The Life and Times

Part 3: Rhymes and Reasons

Chapter 23

"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

"Love comforteth like sunshine after rain"
William Shakespeare. Venus & Adonis

On the edge of a small African village caught Cole hovered over the growing flame, which was lighting up an African night sky.

"You cannot let the Balroo monster take the child." He said, his voice quiet, calm as he looked at the small deathly ill boy huddled in front of the witch's fire.

The firelight allowed him to see the small African village, against the dark and the witches standing in a half circle around the fire, lined in three different covens, turned away from each, clearly showing their allegiance; three different covens who would never have come together if the demon guardian Belthezor had not forced it over a common enemy. None of the witches were in European clothing; most wore cotton wraps and cotton headscarfs. Their faces, many old before their time, showed the strain of their lives. But despite, the reluctant and enforced coming together of witches from three different covens because of the danger of the Balroo, despite the hardship of their lives and the current drought, despite three different kinship structures, every now and again one flashed a smile that went as far as her eyes and he wondered how they managed to see beyond it all when all he could see was the problems.

The witches regarded Cole cynically as he tried so damned hard to impress upon them that all that mattered was the balance; tried to impress on them that their call to good  had meaning above and beyond where they stood now. That the deeds and actions in this small African village were not just about this small village, and its rival neighbours but had a great impact on places and realms and magic,  places many of these witches had never heard about, and to which in the lives they led, they were completely indifferent.

As he hovered behind and above the burning orange and red light of the fire, incarnation of demon, ogre and mortal, the witches regarded him with expressions that ran the range form disgust to contempt, to concern to scorn. None, adding to his frustration with the situation, had anything like outright fear, or even respect for the presence of a Guardian. 

Maybe Phoebe was right, he needed a 'Scary Ogre Outfit' but then reason told him that these women who had balanced their magic between conflicting culture, war, famine nature, religion, invasion and disease were unlike to be impressed by any number of Scary Ogre Outfits.

Arturo, Cole thought with some irritation and envy, was able to summon a benign passivity and detachment that gave him an air so dangerous creatures of magic, good and evil, wavered in front of him, fearful of the consequence of confrontation. Cole lacked the detachment and he knew it. Someway, somehow he wanted to help but he had no idea how. And he was ironically aware that his sympathy was seen as weakness.

"Don't even try to help" Francesca had ordered him, as he fumed at the school marm command in her tone "It's not your role. You have no idea of their needs, their desires, their culture. You could only tell them what you think they need, help them by insisting they make themselves into what they are not. You don't have that right. I am not even sure you have the power," she told him.

He had sulked at her, demanding to know if she dared speak to other Guardians in such a tone.

 "Of course I dare " she replied, a twinkle in her eye " But I rarely have to." And he raised his eyes in irritation and frustration.

So late at night t the edge of African bush, hearing the noise of animals crashing in the background, and the bird sounds in the hot dry night around him, Cole hovering over the magic fires the warring witches had used to summon their common enemy, raised his eyes in irritation because he knew Francesca was right. All he could do was enforce the Great Plan, insist on the danger of Good turning on itself, and the virtue of their calling. And curse himself he lacked the power to fix it.

One witch started a chant to summon a whitelighter, and create a wall of protection against him. He flicked a finger and froze their magic, and half sighed, as the effect was not to create awe, but anger and scorn. These women went without so much, the removal of power was just one more hardship created by an invader who claimed to protect them. He sighed in frustration.

He told the witches that the evil that attacked Africa was trying to turn those who understood magic, good beings, good witches on each other. That it was the task of evil to disintegrate and splinter the enemy, that it was their very refusal to allow evil to seduce them to its magic, the protection of innocents, regardless of the identity of the innocent that would protect them. That this would keep Africa and the world in balance. And if they turned on each they risked a great loss to evil, in their village in Africa, in the realm.

The witches all of them, friends, enemies, responded with such blank expressions, Cole seriously wondered if the demon power to understand and speak any language had failed him.

