There's always a Choice

Chapter 3


Phoebe came downstairs. Her hair was a tangled mess, her eyes were red and swollen from crying. She was confused and disorientated, no longer certain of what she felt, doubting the certainty of her belief that vanquishing Cole was the way to go.


Piper was reading quietly in the kitchen, when Phoebe entered. She looked up at her sister and said "OMG what's wrong? "

Phoebe sat beside her and said slowly " I had this premonition of us van - killing Cole "


 " You found a way " Piper said gleefully


 " Yes " Phoebe said " He becomes totally evil, not like he was before when he had a soul but as if that is totally destroyed and just the evil is left and we -we vanquish him, using his own power "


 " This is good " Piper said jumping up "This is very good "


 " No its not " Phoebe answered miserably "because he is evil, I think ,because we use his evil power, I saw what happens to us. Piper it destroys us, using his power like that turns us more evil than him "


 " Soulless " Piper breathed.


Phoebe nodded.

 " Well " said Piper "you get these premonitions for a reason, a warning, we have to find a way to destroy Cole without using his own evil. "


Phoebe brightened  "Yes  "she said " Maybe it’s a warning to find a way to destroy Cole with good magic.


The guardian watching hopeful visibly groaned.




Piper immediately jumped on the idea, " There is a way " she said " I just can’t find it yet. " She sighed " Cole is to strong now for family magic but if we can find a way to use family magic and the power of my baby. We're stronger, more powerful witches than we were before. There is a way I know it and I'm sure this premonition was a means of letting us find that way."


Phoebe looked as if she was going to start crying again. Piper put her arm around her. " Don’t worry sis " she said. "We’ll find a way to get rid of Cole and you will never even have to think of him, even remember he existed. "  The tears welled in Phoebe’s eyes and she smiled " You’re right " she said


Piper smiled " You know I’m right. Cole is the ultimate evil now "


Phoebe eyed her sister through the tears and this time the part of her that recognised evil, the part of which she was so frightened skipped a beat.


 " Yes " she said " You are right. " and the tears dried.


They called Leo and Phoebe told him of her premonition and asked what it all meant. Leo agreed that it was a warning, to vanquish Cole before he turned completely evil and to make sure it was done with white magic. Cole must be stopped before he turned totally evil.  Leo went to check with the Elders if they could think of any white magic that would destroy the ultimate evil.


Paige, after trying to talk to Phoebe, had orbed out for a long walk around the harbour, hoping the water and being surrounded by ordinary people may make things a little clearer but she returned home, feeling more distressed and concerned at the road her sisters were taking. She heard Phoebe and Piper talking in the kitchen and went in. They told her of the premonition. Concerned she asked her sisters if they were sure that was what it meant. 


Piper stared at Paige in exasperation. " Paige what else could it mean " She snapped " we’re the Charmed Ones, we're the most powerful witches in the world. That is what we do, rid the world of evil, and this evil has to go before I lose the means to do it " and Piper touched her belly.


Paige looked down and then stared upward as Piper snapped . She thought about not answering, knowing from experience that arguing with Piper was next to useless, but then something in her made her say it  " I thought out role was to protect the innocent "


 " Yes " snarled Piper " by getting rid of evil. And we do it by getting rid of Cole so our lives can get back to what they used to be before Phoebe even got involved with him"


Paige sighed giving into the inevitable, that her sisters would not listen to her concerns, that they believed their knowledge stronger and better than hers. But this time something in her words caught Phoebe and she felt suddenly by the terrible feeling of regret that she had experienced earlier in her bedroom. It was overwhelming and nauseating and Phoebe recognising it, decided that of all the angry hurt feelings she had experienced in the last six months, this terrible overwhelming regret must be the worst.


Leo returned and said the Elders could clearly think of no white magic. "Useless as ever " snarled Piper, "Sometimes I think we could be so much better without the damned Elders. After all it's us who take the risks who put ourselves on the line.


