By Julien Gregg

Book 1 - Chapter 14
Ashes To Ashes

Drake stood at the stove, stirring vegetables in light butter. He pushed them off the flame when they were hot and cracked three eggs into a clear glass bowl and began to whip them. He'd grated three different kinds of cheese as well as four baked potatoes for hash browns. There were biscuits in the oven on the "warm" setting to keep them from getting cold. He'd put the cartons of milk and juice on the counter and made coffee. He loved to cook, but it wasn't really doing much to keep his mind off of vanquishing Ash. It would be a big breakfast, but he was sure the three guys upstairs could handle it. They'd need full stomachs for what he had planned for the day. He just hoped that Jason wouldn't try to talk them out of it.

He emptied the bowl of eggs into the pan and turned up the flame, tilting the pan in every angle to spread the eggs. As soon as the eggs were dry around the edges he jerked his wrist and flipped the solid mass of egg over. Then he spread grated cheese over the dry side of the egg and added three spoonfuls of vegetables. With his spatula he folded the omelet and lifted it from the pan to the plate. He added a helping of hash browns. and one biscuit to the plate and sat it on the other side of the counter. Then he started the process all over again as Cain walked into the kitchen.

"Morning, Drake," he said, sniffing the air. "Smells good. What's the occasion?"

"Busy work," Drake replied, nodding at the plate he'd already made. "Help yourself. There's milk, juice and coffee over here as well."

"Thanks," said Cain as he grabbed the plate and headed for the mugs in the drainer by the sink. "Dean'll be down soon."

"I'll have his ready in just a minute," replied Drake as he folded the second omelet and lifted it to a plate.

"This is really great, Drake," Cain said as he sat down at the table to tuck into the plate of food. "I always love it when you cook."

"I don't do enough of it lately," Drake replied. "There hasn't been time."

"I hear that," said Cain as Dean walked into the kitchen.

"I thought I smelled food," he said, smiling at his cousin who handed him a plate.

"Eat up," said Drake. "Beverages over here as well."

"Full service," said Dean, smiling again. "I heard Damon moving around up there."

"His'll be ready in a minute," said Drake. "Sit. Eat."

"Yes, sir," laughed Dean.

"I'm gonna have to eat and run," said Cain. "Sorry about that."

"Work?" Drake asked as he flipped the third omelet

"No," said Cain, sipping his coffee. "Laura and Chris's flight will land soon and I need to be there to pick them up."

"Still worried about what Chris will say when he finds out you've been hanging out over here?" Dean asked as Drake folded the third omelet and lifted it to a plate. Dean watched as his cousin added hash browns. and a biscuit and sat it on the counter to start over.

"He's not going to be happy," said Cain. "He'll just have to get over it. You're my best friend and what you're doing is important."

"Some grudges never die," Dean sighed.

"He'll come around," said Cain as Damon came into the room.

"Morning guys," said Damon, nodding to the omelet on the counter. "That for me?"

"Sure is," replied Drake. "Eat up. There's milk, juice and coffee over here."

"God, I love it when you cook, Drake," Damon said as he took his plate and headed for a glass for juice.

"Eat up," Drake said, smiling at them as he took his own plate and sat across from Cain at the table.

"So what are you guys doing today?" Cain asked, looking from Drake to Damon and back.

"Oh nothing special," replied Damon. "I'm having lunch with my father once again, and then Drake and I are supposed to clean the club."

"Oh, what time do you think you'll be at the club?" Cain asked.

"Probably around three or so," Drake said, thinking about how long they would need to get back from the underworld. He noticed that Dean was watching him closely.

"Mind if I meet you guys there?" Cain asked, looking at Dean. "I could help clean."

"That sounds good," said Dean. "What'll you tell Chris?"

"I'll tell him the truth," replied Cain with a straight face. "I'm an adult, Dean. What's he going to do, kick me out?"

"If he does, you can always stay here with us," said Dean.

"We'll find the room somewhere," added Drake.

"Thanks, guys," laughed Cain. "I don't think it'll come to that though."

"Just let me know later," said Dean.

"Well then why don't I stop by the club tonight as well? You guys'll be there, right?" Cain asked. Dean nodded. "I might even get Laura to come with me. She isn't as unforgiving as Chris."

"Sounds like a plan," said Dean, smiling. It was nice to have his friendship with Cain back.

Drake thought, once again about the fact that his future wife's name was Laura. He wondered if Laura Miller was his future wife. He remembered telling Dean that he wouldn't tell him what the name of his future wife was because he'd drive himself nuts the first time he met a woman with her name. He just hoped he wasn't on that road himself. He wanted the future he saw, well, parts of it, but he didn't want to make foolish mistakes and alienate Laura Miller simply because he knew that his future wife's name was Laura.

