The Life and Times
Part 2: Friends, family and other contradictions
"To expostulate why day is day, night night, and time is time,
God defend me from my friends; from my enemies I can defend myself.
Ecclesiasticus 6, 13
"What do you mean you
were blue?" Paige demanded as she thumped through the Book of Shadows.
"You know its just as
well the Book of Shadows looks after itself." said Phoebe who was rocking
herself in the chair in the attic as she filed her nails and trying not to feel
guilty that she had insisted that if she and Piper could manage to look after
two kids in the park it was not beyond Leo's capabilities.
"I was a pixie"
Piper said enthusiastically as she breast fed Wyatt. "Pixies are blue and little
and live on the moors."
"So you were in another
realm" asked Phoebe.
"No not really, its
pixie sort of sub- realm of this one." Piper answered.
"Sub-realm" said Paige
what the hell is that, is it like a plain, or an alternate universe or…'
"It's a sub realm, and
they live in their own magic, in this realm." Piper answered.
"If they are sort of in
this realm" Phoebe asked. "Don't they get seen?"
explained "They don't get seen because they're blue and little and the
grass is a sort of blue green and the wild flowers and moss are a sort of blue
purple and they fade in."
"Why don't they get
stepped on?" Phoebe asked interested.
"Because they hide in
the long grass and throw stones at people who come to close," Piper
"And this works?"
Phoebe asked shaking her head.
"Yes" said Piper
happy with memory "I threw this stone. Well a pebble at this great big oaf who
wandered off the walking track, when all the signs asked walkers not to leave
the tracks. Got him smack in the chin. Pixies have great aim. He yelled like
hell and one of the local guides told him it was the pixies who did not like big
boots tromping around their homes. And he snarled 'ha very funny' so I threw
another one at him" she said. "Its magic with pixies you know. How they can
hit anything they aim at with a stone. Even the females can throw overarm.
Paige thumping the Book of Shadows.
Phoebe not stopping filing "Show some respect for the Book. And what it
represents" she added as Paige glared at her.
"Pixies" said Paige
thumping the Book again but not quite as hard. "The Book of Shadows says pixies
or sometimes called piskies were beings who were not good enough for heaven, nor
bad enough for hell and so they have no where else to go so they have to wander
the moors forever."
"That's not the way the
pixies tell it" Pipier said. "They say they just decided to remain
neutral in the war between good and evil and good just makes up that story. They
couldn't treat them as the enemy because pixies are clearly not evil."
"They're not good" said
Paige still reading "They steal horses."
"Only or a bit of joy
riding" Piper explained "No harm done. It was fun. You wait until the horses have
their nose in the grass grazing and you jump up and catch their manes and hang
on like crazy. Then you sort of make the air move. Pixies can do that and the
horses kick up their heels and start to run and then if they jump over gates, or
streams their manes fly in the air and you fly with them."
dangerous?" asked Phoebe stopping filing.
"No" Piper shook her
head. "You wrap the hair around you so you can't fall. Leaves their manes in
tangled mess though. Really pisses their owners off."
"So pixies aren't evil"
Paige said crossing her arms" they are just blue and like joy riding on stolen
"Its only fun, no harm
done" explained Piper " And pixies work hard, growing crops and keeping the moors clean
from things that could destroy the water, and kill the moor land plants."
"I get it" said Paige her
head on the side "Tell me this though. What sort of emotional connection have you
got that you would get exchanged with a pixie?"
Piper snorted as she put
Wyatt over her shoulder to burp him. "Pixie's are very independent beings"
she said haughtily. "They don't respect authority, unless authority has earned
respect" she added.
gurgled happily at being the centre of his mother's attention. Paige and Phoebe
"Pixies love their
children" Piper explained . She swallowed and smiled at her sisters. "They love
their families" she explained.
"I get it sweetie,"
said Paige smiling softly.
"You don't" Piper told
her with just a touch of superiority that Paige did not miss.
