The Life and Times

Part 2: Friends, family and other contradictions

Chapter 18


"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

With warlock hunting off the agenda courtesy of the Elders and no other magic crisis going on, the family settled for a quiet night at the manor.

The Piper/nymph was apparently not planning on leaving soon so they left her dancing in the conservatory near shrubbery and Paige cooked supper while Leo and Cole fed children. As often as possible Patsy and Melinda shared meals with adults when they had family meals but Rodik's presence made it torture for them.

Phoebe went up to the attic to look up a few things from the last few days, such as information about the warlock Cinq and to scry for Willem.

"you have never been able to find anything about him scrying. Why should now be different" Rodik sniffed.

"Shut the fuck up " said Phoebe which avoided her the necessity of explaining she was going to use the stolen realm map. She found a few things in the Book of Shadows. Cinq was a warlock who was notorious for stalking witches with powers over senses. He had killed and stolen the powers from two witches who had sight powers, one to see though non-metallic solid objects and another to see visions in water, and another who could hear demon movement. "You chose your friends well Willem" she said out loud. She read back through the histories of several warlocks and said hmmm. And pulled the covers off the stolen realm map that was hidden in the attic out of Rodik's sight.

By concentrating very hard she was able to locate some very strong warlock activity in several realms she did not recognise and that was all she could do until after supper.

"I think I know something that may help us get a fix on Willem " Phoebe told her sister over supper.

"What " said Paige.

"Blood " said Phoebe but it has to be the really rich stuff from a kidney, not just ordinary blood.

"I don't discuss blood during supper " said Rodik his mouth full and half gagging.

"Then keep quiet" said Leo.

"Or better yet " said Cole "leave."

"How are you going to stick a knife in a warlock's kidney, when you can't even see the warlock?" Leo asked.

"We see it we just don't remember" said Phoebe. "Clarissa."

"Make sure she knows that warlock kidneys are in the right side in front " said Cole.

"How do you know that? " demanded Rodik.

"Read it" said Cole grinning. And every-one decide the discussion could wait.

They sat at the dining room table where they could see the Piper/nymph curled on a rug on the floor near the three biggest plants, looking sweet and innocence.

"She looks so pretty" said Phoebe.

"She looks like a harlot " said Rodik. Rodik had been spoiling for a fight since yesterday and this was the first time he really had  Phoebe in his sights. "Family trait " he sniped.

Phoebe glared at him" How dare you " she said spluttering " just how dare you. You sanctimonious little arsehole " she exploded,.

"Phoebe" said Leo.

"Did you hear what he called me? " Phoebe said to Cole outraged.

"Yes " said Cole Thinking the hair ornament present was not going to be much of a success in encouraging Phoebe to forget about how angry she was with Rodik.

"Is that all you're going to say? " Phoebe demanded crossly.

"Yes " said Cole.

"This meal is almost inedible" Rodik announced as he looked as all but empty plate.

"Cook it yourself next time " said Paige.

"Or don't eat" said Phoebe.

"Phoebe" said Leo.

"That child' s magic is giving me a headache " Rodik sniffed indicated Melinda sitting on the sofa with Patsy watching a video of cartoons. He was ignored.

Phoebe was concerned that Patsy seemed to clap when some-one got hurt.

"He's a boy" said Leo unconcerned.

"Or he could be evil like his mother " said Rodik.

"Shut the fuck up" said Paige and Leo and Cole while Phoebe snorted in temper.

"Don't you think I don't recognise great evil in this house " Rodik sniffed.

"There isn't any evil in this house " Paige said with certainty "So stop lying."

"When are you going to go?" demanded Phoebe.

"When we get that warlock Willem." sniffed Rodik.

"That does it" said Phoebe "From now on we do anything we can to get rid of that bastard warlock just to get rid of you, you bastard," she told Rodik.

"We might have got rid of him yesterday if your demon lover had not interfered " sniffed Rodik;.

"I can swear on the honour of my ancestors, on anything you like, there was no demon lover there " Phoebe told him smugly.

"Belthezor is vanquished Rodik " said Leo quietly "I was there. This is all a game by the warlocks to gain power legitimacy in a fight with the present source. A warlock cannot be a source, but if he claims to have resurrected the power of a one time source, it gives it some claim.

"Cole understands that " said Paige. "Don't you Cole?"