"Well like I said, I have to run," Cain said as he got up from the table, taking his plate and headed toward the sink. "Thanks for breakfast, Drake. I really do love it when you cook and I'm here to take advantage."

"Any time," Drake said, smiling. "Just be around more, hear?"

"I hear you," laughed Cain. "Later, boys."

They were silent as they watched Cain walk out through the mud room. Each of them were thinking about Drake's plan again. They'd been really careful around Jason the night before; not talking about it or even thinking about it when he was with them. Jason would definitely try to talk them out of it. They couldn't have that. Ash had been taunting them far too long. He'd killed nearly everyone they cared about and he had to be vanquished. If they couldn't get him to come to them, they'd go to him.

"So are we gonna do this or what?" Drake asked as he collected the plates and cups from the table.

"We're doing it," said Dean. "I just want to go over the rules again."

"Look," sighed Drake. "I have the perfect spell to do this. It'll hide us, Dean. I swear it will."

"I'm not worried about the spell, Drake," replied Dean. "It's the underworld. Then there's not telling Jason. You know he can't sense us if we go there. He'll know the minute we leave."

"We'll deal with him when we get back," said Damon as he stood and walked around the table to the fridge. He took the three vials of vanquishing potion out and turned to face Dean. "I'm tired of waiting for Ash to come and kill us. He's killed almost everyone we care about, and I want him vanquished."

"Then we're in agreement," Dean said as he stood up. "We have to do this soon or Jason'll be here to stop us."

"Just take my hands," Drake said, holding out both hands to his cousins. As soon as they took his hands he flamed to the underworld.

They were surrounded by blackened rock and piles of smoking bones. Faint screams could be heard from the distance in every direction, making them stiffen as they stood unprotected on the stone floor of the cavern. Drake let go of his cousins' hands and turned in a circle to survey their location. They were alone, but that could change at any time.

"Take one," Damon said, handing his cousins a vial of the vanquishing potion for Ash. "We'd better be prepared."

"On that note, take my hands again," said Drake as he took the potion vial. "Say the spell with me."

"Evil forces in my sight, hide from me with all your might," they said together. "Guided spirits make of me a mirror so that evil cannot see."

"It's that simple?" Damon asked as they let go of each other's hands. "I mean that simple spell and now evil can't see us?"

"Well yeah," said Drake. "I mean how many simple spells have we done over the years only to be surprised at how powerful they really are?"

"Point taken," said Damon. "But how long will it last?"

"The book says six hours," said Drake. "We're fine. I don't plan to stay here that long. I feel strange."

"What do you mean?" Dean asked, looking concerned. "Is it being here?"

"Probably," replied Drake. "I feel like my bones are vibrating."

"We need to get moving," said Damon, looking around them at all of the piles of burning bones. "Are you sure you can find Ash?"

"I can sense him," replied Drake. "Since he took my powers and I got them back I can feel him in a strange way. It's stronger here because we're closer to him."

"Then let's go," said Dean, and the three began to move.

They followed Drake through the cavernous underworld. Everything looked the same to Damon and Dean, but Drake moved as if he knew exactly where he was going. Dean wasn't sure he trusted Drake's feeling that he could sense Ash, but it was all they had. He'd also said he felt strange being in the underworld. Dean was sure it was his demonic blood that was reacting the evil around him. He wasn't sure that was such a good thing either.

They rounded a corner and came face to face with a group of demons that looked a lot like Lordan. They stopped short and watched as the group huddled around a squirming figure. It took a few minutes before they realized that what they were doing was eating another demon. They'd never known that Manticores were scavengers. It wasn't in the book. They moved as one and then stopped short again. One of the demons turned to look right at them.

"I thought you said they couldn't see us," Dean whispered.

"They can't," Drake assured him. "But they can sense me."

"Sense you?" Damon asked. "What good is a spell to hide from evil if you can still be sensed?"

"I was afraid of this actually," Drake replied. "The demonic blood in me is only being used for good, Damon. It's still evil. How do you hid evil from other evil?"

The Manticore threw its head back and wailed in an ear shattering scream. The others turned to investigate what the first was upset about. They knew that Manticores reproduced by seducing human males. Dean wondered what they'd think of a part-demon. He didn't want to stick around to find out. He grabbed both of his cousins.

"Drake, flame us away from here," he said quickly.

"They'll see us if we do that," replied Drake.

"Just do it," said Damon as the Manticores advanced on them.