"Attic" Phoebe yelled as
Cole called her name from the hallway.
don't get it" Piper told Paige "but when you change when you feel the magic
and something really magic not just the magic you get for being a plain every
like being a witch" said Phoebe as Cole came into the attic and leant over her
blocking her sister's and taking his time with a long deep kiss.
baby" he breathed.
evening Cole" said Paige smarmily.
you get a chance to be a really magic creature" said Piper determined to
get her point across, "You will get it."
evening Paige" said Cole just as smarmily "Piper."
got exchanged with a pixie" Phoebe told him.
pixie" Cole said with mock surprise "What's Piper got in common with
fey, snarky, petty thieves whose only really good point is that they can hit a
demon's eye with a rock thrown two hundred yards."
said Phoebe warning as Piper stuck her tongue out at him.
I get it," he smirked.
are the kids?" Cole asked ignoring her and purchasing somewhat precariously on
the arm of the rocking chair so he could be near Phoebe.
the park with Leo" Phoebe told him.
getting late, maybe I should" he said.
shimmer" ordered Piper "No magic."
little bastard retriever isn't here yet" Cole muttered.
was interrupted by the sound of orbs as whitelighter who wasn't called Casper
turned her nose up and then guilty remembered Francesca telling her to show some
manners around whitelighters. "Good evening" she said "Casper um .. I mean."
believe you are confusing me with a cartoon character" the whitelighter said
with dignity." Charmed Ones," he acknowledged carefully and for once nodded
at Cole. "I have to speak to the Charmed Ones" the whitelighter
you want to say to the Charmed Ones, you a can say in front of me" Cole
told him not bothering to hide his irritation.
have no secrets in this family," Phoebe claimed loyally catching Cole's
would appear to me to be unwise" the whitelighter told them" I am glad you
are here." he said to Cole. "I am glad you are all here. I would have come
earlier but I was not getting a strong sense of Piper."
was asleep" Piper interrupted waiting for
the whitelighter to ask how that made a difference but he obviously had
made up his minds not to let the witches provoke him so he ignored her.
you say" said the whitelighter clearly interested in other things. "The
whitelighter Angela, she is friend of mine. I spoke to her earlier. I spoke the
Elders, about the retriever, about Rodik being here."
you?" said Paige with a false chirpy smile.
have, the Elders, have .. there are concerns" mumbled the whitelighter.
there why?" asked Piper blandly rocking Wyatt, while Phoebe clutched Cole's
hand with both of hers, a false bright smile on her face. Paige crossed her arms
wanted to tell you, the Elders wanted me to tell you.. to explain about .. about
Rodik." continued the whitelighter nervously.
husband used to be his whitelighter" Piper informed not-Casper " He explained about Rodik."
husband" not-Casper said carefully, "Was well known for seeing the best in his
charges, for being blind to their faults, for being ..generous in his estimation
of their qualities."
and Paige exchanged glances, while Cole snorted.
said this Rodik is a fucking little arsehole" Paige told not-Casper.
Not-Casper smiled a little,
exactly" he said "That's my point. Leo was..is often.. generous in his
estimation of his charge's qualities."
The witches stared at
not-Casper while Cole started to laugh.
"That's why I wanted to
talk to you" the whitelighter told him" Rodik isn't.. kind to mortals. He
lacks ..consideration for them. He is often… quite.. he is not kind, or
thoughtful or understanding toward non-magic creatures."
"Really" said Cole
"He does not approve of
mortals being with witches" not-Casper said.
"How does he think you
get little witches?" Cole asked.
"Rodik understands the
necessity of the process of procreation" not-Casper explained. "He just does
not approve of it and expresses his disapproval."
"Cole and I are married"
Phoebe spat out" and even if we weren't, it's not any of his business."
"I do not believe that
Rodik has any comprehension that he could mind his own business." not
–Casper replied. "In fact he seems to feel it is his duty not too." He
shrugged. "The last witch who offered him hospitality. Her marriage did not
survive his visit."
"Just what are you
trying to say?" Piper demanded.
Not- Casper shook his head
then dropped all pretence. "This damned retriever is a right fucking little shit"
he said "He has no magic gifts at all, except an unnatural instinct to
focus on the one vulnerable spot in any being's soul and psyche. Finding all
those little doubts that you just ignore and making them seem .. the only thing
likely. And he goes for the jugular every time. He can't help himself."
