By Julien Gregg

Book 1 - Chapter 12
The Bitter Truth

"Good morning, Damon," Drake said as he walked into the kitchen. His eyes flashed to Cain Miller sitting at the breakfast table and nearly bugged out. "Inspector."

"What's with the 'inspector' crap?" Cain asked, smiling at Drake. "You know my name."

"Sorry, Cain," Drake replied with a smirk. "It's just been a while since I came downstairs to find you at the breakfast table."

"Well hopefully things like this will continue to happen now," said Cain. "I was an idiot for a long time and forgot who my best friend was, but that's all going to change now."

"How is Dean?" Damon asked, turning from the stove to face them.

"About as well as can be expected," replied Cain. "I sat with him all night, and we talked. He's ready to rip the world apart to find Ash though."

"Are we sure that Ash killed Lacy?" Drake asked. "I mean it could have been just your garden variety killer."

"Drake," sighed Damon. "He left a note."

"'Ashes to Ashes'?" replied Drake. "Couldn't anyone have come up with those words?"

"Why would an ordinary killer leave a note to Dean?" asked Damon.

"Unless it was someone who has a personal grudge against Dean," said Cain. "I can't think of any killer who would leave such a taunting message."

"You mean a grudge like the one you've been carrying around for what now, four years?" Drake asked with a smirk.

"Right," sighed Cain. "I've won Dean over, but I'm never going to get back on track with you two, huh?"

"Relax, Cain," said Damon, walking over to put a plate of eggs and bacon in front of him. "Drake's just being a jerk."

"Right," said Drake, eyeing the storage containers full of food on the counter. "What's with the leftovers?"

"They're not leftovers, dummy," said Damon. "Trevor's sick, remember? I'm gonna take those next door before I head to the club to start working on the books."

"I thought he said he didn't want a visitor," reminded Drake as Damon sat a plate in front of him.

"I'm not just a visitor," replied Damon. "Besides, I'm worried about him."

"Right," said Drake. "Tell him to get better for me, huh?"

"Sure," said Damon, smiling. "There's a plate in the microwave for Dean. I'll be back as soon as I can."

"Run along," said Drake, waving a hand at him.

Damon cast one last look at the two of them before gathering the containers of food and heading out the back door. He didn't like the idea of leaving Cain and Drake alone at the table for any length of time, but he really wanted to check on Trevor and tell him the news about Lacy. If he were being honest with himself he just wanted to make sure that Trevor was alive. This thing with Lacy had him spooked.

So he walked out the back door, fishing the key to Trevor's house out of his pocket as he went. The back yard still had scorch marks from their fight with Ash. Damon wondered how you got scorch marks out of the grass. Who would you call for something like that? He laughed to himself as he imagined calling a landscaping company and trying to explain why there were huge scorched sections of the back lawn.

Trevor's back yard was pristine. His grill was on the covered back porch along with other yard items, hoses, a rake, shovel and broom. The two windows above the kitchen sink had their blinds closed. Damon that that was a little odd, but he supposed with Trevor being sick it was understandable. He made his way around the porch to the back door, sitting the containers of food on the small patio table while he unlocked the door.

As soon as he was inside the house he knew something wasn't right. There was a smell that he couldn't identify, and the kitchen was a mess. He busies himself cleaning up the dirty dishes and half eaten plates of food, scraping the food off the plates and out of the bowls and stacking all of the dishes in the dishwasher. He found rags under the sink and started to wipe down the counters with soapy water. The broom was in the little closet next to the pantry with the dust pan on the shelf behind it. He took them both and swept the kitchen.

When he was done the kitchen looked better, but the smell was still there. He was convinced the smell had come from the half eaten plates and bowls of food. So he tied the trash bag and took it out to the trash cans at the end of Trevor's driveway. Back inside, the smell hit him again. Taking the trash out didn't do anything to get rid of it. He sighed as he made his way through the house and up the stairs to the second floor.

Trevor's room was in the back of the house, and it was the only closed door. The smell grew stronger the closer that Damon got to the door. He began to worry about Trevor even more. He hoped that Ash hadn't been here. That would be too much for him and his cousins to accept after Lacy. He slowly opened the door to the room and stepped into the darkness.

"Damon?" Trevor's voice was weak, but he was alive. Damon couldn't see him though.

"I came by to check on you," said Damon. "I brought food. It's in the kitchen."