Drake closed his eyes and flamed them to away, closer to where he believed Ash was hiding. But when they flamed in they were in a sea of chaos. Fireballs were flying back and forth, and leather clad demons with axes and hammers were fighting with more Manticores. The human looking demons each had leather hoods over their head with a half mask. He let go of his cousins and threw fireballs at two Manticores that were advancing on them, turning to face the other direction as soon as he saw them engulfed in flames and about to be vanquished.

"What the hell?" Damon breathed as he froze the scene around them. He gasped when the human looking demons with weapons turned to face them unfrozen. "They didn't freeze!"

"Heads up!" cried Dean as he kissed his hand and blew his ice kiss at the group of demons. There was an explosion and when the dust settled they were shocked to see that there were more of the demons when there should have been less.

Everything they did to vanquish these demons only made them stronger and more angry. Drake grabbed the axe from a demon who was about to use it on Damon and threw it back at the demon. As soon as the blade touched it the demon burst into flames and exploded.

"Get us out of here!" cried Dean as he grabbed Damon and then Drake. "Do it now!"

"The Charmed Ones!" cried one of the demons and then they moved as one against them.

Drake flamed them out of the underworld and back to the manor where Jason stood glaring at them when they flamed in. Before Jason could say a word four of the leather clad weapon wielding demons shimmered into the sun room in front of them.

"You've got to get their weapons away from them," cried Drake as he yanked a hammer out of the hands of the demon in front of him and stuck the fork into its skull, vanquishing it in a shower of sparks.

Dean waived his hand and the demon who was advancing on him flew into another and the blade of his pick axe was plunged into the second demon's chest. The demon screamed and exploded. The last demon looked at them and growled before he shimmered out of the manor.

"That won't be the last of them," warned Drake. "They know who we are now."

"What were you thinking?" demanded Jason, putting his hands on his hips and glaring at Drake.

"Save it, Jason," said Damon as he started for the other room. "I'll look for them in the book."

"I'll start making potions," said Dean, leaving the sun room without looking at their whitelighter.

"Have you all gone insane?" snapped Jason. "Why did you go to the underworld? I know that's where you went because if I can't sense you that's the only place you could have been."

"We went after Ash," Drake said simply. "We encountered other demons. We're on it, Jason. Let it go."

Jason stood there and watched them all walk out of the sun room as he fumed. Did they realize how dangerous going to the underworld was? Did they just expect that The Power of Three would always save them? What would they do when they came across a demon that a spell alone would not vanquish? If they didn't tell him when they were going how could he be there to heal them when they got hurt?

"Found 'um!" cried Drake as he bounded back down the stairs.

"In the kitchen," called Dean. "Bring the book."

"So what were they?" Damon asked as he followed Drake into the kitchen.

"They're called Executioner Demons," Drake replied as if he hadn't a care in the world. Jason wanted to knock their heads together.

He looked up at the ceiling and said a silent vow before stomping out of the sun room and into the kitchen. The three cousins were busy. Drake was reading off the ingredients for the potion to vanquish the demons while Damon hunted them down in the cabinets and Dean stirred them in the pot on the stove.

"Executioner Demons," Jason said after standing to watch so long he wanted to explode. "You went to the underworld without telling me and came back with Executioner Demons on your tails."

"Well we knew you'd throw a fit about us going after Ash," Dean said as he threw in the mandrake root that Damon handed him.

"Yeah," said Damon. "We're tired of waiting for him to pick off someone else we care about. We decided to just go get him."

"Drake could sense him," Dean said, throwing in the valerian root that Damon handed him.

"Sense him?" Jason asked, momentarily forgetting his anger and frustration with them.

"Yeah," said Drake without looking up from the book. "Ever since he stole my powers and I got them back it's like I can feel him."

Jason stared at the top of Drake's head for a moment as he thought about what he'd said. If Drake could sense the demon that was bad on a few levels. What would the elders say about it? They were constantly watching for one slip on Drake's part. They waited and bided their time ever watchful for that seed of evil inside of him to grow and fester until there was no choice but to take action against him. Jason never wanted to see that happen. Then another thought occurred to him and he was angry again.

"Drake," he said, pacing back and forth in front of him. "Did you stop to think that if his having your powers for a while lets you sense his location that he can do the exact same thing with you? Did you think about that? Did any of you think at all? You disappeared from my senses and I was scared that you were dead. You went to the underworld where anything could have happened to you and I wouldn't have known it."

"Jason, you have to understand," Drake said, looking up at him finally.

"No, I don't understand, Drake," he snapped. "Damn it you three are supposed to be my charges. If I can't keep you in line then maybe you need another whitelighter."

"You wait just a damned minute, Jason," yelled Damon, slamming the cabinet door shut so hard it made everyone jump. "You won't threaten us with a new whitelighter, and it isn't your damned job to keep us in line. We may be the Elders' precious Charmed Ones, but we're still human, and that means we have free will. If we don't then maybe they should find a new set of witches to do their damned errands.