Paige looked at her questioningly and then glanced at Leo, who was looking a little concerned.


 " Honey " he said " Maybe you ought to tone it down a little, the Elders have their reasons. "


Phoebe sighed " Couldn’t they give you anything to help " she asked sadly


Leo shook his head, hesitated, then he said  "One did say something " he answered " One said that you already know the answer. Look to what you have learnt  already "


Piper slammed the Book of Shadows shut " That is ridiculous " she said " we’ve been through this thing ten times, there is nothing there that can help us vanquish Cole "


The wave of remorse suddenly caught Phoebe again and she almost unnoticed slide out of the kitchen,. She wandered without any real purpose to the parlour. "Its only because we are facing the end " she said to herself. " He was  part of my life for two years. I must feel something. "


She stood the parlour looking. The problem was that the manor suddenly became oppressive with Cole’s presence. He lived in the manor and had been all over it. She could see him in that parlour, the memory bittersweet of Prue fighting the Seekers. Prue had gone crazy, kicking into them beating into them, taking her pain and hate out on them. Funny how Cole had stopped her. Funny how Cole had known the difference between vanquishing them to protect an innocent and taking vengeance.  Phoebe stopped and felt her heart contract. She cursed Paige out loud. Paige had made her feel. Paige had made her think about time gone by.

 " Know the answer " she thought bitterly. The Elders were useless. Piper was right, they were better off without them. Look at what they had done with almost no help from the Elders.


What had they done, lately she thought. Killed the source, fought the source Cole in one form or another for nearly a year,. Saved each other. Innocents where were the innocents? They had saved the world. Where were the innocents?, Eva, perhaps, what about Theresa, Adam Prinze. Cole had saved him. The future whitelighter. Cole had saved her, Paige’s father Sam, Cole had saved him. The mermaid, well that was something, at least they had saved her, when Paige insisted.


When was the last innocent they had saved. Miles? no he had to die. Cole when was he an innocent. Oh God when he took his powers back to save her. Could she have saved him as an innocent then, was there anything else? " Don’t think " Phoebe told herself, " don’t think. "


She went into the conservatory, but Cole’s presence suddenly filled it. She could see him laughing, she could see him begging her not to go underground to save the muses. She had known what to do then, the answer had been simple, the innocent was more important and she had told him so.


This was stupid, she told herself, What is happening? Cole is nothing to me. A bad boy lover, a taste of evil, a way of finding out what I don’t want in a man. Why was she suddenly being haunted by a vision of blue eyes. Damn that premonition.


Paige and Piper were arguing in the kitchen, with Leo between them . Paige wanted to review the Book of Shadows again. Piper thought the answer was in finding away to merge the power of her baby with the source- vanquishing spell.


 " Cole isn’t the source ..yet " Phoebe said walking in the room.


 " Not so you would notice " snorted Piper. " I hate him. I want him gone. "


 " Why do you want him gone Piper " Paige asked " because he is evil or because you hate him ?"


Paige " Leo said warningly but she persisted suddenly inspired " because if you want to vanquish him because you hate him, that is really scary stuff."


Piper muttered " Paige don’t be silly. He’s evil he has to go "


Paige looked intently at Piper " That's what it felt like when the source tried to seduce me to the evil side, when I tried to kill that man in vengeance for hurting his child. I felt he was so evil he had to go, Only as it turned out, it was me who was evil. "


Suddenly Piper slammed the Book of Shadows shut. " That does it "she said. "There is no white magic that we have ever used that can vanquish Cole. And we know from Phoebe’s premonition that we’ll turn evil if we vanquish him with dark magic, where does that leave us? "


 " That leaves us with the only choice not to vanquish him " Phoebe said bitterly,


 " Not funny " Piper snapped " He’s the ultimate evil "


Leo stopped suddenly in his tracks " he’s not the ultimate evil yet Piper " he said " Its just he will be if we don’t stop him. "


And then Paige had asked the simple question that left them floundering. "Why do we have the right to kill someone who isn’t evil, he may be going there but he isn’t evil yet. Doesn’t that make us evil, just killing some one because we are scared of what they might do. "


As her words sunk in, the three Charmed Ones stared at each other. Piper bit out "Don’t be ridiculous "


And stopped as she saw Phoebe white faced almost as if she was going to faint.


