and God know how many other daemons and warlocks? You mean to say . . .?”
“Yes!” the man retorted in exasperation. “I’m saying that the baby is a child of the oldest Charmed One, and her whitelighter. Well, former whitelighter. No one knows what happened to him. As for the child, I hear that he’s extremely powerful. Probably the most powerful magical entity around.”
Daley’s brows rose several millimeters toward her hairline. Hmm, how very interesting.
The man continued, “Which is why Sidney and Dominick didn’t have a chance, when they tried to snatch him.”
“Because of this child?” the woman demanded.
“They wanted the baby’s powers. Who wouldn’t?”
The woman replied, “Not me.” Daley found her answer hard to believe.
Apparently, so did the woman’s companion. “Oh please! Are you serious? You mean to say that you would pass up the chance to acquire all of that power?”
“Yes,” the woman replied. “I’m saying . . . yes, I would. Look Michael, I’m very satisfied with what I am right now. I don’t need the extra powers. Nor do I want it or have to deal with everyone else trying to steal them from me. Personally, I think that Dominick and Sidney were fools to go after that child. They would still be alive if they hadn’t.”
The man conceded, “You’ve got a point. Still . . . could you imagine yourself with all of that power? Frankly, I rather like the idea.”
So would I, Daley silently added. Maybe she should contact Marc Beaudine from Oakland . . . and hire him to search for more information on these Charmed Ones. And the baby.
The two men and the woman materialized in the middle of Cole’s penthouse. “Here we are,” the half-daemon declared. “Home sweet home.” He had just teleported Cecile Dubois and Andre Morell from the former’s New Orleans house. “At least, while you’re here in town.”
Cecile glanced around. “Both of us are staying here?”
“No. You’ll be staying at Olivia’s apartment, as usual. In fact,” Cole glanced at his wristwatch, “she should be home in another twenty minutes or so.”
The Vodoun priestess said in a voice that struck Cole as slightly cool, “Could you send me there, anyway? I’m sure that Livy won’t mind.”
Andre stared at his girlfriend. “What’s the big hurry? Frankly, I could use a drink, after all that traveling.”
“Traveling that took us a few seconds,” Cecile retorted. “Besides, I want to get unpacked. Get everything ready for tomorrow’s presentation.” Her dark eyes penetrated Cole’s. “Do you mind?”
With a shrug, the half-daemon waved his hand and sent the priestess and her luggage to Olivia’s apartment. Once Cecile had disappeared, he frowned at Andre. “Is there something wrong with Cecile? She seemed a little . . . I don’t know . . . withdrawn.”
“I think she’s worried about the presentation,” Andre replied, as he sat down in a nearby chair. “Ever since she had approached Olivia’s dad about selling her new computer software program to his company, she’s been . . . well, a little on edge. Anxious.”
Cole went over to the liquor cabinet to prepare a drink for himself and Andre. “Anxious? Hmmm, she seemed more . . . distant to me. Cold. Not anxious.”
“Well, she’s been pretty moody lately. Ever since she began this little project.” Cole handed Andre a glass of whiskey and soda. “Thanks.”
The half-daemon poured himself a glass of bourbon. “I know why Cecile is here – considering I’ll be acting as her legal representative. But what about you? What are you doing here?”
“Didn’t Olivia tell you?” Andre asked. “It’s about her new shop. The one that used to be owned by that guy who ended up killed. She wants me to do a little appraising for her.”
Taking a sip of bourbon, Cole replied, “But Olivia already had that shop appraised. Before it officially became hers.”
A knowing smile appeared on Andre’s lips. “I’m talking about certain . . . items in the shop. Of the supernatural variety. It seemed this Stefan Kostopulos or Whatever, was quite the collector. You mean to say that Olivia didn’t tell you all of this?”
Cole sighed. “She probably did. But I’ve been so busy lately with Cecile . . . becoming her new attorney and helping her set up this deal with Jack McNeill that I must have forgotten.” As he took another sip of bourbon, he noticed Andre staring at something. “What is it?” he asked.
“What’s that?” Andre pointed at a small, folded newspaper on the coffee table.
Cole replied, “Some newspaper or newsletter for local Wiccans. Olivia must have left it.”
Andre placed his drink on the coffee table and snatched up the newspaper. “Hmmm. A friend of mine operates a newsletter at home for Vodoun practioners. But this seems more like a newspaper. The LUNAR VOICE.” He opened the paper and read. “Not bad, he said before turning to another page. “It even has want ads and job positions. I’ve got to tell Bobby about all . . .” Andre broke off, as his eyes narrowed into slits. “What the hell? Say, what’s the name of your ex-wife? Piper or something, right?”
Cole stared at his friend. “It’s Phoebe. Why do you . . .?”
“And isn’t her last name – Halliwell?”
“Yeah.” Cole paused for a brief moment. “Why?”
Andre tossed the newspaper to the half-demon. “Check out page eight. Someone named P. Halliwell, at 415-306-1468, had placed an ad for a nanny.
It was not hard for Cole to find the advertisement. He reeled in shock, as he read the following:
“WANTED – Nanny for nine month-old baby Salary $8.00/hour
Contact P. Halliwell 415-306-146”
“What the hell is the matter with her?” Cole exclaimed. “Is she crazy?”
Andre frowned. “Which sister are you talking about?”
“Piper! Phoebe’s older sister. You know, the one who can freeze time.” Cole stared at the advertisement. “What the hell is she doing, getting a nanny for Wyatt? That kid is too powerful to be placed in the hands of some stranger. Hell, I’ll bet that Leo would agree with me.”
A sly smile appeared on Andre’s face. “Maybe. Of course, she could always get you to baby sit Wyatt, again.” Cole stared at him. “Olivia told me and Cecile about your little babysitting job, last month.”
Cole groaned. “Oh God! Thanks for reminding me! Between Wyatt’s crying, eating my shirt and stealing other people’s stuff, I had one hell of a time dealing with that kid! And Piper expects some stranger to handle him?” He shook his head in disbelief. “What the hell is that woman thinking?”
END OF PART I