"Ash killed our fucking parents! You know better than anyone what he did to Trevor, Jason. He killed Lacy and all those girls. He killed so many people and he'd just love to kill us and become the king of the underworld. Well we won't sit still and be anyone's damned target. We're not going to sit back and let him kill anyone else either. He's taken enough from us damn it. We're going to hunt him. If you don't like it then just keep your damned mouth shut about it. Tell the Elders that The Charmed Ones don't work for them. We don't work for anyone. If having a whitelighter means that we have to be talked down to like children then you can go to the Elders and tell them we don't want any whitelighter bullshit in our lives."

"Do you get it yet, Jason?" Dean asked as he stirred. "You told us not to get personal with Ash. You told us not to let it be a matter of the heart. Well it was too late for that when he killed our parents. He keeps killing the people we care about and it stops now. We'll find him and we'll vanquish him. Now, we're sorry for not telling you what we were up to, but don't ever talk to any of us like that again. We'll tell you when we decide to go after him again. Make no mistake, Jason. We will go after him again. We'll go after him until he's vanquished."

He watched them as they worked, seething in anger. He couldn't believe their attitude. Of course he and the Elders knew that Ash had killed their parents, Trevor and Lacy. Of course they knew how upset that made them. How could they scream back at him when he was only trying to protect them? He loved Damon with all of his heart, but he wasn't going to put up with being spoken to like that. They would each show him the respect he deserved or else he would have himself reassigned and tell the Elders that The Charmed Ones were simply too hard to work with.

Then he really thought about what it would be like to see another whitelighter looking after them and sighed. He knew that he was overreacting. Yes the Elders would be angry if they knew that they'd gone off to the underworld without so much as telling Jason that they were planning on it, but none of them could expect them to sit back and wait for Ash to attack again. After all the last time he'd attacked he'd taken Drake's powers and nearly killed him.

He knew the real reason behind his anger and the thought of that reason took the rest of the wind out of his sails. He was scared. That's all there was to it. He knew whitelighters who'd lost charges, and he'd seen what it had done to them. He knew that losing Damon would be much worse than simply losing a charge. He understood now why there were so many rules against whitelighters being too emotionally involved with their charges. If Damon died as Drake had said he and Dean would in the future how would he handle it?

"The book says they work for higher demons," Drake was telling Dean and Damon. "It doesn't say anything about them multiplying when you use powers on them though."

"What?" Jason asked, finally snapping out of his silence. "What do you mean they multiplied?"

"Every time we hit them with any kind of power that should have vanquished them like any other lower level demon, they multiplied," said Damon. "If there were two before we hit them there were four afterward and so on."

"And you're sure these are Executioner Demons?" he asked.

"Yes," said Drake, turning the book around so Jason could see the picture of them he'd opened to. They were the same demons that had attacked at the manor.

"But they don't multiply," said Jason as he stared at the page. "They can only be killed by their own weapons or a valerian root potion, but they don't multiply."

"These did," said Dean as he dropped something else into the potion pot. It hissed and a pearly steam rose from inside.

"What did you just add?" Jason asked.

"Essence of Pearl," replied Dean with a smirk. "It's something that I discovered a while back. It makes any potion more powerful."

"Essence of Pearl?" Jason asked with wide eyes. "Where did you find that?"

"It was in a corked bottle in the attic," he replied. "The cork was hard as stone and it took a little magic to get the bottle open without hurting the contents. I added it to a potion I was working on to kill dust demons for Cain and boy did it boost it!"

"Dean, Essence of Pearl has been extinct since the twentieth century," said Jason. "That's very old stuff. Could I have a bit to take the Elders? We might be able to get someone to replicate it."

"No need," said Dean, nodding to the planters in the windows behind the sink. "I did a little magical nurturing on a bit of this stuff and got seeds. That's the result."

The result was six planters with budding plants with silvery white leaves and almost neon green stems. A faint cloud of what looked like foggy moonlight wafted from the tops of each plant. Jason could only gawk. He was stunned by this and couldn't wait to tell the Elders that Dean had revived an extinct magical plant.

"Do you have any idea what you've done?" he asked excitedly. "Dean, no witch has been able to make it grow. Ever. It always grew wild. The Elders believe that angel magic is what made them grow to begin with."

"Well I'm no angel," replied Dean. "I'm just a witch who happened to think about it long and hard. I mean after I saw what this stuff did to dust demon potion I knew I wanted more. I've harvested those twelve times already. The stuff matures in six days."

"Can I take one plant to the Elders?" he asked, forgetting all about their argument.