"Sure'" said Cole.

"So piss off causing trouble" Paige smirked at  Rodik.

"I don't care what lies she told that .. cuckold " Rodik sniffed twice pointing at Cole who just raised his eyes "she was consorting with evil yesterday. Felt demonic power."

"You know that was " Phoebe snitched " demonic retrievers". You really are a snivelling little bastard who gets his kicks out of causing misery in other people' s lives."

"And you are an evil witch who destroys all around " Rodik said "Don't think everyone in magic doesn't know that it was your fault your older sister got killed. Leo as good as told me that when it happened."

Phoebe spun on Leo who shook his head."

"Phoebe " Leo said "Shut up. You aren't a big enough bitch to win any arguments with him."

"Its the children' s bath time " Phoebe said pulling her chair from the table with a loud crash.

"Its time for my meditation " said Rodik " to calm my aura."

"Don't even think about it Cole?" said Leo.

"Think about what " sniffed Rodik suspiciously.

"Alcohol " said Leo. "I better feed and put Wyatt to bed. It looks like Piper isn't coming back in time."

Rodik sniffed and went upstairs. Phoebe went to get the children, and Leo stood up and picked up Wyatt to take him into the kitchen.

"Washing up " said Paige to Cole.

"Yeah" Cole said and started clearing Paige went to the archway of the conservatory and looked at the sleeping Piper/nymph sighing as she looked at her.

Phoebe with Melinda's hand in hers and Patsy on her hip stopped to look at Piper

"She keeps connecting with all these creatures in the realms" Paige said with a bitterness in her voice. "And I haven't at all,. have you?" she demanded of Phoebe.

"I'm pretty certain something was exchanging, or living with me a few days ago" Phoebe replied carefully "and I had a quick almost premonition exchange last night."

"Anything exciting? " Paige asked.

"Didn't really understand it." Phoebe said cautiously.

"Aren't you worried about some-one else sharing,..your life." Paige asked thoughtfully ."

"Can't do anything about it " Phoebe said ":just hope I guess."

"Has Cole/ " asked Paige.

"He hasn't said so I guess not " Phoebe answered. "But he's pretty unique, there wouldn't be to many creature he would have any connection with really."

"Leo shared hours with a witch from Memphis the other day " Paige said :" a male witch who was really into music and magic and how connected they were. Leo said he learnt lots."

"Didn't know that?" said Phoebe ."

"Why aren't I changing/" asked Paige bitterly as the Piper/nymph uncurled and sat up stretching and yawning prettily.

"I guess" said Phoebe the truth speaker, wondering if she should say it " I guess " she said risking it " Right at the moment you aren't really connected to magic at all."

"Shut up Phoebe" Paige said with wry smile " don't you just get sick of being right.:.

"Yes" said Phoebe.

Phoebe had both children in the bath washing them and coaxing them into singing loudly, Melinda sang words, Whosit sang wa wa wa and play patty hands getting Phoebe as wet as they were, happily forgetting about magic, and worries over Cole bring exposed and Elders who no longer trusted her and bosses who would not believe her. Rodik came out of the guest room.

"I'm meditating " he said. "That noise is impossible ."

"Shut the fuck up " said Phoebe.

"You think you are so smart, evil witch " "Rodik snapped "But I see through you, evil power surrounds you and follows you and I will expose you and any evil that follows you. Demons swarm to you."

"Go to hell " said Phoebe as Cole came into the bathroom and Patsy started to cry while Melinda tuned her nose up and spat at Rodik.

"Mean old Wodik" said Melinda.

"You're corrupting that little witch into evil " Rodik sniffed as he almost cannoned into Cole.

"Mean evil ignorant bastard" said Phoebe.

"I take it the appease Rodik at all costs campaign is over " Cole asked grinning.

"I thought I was going to die for that little shit yesterday Cole "Phoebe said "And never see you again., never hold my baby or cuddle Melinda again, all over a little shit."

"Phoebe he's trying to goad you .Just to make you say to do something about Belthezor." Cole said.

 "I won't give anything away about Belthezor " she whispered.. "Are you trying to tell, me you aren't mad at the little shit." Phoebe asked.

"I'd like to kill the little shit " Cole said so calmly that if Phoebe did not know he could not lie to her, she would not have believed he meant it.

