The Life and Times

Part 2: Friends, family and other contradictions

Chapter 11

 

"To expostulate why day is day, night night, and time is time, 
were nothing but to waste night, day, and time"
Hamlet, Act ii, Sc.2

Phoebe arrived home early feeling as grim as anyone who has not had had enough sleep and to much tension.

Leo was the only one home, looking after Wyatt. Leo smiled a little tentatively when he saw her.

"Where are the kids?" Phoebe asked "No Rodik ?" she asked hopefully.

"Kids are at the club with Piper. Rodik flies in on the 5.30 plane from Toronto " Leo told her. "You speaking to me?" he asked.

"Every-one giving you a hard time?" she asked.

Leo nodded miserably. Phoebe went over to him and put her arms around him "It'll be all right" she said.

"That's the trouble Pheebs" Leo shook his head" "Your whitelighter, Cole, Francesca, they aren't joking. Rodik is a bastard. He is an arrogant swine who thinks everything he does is more important than anything else, and worth the lives of any-one who gets in the way of his work. He has his own ideas about the role of magic, the way magical practitioners should act, the significance of it all. If he ever got a hint of what Cole is, God help us."

"I'll  make sure Cole behaves," Phoebe smiled "Plane?" she queried.

"Rodik does not orb" Leo said " except when he has to return powers, so of course it is a sacred power, a great gift, a moment of pure magic that is made sacrilegious by us whitelighter types who desecrate it by using the power as transport."

"Well can't you orb him?" Phoebe asked.

"Rodik can't be orbed hence the nastiness" Leo told her. "Pheebs I" he sat down. "I had him as a charge almost from the time I became a whitelighter. It was not I knew more about being a whitelighter. It was just that he had been through almost every whitelighter up there and I was .. the Elders were just desperate I think. I managed him well as much as any one managed him, but you have no idea of the damage he has ..I have seen him, do."

"How can he if he is so weak?" Phoebe asked.

"I compared to other magic creatures he is weak but he can do ..incredible damage with his tongue. I guess it makes him feel powerful. " Leo shrugged "Pheebs I don't want him coming in here and damaging what we have, out family."

"He won't" Phoebe said "We're ..we all know what we have .. we know better than to let some little bastard pull it part for his own pleasure."

Leo was dubious.

"It will be all right" she said" because we are a family. Cole will behave himself because you're his family and you need him to and Piper will bitch but she will do it for you to and so will Paige because she loves you. Neither Elders, nor bastard little warlock hunters will pull our family apart because we are not letting them."

"I hope you're right" Leo said.

"Do you want me to go to the airport with you?" Phoebe asked.

"You should stay here and look after Bubby" Leos said.

"Wyatt can come with us " Phoebe answered giving Leo another hug "So you want me to come with you?"

"Please" said Leo.

.......................................

Leo went into airport terminal. He was plainly nervous and Phoebe could only touch his arm gently for support as he left her and Wyatt in the car.

"I have this horrible foreboding Bubby" Phoebe told Wyatt who lying in his baby capsule in the back seat said " waa".

"I guess you can promise me you won't want to kill him" she said to Wyatt.

Wyatt said waa,.

"Thanks" said Phoebe.

Phoebe sighed as she thought how odd her life was. Caring for children, demon guardians in and out of her house, saving innocents and defeating evil and meeting retrievers arriving on normal commercial flights tonight.

She waited quite along time before Leo finally returned, knocking on the SUV door. He had a blank hard expression. Phoebe got out the car.

"We had some problems with the luggage." Leo explained. "My sister in law Phoebe" he introduced them "Rodik.".

Rodik turned out to be a very short slightly overweight man who looked in his forties. He had narrow watery eyes and a small mouth set in a permanently peevish position. He had wispy grey hair combed over his bald spot, rather narrow brown eyes and an expression that indicated he had no sense of humour. He was badly dressed in K mart jeans and an expensive brown shirt and grey Beret perched behind his bald spot, emphasising it rather than hiding it. The beret was totally the wrong colour for him.

"Not your wife " said Rodik with a sniff  that went straight to Phoebe's temper. "That's a relief " he said ignoring Phoebe's hand. She gasped in an offended  deep breath.

Rodik without asking got himself into the front passenger seat, leaving Phoebe standing beside the car while Leo looked across at her somewhat helplessly.

Leo got in the driver's seat and opened the back locks. Phoebe had to walk around the car to get in behind Leo because Wyatt was in the passenger side. She climbed in beside the baby capsule.

Wyatt said "goga"  bringing himself to Rodik's attention.