"Sure," said Dean, looking over his shoulder at the six planters. "Take the one on the end by the mud room door. It's almost ready to harvest. The others will be ready probably tomorrow."

They watched as Jason grabbed the last planter and orbed out of the manor. They looked at each other with puzzled expressions. So it had been extinct and Dean had been able to make it grow from a bottle of powder. They had no idea what the big deal was.

"So is the potion ready?" Damon asked, breaking their silent thoughts.

"Yeah," he said. "Get the vials."

"Do you think Ash sent the Executioner Demons after us?" asked Drake as they filled the vials with potion.

"I'm sure of it," replied Dean.

"Then they'll be coming again soon," said Damon.

"Unless we get to him first," Dean said as Jason orbed back in.

"Guys," he said, smiling. "The Elders are really excited about that plant. They're going to contact an Angel of Destiny to see if they can get it to grow in the wild again."

"That's great," said Damon. "Right now we're worried that Ash might send more demons after us."

"More demons?" Jason asked, looking around the kitchen. "Did something happen while I was gone? I wasn't gone long."

"No," said Dean. "We think he's the one who sent the Executioner Demons after us in the first place. It says in the book that they work for high level demons or humans with enough demonic connection. Ash would have sent something after us, and he can't know for certain that we'd know who they were or how to vanquish them."

"But it's in your Book of Shadows," protested Jason.

"Yes, but when was the last time evil got their hands on it?" Drake asked.

"Good point," said Jason. "So what are you going to do?"

"This potion," Dean said, holding up a vial of pearly liquid. "It's the only thing other than their own weapons that will vanquish them."

"Well then it seems like you're prepared," Jason replied as four of the demons shimmered into the kitchen.

"Stand back!" cried Dean as he threw his vial of potion at the demons.

The demon smiled, obviously thinking that they were just throwing any potion at them that they could think of. However the vial hit one of them and there was an explosion so powerful that it knocked the cousins and Jason off their feet. When the smoke cleared all four demons were gone. Scorch marks could be seen on the floor where the four of them had stood.

"Damn!" cried Damon. "That's some powerful stuff!"

"That's Essence of Pearl," Dean said, grinning at him.

"Yeah, but that won't be the end of them," said Drake as he turned to face his cousins. "We need to get this place ready for another attack."

"Let's do this," said Damon.

They closed all of the curtains in all of the downstairs rooms and moved the furniture against walls or just out of the way in the living room and the hall. Dean placed vials of the valerian root potion in every room of the house. Then they placed crystals in all of the windows and above all of the doors.

"Well that's that," said Dean as they sat on the couch in the living room.

"It's getting late," said Damon. "We're supposed to be at the club."

"You can't go to the club tonight," said Jason. "If those demons attack in the club you'll all be exposed."

"He's right," sighed Dean. "I'll call Cain and tell him we're not coming. Then I'll call Sam and ask him to look after the club for the night."

"We really need to get Ash," said Drake.

"Well nothing can get in here without us knowing as long as those crystals stay where I put them," said Damon. "If we're not going to the club at least we're safe in the house."

They sat in the living room, talking about how to vanquish Ash. Even Jason got in on the discussion, reminding them that if they decided to hunt him in the underworld again he really needed to be with them. They were so shocked by his complete turn around on the subject that they admitted that their first trip to the underworld had been ill advised. They promised to take him along if they decided to do it again.

"But I don't think we're going to find him in the underworld," said Drake. "He's expecting us to hunt him there. That's why he had the Executioner Demons ready for us."

"So where do we find him this time?" Damon asked. "If he isn't in the underworld he could be anywhere."

"Well if he isn't in the underworld then he isn't in a protected lair anymore," Dean pointed out. "We could summon him again."

"We'd have to be really prepared for him," Drake said slowly. "He could get the upper hand on us in a minute."

"But he could have gotten the upper hand on us this morning too," said Dean.

"He had the upper hand this morning," Damon said. "He had those demons ready for us. For all we know he manipulated the Manticores to be where they were, too. I think we were getting really close to where he was hiding and he had to do anything he could to keep us from discovering him."

Jason was very proud of them for thinking it all out this way. They'd gone off without really thinking that morning and at least now they understood how dangerous it had been for them. He couldn't think about what would have happened if he'd lost even one of them anymore. What he had to do was be there for them now and keep them alive any way he could.

When they finally went up to bed he prowled the house, checking the crystals and making sure that all the vials were where they'd left them. He thought about his discussion with the Elders that morning about how he felt for Damon and sighed as he sat down at the dining room table. They'd been livid when he'd told them that he was in love with Damon and informed him that any romantic relationship between a whitelighter and his or her charges was completely forbidden. There would be no more exceptions to that rule.

