Prue is feeling a little, no, a lot frustrated at the moment. She's in the kitchen, trying to push a fork across the table. She tries and tries and TRIES, but the fork still sits on the table mocking her. Phoebe walks in and is surprised by how her sister's telekinesis is not working. She asks if Prue lost her powers, and she mutters about how can she have powers if she didn't have them to start... and then blinks out! Phoebe's now the frustrated one. She's not at all happy when Prue does her astral games. She yells out 'Marco!' and gets a 'Polo!' in the living room. Prue's studying a book of telekinesis. It seems since finding out about Belthazor and his awesome powers, she's been training her astral self to use telekinesis. Sort of the same maneuver she used against Abbey, only with a twist. So far, she hasn't been successful. Phoebe sympathizes about their eventual confrontation with Belthazor, wishing she wouldn't be alone with the creep. Course, she has other concerns. She wants to look good for her lunch date with Cole. She's not only freaking about which outfit to wear, but only on their relationship. They've kissed passionately last week, and by all accounts, it should be private dinners and making loving by candlelight, but things are at an impasse. Prue tries to give some support, but her tooth is bothering her... again. She's off to the dentist for a quick painless pull. She figures there wouldn't be any trouble.
Ah, if she only knew...
Prue's on the street going to her dentist appointment with annoying pain dancing over her head. She feels a little inconvenienced by the road construction and detours, but at least they seem normal. She doesn't notice the hand of Belthazor at work. He changes the detour lights and sends another sign to Prue in the form of a safety ad advising her 'to protect the innocent'. Prue's puzzled by this. She calls up Phoebe and asks her if she did any message sending spells on the sly. She too is confused by this, and asks her to attend to her toothache first. They can't save every innocent in the city, but if she can deal with her current problem before checking out the 'signs', then perhaps she would be more effective. Prue then stops in front of a demolition crew. An old factory is about ready to go under the ball, but it seems someone's stopping the works. Prue investigates the matter, being mistaken for a social worker. It looks like a shut-in is having some issue being evicted from his home. She decides to assume the ruse and see if she can help. She enters the building and unlocks the chain lock with her telekinesis. The room is a work in chaos and upheaval. An unkept bed, food containers on the floor, a sink overflowing with dishes... and a man named Vince on the floor whining in pain. Prue tries to comfort him, but he just cries out even more. He screams about feeling her concern, her sympathy, her toothache. He's feeling the weight of the city's emotions on his shoulders and it's tearing him apart!
Leo and Piper are having some strong emotions of their own, contributing to Vince's blight even though they're on the other side of town. Seems he doesn't like the way Piper covered up his background and their engagement to an old friend of hers, especially the part about being a 'doctor.' Piper explains that if she did tell her about their upcoming nuptials, there will be questions. Questions that she couldn't possible answer without getting into some sticky issues... such as where Leo comes from. He may have given up his wings for her. He may have thrown himself in harm's way for her. He may have shown her all of Heaven in its glory, but... she wants a real world life. This is absolutely frustrating to him. He believes in honesty and this ruse just puzzles him. Prue arrives with Cole close behind, ready for his date with Phoebe. Sure enough, Phoebe arrives, looking good enough to eat. She asks about the signs... er, assignment for the magazine. They were discussing about the homeless Vince being harassed by the cops and how he doesn't want to go outside since he's convinced the pain of the world will crush him whole. Cole decides to make a phone call concerning the matter and goes off the kitchen. While he tries to make his call, his 'shadow' separates from him to make a call of his own. Cole tells him to wait a moment. They had an agreement not to make any more reports to The Triad until the plan succeeds. There's no need to tell them what's going on for the moment. Cole's cover is almost blown to High Hanna when Phoebe comes in for some aspirin and water. Seems Prue's tooth is acting up again. Cole mutters something about being disconnected and trying his cell again. Phoebe doesn't notice the shadow and just how far away it is from her would-be date. Her mind is on other things and she walks away. She doesn't know how close she came to discovering Belthazor and her nightmare about fighting him alone. After such a close shave, Cole promises his shadow if he fails, it can rat his master out. It reluctantly complies and returns to its position. Phoebe has no idea how close to death she came... and this thought chills Cole to the bone.