"What is t..that?" Rodik demanded huddling against the door.

"My son" Leo answered tightly.

"Babies have germs " said Rodik sniffing.

"Only germs like everybody else " said Phoebe "I didn't think you could get hurt by mortal diseases."

"They throw up and they poop " said Rodik sniffing louder.

"Everybody poops " said Phoebe pushed.

"Babies smell " said Rodik triple sniffing.

"Everybody smells " said Phoebe.

Leo turned the ignition key and hit the accelerator as hard as he could, causing Rodik who had not done his seat belt up to lurch forward.

"I hit my head" sniffed Rodik.

"Sorry" said Leo in his most angelic voice.

As they drove off Rodik launched into a long sniffy complaint about the flight as if Phoebe and Leo were responsible. Phoebe ventured to suggest it was a pity he could not orb. Rodik disdainfully said he did not approve of magic for personal gain. That he considered orbing for convenience little better than the path to evil. Phoebe promptly felt a thief for all the times she had allowed Leo to orb her.

Rodik then began giving Phoebe instructions on how they were going to move around San Francisco looking for warlocks, how the witches would vanquish them, but only when he was there for the kill so he could capture the power as the warlock expired.

"Nothing is more important, nothing is greater to the cause of good" he told Phoebe "Than liberating the powers from evil."

Phoebe who was thinking that family, innocent lives and the greater good were far more important decided it was better to say nothing. She heard Leo make an audible sigh.

As he came up the hill from the bay Leo  turned into the supermarket.

"What are we doing here?" demanded Rodik.

"We need a few things" Phoebe explained "With guest and children. Won't be long" she said.

"I'll come" Leo said" obviously wanting to avoid a talk with Rodik.

To Phoebe's horror Rodik also got out. "I have certain requirements" he said.

Leo sighed and handed Phoebe the latest version of the" need" list that he had remembered to pull off the kitchen board. It was an unwritten rule in the Manor that any-one going out grabbed the 'need' list. Leo and Paige and Cole always remembered. Phoebe and Piper often forgot.

Phoebe pushed the trolley  around the supermarket. Wyatt was in the baby cradle blowing  spit bubbles at Rodik who  walked beside her and Leo trailed rather helplessly behind. Everything Phoebe picked Rodik changed. She chose local cheese, he put it back and picked the imported. She picked home brand dishwashing liquid he changed it to the most expensive brand. Then he added a large number of fresh vegetables, the most expensive exotic sort because he said he did not eat meat and he could not tolerate frozen vegetables. All through the parade Phoebe kept glancing at Leo begging her with his eyes not to say anything. They got to the diaper shelves and Phoebe reached for the most economical brand that suited Patsy and did not give Wyatt a rash.

Rodik immediately reached in and removed them." These are not environmentally as good as these" he said and reached for the most expensive brand.

"Whosit thinks they itch " said Phoebe putting the diapers back.

"I've heard about you " answered Rodik with a big sniff that seemed to indicate that Phoebe's choice of economic diaper brands confirmed all the worst he had heard of her. "That is a ridiculous name for a child" Rodik added with another sniff.

Leo following behind swallowed as Phoebe snorted her disgust. He knew things always went from bad to worse with Rodik.

..................................................................

It was close to 5.30 when Paige called into P3. Because it was Monday and P3 was closed on Mondays. Piper was there alone, except for the two children and Danny, the music manager. She had spent all afternoon showing prospective tenants for the upstairs restaurant around, and then spent some time with Danny who was very enthusiastic to get a promotion for the some of the new groups going.  Piper  was carefully reading the literature and looking at the costs of equipment while leaning on the bar. Patsy was throwing balls around the floor and Melinda was on the stage, singing and dancing away to an imaginary audience.

Then she galloped around as if she was on a horse. Cole and Phoebe had taken the children to a small children's zoo where Melinda got her chance to actually sit on a pony the week before. "Look at me Auntie Paige I can ride horsy " she called.

"Very good" Paige told her.

Danny was packing his guitar and some music into a bag. "Anyway have a good look at it" he told Piper". "You know if the bands think a gig here will get them all this promotion, some of the really good ones might be willing to work cheap just to promote recordings. These guys have got some great stuff. Hi Paige bye Paige " he added as he went toward the stairs.

"You ought to get a girl friend " Paige told Danny as Piper glared at her "Stop thinking about music all the time."

"Can't " he said " stop thinking about music. Who needs a girlfriend when I can get sex any time I like playing around gigs. I'm playing a backup gig tonite because I'm not working here. Got to go."