They reminded him of what had happened when Piper Halliwell and Leo Wyatt had broken the rules and finally gotten permission to marry and sire children. Piper had nearly destroyed the world when Leo was made an Elder and then Leo fell from grace to be with her. They said that nothing like that could be allowed to happen again. There'd even been talk of reassigning him and giving The Charmed Ones a new whitelighter.

Several had said that his feelings for Damon would cloud his judgment and make him sloppy in his protection of his charges. It had been a long time since he'd had any other charges than The Charmed Ones and they thought that had been a mistake. Very soon he'd have charges added on again and he'd be away from The Charmed Ones a lot. Another whitelighter was being chosen to act in his absence if and when the need should arise. He was thinking about that when he felt the call of the Elders. With a sigh he orbed out of the manor.

The cousins spent a restless night in their rooms. They were each tired when they met in the kitchen the next morning. There was no fantastic breakfast cooked that morning. They each sat with cups of coffee before them and stared into their cups. Dean was wondering where Jason was. He'd thought that the whitelighter would have stuck to them like glue after what had happened the day before. He was still thinking of that when Ash shimmered into the kitchen.

"Damon!" he cried, alerting both of his cousins that Ash was behind them. He was too late with Damon though. Ash had already formed an energy ball in his hand and tossed it at him.

Damon toppled from his chair and hit the floor. Drake hit Ash with bolts of electricity as Dean ran to his fallen cousin. He looked up as Jason orbed into the kitchen and Ash shimmered out. Jason gasped when he saw Damon on the floor and was on him in a second. He placed his hands over the bloody wound on Damon's back and the golden healing light enveloped the wound. It took a little longer than Dean would have liked before Damon was gasping and Jason was helping him to sit up.

"What took so long this time?" Dean asked, looking at Jason.

"He was nearly dead this time," replied Jason, breathing heavy.

* * *

"A whitelighter saved the witch," said the voice of The Shadow as Ash paced back and forth in front of the wall in the house he'd lived in as Trevor Banks.

"Their whitelighter is always around," Ash growled.

"Darklighters can take care of that," said The Shadow. "I'll send you some of the best. Use them well. If they kill The Charmed Ones' whitelighter, then they can't be healed and you can kill at least one of them."

"One?" Ash replied, stopping to look at the shadow on the wall. A shiver passed through him as he looked at it. "If I don't kill all three the others will just vanquish me."

"One gone ends the threat forever," said The Shadow. "It will break the Charmed Circle one and for all."

"And they can't vanquish me without the Power of Three," Ash said slowly.

"They can still vanquish you with that potion of theirs," said The Shadow. "You've got to target those potion bottles."

"How soon can you get me the darklighters?" Ash asked and gasped as two orbed into the house.

* * *

"You know how you have potions all over for the Executioner Demons?" Jason asked as they sat in the living room.

"Yeah," said Dean. "I tried to put them in places where we'd be able to get to them quickly."

"No, it's a great idea," replied Jason quickly. "I just wondered why you didn't put any of the vials of potion for Ash with them. I mean if he can send demons after you, he can surely attack as well."

"You know, I'm surprised we didn't think of that," said Dean. "Thanks."

"I'll get the potions," said Damon as he left the room. Just then Jason was summoned by the Elders once again.

"Gotta go," he said, standing. "If you need me just call for me."

"Hurry back," said Drake.

Damon came back into the room with six different vials of the Ash vanquishing potion. He and Dean started putting them with the other potions. They were just sitting back down when two men orbed into the living room. Dean noticed right away that their orbs were a dark blue-black and he gasped. Darklighters?

"Heads up!" he cried, getting to his feet.

The darklighters were looking around the room at all of the potion vials and then they turned and looked through the doorway. When Dean lifted his hand to his mouth the dark haired darklighter whipped around and fired an arrow at him. He waved his hand and deflected it. It stuck in the mantle. Dean kissed his hand and blew it at the darklighter as he attempted to reload. The darklighter let out a scream as he exploded in an icy wind.

The second darklighter turned to Dean and lifted his crossbow. Drake sent lightning after him and the darklighter orbed out. Dean and Drake looked at each other and then Drake suddenly gasped. Dean hit the floor as Drake formed a fireball in his hand and threw it at the darklighter. He heard the vanquish and then stood back up.

"What the hell?" Damon asked, looking from one cousin to the other.

"We have whitelighter blood in us," said Drake. "They could have killed us."

"But didn't it look like they were looking for something?" Dean asked, looking around the room.

"Well that's obvious," said Damon. "They were looking for Jason."

"So Ash sent the darklighters, too," said Drake as he sat down. "That means more of them will come."