"Thanks," said Trevor. "Just don't come any closer, and please leave the light off."

Damon ignored both. He flipped the light switch, flooding the room with light and took a step closer before he stopped. A cold fear began to fill him as he looked at the form on the bed. It was Trevor, but it wasn't. He was naked to the waste, and his skin had a red-orange look to it. Damon gasped when he saw the black mark on Trevor's chest. Right where Dean's icy kiss had hit Ash, he thought. His mind kept saying no, but he looked at Trevor's face and his blood ran cold. There was a large wound on his left cheek. It was in the same position as the spot where Damon had sliced flesh from Ash.

He looked closer and saw the black markings of Ash just barely visible on Trevor's face. How could this be? He couldn't believe it, yet the evidence was plain before his face. This was the demon who'd killed Lacy. This was the man he'd fell in love with as a teenager. This was Trevor Banks. How could he be Ash at the same time and Damon had never even suspected? It couldn't be.

"No!" cried Damon as he slowly raised his hands.

"Damon, wait," said Trevor as he tried to sit up in the bed. "I can explain, Damon. Please."

"Don't talk to me," Damon spat, dropping his arms.

In that instant an energy ball tried to form in Trevor's hand, but it was small and it looked weak. Damon wasted no time with this. He raised his hands and froze Trevor and his energy ball. Then he ran from the room, down the stairs, out the back door and across the yard. Trevor was Ash. That's what kept running through his mind as he ran.

"Damon?" Drake asked as Damon charged through the back door and into the house.

He slammed the door shut, leaning against it as he continued to breath hard. He couldn't believe how stupid and blind he'd been all these years. His boyfriend who lived in the house next door and spent so much time with him was the demon that had killed his mother and uncles! He wanted to rip the world apart. He wanted to decapitate Trevor and burn him alive.

"Damon, what is it? What's wrong?" Drake asked as he and Cain got up from the table and crossed to the back door.

"Trevor," he moaned, looking away from them. "I can't believe it."

"What's happened to Trevor?" Drake asked. "Come on, Damon. You have to talk to me, buddy."

"I cut a piece of flesh from his face," gasped Damon. "Dean hit him in the chest with ice."

"No, Damon," said Drake. "That was Ash."

"No, Drake," said Damon, shaking his head quickly. "Ash is Trevor!"

It took all of two seconds for the reality of what his cousin was saying to wash over Drake. In those seconds he made connections to all of the times he'd been suspicious of Trevor or felt an odd kinship with the guy. It had been the demonic blood in his veins that had recognized Trevor for what he was, but Drake had pushed it aside. He couldn't believe it.

"Get Dean," he said over his shoulder to Cain as he grabbed Damon's shoulder and pulled him away from the door.

"Trevor Banks?" Cain asked with wide eyes.

"Get Dean," Drake said again, reaching into the cabinet beside the fridge to get three bottles of the vanquishing potion for Ash.

* * *

It took all of his strength, once the freeze had worn off to shimmer himself out of the house and into the only lair in the Underworld that he could go to where he knew was safe. Antony was nowhere around, so he must had to be off either casting a new plot or checking on one of the many he likely already had going. Ash was not a fan of sorcerers. They were always more interested in their own goals than working with a demon. If The Shadow hadn't told Ash that Antony would be loyal to him in his quest to destroy the Charmed Ones he never would have come to the sorcerer's lair. He just hoped that the sorcerer had some kind of spell that would help him heal faster. He would heal on his own with time, but something about the potions they'd thrown at him had slowed the process down. Depending on a sorcerer wasn't exactly what Ash would have wanted in any other circumstance, but Antony was loyal to The Shadow. That was good enough for Ash.

It got harder and harder to hold on to his human form with as weak as his demonic form was. They'd nearly vanquished him, and he'd thought that was impossible without the potion. His illusions were getting weaker as well. Being in the Underworld meant that he could barely feel the illusions that he'd set on his human home. Even at full strength the sensing of his illusions would be weaker in the Underworld. He'd been on the surface too long now. He was no longer comfortable in the Underworld. It was a price that demons paid for blending in with humans. Ash had been holding his human form for too many human years and was now uncomfortable in his demonic form.