Cole sucked his breath.
The girls looked at him Paige
was biting her bottom lip, Phoebe's eyes were wide open.
Not-Casper shrugged "I heard
once that an Elder tried to choke him, and being magic could have killed
him." Confidentially the whitelighter whispered. "Apparently at least three
others Elders were prepared to stand back and let their colleague do it."
"What are you saying?"
Piper said holding Wyatt so protectively that he protested with a loud
"I'm saying, I'm asking,
I'm begging" said not-Casper. "Don't let him aggravate you into trying to
kill him. I know nearly every creature who comes into contact wants to, but you
are magic and a rash moment, an angry unconsidered response. You're magic, you
could kill him." The whitelighter pleaded.
All three witches stared at
"I know you... the
Charmed Ones can be volatile" not-Casper begged." But for no other reason
than not giving him the satisfaction of being a shit, don't let him get at you,
"Sounds like magic,
everybody would be better off without this Rodik" said Paige grimly.
Not-Casper shook his head.
he said" that is the pity, the tragedy, the irony. So much of the battle we
fight against evil, when we are not protecting innocents" and all three
witches glanced at Cole who stared straight ahead. "Is about protecting our
powers from evil. You know how many times evil in some incarnation, has come
after your powers, warlocks, demons, even the Old Source."
girls despite themselves nodded. "And even though powerful creatures of evil come
after witches and ..other magic good beings.. creatures, good creatures cannot
steal powers. Evil's powers cannot be used for good, by creatures that are not
all three witches avoided looking at Cole who restlessly stood up and removed
Wyatt from his mother's arms because she was squeezing him to tightly.
whitelighter took a deep breath. "It's not just that this .. this damned retriever
allows us to ..retrieve some of those powers they steal and use them again.
Its.." Not-Casper searched for the word. "It's a violation of the good that
witches and other creatures do, the innocents they protect, that evil should
subvert the powers witches use to do good, that demons and warlocks subvert
those powers for evil. Rodik, retrievers, are our only way to stop that
subversion, to stop the loss, to honour those who have fallen by not allowing
what they lived for to be diverted to evil." He looked around:"
understand" said Phoebe quietly while Paige and Piper exchanged glances and Cole
looked at the whitelighter with surprise and reluctant respect.
there is something else" not-Casper said knowing, he had his audience and
taking advantage,"Rodik's whitelighter Angela."
about her?" demanded Piper.
.. when he guided Rodik" not-Casper explained "he was .. famous for his
ability to remain in control with his charges, not be traumatised by their
and Phoebe drew deep breaths, while Cole tried to bury a laugh by pulling Wyatt
close to him.
is friend of mine" not-Casper explained "And I have to say she is not Leo.
The Elders thought she could cope. Before she became a whitelighter. In her
life, previously, she was a French resistance worker, she rescued children from
concentration camps, until she was caught and…"
is at the end of her tether" not-Casper explained" She could not deal
with the consequences of an eruption, between the Charmed Ones and Rodik. For
her sake, for the purpose of not loosing a good, good, being to the battle
against evil, I am begging you to resist any temptation to kill Rodik, to
respond to him, to deal with him as he deserves to be dealt with."
looked around and the girls all very reluctantly nodded. He stared at Cole who
shrugged and eventually nodded.
this trouble for a damned retriever who is not any higher in the hierarchy than
a sludge is in the demon hierarchy" sighed Paige.
told you that?" demanded not-Casper sharply.
swallowed, "I read it somewhere when I was researching retrievers today" she
said not-Casper" perhaps you could pass that onto Angela if you get a
chance. It could even get a smile out of her" and he nodded to each one of
the witches and held Cole's gaze for a second. Then orbed.
were all silent for a few minutes until Phoebe shook her head annoyed.
it just piss you off" said Phoebe the truth speaker" when some-one who really
bugs you is so damned honourable .. and right.".
glanced at Cole and her sisters who were still silent.
you going to tell me to shut up?" she asked sweetly.
had a very restless night's sleep, not made any easier by Cole
disappearing twice during the night.
"Damned eclipse" he muttered as he went back
to bed the first time" a couple of Xindi got exchanged with a Bogeymen but
thought they were Bogle's and panicked.