Jason orbed back in and noticed the dark arrow sticking out of the side of the mantle and looked around the room. He saw the fresh scorch mark on the floor and turned to the cousins with confused eyes.

"The Elders said they sensed a spike in power close to the manor," he said. "I guess it was you guys."

"Darklighters," said Dean.

"Two of them," added Drake. "We think they're looking for you."

"But how did they get in here?" Damon asked, looking at the crystal on the window sill.

"That's a good question," said Drake, looking at Jason.

"Darklighters and whitelighters aren't affected by the crystals," said Jason as the doorbell chimed. "They won't do any good against them unless they're charged specifically for them."

"Then it sounds like we've got work to do," said Dean as he left the room and headed up the stairs.

"Where are you going?" asked Drake as he followed him but stopped in the hall.

"To get more crystals," said Dean. "We'll charge them for darklighters and put them around the living room."

"Will that work?" Damon asked Jason as they stood looking after Dean.

"It should," said Jason. "If Dean casts the right spell on the crystals it'll keep the darklighters out."

"Well if anyone in this house is good with spells it's Drake," said Damon.

"Yeah," agreed Drake. "I'll go help him."

"I'll get the door," said Damon. "I'll send whoever it is away."

"Do it quickly," Jason said as Damon walked out of the living room.

"Damon," breathed Cain as soon as Damon had opened the door. He noticed that Laura was with him.

"Cain?" he asked.

"We have to talk to you guys," said Laura.

"It's important," said Cain. "You know I wouldn't try to push in on you when something like this is going on unless it really was important."

"Come in," he said, stepping aside to let them in.

They filed into the living room to face a livid looking Jason. Dean and Drake came back to the living room a second later. They all just stared at each other for a few moments without saying anything at all. Dean was wondering why Damon would let Cain in the house when things were so bad. Drake was staring at Laura and wondering if this was his future wife.

"All right," said Jason. "I see the look on their faces. They obviously have something to tell us."

"Darklighters," Cain said quickly.

"They're all over the street outside," said Laura. "On top of houses, in cars and standing behind trees."

"This is getting way too complicated," said Drake. "Why would they send darklighters?"

"They're after Jason," said Dean, looking at their whitelighter.

"You each have whitelighter blood in your veins," said Jason, shaking his head. "The darklighters could be after you three just as well as me."

"This is getting ridiculous," sighed Dean. "A demonic sorcerer, Manticores, Executioner Demons and now darklighters?"

"He definitely wants us dead," said Damon.

"Darklighters I can handle," said Drake. "Energyballs and fireballs will take them out."

"Don't get cocky, Drake," warned Jason, turning to Cain and Laura. "Thank you for coming to tell us this, but the manor isn't safe. Where is your whitelighter?"

"He's with Chris right now," said Laura. "Chris is after a warlock. He's been trying to find Lor."

"That's not wise," said Jason, sighing. "Lor is a Power of Three demon. Chris can't vanquish him."

"He knows that," said Cain. "He just feels like he has to be doing something to find our father's killer."

"Cain," said Dean.

"I know, Dean," said Cain, waving his hand to stop him. "I told him what you said, but he just yelled at me for talking to you. I told you it would take time with Chris."

"Well you don't seem to be holding a grudge," Drake said to Laura who smiled at him.

"I know that it wasn't Dean's fault," she said. "We were teenagers."

"Thanks, Laura," said Dean.

"Well we told you what we came to tell you," said Cain. "Please be careful."

"We will be," said Dean. "You and Laura need to get home as quickly as you can."

"Did you drive here?" Jason asked.

"No," said Laura. "We walked. Chris took the keys to both cars when he left with Sed."

"Then I'll orb you home," said Jason, stepping forward and touching Cain's shoulder, but Laura stepped back.

"Drake," she said. "Please be careful."

"I promise," he replied, smiling at her. "And we'll have a meal after this is over. I'll even cook it."

"I'll hold you to that," she said, smiling as well. She stepped forward and linked her hand in Jason's.

The cousins watched as Jason orbed their friends out of the manor. They sighed with a relief that lasted only seconds before two darklighters orbed into the hallway. They couldn't come in the living room because of Dean's charged crystals, but arrows flew into the room and one arrow knocked a crystal out of the way. Then they advanced into the room.

Dean brought his hand to his mouth and blew his icy kiss at one of the darklighters. The second darklighter fired an arrow and Damon yelled. Dean turned as the darklighter he'd hit exploded in a shower of dark orbs and saw Drake fall to the floor. There was an arrow protruding from his left shoulder. As he looked at his fallen cousin Jason's words of warning about their having whitelighter blood returned to him. He'd forgotten about the other darklighter for a second, but Damon brought up his hands and froze the darklighter before falling to his knees beside Drake.

