always a Choice
The girls waited nervously, fearful for what would happen, for the next step but there was nothing. They called Cole and scryed but whatever he had done doing to block them from finding him earlier, he was still doing because they could not locate him. Nothing evil happened. The girls received a call from a witch being attacked by a demon sect. They helped, vanquishing the demons, gave her some peace. It felt good, just protecting an innocent. Piper looked to her babyís birth, Paige practiced her witchcraft. No sign of Cole.
They tested each other for evil, for what they wanted, for how they would act and each day, felt a little clearer a little safer, a little less sure in their sense of self importance. To their great relief.
Phoebe worried about what Cole was doing and almost felt some relief because for the first time in a very long time she felt concern outside her own well being.
She called Coleís apartment but there was no answer. Phoebe worried about how he held their destiny, about the innocents who would be lost if he could not find a way to stay, and she meant stay, good. She worried about her sisters and even little about Cole's well being. Once she touched the hairbrush and the premonition of a future with Cole evil came back but this time it was just a nightmare, a vision of maybe and she took some comfort in the unrealistic vagueness of the whole scene,.
Two weeks later with no contact from Cole, in a fit of panic she telephoned his law office ands was stunned when the receptionist said she was being put through to Mr Turner. She was even more surprised when he answered the phone in his normal, pleasant voce.
For a few seconds, she could not speak about as he went to hang up she got out the word "Cole "
"Oh " he said " Hi"
"How are you? " she asked soft careful.
" Good" he said hesitantly. And then more deliberately he repeated "Good "
" How are you? " he asked
" Good " she answered a little to quickly
" Thatís nice" he answered " It seems weíre both .. good. For the moment any way"
She swallowed " Youíre back at work "
" Yes " Cole said, then he laughed "theyíre a bit pissed at me disappearing but you know a little magic can fix that "
Phoebe swallowed again "what have you been doing, since.. the last time we um ..spoke? " she asked
" Thinking " he answered to quickly. " Making choices " he said far to quickly.
" Good " she said
" Yeah " he said "I think so "
" Iím sorry " she said
And he stopped pretending " Sorry doesnít mean anything Phoebe " he said seriously. "Phoebe, I said sorry so many times and it didnít do one damn bit of good. So stop saying sorry. I forgive, is that enough? Can you forgive me? "
She choked " I donít know " she whispered
There was a silence.
" Cole what are you planning to do " she asked bluntly
" Thatís the core of it , isnít it" he replied "What am I going to do." His voice became gentler softer, " All right Phoebe, I think you are right. I have a choice and the choice that is the best one is the hardest one. I will try to be good. I canít promise you I will make it but I will try because Paige was right. I care enough about you to want what is best for you and I have to think that is you being good and it does look like when I am good you are good, so I guess we are stuck with that,"
Phoebe made a small murmuring noise but not find the words to answer.
Cole continued "I have thought about us a great deal Phoebe and I do love you and I will love you but I need you to stay away from me " he said as she gasped " Something you said when we last spoke. He added "You said we already knew the answers. Well I think you were right. I know the answers"
" What do you mean " she whispered.
" I once told you the answer- in a different place." Cole said softly, gently "You remember when you came to hell to rescue me and I told you couldnít save me,"
"Yes " she whispered fearful.
" You were right " he said " You can't' . You remember after I k.. after I killed that witch in the attic I begged you to save me, "
" Yes " she whispered
'What did you tell me then?" he asked.
'I told you to save yourself" Phoebe whispered.
" You were right, thatís what I have to do " he said and hung up.
Cole stared at the phone and sighed . He was walking a long, hard road. He had known madness and pain and fear and he would know lonely, miserable nights when he longed for Phoebe with every fibre of his body. He would know days that he thought he would never survive and the secret he could not tell her, that it was not her belief this time that kept him going. Because he was no fool, and he knew she had to many doubts. It was the fact that she had finally found the courage to be honest with him and herself. She did knot know that it was not that he had hope, or even could dream of a future. It was that she gave him the gift of believing in their past.
Alone, all Cole could do was relive every aching memory of every second with Phoebe, of deeds unspeakable and those hideous, hideous months when the Source had stolen everything that was the best of him. He drank to much, cried more than he would ever admit, worked in a trance, stared at pictures of Phoebe and every day fought a battle with himself to save her. He was at first terrified of using his powers and held off. He was frightened of any black emotions, he was fearful of anger, of annoyance, even irritation in case it caught him unawares and the power took hold of him, until he got caught up in a court case working for a group of single mothers fighting a government bureaucracy. At a point in the negotiations, Cole and the two lawyers he worked with became angry enough to feel bringing down the government or at least their representatives was a viable alternative. Across a table, from a patronising, manipulative bureaucrat, Cole felt every bit of anger he had ever had rise in him. And he became overwhelmed at the fear of what that anger could do to him, when the thought of Phoebe pleading, begging him not to be evil struck him. He glanced down at his hand. It was empty, no energy ball, nothing. He was simply angry. From that point, he was able to use his powers, and not be evil, control them in a way had dreamed he could, all because he believed she had finally been honest to him and herself.