I have the slightest ideas what you're talking about:?" Phoebe muttered
hope not" he said and reaching to put his arm across Phoebe.
I can't sleep wondering;" Phoebe said wide awake.
and Xindi are both spirit creatures who are inclined to be friendly to mortals
if they like them. Bogles are the evil version of Bogeymen. Really evil."
said Phoebe "goodnight."
baby" he said.
lay awake for a while Cole asleep breathed evenly beside her. She finally caught
his shoulder, and woke him. "I thought Bogeymen were evil" she said.
sighed "No" he said" Bogle's are evil, Bogeymen are just mischievous."
a common confusion" he answered. "Night baby."
closed his eyes and was barely asleep before she woke him again" Xindi" she
asked" they're just mischievous too."
did not open his eyes" Phoebe, shut up" he said.
baby" she whispered and felt like she could get to sleep. She was drifting off
when Cole move beside her sitting up.
he said a certain grimness in his voice.
said Phoebe sleepily, "You're going again. Be..oh…".
I will" he said kissing her cheek before he shimmered.
woke with the feeling something was wrong. Then she remembered . Bastard
Retriever about to arrive. She got out of bed and woke Whosit who was not
was already up. She called across the hall she was dressing Melinda. Phoebe
changed Patsy and dressed him, feeling as bad as most people after broken sleep
and at least a had a second to compose herself as in the hall to the kitchen,
she heard Francesca say. "Have you any reason to think it is something outside
the battle. Nothing on the winds."
feel nothing" Cole replied.
Francesca continued "It may be this never ending obsession with the economy. How
do you think evil is doing this outside the Great Plan?"
the edge of it" Cole answered" And I don't know how they are doing it. I'm a
lawyer not an economist."
as well or I would not have married you" Phoebe said as she came into the
kitchen, pulling her features into a smile. "Francesca good morning" she
greeted her brightly. And put Whosit Patsy in his chair, noting that Melinda was
sitting in her high chair eating
like a good girl because she would not dare do anything else while Francesca was
there. Francesca was
seated at the table, with Leo and Paige apparently having accepted a breakfast
invitation. Piper was cooking which Phoebe concluded was why Francesca was
staying. "Morning Leo, Paige" she said almost as brightly.
Pheebs" said Leo who had a half read paper in front of him, and eyed her
cautiously wondering if she was as mad at him over the retriever as the rest of
the family but even if Cole was furious with him, Leo could not resist the
chance to have a dig at lawyers
let's kill all the lawyers" Leo quoted" Shakespeare" he added.
you know how boring that joke gets after the first thousand times you hear
it." Cole snarled.
tell me," smirked Leo.
you hear that news item" Paige interrupted "About the neighbourhood good
Samaritan who went to take a collection because the lawyer next door had died so
broke there was not enough money for a funeral. Little old lady opposite got out
her purse. 'So she said to the Good Samaritan, all you want is five dollars and
you guarantee the lawyer is dead. Sounds like a bargain to me.' Morning
story is an urban myth dear" Francesca told her severely.
guess" said Paige a little intimidated in Francesca's presence lately.
heard of a lawyer dying broke?" Francesca said sipping coffee.
made to glare at her . Phoebe caught her breath as he stopped sucked his lips
together and smiled wryly.
the way Cole's practice is going, just as well he can't die or he might be the
first" said Piper happily adding pancakes to Francesca's plate, and glad
she finally had someone in the house who took time to enjoy breakfast.
the hell is this . pick on Cole day?" Cole grizzled standing up.
,just a normal day" smirked Piper.
up Piper" said Cole amiably." I have to be in court in 40 minutes." He
added as if that ought to make a difference to the way they treated him.
forget we'll have a visitor when you get home" Phoebe told him. "Remember you
promised to behave."
did I do that?' he asked blandly while she pulled a face.
gave her a with a big hug goodbye, agreed there was nothing that a little
bastard retriever could do to make any trouble between them. He kissed all three
kids and wished every-one a general goodbye and Francesca a particular one as
Phoebe narrowed her eyes.
know about our visitor?" Phoebe asked Francesca brightly.
heard" Francesca said. She stopped. "Have you been warned about him." she
asked almost gently.
used to be his whitelighter" Leo said a little defensively. "I told them about
smiled Francesca. "Sometimes whitelighters are ..over..generous in their
evaluations of beings. It's the angel factor, they confuse it with
whitelighter, what's his name, not-Casper agreed with Leo" Piper said loyally.
did you tell them the retriever is?" Francesca asked Leo.