Cole helped her dry and put the children in sleeping clothes. Melinda made noises about being with Cole but he said he had work to do.

"Come and help me scry " Phoebe said to her.

Leo came out of his and Piper's room " Wyatt is asleep, Paige is keeping an eye on the nymph " he said "I hope Piper is getting some rest out of this. I wonder where she is.

"Hope its not laundry this time " Phoebe said. She whispered "I found something I think might be useful. I don't want" and she flipped her head toward Rodik's room.

Leo nodded and Phoebe carried Patsy up to the attic, while Melinda skipped ahead of daddy.

Cole lay on his and Phoebe's bed reading depositions in the case of the woman who had tried to kill her husband and wondering how any one's family life could get in such a mess. He heard the TV downstairs and thought Paige must be watching the news discussion she liked to keep up with for her job because these days she wasn't interested in fashion, music scene or dating any more.

Nearly an hour later, totally immersed in a number of interesting contradictions he heard Phoebe screech and he started to shimmer and stopped himself and ran for the stairs. He was at the landing for the attic when he heard Leo scream. He bolted the last stairs to see Rodik planted by the window an expression of sour distress on his face, nose in the air.

Melinda was crouched on the floor where Whosit Patrick sat upright, Melinda's little arms were clasped protectively around her cousin. Near the Book of Shadows Leo was standing behind Phoebe one hand over her mouth, blood poring out of his fingers where she had bitten him and the other tightly around her waist. As Phoebe struggled to get free she levitated him and herself feet above the ground.

Rodik seeing Cole sniffed loudly three times and stalked out of the attic, narrowly avoiding knocking Cole over as he stepped back out of the way. For a second he watched Rodik totter downstairs and then turned to Leo who was still hanging onto Phoebe as she cursed and kicked vehemently.

"What the hell are you doing?" Cole asked him.

"Stopping your wife killing Rodik, saying the destructor spell ."Oucchhhhh :" Leo screamed as Phoebe sunk her teeth into his hand.

"Oh" said Cole leaning on the door jamb "Why?."

"Its evil to kill something just in temper" Leo said.

"Why?" said Cole.

Phoebe finally sunk her teeth into Leo enough to make him let go, levitating down ungracefully in front of the Book of Shadows.

"You stinking lousy bastard" Phoebe swore at Leo " All I want to do was say one lousy little spell. I could have got rid of the fucking bastard. Did you hear what he said about my son, what he said about your daughter" she screamed. You fucking bastard, are you going to let the fucking bastard get away with it."

Patsy hearing his mother yell and Melinda recognising the language let out a whimper.

Phoebe stopped mid sentence and ran to both children pulling them against her. Shaking her head she said "He god damn deserves to die Cole." And then Melinda flung an arm around her neck and Patsy cried against her.

"He deserves to die Leo " Phoebe said.

"Its wrong " said Leo "Just because.."

"Go to hell Leo " said Phoebe, angry and guilty tears pouring down her face.

Cole looked at Leo and raised his eyes. He went over and squatted down beside Phoebe and put his arms around all of them.

"I want to kill him Cole" she said "The stinking bastard."

"It would be evil " Cole said quietly.

"Why ?" said Phoebe bursting into hysterical sobs.

Cole finally coaxed Phoebe downstairs. He got Patsy to bed when tried to get Phoebe to bed but she insisted on checking on Melinda only to find Leo was reading a story to her. She gave Melinda a big hug then went and woke a sleeping Patsy up to give him a big hug too . Cole finally with a lot more coaxing got her to agree to try and sleep, promising he would be back shortly

"Go to sleep baby" he said gently.

Phoebe snuggled down as he put the light out "So much for the yesterday' s sophisticated lady,' she said.

"Which sophisticated lady?" asked Cole but she heard the smile in his voice..

 Phoebe gave him a watery smile. "Thank you " she said as he kissed.

"For what " he asked.

"Being there for me " she said "and the present."

"Go to sleep baby " he said shutting the door.

"Melinda's asleep " Leo said catching Cole on the landing.

"What happened? " Cole said

 Leo glanced at the guest room door and they went down stairs to see Paige watching the Piper/nymph.

"Do you think Piper will ever come home?" said Paige.

"Well I hope where ever she is she's having more fun than me." said Leo looking at the bite marks on his hand.