Finally one witch, a tall woman with sunken tired eyes and very strong determined face asked with a mockery he could not miss. "So we are to betray our heritage, out culture and our family. We must be witches  first, for the good of those who care nothing for Subadai." she asked, in a mock reasonable voice that made Cole for an instant remember the fleeting demonic pleasure of vaporising opponents because they annoyed him. He swallowed hard.

"For what?" asked the witch.

"So Good prevails" he answered, seriously wondering if just saying 'Do as you are told or I will smit you' was a better option.

"Our children are hungry and there is a Balroo in the bush" said an old women, "And starving as our children are, the monster comes in the night to steal them."

"How does our magic feed the children?" asked another "Our magic cannot kill the Balroo."

"Can we use magic to make the crops grow?" asked another "No the whitelighters come and say to use magic for such a purpose is for our gain. So the children die of hunger and disease, if the Balroo does not take them."

"What do we care of a greater good that lets the children die?" insisted another witch.

Cole could not answer because the truth was to protect his children he would break any rule, and damn the balance. The children come first. And he found himself murmuring aloud "The children come first."

He caught himself, and shook his head, then moved in front of the flame, not realising, because he thought of himself as Cole, that to the witches as he stood with the fire behind him, the intensity of the passion and belief he felt, made him appear as a dark spirit being whose aura and magic soul were visible against the flame.

"Because if Africa falls to evil, the realms could be lost. If good witches turn " he said, softly not recognising himself, that the tension and passion were spilling into his voice.

"What is Africa? " demanded an old witch "This place where I am is Subadai. I know Subadai, what else matters to me. All I know is Subadai. If Subadai falls to evil and the Balroo eats the children, what matters saving Africa?"

"Use your magic to join and protect the children," Cole said.

"We use our magic for the children," snarled a witch of a different coven."Witches of Subadai come here to put difference aside, and use our magic to summon the Balroo and feed with one that is already lost, to protect the others."

"And the Ogres come" said a young witch from the opposite side of the circle.

"Looking much like all the other devils who have come to Subadai" said a sister witch.

"To tell us we consort with evil if we feed the Balroo" said the young witch.

"There is no magic in Subadai to destroy the Balroo" said a witch of another coven. "So we must feed the Balroo or lose all the children" she said. "We send those who would not be with us long, what is lost " she said " a few days less suffering by those who would go and the rest are safe until the Balroo is hungry again."

"There is magic outside Subadai " said Cole "To destroy the Balroo."

"What matters to Subadai, magic outside Subadai?" asked one of the older witches.

Cole swallowed "It's wrong to send the innocents to the Balroo. You consort with evil and all that you are, all that is good is lost to Africa."

"What matters Africa to me? asked the first witch who had spoken " it is Subadai that matters to me. It is what we are here for."

Cole sighed.  Because he accepted that these women, who faced life and death and loss everywhere they looked, as women as well as witches, could feel their pain was unnoticed by a greater world, and a higher realm. Their point was valid. What mattered that realm. Their world was Subadai.

Cole shuddered with frustration. because he had children, and a small safe and happy mortal world that he would damn a great deal to protect. He could not argue with the justice of these witches' claim. The children came first. To protect their children from the rampaging Balroo monster, they would sacrifice one already lost.

"Summon the Balroo for the child" he ordered, as he rose above the witches fire, unconsciously demonstrating the aura of the Guardian/Ogre in the magic light of the witches' fire. He stared down as the boy,  undersized shrivelled and seriously ill, who had volunteered his fate watched with a calm disinterest.

The witches seeing the great aura of a guardian, gasped a little, although Cole, angry, frustrated and feeling almost powerless, barely understood what the ripple of indrawn breaths was.

"Summon the Balroo " Cole ordered them again in a soft calm voice, accepting himself that only Subadai mattered. The witches somehow listening to deadly power of his voice suddenly broke into a long melodious rhyme as the child watched them, knowing his fate.

In a life time for the child, an instant for Cole and the witches, the Balroo came as summoned, shuddering into the light of the witches' fire the dark, dark monster of Africa, hidden behind myth and legend.

