"It's been seven hours and fifteen days since you took your love away."
Prince, "Nothing Compares 2 U"
For Piper, it's just about that long since Leo was pulled away by The Higher Powers. There's a hole in her heart and in her soul. She drowns herself in work at the club, hoping time will heal all wounds as the wise men say. But then again, what do wise men know about a love so fierce, it hurts every time she sees her love... like right now. Leo appears and Piper's overjoyed. She wants to kiss him, eat him up, tear off his clothes in front of people, and merge into him forever. Sadly, it's not to be. Leo has only come to say goodbye. The Powers want him to say goodbye and leave his beloved forever. No excuses, no dilly-dallying, no fooling! Piper loses all sense of reality, even as he starts to fade during their discussion. She begins to tear up as he orbs out in front of the customers. Her world is crashing around her and Prue tries to shake her off her funk.
And then, Piper wakes up in her bed. It was only a dream. But the pain is still there, and Prue is concerned about her well being. She has never seen her middle sister like this, in a dark mood with apathy toward everything but work. It's as if she was cored of her soul and only a shell remains. Prue calls Phoebe about this. Phoebe is on the road in Prue's car, expressing the same concern but a little more worried about getting the car back. The discussion about Piper almost distracts the youngest Halliwell into an accident. A little 7-year-old girl runs in front of the car and only the well-maintained brakes save Phoebe from taking the child's life. Of course, other forces are more intent of this action as Phoebe sees invisible forces trying to tear the girl apart, trying to take a small box from her. The violence ceases and she wraps her arms around her with the love and concern of any woman seeing such obscenity. She notices claws marks on the girl's arms and wonders what the hell was attacking her.
As Phoebe makes her charge comfortable with hot cocoa and cookies, Prue and Piper do their best to search for her parents. They got her name, Kate, and they find out that she lives close by. Phoebe asks what it was that attacked her, but Kate's evasive. She doesn't think adults would believe her plight. Her parents certainly don't... correction, her mom and stepdad. Phoebe wants to gain Kate's confidence by telling her strange things happen to them too, but it's late into the Witching Hour. She decides to fetch the girl's coat before her parents arrive and goes for the keys. But, they're not there anymore. Kate mentions something about fairies taking them. Seems they like taking little shiny things like keys and coins and gems. Her parents soon come to pick her up. Kate starts to freak out that they are standing at the doorway, to stay away from the Tween Places. It seems the trolls that attacked her, love to ambush people in doorways. Her mother just dismisses it as a part of her regressing back to imaginary friends since the divorce. Phoebe doesn't think so.
After Kate leaves, the girls talk about what happened. Piper, with all her problems, doesn't believe Kate is having supernatural troubles. She thinks it's all in her head. Phoebe, showing her Scorpio stubbornness, thinks otherwise and decides to check the Book of Shadows for any references to trolls and fairies. After all, she doesn't want to lose an argument with a moody Gemini. Prue tries to play peacekeeper and settles the dust to a point. The jokes about how their arguing is making her 'the middle sister' helps defuse the tension. Unfortunately, Kate's not so lucky. The trolls are harassing her for the prize inside her locked jewelry box. It's gonna be a long night...
Comes the morning and Phoebe is down memory lane with drawings the Halliwells made during their childhood of their little friend Lily. Prue is moved by this and gushes about how they had such fun, even when the 'troll' showed to ruin their parties. Phoebe didn't find anything about trolls and fairies in the Book (with Prue muttering something about how it was written by adults who didn't believe in such things), but a reference guide to the Fairy World did help explain Kate's fear of doorways. Trolls and Fairies inhabit such Tween Places like doorways, windows, and shadows. Prue reminds her about how Kate was attacked over a well lit area... until Phoebe tells her the ultimate Tween for fairies and trolls to come out is midnight. They decide it's time to visit Kate and ask her how come little scary monsters are bugging her.
A more pleasurable form of bugging comes in the form of a phone call from ADA Cole Turner. Seems he's been thinking about Phoebe a lot, even quoting characters from her favorite movie. Phoebe is just aflutter with the lovely dubby innuendo... not realizing that her whole life is at his fingertips in a well-researched dossier that only he can access through his powers of the Triad. Among the more interesting items is a diagram of the attic where the Book of Shadows is housed. He coaxes her into a dinner date, but she counter offers with a dance at the club. He accepts, knowing sooner or later it'll be cocktails at the house where he can 'get to work.' Prue and Phoebe now go off to Kate's, using the spare car key. They figure this assignment is just what Piper needs to get her mind off of Leo. But she's not planning to join them. She's most upset with The Higher Powers about how they toy with her life and how they 'amuse themselves with other people's suffering.' She's had enough with the fight for good and she just wants out. All that matters to her at the moment is shaping up the club. She leaves for work on that note, leaving the other sisters to wonder how they're going to help Kate with only two-thirds of the Charmed Ones.