"What happened up there " said Paige. "Piper/nymph tried to climb out and I figured you guys would look after it."

"Phoebe tried to kill Rodik " Leo explained.

"Why did you stop her? " Paige accused Cole.

"I didn't " said Cole.

"He's dead " said Paige a little to happily.

"Leo stopped her " Cole grinned.

"Bastard " said Paige to Leo who rolled his eyes.

"What in particular set Phoebe off? " Cole asked Leo."

"He nearly caught us scrying on the realm map "Leo explained. "Phoebe threw a blanket over it and he accused her of hiding something evil and that somehow turned into damning the children, smiting evil in the house, and them being possessed and contaminated by it. He was trying to goad Phoebe " Leo " said :" It worked.

"What saying Melinda or Patsy should be vanquished?" Paige asked.

"Both" said Leo grimly "I was thinking about how an evil little bastard like him deserved to be smit himself", but Phoebe didn't think it, she acted."

"That's the first rule of survival a demon learns" said Cole.

"What " said Paige.

"Never threaten a child whose mother is more powerful than you." he said.

"Seeing it was my children maybe I should have been quicker to want to protect them," Leo said a little guiltily ."Phoebe just reacted."

"You're a father not a mother  and he was only threatening," Paige told Leo, letting him off.

"I hope you're right " said Leo "I'm going to sit up with Piper/nymph if you want to take advantage of a certain amount of quiet."

Paige nodded. "Do you think we will ever get back to normal; " she asked.

"I'd settle for how we were" said Cole " that's one down," he said ":I wonder who will be the next to try and kill Rodik."

"I wonder who will stop them," said Paige.

"No-one" said Cole. "I hope."

The next morning as not a happy one. In the manor. Rodik was determined to make them suffer for the dressing down he had got from the Elders and still felt the need to goad Phoebe.

Cole managed to keep out of it mostly because he was scared that if he lost it he would finish what Phoebe started and knowing that Arturo had been tempted did not make him any less concerned and cautious of his own reaction.

Phoebe was feeling guilty about losing it with Rodik, guilty about the problems she cause letting him goad her into going warlock hunting and sick to death of everyone reminding her of it. To the point if one more person criticised her for one small thing she was going to totally lose it.

Piper happily parting ways with the nymph and in a euphoria of magic and its beauty and the deep rapture of the soul, was not thrilled at being brought back to earth with a thud, by Rodik's peevishness and Phoebe's me-ness."

And she was furious that Rodik had extended his spite and threats to the children.

Rodik had leant from last night's response that goading about the children was a sure way of getting a reaction from Piper or Phoebe "The power in that witch is dangerous" he told Piper when Melinda upset at hearing her family sniping away up ended a bowl of sugar over his head and no-one told her off.

"Mean old Wodik" 'Melinda said

Rodik glared at Melinda then sniffed,"That magic is not natural, whitelighter and witch, unnatural magic that should be placed away."

Leo put his hand out to catch Paige as she took a deep breath. "I have to go to work " she said.

Piper to Leo's not entire amusement argued viciously that magic was something to be developed, to be encouraged and protected.

"Oh really " said Cole remembering Piper was so sure that Patsy did not need magic, "And when did this particular view reveal itself to you."

"Shut up Cole" snapped Piper " Don't even get involved in things you don't understand."

"Why do you think that being a witch gives you some special insight into raising children?" he asked spoiling for a fight where he would not be tempted to kill some-one.

"Cole" warned Phoebe.

"Are you trying to tell em you think she's right " Cole spun on Phoebe.

"Don't start yelling at me because I'm not getting involved between you two but if you want to have an argument with me " Phoebe answered "Yes " she said. "Being a witch does give you some special insights."

Rodik happy that he had started a fight "The only issue here is how we can complete my work with the least amount of difficulty."

"Shut the fuck up " said Cole and Piper.

Angela orbed in later that day to find Leo sitting at the dining table, his nose buried in a book and the house silent.

"Rodik meditating?" she asked.

"If no-one has killed him in the last ten minutes " Leo said closing the book.

"Any-one tried " asked Angela.

"Phoebe last night " Leo told her "I stopped her."

"Thanks" said Angela. She hesitated "It was just because Rodik was being Rodik, not because or anything…demonic evil." she tailed off.