For Cole, who had been demon of he century and shared an existence with the Source of all Evil, the Balroo was just another of the barely sentient, lower creatures of evil, existing only to enhance the dark majesty of evil, to be swatted and destroyed and replaced by more monsters. For the witches, it was the symbol of the precariousness and helplessness of their existence.

Monster that it was large and distorted in the firelight Cole watched as it approached the child who had long since passed any real fear. The light of the witches' fire behind the monster distorted its presence as much as it enhanced Cole's. He swallowed hard as he watched, seeing pained and aching faces of the witches as linking arms, sisters witches, enemy witches, witches from a heritage in conflict linked arms and softly sung a rhyme that held the Balroo where it was, .

Cole damning fate, and damning the Great Plan and damning the consequences, quietly lifted a hand and flicked his fingers so the great and evil monster exploded in a mass of fire and black ash and demon goo, exploded into the African night deafening the sounds of animals and soft trees.

The witches in an instant stopped the crhyme to look at him with blank indifference.

"The Balroo has gone" he told them. "And Subadai is free of this evil."

"Until the next monster comes," commented one of the witches. Cole was beyond recognising which one.

"And the Ogres will come to protect us from when the next monster is sent by evil to destroy Subadai?" asked the witch.

And Cole, grimly realised to lie would be evil. "It is unlikely," he admitted moving to the front of the fire.

And he heard them collectively snort.

"The monster's are not the greatest evil " said Cole frustration dripping from his voice. "The great evil is that in sending them, evil has convinced you that you cannot fight, cannot defeat evil, unless you are evil. "

There was no response.

"I did not kill the monster to defeat evil" Cole bit out desperate "I did it to guard you from turning evil."

"The Balroo is gone we are not evil and the child will still die " said a witch stepping forward to the deathly sickly boy, huddled in front of the dying witches fire. Cole knew without any reason that she was his mother.

"I know," said Cole softly.

"Ogre you cannot save his life" she begged and this was the mother asking .

"I do not have that power " he answered softly, helpless as he shimmered pushing himself though the spirit winds, bitter angry, that in the great arsenal of demonic power he had at his disposal, not one was able to change the progress of mortal disease and starvation.


"Its sad you know " Cole said a little pathetically, as an hour or so later when back in his office, away from the confusion of Africa, he tried to find a sense of himself and his own life. He had spent most of the hour calling Francesca who apparently did not fell his need for absolution was a priority, and had not arrived. Cole was feeling Phoebe's voice on the phone was his only link to a rational perspective. 

"What's sad?" She asked knowing him to well to fall for pathetic.

"You used to call me just to talk to me, now its because you want something. I guess we really re married."

"I do want something. I want you" she said. " I just want you to check Margaret's employment contract as well, to get Dad off my back. Anyway you get 'talk' to me...a lot."

"Is it talking?" he said. 

"Well you know" she said" Its communication."

"Hmmm some of the things you communicate aren't exactly what nice normal married women communicate," Cole said.

"I'm not a really normal married woman. In fact" she said, " I seem to recall telling my husband that if he wanted anything like a normal marriage he had the wrong girl."

"Oh he got the right girl," Cole said hanging onto every note of her voice.

"Well I don't mind being stuck married Phoebe giggled, "You know, as long as I can keep a lover, a really good lover for entertainment, I can just about pretend to be a boring straight up and down married lady. "

"Oh " she said in different voice as she realised Elise was standing at the door.

"I'm talking o my husband " Phoebe said guiltily.

"I'm not a fool " snapped Elise coming into the room.

"I have to go " Phoebe said "I'll call you back ….Cole."

"We need to talk" Elise told her, ice in her voice. "This paper has supported you through more than most employees deserve. Messy divorces, police reports, .

"Yes I know," Phoebe agreed calmly, " My column keeps the circulation of this paper at record levels.

"Exactly" said Elise "You were the one who chose to make your marriage the subject of your talks and column. You give the readers and listeners this expectation of a happy marriage and instead you come on to everything in pants like …."