"Jason!" he cried, staring at his cousin.

Jason orbed in and with one look at the scene before him his eyes were wide with fear. He stepped around the frozen darklighter and headed for Drake. Dean called out to him as another darklighter orbed into the living room, but the shot found the back of Jason's right shoulder and the arrow was sticking out of both sides of his shoulder. The darklighter aimed again but when he shot the arrow Dean waved his hand to deflect it. The arrow hit the frozen darklighter and after another explosion of dark orbs he kissed his hand and directed it at the other darklighter.

"Oh God," cried Damon as Dean knelt beside Jason.

"What can we do?" Dean asked him.

"Go to Drake first," Jason breathed, grimacing with each word. "You can heal him, Dean. Just tap into your whitelighter blood and think of how much you love him."

"I can't do it," Dean said, shaking his head.

"Yes you can," said Jason. "You have the power inside you. It doesn't have anything to do with the Charmed power, Dean. You have whitelighter blood. Find it in yourself and heal your cousin. Save the Power of Three."

Dean moved over to where Drake lay and took his hand. He thought of how much he loved Drake and how terrible life would be without him. He thought about how Drake had gone to the future and had been the only one of them still alive. He couldn't let him die here.

"Use your power to remove the arrow, Dean," said Jason as Damon knelt beside him. "Don't touch it or you'll be poisoned too."

Dean gripped Drake's hand and looked his cousin in the eye. When Drake nodded his head Dean pointed his finger at the arrow, lifting Drake slightly and then let the power flow through him. Drake screamed as the arrow was pushed all the way through his shoulder.

"I'm sorry," Dean moaned. Tears fell from his eyes as he tried so hard to find the power inside himself to heal his cousin.

Then he heard Damon gasp again and turned to see Ash standing in the middle of the living room. He watched as the demon threw energyballs at each of the places in the room where the potions were stored. They fell to the floor, breaking as they hit. The potion lay in puddles all over the living room.

"No!" cried Dean as he waved a hand at the closest puddle of potion, using telekinesis to move the potion from the floor to Ash. It struck Ash in the chest and then an explosion rattled the house and knocked Dean off his feet.

When the smoke cleared they saw a huge scorch mark on the floor where Ash had stood. Dean could only enjoy the fact that he'd vanquished the demon who'd killed his family for a fleeting few moments before Drake moaned again and brought him back to the problem of how to heal him. Nothing he did worked. He held his hand over the wound and tried to let his love for his cousin flow through his arm and out of the palm of his hand into the wound, but nothing happened. Then he heard Damon gasp again and turned to look.

He saw the golden light of healing spreading from Damon's hand as it healed the wound in Jason's shoulder. His heart sunk as he watched. Damon had found a way, but why couldn't he? Was he supposed to just let Drake die there? He couldn't accept that. He had to find a way, but then Jason was at his side, gently pushing him out of the way as he put his hand over Drake's wound and began to heal him.

An hour later, after profuse apologies from Dean and a lot of encouraging words from Jason they used tongs to get rid of the darklighter arrows and began to clean the living room back up. Drake was on his knees with a bucket of soapy water and a brush, scrubbing at the scorch marks on the floor. A strange smile played across his face as he scrubbed. First Dean and then Damon went to the kitchen to get their own brushes before going back to kneel beside Drake and help him scrub.

"He's gone," Drake said as they scrubbed. "All of the fear and hatred is over now. Ash is gone."

"But there'll be others," said Damon.

"And we'll be ready," added Dean.

Jason stood in the doorway and watched his charges as they cleaned. He was so proud of them for the way they'd handled themselves with Ash. He could hardly believe that Ash was finally vanquished and that part of the terror was over. He was trying very hard not to think about the fact that Damon had healed him. For if he thought about it he'd surely read too much into it.

The next day was a celebratory day for them. Dean went to Cain's while Laura came to spend time with Drake. Damon spent the day with his father. Jason gave them space to celebrate on their own. He went to the Elders to tell them what had happened.

Drake cooked a feast for Laura, deciding as he cooked that he would do what he needed to do to see that they were all protected from whatever was coming next. For now, though, he had a promise to keep. He wasn't about to break any promise he made to Laura. After all he was going to marry him and father her children. He was sure of that as he dished up the plates and carried them to the dining room.

He and Laura ate the meal and talked about anything other than demons. She told him about her job and he told her about wanting to open a restaurant. When the meal was over they sat in the living room on the small sofa. Drake held her hand in his and she put her head on his shoulder.

Neither of them noticed the dark haired man looking at them through the side window.

The New Power of Three

Book 1
Book 2
Book of Shadows