The gang discusses about Prue's innocent and the pain he's feeling. Leo reasons that Vince could be a future empath, a person who feels others' emotions. Once they die, they can return to Earth as full empaths with the power to guide and sometimes heal. They come as counselors, elders, teachers, priests, and doctors and they try to help out people with their ability to read emotions. Of course, sometimes those with the budding empath gift feel that they're cursed. After all, without proper training and transformation, they can't handle the wash of human feelings without going a little crazy themselves. Prue figures Vince needs her help and the signs seem to point that way. But, who sent the signs? Was it the Higher Powers or someone else? Cole returns from his call and hands Prue his business card with his private beeper number. This will allow her to re-enter the premises and hold off the deputies while she rescues the poor man. He can later call Cole's office and makes arrangements for temporary shelter and a more suitable solution. Prue thanks the ADA and she goes off to save the innocent. Cole and Phoebe decide to go on their lunch, when Leo asks that he and Piper come along. Make it a double date, since he wants to get to know Cole a little better and since Phoebe has some desires for the young lawyer. There're some puzzled looks from the ladies, but then they decide to go along. Nothing like a little lunch to break the ice.
At Crest Hills Psychiatric Hospital, there's a man who's afraid. Not the usual kind of broken spirits and troubled thoughts crying for healing, but actual life sucking fear. The man was once a priest with a caring flock who benefited from his counsel. Some were even brought back from the shadow of death and despair and blossomed into something wonderful by his kind and caring hands. But now, he's a shell of a man, this Father Thomas. He fears he can't do any more good for the world... and he fears one man in particular. He sees his picture in the newspaper. The article says the person is a sad shut-in, facing eviction. Father Thomas knows better. He must go to the building and put a stop to the eviction before all Hell literally breaks loose. He tries to convince the staff, tries to plead with them to let him go. All he does is disturb the other patients and bring chaos. If he has his gift of understanding, of caring, of... empathy, these souls would know peace and be welcomed back into the family of man. But, he doesn't have his gift anymore and he doesn't even a chance to stop the evil from coming. He's a broken, sad man. It's about the only thing he feels with his fellow patients. The irony cuts deep indeed.
At the demolition site, Prue buys some time from the evicting officer. She has three minutes to talk the man out of the building. After that, the deputy will have to use force. Prue returns to the apartment and tells Vince about how she found out his first name. When she asks about his last name, he mutters "Misery". Her joke about if he wants some company falls flat, as is her warning about the possible civil disobedience charge he's facing. Vince tells her that the trip to jail will kill him, the rush of emotions will cause him to snap if the eviction into the open street doesn't do it first. Prue tries to confide with the man. She understands about his gift and how sometimes having a special power without proper teaching would seem more like a curse. She tells him that his empathy is a blessing and that he should rejoice in it. To Vince, the words are empty. She doesn't know how painful is it to feel everyone's pain, everyone's joy, everyone's fear. In fact, he's feeling the very fear she has dealing with The Triad and this is the most painful of all. The tense moments he's feeling only increases as the deputy tries to barge in. Prue stops him with a telekinetic hold on the door. Vince is puzzled by this. He asks how she's doing it, but she can't explain right now. She asks for his hand and recites the spell of release. To ease Vince of his pain and give the empathic powers to someone more worthy and more capable of handling them. There's a brief moment of stillness and suddenly, Vince feels... fine. The voices have stopped. Prue drops her telekinetic guard and let's the deputy in, musing about how the door stuck on her too. She tells him that Vince is feeling better and he can now leave the building. Vince does seem healthier now, the color's returning to his cheeks. Prue leaves Cole's calling card with him and leaves him to the care of the deputy. Vince is very grateful for the help... so grateful, in fact, that he chokes the deputy and burns him with his demonic touch. The pain is brief and final. If Vince had any feeling, he would be proud of this first kill in a long time. The only reason why he didn't prolong it was simple. 'Vince', or rather the demonic assassin Vinceres, wants to save his special death grip for the bastard who cursed him with the power of empathy. An annoying deputy is just peanuts. Practice for the main event.