Phoebe, witch, wife and mother came to her feet "Like a what?" she asked

"If you are gong to pull some crappy lie at least you could pull something believable" snarled Elise retreating from dangerous ground "The reason that fairy stories are fantasies is not the witches and dragons, it's the happily ever after. that is the fantasy.

"I. Am. Very. Happily. Married. " said Phoebe through her teeth. "I'll have you know my marriage is perfectly happy and I mean perfectly. I love my husband, no I adore my husband and he loves me. He's my lover, he's my best friend. I have a beautiful son and I'm planning on a having a few more" and she snorted at the disbelief on Elise's face.

"Where is this wonder husband when you need him?" demanded Elise. "He never turns up to all these events you keep saying he's going to come to, when you married him the first time, he was always hanging around like a bad smell. He's never here now."

"He's working, " said Phoebe "Setting up a law practice."

"Lots of night court appearances" sneered Elise.

"I " said Phoebe thinking of the time Cole spent in Africa.

Elise stood up " I don't know what you promised your husband or agreed too" she said " to get him to cover that little affair you had with your brother in law a few years ago. I don't know how you promised him to get his name on your brat's certificate but you just make sure what ever arrangement you have going, you keep it in public at least."

"Whosit's Cole's son " snarled Phoebe outraged enough to forget they had had good magic reason's to leave doubts about her child's parentage "I have a very happy marriage with Cole."

"Bullshit " said Elsie " I know how people who are happily married act. You act like you are screwing around. Stop it" she ordered as she left.

Cole called back. "What?" he asked as Phoebes swore.

"Elise thinks I have a lover " Phoebe told him.

"You have," Cole said not taking Elise seriously compared to the problems of the women, the witches in Africa. "You have me."

"Elise doesn't believe that husbands can be lovers" she told Cole. "Hell, they can't fire me on morals, I'm not screwing around. Haven't got the energy. Screw Elise" said Phoebe .

"Not for all the power of magic" Cole told her shuddering. "Gotta go. Francesca's here."

"Great "said Phoebe brightly as she hung up.


"Fu.." roared Cole stalking up and down his office as Francesca sat primly on his sofa lips pursed, eyes betraying her amusement. He caught her school marm expression. "Shi., scr. bug. " He glared at her, middle aged lady disguise in place, her appearance little different to when he first knew her as she pretended to be his legal assistant, .

"It sucks," he said helplessly.

"It can be frustrating " Francesca agreed primly, a slight smile at the edge of her mouth "when you offer good advice and it is challenged in no uncertain terms."

"Very funny " he snapped spinning to face her, then half smiled, little boy, because these days he knew her well.

Francesca had to catch herself form conceding his case because she was not entirely immune to that smile.

" What I don't get " he snipped realising this and pushing his advantage into petulant tone, "is why I'm stuck with Africa?"

"Because I assume " Francesca said resorting back to school marm to deal with petulance "Your calling, your powers are the ones that can deal with Africa."

"What " said Cole with a sniff he copied from Rodik "they want an arsehole lawyer."

"As opposed to a whiny retriever mimic" Francesca asked calmly and Cole suddenly laughed outright.

"Africa needs you, not Arturo. Not Therold, not Durand." Francesca told him "Or you wouldn't be called. Its as simple as that."

Cole winced as he stood staring down at her. She regarded him almost gently. He nodded and sat on the edge of his desk.

"You know as much about Africa as I do" she told him.

"Why do I doubt that?" Cole half smiled.

With a small incline of her head, Francesca acknowledged he knew her game but she continued "You know perfectly well Africa is caldron of conflict. Its long history of tribal religious and colonial boundaries and people who to be loyal to one must betray another so they are in wrong and right no matter what they choose. Can Arturo go there and use great magic to force them to a point of view? He could make them obey his decisions and he may even be right in certain instance but what would it resolve? What would happen the next time a magic creature was caught between morality, magic, the community, poverty and family? And the solution was reverse, and what would he achieve?"