"Angela " Leo said smiling gently  "We've been friends along time, you know, since we, answered, since, you were the first future whitelighter I ever looked after."

"I remember you were pretty upset when my future happened a bit sooner than you expected or wanted" Angela said. "Did not understand you start of with the shot term prospects .What, you had only been called a year and half mortal time".

"Yeah " said Leo " You trusted me then. Do you trust me now?"

Angela hesitated and then nodded.

"Phoebe isn't evil, she's not involved with evil, she is as pure as she ought to be." Leo said. "Purer than many who think they're better."

"Are you trying to tell me I'm imagining that some very odd things are happening here and most of it seems to be centred around Phoebe?" Angela asked.

"I'm trying to tell you that there is no danger " Leo said. "Look its, there is a greater magic than the Elders, but sometimes the Elders aren't to appreciative of greater magic and that is really the issue here ".

"And you won't tell me more?" said Angela.

"No " replied Leo "I can only ask you to trust me an accept what I am telling you for the sake of our friendship."

"Who are you protecting Leo "Angela asked.

"You as much as anyone" said Leo " I ..the greater magic left me disillusioned with some things that maybe it is better not to know . It wasn't all good for me "he added

"Is that why you left?" Angela asked.

Leo shrugged "It wasn't because I seduced my sister in law." he said.

"I never believed those rumours " said Angela " never believed you were so dishonourable, falling in love with a witch is one thing, adultery is another."

"It was more that Elders believed I was capable of that dishonour, wouldn't take my word for it " Leo said softy.

"Like you're asking me to do " said Angela."

"Yes " said Leo.

Angela nodded "How did you stand it' she asked quietly "Rodik all those years and then Charmed Ones being difficult."

"I learned one from the other" said Leo grinning " but then I was told pretty conclusively I wasn't a very good whitelighter."

"Have you found something better/ " said Angela wanting the answer badly.

"I have found a way to serve. I think"  Leo told her " but better. Different. Better for me "he added thinking about it.

"Do you think I could find a way that is different. Angela asked "I have had it Leo" she said "I am not you. Rodik has left me without any belief in a magic calling. When I have dealt with him day in day out and not my other charges I feel guilty. I don't think I can do this any more "Angela said.

Leo sucked his lip thoughtfully "Have you asked for a change " he said " the way the girls have going through whitelighters  must be lots of changes going on"

Rodik's reputation precedes him, and has none of the status of the Charmed Ones, although their reputation are preceding them now.. I don't think any-one else would touch them." said Angela "Its not just  a case of new charge. Rodik has destroyed my belied in it all Leo" Angela said fighting back a tear.

"You know feeling really low let me reassess things in my life. It was a good start for me to really look at my calling " said Leo.

"You got out " said Angela wiping tears away.

"Yeah but I could just as easily decided to stay. " said Leo. "Maybe you just need a different perceptive. Step back a little."

"Need something " said Angela ."I did come for a purpose. To tell the Charmed Ones that the Elders want them to go out, with Phoebe and see what happens."

"Use her as bait" asked Leo concerned.

"I think Phoebe's value is well not what it was" Angela answered carefully. "They think the risk is worth it."

Leo looked at Angela swallowing apprehensively.  "Trust me that could cause problems" he said.

"Which you won't tell me about" nodded Angela. "They want Clarissa to go along and see what is happening ."You don't think Phoebe will agree. " Angela asked as Leo remained silent

"I know Phoebe will agree " said Leo "That's part of the problem. "I'll see what I can do" he said.

Angela stood up.

"You know getting disenchanted with magic, happens to every-one at some time." Leo shook his head " Paige is feeling like you " he explained "She fell in love with some-one who was called to be a whitelighter. And feeling pretty pissed that they put the calling first."

"Oh god the elders would just love another whitelighter romance " said Angela almost pleased "Who?"

"Mark :."Leo started to explain

"Oh" said Angela " he's a bit o a loose cannon, isn't he? Causing some ruckus."

"He was when I knew him" said Leo.

"I'll talk to the girl's whitelighter" offered Angela "God I wish they would not call him not-Casper. I nearly called him that in conference the other day."

Leo laughed.

"Keep an eye on the witches" said Angela" you never know who will be the next to try and kill Rodik."

"I'll watch" promised Leo.