The lair was nothing more than a large cave. Torches hung from the ceiling of the cave for illumination. Wooden shelves covered the back wall with books, skulls and bottles of what looked like potions on each shelf. There was a large alter stone directly in front of the shelves with a very large bowl of silver liquid resting upon it. Ash had no idea what the liquid was or what it was used for. A skeleton was chained to the left wall, and Ash could see bits of flesh still clinging to the bones. It was dressed in tattered clothing that hung in ruin. This was no doubt what was left of one of Antony's many enemies. Ash smirked at the skeleton and turned back to the alter stone just as the air behind it began to ripple. Antony stood behind the alter stone, grinning at Ash.

The sorcerer was taller than ash with a muscular body and a nearly bald head. His dark hair was buzzed short and his large dark eyes watched Ash closely as he grinned. The man was blurry for some reason, and Ash wondered if he'd been affected by the potions in some other way than the obvious as he looked at the man. Then he looked around the cave and saw that everything else was clear in his vision. It was only the sorcerer that was blurry. He supposed it could have been something to do with his demonic powers.

"Of course it has nothing to do with my demonic powers," laughed Antony. His voice was deep and sounded older than the man that stood before him. "The Shadow gave me the demonic gifts with no side effects. I'm blurry because I don't quite trust you, demon."

"So you're not really here?" Ash asked, watching the man closely. As much as Antony didn't trust him he also didn't trust Antony. The Shadow had said that he would be loyal, but Ash just couldn't trust a man with demonic powers at his disposal.

"Oh I'm here," replied Antony. "It's just a spell that protects me from you."

"Why do you need to be protected?" Ash demanded, unable to mask his anger any longer. He needed this man's help not his games. "I came to you for help. The Shadow said that you would be loyal. If you're loyal I have no reason to harm you."

"You want my help," the man said slowly. It wasn't a question. "I can see that you're in a right state. What have the Charmed Ones done to you this time?"

"They cut my face to get flesh for the damned vanquishing potion," spat Ash. "Soon they'll know that I'm Trevor Banks and they'll come looking. These Charmed Ones are craftier than the last. None of us are safe from them."

"Then why haven't you killed them?" asked Antony with contempt plain in his voice. "You've been fucking Damon Halliwell for the last eight years. Any other demon would have killed him by now. Maybe you actually like having sex with the guy."

An energy ball formed in Ash's left hand before he even thought about what he was doing. He hurled it at Antony with a snarl. Antony raised both of his hands and the energy ball shot back at Ash. Ash barely shimmered out before the energy ball made contact. He didn't think he could withstand any more magic. He shimmered back in to find Antony cackling at him and waiving a finger in front of himself. He snarled again but didn't form another energy ball. He'd learned his lesson.

"Temper, temper," laughed Antony. "Never trust a demon. What's wrong, did I hit a nerve?"

* * *

They stood on Trevor's porch and looked around at the house next door and the street. No one was paying any attention to them. They were safe enough to go ahead with their plan. The whitelighter stood back from them a few steps, ready to stop them if anyone was looking. He was sure that they were making a mistake. It was crazy to corner Trevor in his own home. Who knew what was really inside that house? As Ash he could have thrown illusions up to make everyone see a normal house while deadly secrets hid behind every illusion.

"I still can't believe it," said Dean. "We've known Trevor for years. How can he be Ash?"

"I really don't wanna think about that now, Dean," Damon said coldly. Dean could see the torment in his cousin's eyes, and he knew that the coldness was his defense against feeling the pain of reality. He was suffering himself and hunting Ash was the only thing that kept him from falling off the edge of a cliff of despair.

"Let's do this," said Drake as he turned the knob on the front door.

They stepped stealthily inside the house and Damon gasped at what he saw. There was deffinately illusions cast all over the house, but they were starting to fail. The scene kept flipping from that of a normal dining room to what looked like a dark alter room. There were inverted pentagrams on the floor and walls. The ceiling had some kind of evil celtic symbols painted or burned into each of the tiles. Damon couldn't believe that his boyfriend of so many years was the demon that had killed his parents. His entire being cried out silently at the outrage of it all.

"Don't go any further," Jason warned quickly. "Those symbols will trap you in that room!"

"What do you mean?" Dean asked, turning to the whitelighter with wide eyes.

"They're glyphs to keep out humans," said Jason. "They repel humans, but they trap witches."

"What about witches with demonic blood?" asked Drake.

"They'll still trap you, Drake," said Jason. "You've been denying your demonic side all of your life. The witch in you is stronger than the demonic blood. That's what the room will sense."