"I" said Cole.

"Or perhaps " said Francesca deciding she was going to make her point once and for all " Durand could arbitrate for right or wrong."

"Well he couldn't do worse than me," Cole sniffed deciding he was not going to concede.

"Stop being a brat Cole " she said firmly.

He half laughed. "Durand" he mimicked her " knows right from wrong."

"True " she said " but everybody is right and everybody is wrong depending when they're coming from and what they need. Right and wrong just depend where you are standing." She smiled as he nodded but pushed "And could Therold could find the answer to Africa in its history and lore."

Cole gave her a small grin knowing he had pushed as far as he could "The answer to Africa is not in its history" he said slowly his voice a little guardian. "There is no answer to Africa in hidden in libraries and record. The answer to Africa is…."

Francesca watched him expectantly.

"I don't know the answer to Africa. " Cole shrugged helplessly and crossed his arms.

"You're not trying to solve Africa are you?" Francesca asked severely "You know…"

"No I'm not," he answered wryly "But I want to badly. Fix the problem in a day and leave it behind me. That is the hardest temptation to resist but I know. I cannot solve Africa. And it frustrates the hell out of me. Do you know the power I have? " he asked

"No I don't know all your powers " Francesca said " do I need too?"

"No " said Cole, "But what I have isn't enough, so all I have is nearly useless.

Francesca had heard guardians before who had discovered that power without purpose was to be powerless.

"Then if your power cannot fix it look to your wisdom," she said Power that be that she was. "Your calling is justice, Cole " Francesca told him" In the whole contrary complex contradictory mess look at it and ask if it is just. You know justice. " she added.

"Only because I know injustice," Cole replied sulky because it didn't solve Africa. It just helped him make sense of what he ha to do. "Proctor tells me of things he sees in Africa," said Cole not without hope of passing the buck.

"Proctor understands his calling" Francesca said firmly "Which in no way mitigates your responsibility."

"You're not going to let me off the hook are you "Cole asked totally conceding.

"Would you want me too?" Francesca asked giving him something and he snorted into a half smile and shook his head. " before you came to your calling Proctor watched Africa, watched what was happening and where evil was going there. He was certain, it would be the… call to arms of the new Source, The rallying point to evil."

Cole looked at her.

"It seems every time there is a new source, they find a new way to assert the power of evil, to make evil greater, to make it seem the balance with Good will alter. Ebb and flow she said" And each time a guardian has been called who can ensure the balance and a great Power to Good emerge. Ebb and flow " she said "Although this time we feared about the guardian appearing. You took your time to decide " she told Cole severely.

"Sorry" he said not remotely contrite. "Every new source?" he asked.

"I have lived through the cycles, or part of them of 4 source" she said, "I saw the end of a cycle when I was first called to magic and saw the result of that one's mark of evil but understood little of what happened or why and how the earth's realms were effected.

 "What do you mean?" Cole asked.

"Dark ages " said Francesca "But that fell away in the light of learning and knowledge. Believe it or not it was the spreading of the ability to read that defeated that evil. Recording of knowledge. There was a guardian, an archivist of the source, a  demon who used her calling to  encourage witches to create Books of Shadows, Or don't believe it as you chose, " Francesca told him Cole who was never very good at hiding his feelings, looked disbelieving that anything as simple as the ability to read could be a weapon in the Great War.

"Fascinating " Cole said far from ready to be impressed "Coffee " he asked accepting that Francesca was not going to give him any way out of his Guardian responsibilities and falling back on being Cole. Then mischievously said "Or tea" having been told a couple of weeks ago, the time was rapidly approaching when he would have to endure Therold's tea ritual.

"Tea. My favourite drink…not" Cole, ex demon that he was had muttered sarcastically. "Its weak as…."

"I know what its weak as" Francesca had said firmly Cole had wondered why her face suddenly clouded in sadness.

"Thank you no, " Francesca smiled a little dismissively as she stood up recognising the switch to Cole from Guardian, and abiding by her promise to Phoebe that she would no longer allow Cole to be her friend.