The lunch double date has gone well, for the most part. Of course, there are a few awkward moments. Phoebe tries her best small talk by asking about those Niners. Seems neither Cole or Leo follow the San Francisco Forty-Niners much. Phoebe jokes about Cole not being human and he chokes on his water. It takes him a minute to realize he wasn't discovered as the true and bloody Belthazor. He just shrugs it off and asks for the check. Phoebe and Piper then decide to go off to 'freshen' up while the boys talk things out. In private, Phoebe wonders if Cole was pulling away again. She worries that this lunch is more like a break-up than a true date. Leo has a discussion about Phoebe with Cole. He tells him about how she's more a sister to him and how he cares for the youngest Halliwell. He doesn't want her hurt. Cole promises the Whitelighter he won't do anything... wrong to her. The girls return and the check arrives. Cole asks if he can split the check with Leo. He agrees, but can't seem to find his wallet. Piper comes to his rescue with her credit card. Leo is flabbergasted, but he keeps his calm. Cole's beeper goes off and he reads the message. He excuses himself to make an important phone call. The guys are feeling a little tense.
Cole materializes in Vinceres' apartment. His plan has worked. The deadly assassin has been freed of the empathic cancer and now he can 'repay' Prue for her kindness. Vinceres is overjoyed with his release and gives his praise to Belthazor for his genius. He hopes his benefactor will be around to see the Charmed One's demise, but Belthazor is not enthused. He doesn't want to witness to Vinceres' handiwork or the sorrow of the remaining sisters. Vinceres is surprised by the sudden compassion and wonders if the Great Dark One has been human too long. He doesn't care anyway. He will fulfill his end of the bargain... once he has hunted down the good Father Thomas and burn every cell of his body for being cursed with empathy. Cole stops that thought cold. Under no circumstances must Vinceres attempt to revenge himself. The witches could find out what he really is and reverse the spell. Vinceres boasts of his immunity to their spells. He's the unstoppable killer of millions, so what's three little spellcasters to him since they can't stop him? Cole reminds the overeager assassin that the power of Belthazor can kill mortal, witch, and demon alike. It's unwise to thwart against his will. Vinceres considers this as Cole touches his chest and feels his 'heart' beating... and decides to hold off on his quest for vengeance. But as Cole disappears back to the restaurant, the assassin's eyes gleam. No one tells him what to do. Not The Triad. Not The Higher Powers. Not even the great and dark Belthazor!
With her good deed for the day done, Prue tries to reschedule her dental appointment. The pain is getting worse and she really needed to have it removed. She mentions something about being tied by at work and the secretary tries to be understanding. Suddenly, Prue feels flustered. Across the room, a young couple is kissing and fondling each other. Prue experience their heat, their desire to tear off their clothes right in the office and make love. She even feels the love pinch on the guy's butt. Then, she starts to laugh uncontrollable. Seems the patient in the next room is having some fun with the nitrous oxide. It's... unbearable. Prue tells the desk she'll come back later because she's feeling very odd and rushes off. She pinches Loverboy's butt on the way out and this doesn't amuse his girlfriend. They start to argue and she gives him a shove.
Cole and Phoebe are having some trouble with their love lives too. Phoebe thinks Cole is dumping her that he's pushing away from her. She asks what's wrong and he says it's complicated. She'll understand what he's feeling soon and then leaves. Prue runs into the ADA and has a shock. Phoebe asks what's with her and she fesses about the feeling she experienced from Cole. Something she hasn't felt since Andy. It's the queasy, freaky, roller coaster emotion of falling in love... and she's feeling it from Phoebe too. Phoebe is freaked on multiple levels. She rushes the eldest sister to the kitchen where Piper and Leo are talking. Phoebe tells them about Prue's spell backfiring by pinching Piper's arm. Both her and Prue yelp out. Piper is annoyed and pinches Phoebe. Both her and Prue cry out. Seems Prue has Vince's empathy now. While Prue thinks this is the edge she needs to take on Belthazor, Leo has his fears. He knows the powers of an empath are a terrifying burden to someone not capable of handing them properly. Prue disagrees until she feels his concern and Piper's worrying and Phoebe's uneasiness and a flood of other emotions coming all at once... and all this cause her to lash out and use her telekinesis on the television. The tube explodes, startling everyone. Leo is dead right! Prue collects her composure long enough to make some suggestions. She's going to the Book of Shadows to find out how empaths control their powers. She tells Phoebe to go to Cole and confess her love to him. She knows the poor boy is out of sorts with his emotions and this might be the only chance Phoebe has to find true love. Phoebe runs off. When Leo and Piper offer their help, Prue stops them. Dealing with their denial and resentment is very distracting and she needs all her concentration. They have to deal with their feelings now! Prue rushes upstairs to the attic. Piper and Leo take her advice and talk. Leo confesses of his feeling of hardship over being in Piper's world, of not being able to be a gentleman, of being out of place in the world where a man doesn't necessarily have to pick up the check since his mate is perfectly capable of paying for them both. Piper begins to understand. She just wants to share him with her world and make him a part of her life completely. The rapport established, they start to cuddle and kiss... until Prue cries out, "I have a headache!" They can hardly contain their laughter.