Kate is busy in her little world. She's drawing a picture of trolls at work, fishing in their cave and planning new suffering for everyone. Prue and Piper come to her room and they show her their fairy pictures, expressing solidarity in her plight. Kate's unsure about them. Adults have always disbelieved her tales of the Fairy Folk and she wonders if these two are to be believed. She takes a chance and tells them about how the trolls want to usurp the power of the Fairy King by kidnapping his beloved child, Thistle, and holding her life in ransom for his abdication. Kate had rescued Thistle from her captors and kept her safe in her jewelry box until help could arrive, but the trolls are determined to get her back. Phoebe is none too happy about this, and Prue agrees with her 'Coup d'etat' reckoning. But... they still need proof. Kate may be a child, but she's mature enough to know about how adults can't see fairies or trolls. So, with the little help of Thistle's fairy dust, the two Halliwells are reintroduced to their childhood. A sprinkle on their heads, and suddenly a light that had gone out years ago is turned back on. They giggle and laugh and feel in touch with playtime. Thistle makes her appearance in her royal pink garb and the girls marvel at her beauty. They start to bond with her, and decide to make up a plan to take out those mean ol' trolls. But first... it's playtime.
At P3, it's karaoke night, which surprises the owner since she hasn't even approved such an event since ever. Piper wonders why people are giving her strange looks of sympathy until she sees her sisters doing pre-school songs on an open mike. Some of the customers are amused, but then it's mostly the liquor and good nature talking. Piper asks what's going on, and her bartender hasn't a clue. She had to endure a fractured version of 'Frère Jacques' and things are just getting freaky. Piper tells her to kill the mike and pipe in some music fast before somebody gets a little annoyed and does something stupid while she breaks up 'the Happy Party Girls.' Prue and Phoebe are just laughing without a care in the world. They got to see the fairy and she was so pretty and sparkle and nice and... Piper does a well-aimed time freeze for privacy as she scolds them for being out of sorts. Prue thinks she's being an old fuddy-duddy and throws some fairy dust on Piper. The dusting... doesn't work. She's just not in the mood for playtime. Her playtime ended when the Powers took her love away at the moment of true happiness. Piper decides to call them a cab and get them home before they cause any more trouble. The girls just want her to join them in fighting the trolls. They have Kate's jewelry box key and when Midnight comes, they want to join up and fight the ugly trolls and save the princess and... Piper's just not buying it, even with the group hug. Prue and Phoebe just stick out their tongues, call her a few names, and go off to the taxi. Unfortunately, they forgot they brought company. TROLLS! Apparently, they now know about their plan. Phoebe figures Kate's safe since without the key, the trolls can't get at Thistle. Prue hopes she's right and they make a run to the cab.
With the mess handled, Piper goes back to her dark mood. She runs into a card from Leo, a moment of happier times. She puts it away, the pain being too much. She decides to make a rule never to hold karaoke nights on pain of death. This business with the 'fairies' is very grating, especially since there are other more important matters.
The girls arrive safely back home and decide to call up Kate on the walkie-talkie to check on her. Such plans are derailed as Cole shows up. Seems Phoebe forgot about their date and in her condition, a stopover for a McDonald's Happy Meal would be... unusual. She tells him they'll have to try another day, giggling all the time. Cole wonders what's up with the kids, but then remembers he has to go to the bathroom for a minute. It was a long drive from work. They let him in, with jokes about 'going tootie' and 'number one or number two' dancing around like a bad bathroom gag.
In the privacy of the bathroom, Cole makes his move. He phases up into the attic and sees the prize... The Book of Shadows. His first attempt at stealing the Book is for naught. It senses his evil and glows red hot to the touch. No matter. He sheds his human form into something more appropriate... a red and black striped demon. Unfortunately, the trolls have a lousy sense of timing. They start the assault on the girls and ruins Cole's chances of theft. They rush up to the attic and see him as he fades from view. They are freaked out, freaked enough to forget the rule about not standing in a Tween like the attic doorway. A troll seizes his chance and makes off with the key. As the girls try to chase the speeding fiend, his friends trip them up and they tumble down the stairs. Their fear dispels their inner child and now they can't see the Fairy World anymore. Cole returns in his 'human' form and wonders what's going on. They mention something about how 'stairs can be sobering' and some other nonsense and bid him adieu. Cole doesn't have a clue about the trolls. He's more obsessed with other things. If he had known about Kate and her troubles... he might have forged a deal with the trolls and done some damage. But The Triad doesn't believe in fairies either. Lucky for the world.