"But can I get rid of them?" Drake asked. "I mean can I burn them out?"

"You might be able to," said Jason, looking behind his self to make sure that no one was watching.

Drake lifted his hands and shot fireballs at the ceiling. The effect was instant. The symbols were burned away along with more than half of the tiles they'd been burned into. They inched their way further into the dining room as Jason walked ahead of them to check the ceiling in first the living room and then the kitchen. Both were free of symbols. Ash must have thought that they would come through the front door straight into the dining room and be trapped.

"He's not here," Drake said suddenly. "I'd feel him if he were here."

"What are you talking about?" Dean asked, turning to face his youngest cousin.

"I never understood what it was about Trevor that I felt so close to," Drake sighed. "For as long as I can remember I've felt a strange kind of bond with the guy. It took Damon telling me that he was Ash for me to figure out what it was that made me feel that way. It was his demonic blood."

"You could feel the evil in him?" Damon asked with wide eyes as he looked at his cousin as if seeing him for the first time.

"I didn't know what it was until now," Drake said in a pleading tone as he looked back at Damon. The way his cousin was looking him made him feel shame and fear. He wasn't evil.

"It's all right, Drake," said Dean, putting a hand on his shoulder and squeezing. "You're not a demon, you're a Charmed One. We love you."

"Thanks," he said, forcing a smile at Dean while watching Damon out of the corner of his eye.

"If he's not here, then where is he?" Damon asked, looking away from Drake and around the room.

"He's probably in the Underworld," replied Jason. "If I were a demon and you were hunting me that's where I would go."

"Then take us there," said Dean, shocking both of his cousins. "We have to end this. If we don't he'll just keep coming after us."

"Dean, that could be suicide," counseled Jason.

"I don't care," he spat. "How many more reasons do we need him to give us to vanquish him? Our parents? Lexie? What about Cain? If Ash finds out that Cain is helping us he'll come after him. I can't have that on my shoulders, Jason. If you can, take us to the Underworld so we can vanquish Ash."

"Wait," gasped Damon. "Are we really talking about going to the Underworld?"

"Yes," said Drake. "It makes sense that he'd be there. We'll find him there. We can probably summon him better on his turf anyway."

"Of course you would think this is a good plan," Damon hissed before he could stop himself. "You've probably been secretly longing to get down there all along."

"Damon," Dean cautioned, but Drake held up a hand to stop him.

"No," he said. "It's all right. Damon is entitled to his opinion, and that's clearly what he really thinks. It hurts but that's the reality."

"You guys have to stop this now," said Jason quickly. "This is how you got to using magic against each other in the first place."

"Can you take us to the Underworld?" Damon asked, turning to face the whitelighter. "Can you take us to vanquish Ash?"

Jason was silent for a moment as he thought of what to say. He understood what Damon was thinking far better than any of them would guess. Drake had demonic blood in his veins. He had the potential to become a demon just as dangerous as Ash, but would he do it? Would taking him to the Underworld tip the scales somehow? He wasn't sure, but he knew one thing. He couldn't risk it. He wouldn't take him to the Underworld when it was completely possible that he'd turn on them. He hated to feel that way about Drake, but it was always hanging over his head. He'd always known that Drake could turn. It was a bitter truth, but it was the truth.

"No," he said finally, looking away from all of them. "I can't take you to the Underworld. Not even to vanquish Ash. It's suicide. Do you really think that you'll find him alone? Can you defeat an army of demons with three bottles of Ash potion?"

"This is our best shot, Jason," said Dean. "We have to get to the Underworld and vanquish this demon. If we encounter more the power of three will help."

"I won't do it," he said. "I'm sorry, Dean, but I'm supposed to keep you alive, not hand you to the demons."

They stared at each other for a long moment. Dean wondered how much protecting them had to do with Jason's decision. Could it be that he was just as worried about Drake in the Underworld as Damon? He had to admit that the idea made his stomach feel icy. Drake wasn't a demon though. Sure he had demonic blood in his veins, but his mother was only half demon. Drake, if anything, was only a third. What did that mean to the power of three? It hadn't meant anything so far. They'd worked well together for years. He couldn't help wondering if that would be different in the Underworld though. Would it be that Drake's demonic blood would rule him if he was that close to so much evil?