Cole continues with his packing. He knows what sort of demon Vinceres is and how he will inflict such pain and sorrow to the Halliwells before he kills them one by one. He doesn't want to be around to see Phoebe die a painful death. Perhaps Vinceres is right. He's feeling compassionate about the young woman and it's clouding his judgment. He is a foot soldier for The Triad and he shouldn't be feeling anything but contempt and loathing to Phoebe. So why does it hurt so much every time he thinks of her? He answers the door and finds Phoebe right in front of him, her mouth quivering and her eyes lusting. He lets her inside and can't find the words. She takes the initiative and kisses him, telling him she was better at show than tell. His defenses wear down and he pleads with her that she doesn't know what she's getting into. She answers with the same warning and then continues with the kissing. The heat builds up and there's no more talk. This is the time for love and loving. To surrender to lust and embrace passion's heart.
Cole, for the moment, doesn't feel like a great demonic killer. For tonight, he's a mortal in love with an extraordinary woman. For this night only, The Triad can go rot!
The morning after and they're still in the afterglow. Their lovemaking was nothing short of magical. Their feelings for each other are now completely naked, as naked as their bodies. Phoebe just wants this day to go on forever, for their world just to be Cole's apartment and their endless passion. She then notices his packed bag and wonders if he's in any trouble. He tells her the same story about how complicated his life is and she tells him he doesn't have to hide anything from him. He gets up to go to the bathroom and ponders this. If Phoebe discovers she spent the night alone with Belthazor making love rather than war... what would she think of herself? What would he think of her and himself?
Vinceres has other matters troubling him. His visit to Father Thomas's church has yielded nothing. He tortures the church's secretary into revealing the good priest's whereabouts. Seems Father Thomas had a nervous breakdown three years ago and was sent to Crest Hills to recover. Somehow the irony amuses Vinceres... if he could feel such humor. He thanks the poor woman by killing her quickly and quietly with a burning touch. Again, she's merely practice for Father Thomas's moments of agony.
Agony is the least of Prue's problems. Her new empathy has opened up a world of emotions and feeling to her, not all of them good and every one of them crushing her soul. She can't stand the voices. Not even the basement can shield her. Leo and Piper try their best to soothe her, but this only aggravates the hurt. So much so that her next telekinetic outburst almost brings down the house around their heads. Her powers are linked to her emotions and the empathy is magnifying them exponentially. If the empathic powers are not removed soon, her next attack could be costly. Piper decides to seek out 'Vince' and return the powers to him. Perhaps with Leo's guidance, he could finally find peace with his empathy.
At Vince's building, the gang finds a horrifying site. Seems the police have found their missing deputy and he's been burned to a crisp. Phoebe arrives by taxi and Piper's amazed by her glow. Seems the night before was very enjoyable indeed. Leo feels uncomfortable about the sex talk, especially since there's a dead body being carted away. The three walk into Vince's apartment and Phoebe has a very bad premonition. Seems the room was dripping with psychic remnants and what they provide is terrifying. Vince is not a troubled soul but a demonic force on a killing spree. The empathy Prue removed was a safeguard, a restraint against further killing. A demon's greatest fear is to experience the same pain he inflicts onto others. The last image Phoebe receives is that of 'Vince' killing Father Thomas at Crest Hills. It may not have happened yet, so they must rush to the rescue.
All the while, in the back seat... Prue's grip on sanity ebbs away like melting wax.
After briefly subduing the staff with a time freeze, the gang finally meet Father Thomas. Prue stands guard, telling her sisters and Leo she's well enough to take on Vinceres if he should arrive. Her sweaty fevered brow tells a different story. At first, Father Thomas is reluctant to talk. But he eventually tells them about how he bested Vinceres. The demon was after him for his works of charity and, using his ability to heal through his hands, Father Thomas cursed his foe by transfering his empathic powers. It was a costly victory. While Vinceres suffered with the waves of emotions flooding his inner being, Thomas couldn't do his work since he couldn't empathize with his flock. The strain got to him and he suffered greatly. When he discovers Prue released Vinceres from his curse, he's outraged! An unstoppable, unreasoning killer is on the loose and the most likely target will certainly be the empath that cursed him. His rants affect Prue and she responds with wild telekinetic thrashing and throwing of objects. The patients and Halliwells alike dodge and duck the maelstrom. If Vinceres doesn't kill them, Prue's descent into madness certainly will.