Cole looked at her and stood as if to open the door for he and then slammed it shut "What's wrong Francesca?" he asked in his guardian voice. Daring her almost to orb in the face of his assistant Eduardo's vision of shadows through the blinds.

"Nothing is wrong Cole, " she said very clearly and firmly. "I have to go. I would prefer not to orb from here " She said pointedly when he did not move.

"I see" he said snakily "If nothing is wrong then why the hell have you been so damned distant over the last few days."

"I have been here every time you called and you know it " she answered school marm.

"Yeah " he said still keeping his ground. "You do your duty as a… good and wise whitelighter, and off on your way. I know I behave like an annoying brat when I get.... frustrated but its never worried you before. What's wrong Mrs Rinaldi?" he asked gently.

Francesca sighed. She had realised, not being a fool he would recognise she was pulling away from him. But he did not make le it easier turning into the kind and somewhat vulnerable human that made him so dear to her.

"It is not always a good idea Cole to let personal relations interfere with our responsibilities " she said quietly. "It can leave you vulnerable and lead to some unpleasant and ill considered responses." Francesca explained.

"So " He said. "I've been to hell and back. I know all about vulnerability and so do you. I thought you my friend." He said bitterly hurt. "Being honest leaves you vulnerable. Its part of friendship. At last that is what I keep hearing about being mortal from every mortal and minion of Good who thinks they have a right to tell me."

"I don't think friendship is supposed to be part of our relationship Cole" Francesca said gently.

"You know I thought…." he stopped "That isn't true. I welcomed you into my family " he said. "My family welcomed you as my friend. And its not because you were my whitelighter advisor or keeper….Mrs Rinaldi" he said sneering her name. "I thought we were...friends but I guess you don't like demon guardians do you? So pretending to be a. friend to get what you want is…okay."

"My role is to guide you Cole " she said just as quietly just as firmly " And I have never pretended to be anything but what I am."

"Bullshit :" Cole said bluntly.

"I don't like being sworn at, Cole" Francesca said firmly, school marm" "Don't do it."

"Then don't tell me bullshit " Cole said just as bluntly.

"Cole you've needed me. And I've been here. It's my responsibility to be here when you need me. That's all" She said remembering she had told Durand exactly the same thing.

"Its still bullshit " Cole retorted getting angry. "Its I know what it is, demon guardians , upset your sense  of … niceness" he bit out "we aren't light enough for you. I know you prefer all the... goddamned prissiness of minions of good. Well I've been living bloody Rodik, who's a minion of good, " Cole all but spat the name "You're welcome to them" he said bitterly.

Francesca met his glare "I do not like the darkness of demons. I am good." Francesca said "I told you I was when I first told you I was a whitelighter."

"You're just being a bitch," Cole told her bitterly. "Because you can't control me like you used too."

"And you wonder why I don't like demon guardians" Francesca observed dryly "You do know I allow you some leeway because I understand how hard it is for you to find you path. I don't believe I will anymore. You know me well enough to know where I am vulnerable, to know how I am most offended and I do not appreciate you trying to use it to get even for some supposed slight " she walked to the door purposefully and Cole had to jump out of her way. "Call me when you feel like being sensible," she told him reducing him to a three year old and trying to ignore the hurt he was not hiding.

"Oh Phoebe " you ask a great deal " she thought and walked straight into Phoebe in Cole's outer office.

Phoebe was so thoroughly fed up with work that she decided she wanted to e somewhere else. Paige, car-less since hers was blown up had taken Cole's car to work. Phoebe thought she could surprise Cole and they could use the time to just go somewhere by themselves for a few hours, maybe one of his beaches or a cup of coffee in New Orleans.

Eduardo told her Cole was with a client and she asked who and was told Mrs Rinaldi.

Phoebe swallowed "Its all right " she said daring to be brave "I know Mrs Rinaldi."