 " We’re not like that " Phoebe said sadly, knowing with a sudden burst of premonition that they were exactly like that. Phoebe suddenly hated Paige for opening her up to that first premonition


She needed to escape " I’m going to bed" she said.


She went to bed, but all she could be aware was that Cole had shared that bed with her and that he was about to die, and once again she was overwhelmed by by an incredible sense of regret. And all night she lay there remembering that there was a time when she loved Cole and now she was going to kill him, before he could destroy all the that was good in the world.


Piper went to bed but did not sleep . She sat up fuming, angry at Paige for questioning her, angry at Leo for not supporting her, angry at the Elders for being useless and angry at Cole for existing, for ever having existed.


 " I can’t understand how those damned useless Elders can say something as worthless as look to what you already know. " she raged.


Leo tried to calm her  "If they knew anything more I am sure they would have told me "


Piper suddenly lost it "You’re just as useless as they are Leo" she snarled " Sometimes I wonder why you're even here. I mean Paige can heal us now and all you do is bring useless information from the Elders "


Leo lying beside her, turned away, Piper caught up in her world, snarled " What is it with Phoebe? She better not be even thinking that Cole is anything other than evil . I swear if he has found a way to get at her again. I will find a way to doubly vanquish him. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Cole ho found a way to create that premonition, she had. "


Piper suddenly realised that Leo was not responding to her. She caught him by the shoulder and said "What’s the matter "


Leo turned to her and to her surprise he had a glimmer of a tear in his eye. " Piper can you hear yourself " he said  " You're talking like there is some vendetta between you and Cole. Like  you're taking on the evil of the world, when you take on Cole, and when you defeat him you are defeating it. You are talking as if you see yourself as some super witch avenging evil for what you think it has done wrong, not a Charmed One protecting innocents "


 " Well I am at the moment " Piper answered " Leo, this baby has made me invincible and that is the only reason my family is still alive, because I have the power to hold Cole off. He has never defeated me, he can’t defeat me. And that is the only thing that saved us. But I swear I will get him "


Leo was suddenly hit by a reckoning of his own " Piper " he said slowly " you sound like Prue "


She laughed " Thank you"  she said " But Prue would not have let this situation get to this, she would have stopped Cole before he became invincible.


Piper " Leo said slowly  " It was thinking that she was undefeatable that got Prue killed "


 " Well Cole is not going to kill me " Piper said. "He can’t "


 " That’s what Prue said " Leo replied. "Remember when she was overtaken by the sin of Pride, how close she came to dying, and Piper you know I loved Prue but Prue could be very arrogant. It was her arrogance that led to your exposure as witches. You may have lived another time line but I remember the other and I know what happened,"


 " Oh don’t be ridiculous " Piper snapped and turned on her side away from Leo.


Paige lay awake and unhappy. She loved her sisters, but those two people she had talked to had made her wonder not for the first time in the last six months, how those two women acted so differently from the sisters she had first known. She wondered what had changed.  Phoebe? it was not hard to understand. She had literally been to hell and back because of her love for Cole and the pain pf loss and fear of being evil again seemed to have made her harder and so involved in herself, she had lost her direction and for a second Paige hated Cole so much just for turning, the sister she had first known, the one who would lie top Piper for her, the one who had welcomed her to the family with open arms, into the bitter angry women Phoebe was now. And Piper, Piper had been touchy right from the start, it was who she was, but Piper now seemed consumed by the power she held, and her role as defender. It was almost as if the power and responsibility had turned her into an evil apparition. And there Paige stopped her thoughts.