Back at the manor, Prue continues to suffer. She wants the pain to stop, for the voices to stop, for everything to stop. It's lucky for everyone most of the breakables were spirited away. There's no telling what Prue could do if she had the chance to kill herself.
The Book of Shadow details Vinceres' reign of terror and his immunity to magic. The only reason why Prue's spell worked was because he wished it. Now that he has no more use for the witches, they can only make a quick prayer before he kills them. Phoebe then makes an observance. Since Prue's powers are based on her emotions, then maybe by channeling her empathy to them, Vinceres could be defeated. Thomas is unsure, his self-pity and guilt are eating him alive. Piper puts her foot down and insists he try helping someone for once instead of waiting to die. Father Thomas and Leo go down to the basement and face Prue. Her self-assurance, her confidence, her strong will are gone. All that remains is a scared young woman. Thomas tries to relax Prue, tries to help her focus her wild empathy into something more stable and strong. Something that would help fight Vinceres and send him back to Hell. Prue is awash in tears and fear, the emotions drowning her out.
And from this chaos comes the shadow of death! Vinceres barges in and demands Father Thomas's head. Piper and Phoebe do their best slowing down the juggernaut. Time freezes are shrugged off. Throwing vases and furniture only annoys him. Phoebe's martial arts amuses him a little, since it's been awhile he used hand to hand combat, but even this is useless. The girls are at their last stand and they need Prue now!
Father Thomas, hearing the melee above, asks Prue to take his hand. He tells her about how his hands focused his healing powers. He asks her to channel the empathy to her powers, to embrace the very thing that makes mankind unique, that binds people together whether for ill or good. She must gain strength from all emotions.
Vinceres has Phoebe by the neck. He's tired of the horseplay. He wants Father Thomas, and he'll kill everyone in the house to get him. Exhausted and afraid, all Piper can do is watch the demon's hand tighten around her sister's throat... when a familiar voice suddenly brings hope! Out from the basement come Father Thomas, Leo... and Prue! She's centered, calm, focused, and very pissed off! She uses her heighten telekinesis to brush Vinceres aside and release Phoebe. Vinceres is enraged! No witch can defeat him. Prue tells her sisters to stay away. This fight is hers. With full control of her enhanced powers, she beats the demon at every turn. She dances around stairwells and furniture like a master from the old Kung Fu movies. Every attack is countered, every move anticipated. Even Vinceres' death grip is overpowered as she shakes off his grip and gives him a well-timed bicycle kick in the face. Vinceres is still defiant! He boasts that he can handle her powers. Prue then asks if he can handle pain. She projects her astral self into his shell, carrying with her the pain of half the city. It's more than he's ever dealt with even during his years of torment with his empathy. His being buckles and bends, being twisted from the inside by all the hurt and harm. He cries out in utter pain and explodes into a billion pieces! All that's left in his stand is a smiling satisfied image of Prue before she fades away. The guys are awed! Prue is pleased with her work, but a little sad. She had hoped to save the empathetic powers to return to Father Thomas, but they were sacrificed at the end. Thomas has no regrets. They were used wisely and through Prue, he now knows he can be empathetic without the use of magic. His days of helping the innocent are far from over. Phoebe and Piper compliment Prue on her brief but memorable whoop ass. For the first time in two days, Prue feels pride and it is good!
As the rock group Idol plays at the P3, the girls are celebrating. Leo has helped Father Thomas reclaim his parish and they've survived their encounter with the alleged unstoppable Vinceres. Prue's tooth has been dealt with and she's now going to be more wary of signs and portents. And as for the other bit of news... Phoebe decides to go find Cole.
Phoebe finds him still at his apartment. Seems he won't be leaving anytime soon, since a buddy of his didn't do what he was told. He still has work to do before he's finished. Phoebe wonders if this is good or bad. Cole jokes it's both and they embraces. Their new love smolders with the heat of renewed passion... but Cole's attention is elsewhere.
How can he love someone so much and yet swear by his masters to kill her and her sisters without mercy? Suddenly the path is no longer clear. This is most troubling indeed.