"Testosterone has a lot to answer for " Piper said.

"I know" said Paige grinning as she glanced at the kids. Patsy was bouncing the balls off the wall and with Danny gone Melinda was galloping around about six inches in the air. And then she screamed as Patsy after shutting his eyes and trying to lift off jealously threw a ball at her.

"Be good" said Piper tiredly.

Piper went out to the back while Paige kept an eye on the children. Suddenly there was a clunking noise and two warlocks blinked in between her and the children. It reached for Patsy, and stopped confused uncertain whether it was feeling any power from him. Paige desperately orbed a knife from the bar at it and it flew backwards as the knife went through its belly. She called Piper as the second warlock moved toward Melinda. Piper came running and blew him up as he reached for her daughter, exploding warlock mush over her and Patsy. The other warlock clutching the knife in its belly tried to blink and Piper caught it mid blink.

Piper just ran and caught Melinda up, the shock of the danger to her daughter leaving her shaking and frightened. On the floor Patsy started to cry as goo ran over him.

He put his hand out to touch it and put it in his mouth " Don't eat the warlock Patsy " Paige told him as she took him to the bar to find a rag to clean him up.

Piper gave her a watery smile, white with fear, as she cuddled a frightened Melinda who a little trembly said "Mean old warlock".

"Mean old warlock " Piper agreed "Do you think that warlock recognised magic in Patsy?" she asked.

"I hope not" said Paige concerned."It seemed confused. Remember nothing bad happened. Doesn't count" Paige told Piper.

"It counts" Piper said.

..

When Phoebe and Leo finally arrived at the manor with Rodik, Paige's car was in the driveway but Cole's wasn't. Leo and Rodik went into the house and Phoebe stayed back saying she was unloading the car. Leo came in the back door to see Piper and Paige feeding the children and he recognised the degree of anxiety in the air as he introduced Rodik.

Piper barely acknowledged the retriever as she launched into an angry account of what happened at the Club and the fright they had had with Melinda and only just pulled herself up saying anything about Patsy. Leo with his face all concern picked his daughter up and held her to him.

Rodik standing by the door way moved so he was in the centre of the kitchen. "You killed the warlocks, without waiting for me " he whined " Do you know how many powers we have lost? How totally irresponsible that was."

Piper stopped cold, almost frozen. Finally she rounded on Rodik. "My daughter was attacked by a warlock and you are talking about retrieving powers."

"Even if it had got the little witches powers, all you had to do was freeze it. You are the one who can freeze aren't you? You knew I was coming." he said primly.

'My daughter would have been dead " stormed Pipier because Paige was struck dumb.

"Witches are lost, as long as the powers are not, that is what is important" Rodik sniffed "You will have to learn to be far more responsible." he said to an outraged Piper.

Piper saw the look on Leo's face, pleading with her to understand. She walked over to him all but hauled her daughter from him, stopped for a second to turn back and pick up Patsy and stalked out of the kitchen with both children.

"Paige bring Wyatt " she ordered.

Paige exploded at Rodik "Are you some sort of unfeeling calculating moron?"

"Paige" Leo said. Paige looked at him disbelieving "Leo your daughter was nearly killed." She picked up Wyatt's carry cot and stalked after Piper, all but crashing into Cole who came into the kitchen, his tie loosened and carrying shopping bags. Phoebe was behind him carrying more.

"What's wrong?" Phoebe said to Paige.

"Melinda was nearly taken by a warlocks today" Paige snapped "And that ..that, that bastard seems to think the problem was we vanquished them before he could get their powers." She headed to the stairs with Wyatt.

Cole moved into the kitchen and put the grocery shopping on the island bench.

"My brother-in-law Cole" Leo introduced him to Rodik.

Cole making an effort extended his hand.

Rodik barely looked at it " I'm not interested in mortals" he said and turned to Leo and Phoebe "We have to start planning for tomorrow. Get a scry board," he ordered Phoebe.

Cole with his hand still extended and his expression blank shut his eyes for a full three seconds before he turned on his heel and walked out the kitchen. Phoebe watched him go with a pained expression on her face.

Cole found himself leaning on the stair post actually struggling to get hold of his temper. Phoebe came up behind him and put her hand on his shoulder. He turned to her his eyes blazing demonically before he settled and said in a normal voice "That little shit".

"Please Cole" Phoebe begged "Leo is in an awful bind. Angela looked desperate and she pleaded with him.  He does not need us making it worse. He knows how bad Rodik is but he has no choice" When she saw Cole getting an uncompromising mulish expression she put her hand to his face "Please. You owe him. Leo .. he has done a lot for you, for us.. please Cole."