Drake watched Dean ponder the situation. He knew what he was thinking very well. He knew that both of his cousins and probably the whitelighter were thinking the same thing. They were thinking that if he went to the Underworld he'd turn evil just because he would be around a lot of demons. What they didn't know was that he'd been to the Underworld before and hadn't turned evil. He'd been chasing a demon that, so far, he thought didn't exist yet. He'd been saving one of Dean's future sons from the demon Fahr. He could handle it. He could even shimmer them there himself. True he could feel the pull of the Underworld more and more as time went on but he could resist. They needed to have more faith in him. There was much more to think about than turning evil. He had to save Dean and Damon from death. That was still very much a factor in his fight against the pull of his blood.

He didn't know when it would happen. He knew that it wasn't any time soon. Dean hadn't even met Lexie yet, and he and Laura weren't even on speaking terms so far. Cain was keeping his sister away from them, and on one hand Drake thought that was the best thing he could do. On the other hand he felt cheated, knowing that she was his future wife and that they would have two of the most beautiful sons together in the future. It was a future that Drake didn't want. At least he didn't want parts of it. Having sons and a brother was nice, but he didn't have a brother. That was the part that bothered him. Where was Dax? If they were brothers then why didn't he know about it? He knew one thing though. If they stayed in Trevor's house they were sitting ducks when the demon came back. He could take them to the Underworld to hunt Ash, but would they let him? He decided there was only one way to find out.

"I can take us to the Underworld," he said, breaking the tense silence that had built between them. "I've done it once already. I went to the Underworld in the future to save someone from a demon."

His cousins were staring at him hard. He'd never been so forthcoming about the events that he'd witnessed in the future before. To think that he'd already been to the Underworld and come back the same old Drake was enough for Dean, but Damon wasn't so sure. He'd only just found out that Drake could feel the evil in Ash when he posed as Trevor all those years and said nothing about it. It had planted a seed of doubt in Damon's mind. Yet they had to get to the Underworld and vanquish Ash. They had to. There was no point in standing in the dining room of Ash's house.

"Let's do it," he said, trying to sound sure and positive while inside he was extremely nervous about Drake being in the Underworld at all.

* * *

"I could always just inform The Shadow that you refused to help me," Ash said slowly, watching Antony's face as he spoke. "After all, he did tell me that he'd seen to it that you would. Do you know what happens to demons and sorcerers who anger The Shadow?"

"You're quick to throw The Shadow in my face," Antony said, smiling wide. "But I wonder how upset he is that your cover has been blown and you've been living next door to the Charmed Ones for eight years in human form and they still aren't dead."

"Look," sighed Ash. "We can stand here and threaten each other for eternity, but the Charmed Ones will come for me. When they find you they'll vanquish you, too. Now you can either help me and I can destroy them or we can be destroyed while we argue about what The Shadow will say or do to either of us."

Antony stared at him for a long moment. Ash was ready to vanquish the man himself. He needed no spells to vanquish the likes of Antony. If he was fully healed he could just use energy balls until the man was destroyed. No doubt Antony was thinking the same thing. If this stand off continued it wouldn't matter anyway. The Charmed Ones had the potion that would vanquish Ash, and they would likely have other potions. They may not be able to vanquish Antony without a spell, but once they saw him they'd figure out what he was and find the right spell. Then they'd return to vanquish him as well. It was simple really. Either they helped each other or they died.

"What you really want is for me to heal you," said Antony slowly. "How do I know that once I help you back to full strength you won't try to kill me?"

"You don't know that," said Ash before he could stop himself. "What you do know is that if I killed you The Shadow would be very unhappy with me. I think you see that neither of us wants The Shadow angry with us."

"Very well," said Antony. "My help has a price however. Are you willing to pay it?"

"Look, after we destroy the Charmed Ones I'll do whatever you want," said Ash. "But we have to focus on them first."

"Then we're agreed," said Antony, nodding his head. "I'll need to make a potion. You'll have to drink it for it to work."

"Fine," Ash said impatiently. "Just do it."

"Bring me the demon Beleil," Antony said. "I'll need something he's carrying to make this potion."

"Beleil?" Ash asked with confusion. "What could that demon have to do with healing me?"

"As I said he carries something I need for the potion," said Antony, waving a hand at Ash. "Go. Hurry."