I did/ A
god damned fucking little bastard" Leo replied pushed.
is my advice in the circumstances, complete honesty would have been better"
sighed Francesca with only just a twinkle in her eye.
won't be around, while he is here?" Phoebe asked Francesca almost
unless its necessary dear" Francesca answered her tongue in her cheek. "I know
what cannot be cured must be endured but on the whole if you have the
opportunity its better avoided," and she did not miss Phoebe's relief.
suppose it is better" Phoebe agreed not quite hiding her pleasure.
stood up "I must be off, that breakfast was delicious dear" she said to Piper who
glowed. "I can be tempted to come again."
doesn't make a big breakfast that often" said Phoebe quickly.
you do, I'll be most happy to
accept an invitation." Francesca answered Piper choosing not to notice
like cooking and being appreciated" Piper all but beamed" Come anytime you are
welcome" she added glowering at Phoebe and daring her to argue.
suppose I had better try and explain to Durand that he should not come around
here while Rodik is here." Leo said" He was talking about it being the time to
Cole's lot to suffer" Francesca answered amused. "Durand is probably the safest of
all of us with Rodik. He knows right from wrong, and it would be wrong to kill
the ….little ..gentleman. which reminds me I had better go and advise Proctor
not to come here." she said.
Proctor listen to your advice?" Paige asked curious" he didn't strike me as the
sort who takes advice. Just a opinion"
she added hastily as Francesca frowned.
listens dear" Francesca said. "But only after he has enjoyed himself being obtuse
at my expense. It was irritating when I first knew him, and little has changed.
I do not like demons" she said and orbed.
came home from work early, after a day spent trying not to yawn and fall asleep
over her desk, listening to phone calls from both her sister how they would like
to kill Leo for bringing the retriever into the manor.
agreed" Phoebe pointed out" Leo just asked. Anyway he was not much happier than
did not even offer any other solutions" Piper insisted. "Sometimes I think
he hasn't entirely moved away from being the elder's dogsbody
not fair Piper" Phoebe argued. "You know we had to agree. Not because Leo
pushed but because of everything else."
we have to protect Cole again" Piper sighed.
we have to protect the greater magic" Phoebe said firmly.
know" said Piper hanging up.
damned Rodik has already got our knickers in a knot" Phoebe told Paige when
she called. "And we don't really know what he's like. I mean they could all be
making gross personal judgements."
think Cole and Leo and Francesca are all lying." Paige said.
think maybe they are letting their personal experiences blur their judgement :
Paige said in disbelief.
is only human.." Phoebe answered primly" I means she, she isn't
isn't?" asked Paige.
said Phoebe firmly and then spent the next two hours writing a column about
being brave enough to make your own decisions and judge others by how you find
them and not what people tell you about them.
called twice, once to tell her he won the court case by getting a shoplifter
they guilty?" she asked.
can't answer that" he told her which she assumed meant the shop lifter was
at least this one wasn't pro bono" she sighed.
wouldn't bank on getting paid" Cole told Phoebe. "I suggested she stops
shoplifting" Cole said.
don't think she is likely to pay unless she needs me again" he sighed.
damn cheap crooks and criminals" said Phoebe. "Why can't you defend rich guilty
people who pay their bills?".
know any" Cole said hanging
up. He called her an hour later to tell her he loved her.
know" she said dismissing it. "You are going to behave yourself and not make
things worse in the family and not risk you magic being exposed and not tease
Piper or fight Leo. You hear me" she demanded when he was silent.
hear you" Cole answered.
you won't do it?" Phoebe pushed.
hear you" he answered and hung up before she could say anything else.
called him back. "Cole" she started to say.
heard you" he said.
love you " she said.
know" he said and she could almost see the smile on his face as he hung up.