She went to the office door and then hesitated. She found she was shaking because this was the first time that she would see Francesca since she had told her to keep out of her territory. Worse this was the first time she would see Francesca since crossing souls with her in the great eclipse. Since sharing the secrets of the soul of an angel who had served a long and hard calling to the Great Powers because she believed in the principles of doing what was right and good. A calling Francesca had answered with little gratitude and little reward other than the affection and blessing of a few beings who loved her.

Just before she could knock the door the door swung open with a little more force than Phoebe was expecting and Francesca stood there. She had an irritated expression on her the middle-aged matron face she wore for the benefit of the mortals of this century who were repulsed by her real face. The one from her mortal life where she had been disfigured by ignorance, disease and hardship.

" Hi" Phoebe said nervously to Francesca.

Francesca pulled herself a little way from Phoebe's path as Eduardo watched with interest, hoping that Cole somehow or other managed to keep his small law practice out of bankruptcy because this was the most interesting and entertaining job he had ever had.

Francesca put her head on the side and for a second observed Phoebe Halliwell, Belthezor's witch. Phoebe was licking her lips somewhat nervously, her loose hair styled into the most fashionable straight look last week, courtesy if of the radio show sponsor who wanted her picture in a magazine layout; see though pink blouse under a rather bulky and warm woollen coat and very tight jeans and high heeled boots. Always a contradiction of witch, tease, little girl and woman.

Francesca because she had stepped slightly to the side, did not miss Cole sigh and smile and recognised it for what it was, the smile that he kept for Phoebe the one that said he loved her. Even angry at something else just seeing her was enough to distract him. And for a second Phoebe caught her breath then returned it.

"Hello dear" said Francesca quietly and shrivelling Phoebe into a mass of guilt.

"You're not going because I'm here?" Phoebe asked awkwardly.

"No dear" Francesca answered, friendly at ease." Cole and I have finished any business we wished to discuss."

As Francesca stood there, Phoebe with a little gulp reached to greet her touching cheeks. "I hope you listened to what Francesca had to say " Phoebe told him and Cole remembering how angry he was with Francesca snorted. "I'm glad to see you" Phoebe said her voice quavering.

"Its a pleasure to see you too dear." Francesca told her smile genuine.

"Oh for god's sake" snapped Cole.

"Well on that note" Francesca said eyes twinkling " I think it time I went."

"Don't think our conversation is finished." Cole added ready to keep the discussion going.

"As I said I will be here whenever you need me " Francesca told him firmly.

He snarled." Stop being prim when you damned well know…."

"Cole " Phoebe warned. She turned to Francesca "He doesn't mean it " she explained "He just get shi…."

"I know dear," said Francesca patting her hand.

Phoebe looked at the hand touching hers and remembered, the deep and passionate nature Francesca kept hidden so far down. She swallowed " Francesca you know sometimes out of frustration and anger we say things we would not normally say."

Francesca nodded "But sometimes" she replied "We also say the truth that perhaps without the a passion of the moment we would deny."

"I'm sorry " Phoebe said as Cole glared at both of them. " and sometimes we just don't mean It:" she said desperately.

"Sometimes we just wish we did not mean it " Francesca said firmly but gently. "Call me Cole. When you need me." she told him as he just stood there glaring at her.

"I want to see Proctor " Cole insisted suddenly guardian while Eduardo looked stunned at his tone.

"Why?" asked Francesca's surprised.

"He see things," Cole, snapped the glanced at Eduardo " In perspective. How do I get there?"

"I thought you would know how to find him " Francesca commented. "As you are such good friends." She added a touch bitchy, causing Cole to stare and Phoebe to touch her hand gently.

"Obviously not. How do I find him?" Cole pushed.

Francesca shut her eyes "He is not… there at the moment. I will come when he is and show you the way." she said business like making Cole glower even more. "Goodbye Phoebe. Mr Degas " she said, nodding politely to Eduardo and smiled a little to herself as Cole hissed. She not without relief, left.

Phoebe nodded to Eduardo then she went to Cole and kissed him. She pulled the door shut, to Eduardo's disappointment.