He watched as Ash left the cave and sighed. He didn't really need anything that Beleil carried. He just wanted Ash out of sight so that he could do what he needed to do. The potion he would concoct would heal Ash completely, but the price would be paid then and there as soon as the potion touched the demon's lips. It was dangerous to tie one's self to a demon, but this was what The Shadow had commanded him to do. They would be linked, Antony and Ash for eternity. Ash would be furious when he learned the truth, but by then there would be nothing he could do about it. If he tried to kill Antony he'd only be killing himself as well. Antony smiled as he thought about what it would mean. It wasn't Ash who would kill the Charmed Ones. No, he'd angered The Shadow for the last time. When Antony was done with Ash he'd be the lowly human he'd been pretending to be. Yes, he would be mortal.

He gathered ingredients from the shelves behind the alter stone and began to throw them into the bowl of silver liquid. He stirred the liquid counter clockwise three times and then used an athame to cut his wrist. He held his wounded wrist over the bowl and let blood run into the silver potion. The wound in his wrist healed quickly and he smiled. This was one of the gifts bestowed upon him by The Shadow. He stirred the liquid three times clockwise and it smoked and turned red. It was ready now. He would dump the flask of plain water that Beleil was carrying when Ash returned with him. It was useless, but it wouldn't change the potion.

* * *

"Don't do this," Jason said quickly, placing a hand on Drake's arm. "Drake, I can't come to the Underworld to heal any of you if something goes wrong."

"But this is our best chance, Jason," Drake said. "We have to vanquish Ash. How many more people have to die before we vanquish this demon? I don't want to lose anyone else."

"Drake is right," Dean said quickly. "He killed Lacy and then taunted me with a note. We have to vanquish him."

"But you can summon him just as easily from the Underworld as you could from this house, Dean," said Jason. "That way I can be there to heal you if anything goes wrong. Please don't do this."

"Well whatever we're going to do I suggest we get out of here," Damon said loudly. "I don't want to be in this house any longer than necessary."

They looked at him for a moment and all three of their faces softened. Of course it was hard for Damon to be standing in the house that Trevor had lived in while masquerading as a human and Damon's loving boyfriend. None of them could imagine what that would feel like, but they could see the torment in Damon's eyes. This was almost as bad as Dean losing Lacy to that very same demon. Yes, they could get out of there. They would continue the discussion at home.

"Let's go home," said Drake softly. "We can talk about this there. It isn't like we have to be here to go to the Underworld."

They filed out of the house, watching everything around them as they made their silent trek back to the manor. They were sure that Ash would pop out of somewhere to attack them at any moment. They'd wounded him and they wouldn't get away with that for long. He'd be back. Dean thought they may not even have to go to the Underworld to find him. He would come for them and they would be waiting. He just had to convince his cousins that this was so. If nothing else they could always summon him. Jason was right about it not being any harder to summon a demon out of the Underworld. They'd done it before. They'd done it many times in fact.

* * *

Antony was ready for them when Ash and Beleil came back to his cave. Beleil looked around suspiciously as they entered, but Antony had no designs on that particular demon. His safety was guaranteed as long as he didn't open his mouth about what was in the flask he'd been asked to carry for this particular purpose. The only demon in jeopardy today was Ash. If The Shadow didn't kill him, the Charmed Ones would. Antony just hoped that neither party acted until after he'd gotten his power and made him mortal. That would be reason enough for The Shadow to kill him.

Beleil was a tall demon with a lean, toned body that was tanned from his human heritage. He was bald with dark eyes and a constant smirk on his chiseled lips. He looked bored and crossed his tribal tattoo covered arms as he leaned against the back wall of the cave and looked from Ash to Antony and back. Antony knew that Beleil and his brethren hated Ash and everything he stood for. This was a carefully hidden fact inside The Kin. Antony wondered what Ash would think if he knew his own son, Dax, was actively plotting to bring him down. It almost made him chuckle as he held out his hand to Beleil for the flask of water.

"Am I done here?" Beleil asked in his silky voice as he handed the flask to Antony. "I've brought you the elixir, now I'd like to get back to my own lair."

"You're free to go, Beleil," said Antony. "The Shadow will be very pleased that you helped."

"I'm sure," he snorted, which sounded completely wrong with his voice. He looked at Ash one last time and grinned, saying, "later," as he left the cave.