Cole took a deep breath and relented, smiling wryly as he followed Phoebe upstairs. Piper and Paige were upstairs making a big deal of putting the children to bed, fussing and playing with them, Piper in Melinda's room and Paige in Phoebe and Cole's room with Patsy, while Wyatt slept in his carry cot.

"Planned how to vanquish Rodik" Cole asked not keeping the nastiness out of his voice, as he leant on the door jamb so he could talk to both Paige and Piper across the landing.

Patsy was dressed in cute red pyjamas and playing patti hands with Paige, stopped and whimpered a little as he recognised his father's voice and tone.

"That kid understands to much " Paige said "The warlock hesitated like he thought he could smell magic in Patsy, " she said.

"Not good " Cole said.

"Not good" agreed Phoebe

.................................................

It was not the most friendly night the Halliwell family ever had. They made a quick decision that no-one was cooking and damn the expense, they would order Chinese, a decision that made both Cole and Piper shudder when Phoebe told them how much she and Leo had spent at the supermarket because of Rodik.

Rodik announced when he heard about Chinese that he did not eat it, that he had bought vegetables for a vegetable ragout and that's what he ate. Leo snorted, because he had paid for them on his and Piper's credit card,.

"Did you?" said Piper dangerous.

Rodik took himself off to look at the spare bedroom saying he needed time to meditate until his supper was cooked. Phoebe and Paige also went upstairs to scry for warlocks. Piper and Cole and Leo could hear Rodik complaining bitterly to them about the old house smell, the bed, the temperature and the colour.

"I'm not cooking for him " said Piper.

"No-one is asking you to" said Cole. "Got a dish " and he flicked his fingers and it filled with steaming vegetables.

"Cole! Don't use magic" Leo told him and then curiosity got the better of him. "What will that taste like? " Leo asked nervously.

"Shit I hope" said Cole.

Leo looked at him his expression blank "Good" he said eventually.

Rodik appeared as the doorbell rang to deliver Chinese takeaway. Phoebe and Paige also came down stairs to report unprecedented warlock activities and Rodik told them not to discuss it in front of the mortal.

He looked at the vegetables " How did you cook this so fast? " he asked suspiciously.

 "We had some frozen " said Cole.

"I don't eat microwave food," said Rodik peevishly.

"Then I suppose you just don't eat,"  Cole said so quietly Phoebe sent him a pleading glance and he pressed his lips together.

Rodik hesitated then he simpered "Note that or future reference," he sniffed.

"Sure " said Cole quiet.

"The bed faces the wrong in my bedroom" Rodik said.

"We could put a cot in the basement" Piper offered expressionless.

Rodik looked around the dining room and sniffed. "The colours in this room unsettle my nerves."

"You could eat in the kitchen " said Paige.

"How powerful is that little witch " Rodik demanded suddenly.

"Why? asked Leo nervous.

"I feel power," Rodik smacked his lips together "unusual power. I can smell magic power" he added haughtily.

Leo glanced at Cole who shrugged, Phoebe bit her lip "Melinda is very powerful " said Leo.

"Its a magic nexus " said Paige.

"If you can smell magic power, how come you can't smell what type it is " asked Phoebe sweetly

Rodik sniffed "I need to make sure you know how to get the warlocks so I can retrieve their powers. " He told the witches choosing to ignore Phoebe.

"I thought you said not in front of the mortal." said Paige.

"Yes "said Rodik. "He should leave."

"This is Cole's home" snapped Paige. "you can't tell him to leave."

"I'll this up clean up" said Cole only to anxious to move.

"I'll help" said Piper grabbing Chinese cartons. "You have to stay" Rodik ordered Piper.

"This is my home " she said following Cole to the kitchen

"Mortals make my work impossible" Rodik told Phoebe and Leo " They undermine magic. They have no respect for the significance of retrieving stolen powers."

Leo and Phoebe exchanged glances.

"I have a to read a report for work " said Paige running. "Tell Leo and Phoebe how to catch the warlocks " she told Rodik over her shoulder. She followed Cole and Piper into the kitchen.

"I heard the Charmed Ones had no sense of responsibility " sniffed Rodik.

"Leo and Phoebe think that bastard should be placated, they can do the placating" Paige told Piper and Cole and then orbed.

"How long has that bastard been here brudder" Piper asked Cole as he poured them a glass of red wine, which Piper decided she needed regardless of still beast feeding.

"To bloody long Pip " Cole said "To bloody long."