Three months later Phoebe sat in the parlour of the manor writing her column. The house was quiet but it would not be for long. Piper had had her baby daughter two days before, bringing joy and hope to the household. Paige was visiting her at the moment. Phoebe was a sadder and wiser girl. Never again would she be the innocent naive child she had been when she met Cole but in the person who sat cross-legged on the sofa typing her column was a woman who had looked at the worst and the best of herself and survived without hate and without bitterness. She had found her soul and in many ways that was her main comfort. She could not say she was happy. She was a woman to filled with the memory of pain and visions of regret and hurt but in all the sadness and the pain she had also found the ability to love again, because this Phoebe was a Phoebe who could, without denial remember all the great joys of love. As she typed a column about time and love and the importance of keeping faith the doorbell rang.
She stood up and her heart jumped even before she opened it, recognising the tall shadow on the other side,
"Hi "Cole said as she opened it.
Phoebe glanced over his shoulder " You drive ?" she asked.
" No " he said " I just thought I better ring. Long time no see " he added.
" Come in? " she asked quietly.
" Yeah " he said.
Phoebe half pointed at the sofa in the parlour and Cole sat down awkward and uncomfortable. The silence in the house struck him. " Where is everyone? " Cole asked.
" Piper had her baby two days ago " Phoebe said.
" Oh" Cole said politely " Give her and Leo my congratulations " Then he smiled " Maybe I will see my -ahh- nemesis one day "
" How are you? " Phoebe asked awkwardly.
" Good " he answered deliberately
" Good " she said
" What are you here for Cole? she asked nervously.
" I needed to tell you something " he said." Something its better I tell you."
Her heart sank.
" Itís okay Ė he answered quickly. " I just, well I havenít done that much on the side of good or bad lately. I just wanted to give myself time to think "
" And ?" Phoebe asked.
" I learnt a lot." he smiled " Power are powers. Use Ďem for good or evil, You are what you are, What you do and why you do it . Not what people say you are, Or believe you are."
" Thatís good" Phoebe said
" Yeah" he answered.
"What did you want to tell me " Phoebe said still uncomfortable"
" I havenít had much contact with the underworld lately " he said in rush.
" Iím glad " she said.
" Donít be" he answered. Then awkwardly, trying to explain, and expecting to be judged, he continued "I just did go underground. I heard something. Got an inkling. I went back to check it out. I thought you should know. You might hear something about a about a new source, a resurrected demon . Well there is one. Itís not me " he added hastily.
" God who is it " Phoebe breathed
" Tempus "Cole answered quickly " You really should learn to vanquish not defeat " he said at an attempt at humour that failed. " I just thought I better warn you that to be careful of any deja vu, any time twists. To tell you it wasnít me. I think " he said in a rush "I think the upper level demons will stay away from the Charmed Ones, to many bad losses and evil is not strong but I just thought you would want to know"
'Thanks " Phoebe said struggling to find words "it was good of you to tell me- us"
"Yeah" he replied just as uncomfortable. Cole stood up " I better go " he said.
Phoebe stood up too. "I have to say " she said awkwardly " I..I Ďm glad you found a way. To be good, to hold on. "
" You helped " he said
" I did" she said hopeful "How ?"
Cole smiled, his eyes piercing blue. Suddenly Phoebe was reminded of how much she had loved that smile "That premonition you had, " he said "that was a future I would not wish even on some one I hated, let alone.. loved "
She choked a little as the tears welled up. " Then I can only thank God that Paige was wise enough to question, what we were doing -what we were,.. what I was feeling too, because if she had not. I donít think I could have got there myself. I know I could not have done it" she added.
" Yeah " he said unable to stop himself saying it " But then now I have eternity to keep fighting the battle to be good every day -alone. Fighting every instinct in my being. Think I can find some help. If it was just me, .. but it isnít , is it ? Donít answer that " he said " My problem not yours"
She caught his pain ands started to say she was sorry and he bit in " Donít. You. Dare say it. DonĎ t you dare " then he smiled ands she looked into those blue eyes that had once been the purpose of her existence.
Cole looked down he leaned slightly toward her and then slowly lifted his fingers to his lips and then touched her face " bye " he said " Tell Piper I am glad about the baby. "He walked through the door and Phoebe shut it. She leaned back on the door and a memory struck her and without thinking said aloud." I love that man" and then she caught herself and changed "I loved that man " she sighed.
guardians watching nodded. The younger one then sighed. " This time at least they
made the right choices. The good ones "
" Yes " said the older one " but that is the thing about
choices. It is a matter of trust
and faith, and so often the faith is rewarded. They do make the right choices if
you can trust them enough to find their way".
guardians watched the one time demon who was now the most powerful being in the
realm, stop at the top of the manor porch, he turned and glanced backward at the
shadow form of the witch he loved leaning against the glass door, then he sighed
and shimmered away.
"And so it begins " murmured the younger guardian.