Antony bowed his head to Beleil's retreating back and smiled at Ash. He made a great show of emptying the flask of water into the bowl on the alter stone. Then he stirred the bowl quickly and dipped the empty flask in it to fill it back up. Then he offered it to Ash without saying a word. Ash looked at him but didn't make a move to accept the flask. He didn't trust the sorcerer. The Shadow had said that he would be loyal, but was The Shadow sure about a sorcerer? Demons by nature placed no trust in sorcerers. They had good reason to suspect them. Sorcerers had tried many times to get rid of demons and take over the Underworld.

"If you want to be healed you have to take it and drink all of its contents," said Antony into the silence between them. "I know you don't trust me, but if I double cross you I'm double crossing The Shadow as well. My life wouldn't be worth dirt if I did anything to anger The Shadow."

"Right," replied Ash sarcastically as he took the flask and drank it down. Antony smiled as he watched.

* * *

"There's a way to keep him from using his red discs," said Damon as they all sat down in the living room to discuss what to do.

"What are you talking about?" Dean asked.

"Well I've been reading the book for a while now," said Damon. "I wanted to get as much knowledge as I could about Ash, because I knew that we were going to have to vanquish him eventually. I found the vanquishing spell and the potion like I showed you, but there was something else."

"Like what?" Drake asked.

"We could use the pyrite crystals to form a magical cage that will hold him," said Damon. "It makes sure that nothing gets out, but we can throw potions inside it at whoever is in the cage."

"Do we have these pyrite crystals?" Dean asked with wide eyed excitement. This was the best thing he'd heard of so far, and he'd been hoping for some way to keep Ash once they summoned him yet be safe from his discs and other powers.

"There are four boxes of them upstairs in the attic," replied Damon. "Our ancestors used them for this exact purpose and a few others that I want to talk to you both about after we vanquish Ash."

They considered it for a moment silently. Dean thought it was a great idea. He'd been waiting for something like this for a long time. Drake was only worried that they might be affected by the demonic blood in his body. However if they'd been in the attic all this time and he'd been in and out of the attic all of his life surely they would have been affected already. They'd know about it already. Jason was proud of Damon for thinking of the crystals. Over the years he'd been so focused on Drake because of his demonic blood, but lately he was seeing a whole new side of Damon. He'd grown into a very good looking young man and his heart was full of love. Of course it was broken right now because of his learning that Trevor was really the demon who'd killed his mother. But the light really shined when he looked at Damon.

"Let's get this going," said Dean. "We'll get the crystals and find the spell to charge them in the book. Then we can summon Ash and finally be done with this."

* * *

Ash sighed with satisfaction as he felt the wounds in his face and abdomen close and heal. He was whole again and shifted from his human form to his demonic form and back again. A wide smile spread across his face as he looked back at Antony. The sorcerer had done it! He was healed and as powerful as ever. He could feel the power coursing through his veins it was so strong. The effects of the potions were gone. He was his old demonic self.

"Feel better?" Antony asked with a smirk on his face.

"I fell good enough to destroy them," Ash replied.

"Not so fast," said Antony as he came out from behind the alter stone. "There's a little matter of payment that we should discuss before you go off after the Charmed Ones."

"I told you that payment would be discussed after I've killed the witches," Ash replied, morphing into his demonic form and spreading his wings to show Antony that he was still an upper level demon and wouldn't be pushed around by the likes of a lowly sorcerer.

"That doesn't scare me, Ash," Antony chuckled, coming closer. He reached out his left hand and touched Ash's shoulder. "You can't harm me or you'll harm yourself."

"We'll see about that," growled Ash.

"Did you really think I would be stupid enough not to ensure my own safety before I helped you?" Antony asked, smirking at him again. "My blood was in that elixir, Ash. If you hurt me you will hurt yourself. We're linked now. Forever."

"No!" cried Ash in a voice so loud that the entire cave shook.

"Oh yes," said Antony, smiling wide. "And there's one other thing." He gripped Ash's shoulder as hard as he could and stabbed him in the stomach with the athame he'd been holding in his other hand. "Beraxis cotrah mierrahh! Supreme demonic powers, leave your home and find a new home in this willing heart!"

This was it! He could feel Ash's demonic powers coursing into him through the athame. He felt stronger, more vital and alive than ever before. There were two things that he knew this spell would not take from Ash, so stabbing him wouldn't kill him. His immortality and demonic form were his by birth and nothing but The Shadow or the Source could take them outside of the upper level demon vanquishing potion as long as his flesh was added to it. He laughed out loud as he thought of the wound that had been on Ash's cheek. The Charmed Ones had his flesh all right. They had it in their potion. They would vanquish this powerless demon and he would kill them all!