Since their inner child couldn't do much help, Prue decides on a makeshift spell using the Power of Three, cultivated innocence, and revealing the hidden world to assist them and Kate. Since the Power of Three and the speedy little bugger trolls requires Piper's help, Phoebe calls her at the club. Apparently, she's having a little problem with 'balance' and 'control.' The trolls are having their merry way with the lady. Phoebe's phone call for help just makes matters worse. Piper is tired and pissed off and at the end of her rope. But, with Phoebe's fast explanation about how Prue and her acting like silly three year olds was more a ploy to help her get over Leo, she decides to play ball. It would be helpful if her car keys were still where she hung them. Grabbing the spare set and asking her bartender to close up shop, she rushes to her car and gets another barrage from the trolls. With wounded pride and misery, Piper curses out The Higher Powers for her plight. She just wanted some happiness in her life, a reward for being a good person and a good witch. Was it too much to ask them to have Leo as a husband? She demands his return... and The Powers just look on. Piper brushes them off and drives on home.
After reciting the spell (and a quick quip by Phoebe over Prue's overuse of rhyme), the girls dash off to Kate's. Unfortunately, the trolls pour out all their forces in overwhelming the little girl and her fairy friend. They hold off the Halliwells long enough to sprinkle their own dust on Kate. She glows and simmers into a fairy, complete with wings. They bind her up and sped away, leaving only a pile of spent dust and an overturned room for the sisters to deal with. Frantic, Phoebe tries her premonition to find the girl. Prue wonders why their spell didn't work. They never had trouble with the Power of Three before. Piper confesses that her faith wasn't in it. She feels dejected about the job and how she can't focus with Leo being missing and her lack of conviction about defending the weak when she can't have some kind of normalcy as an anchor. Prue understands this. Just then, a fairy appears. The spell worked after all... or mainly because it's Midnight and the veil between worlds has lifted. The girls follow the fairy to a cave. Phoebe notices something about it. It's the cave from Kate's drawing, The Trolls' hideout! They sneak in and see a horrifying sight. The two fairies are locked up in a birdcage, suspended by a thin rope over a pile of sticks and twigs. The trolls have decided to hold a barbecue and Kate and Thistle are the main course. The fire's just starting and Prue asks Piper to freeze the chaos. Piper doesn't know if she can reach that far. Unfortunately, a couple of trolls smoke them out and suddenly, it's pandemonium! Trolls fly around and do their damnedest to keep the sisters at bay. Piper freezes one of them and smacks him into the fire. POOF! He's crispy critter. Phoebe floats over the fight and Prue uses her telekinesis to 'push' over the flames and snatches the cage away from death. Prue and Piper chase after her, with a quick freeze on the fire. When the trolls go after the girls, Piper unfreezes the flames. The evil fiends are treated to a quick cremation for their troubles. The princess and her friend are saved.
Phoebe frees Kate and Thistle, and they are about to fly away to Fairyland. Kate has bonded to the princess and decides the real world can do without her just fine. Piper stops her, pleading with her about coming back. If Kate leaves, Piper argues, she'll make her mother very sad and hurt her very much. Sometimes things get a little crazy and people separate. But that doesn't mean she's not being loved any less. Her parents think the world of her and will never stopping loving her, even if they're apart. They have need of her love, and joining Thistle in her world will only make things worse. Kate understands now and asks her friend to reverse the trolls' spell. She reluctantly agrees and sprinkles some dust over her head. Kate loses her wings and grows back into her normal self. A sad parting, but at least they've had some good times.
The Halliwells bring Kate back and they return home, battered and bruised over their ordeal. The fairies leave one more surprise on their doorstep. Bunches of flowers and tokens of gratitude... and their missing keys. Prue and Phoebe are pleased as punch over the gift. Piper's more somber. She realizes her gray mood almost cost Kate and Thistle their lives and she realizes the reason why The Higher Powers never allow their messengers to marry mortals. The conflicting emotions and tension would cloud their judgment and Innocents could pay the price for their folly. If that happened, she could never forgive herself. She decides to break her bond with Leo, for the sake of the Innocents. Suddenly, Leo appears. Piper's overwhelmed with joy and surprise. Apparently, The Higher Powers have weighed on her decision and decided to give the two lovers another chance. If they can prove they can work together and keep their love lives separate from the job, they will allow them to marry.
Perhaps, true love should have a place for a Charmed One and a Whitelighter after all. Piper and Leo then go upstairs to... celebrate. Phoebe asks Prue if they should tell them about the demon invading their attic and trying to take the Book of Shadows, but Prue overrules her. The pair deserves one night of passion after what had happened. For now, they'll have to worry about that in private. Phoebe decides to call Cole at his office and make up for the broken date. They do the usual banter and baiting and decide to give it another try. Phoebe is tickled pink. At last, someone for her to share some romance with. Life, she muses, is good.
In the privacy of his office, Cole savors his triumph. He's now close to his goal of destroying the Power of Three. He sends his shadow down to make the report to his masters, The Triad. It slithers off into the air duct. Cole then lies back on the chair and hums a little happy tune. Life, he muses, is good.
And the web is woven ever closer to an ultimate confrontation.