* * *

"Well they're charged," said Damon as he removed his hands from the box of five crystals. They glowed brightly for one moment before returning to normal.

"The book says to place five of them in an east to west orientation like the five points of a pentagram," said Drake as he turned the pages in the book. "We have to stand in front of it when we summon him or he'll appear outside the perimiter."

"Check," said Dean as he and Damon placed the crystals. Damon had purposefully walked closer to the book and Drake to make sure that his demonic blood wouldn't interfere with what they were trying to do.

They came together to stand before the book, joined hands and read the summoning spell from memory. "Magic forces black and white, reaching out through space and light, be he near or be he far, bring us the demon Ash here!"

There was a strange buzzing sound coming from the crystals as the whirlwind of dark smoke and firey sparks began to twist in the center. Huge bolts of lightning arched from one crystal to the next diagonally, forming the cage and trapping the whirlwind inside. It bounced off the edge of the cage and then split in two. The cousins looked at each other in confusion. They'd summoned Ash, so what was the second whirlwind? They turned back to face the cage as the whirlwinds disapeared and two men took their places. One was Trevor, Ash's human form and the other was a demon they'd never seen before. He laughed at them and formed a fireball in his hand. As expected, when he threw it at them it bounced back off the invisible cage and struck him in the chest. They were shocked to see Trevor fall instead of the demon it had struck.

"That's the beauty of this link, Ash!" laughed the other demon. "Anything that happens to me will first happen to you. When you're finally vanquished I'll be in full control of your powers!"

"Damon!" cried Ash/Trevor. "Help me! He's stolen my powers, I'm not a demon anymore! Please!"

"I wouldn't help you if my life depended on it," spat Damon. "Throw the potions on three."

"No! Wait!" cried Ash/Trevor as his foot struck one of the crystals and sent it flying across the attic floor.

"What the hell?" cried Dean as Ash/Trevor lunged at them.

"The book, you fool!" cried the other demon. "Get the book! You can touch it now!"

"Dean, quick!" cried Damon as Ash/Trevor raced around them and laid his hands upon the book. They all stopped when he touched it. They expected him to be repelled like any other demon, but he smiled at them as he picked it up.

The other demon shimmered over to him, touched his arm and shimmered them both out of the attic. The cousins looked at Jason's stunned face in confusion. Ash was telling the truth. The other demon had taken his powers and made him human! They'd taken the book!

"Dean, quickly," said Jason as he came over to stand in front of them. "Think. Make up a spell, any spell. Just call the book back here. You can do it."

Dean looked at him for a moment as a million thoughts flooded his mind. He'd gotten the book out of the manor when it was cursed by Farren Blackwood. Could he do it now that it was likely in the Underworld? He wasn't so sure. Yet a remembered spell from the book flooded his mind. He closed his eyes and tried to see it in his mind in its entirety. He had to see it. Then he opened his eyes and stared at the empty stand and started to speak.

"I call upon the ancient power to help us in this darkest hour. Let the book return to this place, to claim its home in its rightful space!" he cried, seeing it in his mind. He saw the book fall from the ceiling and onto its stand in his head. Then, miraculously it happened. The book was back.

He ran to the book and quickly flipped through the pages to find the demon that had come with Ash. What he found shocked him. This man was no demon. He was a demonic sorcerer and nothing more, yet he'd stolen Ash's powers. How he'd done it Dean didn't know or care. What he cared about was that there was not only a summoning spell for this demonic sorcerer but also a Power of Three vanquishing spell. He sighed as he looked at it, thinking that it was good to be Charmed.

"All right," he said quickly. "You two come over here and read this spell with me when I summon that sorcerer back here. We're vanquishing him. Then we'll find Ash and kill him."

"What do you mean? We're going to summon him now?" Drake asked as he followed Damon around the stand to come to Dean's side.

"What about the cage?" Damon asked.

"You saw how effective it was," replied Dean. "We'll have to remember to charge it differently in the future. I don't know if summoning the sorcerer will bring Ash back with him or not. If it does, kill him, Drake. Blast him with fire balls or something, but kill him."

"Guys, don't do this," Jason said quickly. "If the sorcerer took his powers, he's human. It's murder."

"Stay out of this, Jason," said Drake, looking at the whitelighter with murder in his eyes. "He's dead as soon as I see him."

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