The Life and Times

Part 3: Rhymes and Reasons

Chapter 30

"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

"We did okay " Phoebe said to Cole  When you think where we started, we did okay. More coffee?"

The world stopped spinning and Cole had to clutch the table in front of him, to feel safe enough to open his eyes.

"Cole, coffee" Phoebe prodded "You want another one."

Cole stared at her and then stared at the room. It was the Manor kitchen familiar and not. Where the stove had been was some sort of electric machine with flashing lights and the freezer was not there and the phone was a missing and the colour was a softer yellow and he did not recognise half the appliances on the shelves. There was a different curtain almost a filtered glass. But it was Phoebe who left him struggling for breath.

"Coffee Cole?" she asked snakily; "I know you're not deaf, even if you are growing old with me deciding to live mortal with me, the hearing is still demonic," she put her hands on his hips and he just stared at her. He recognised her. It was the Phoebe he had seen all those years ago, the one dragged from the future to tell the Phoebe of the then present to marry him, to take the risk and take the pain.

And what scared him was that etched in his memory of the time was the clothing she wore the, shirt and cardigan and the brooch he remembered from that time. "I hate you wearing that brooch," he said in a voice that sounded …old.

"Stop glaring at me " Phoebe ordered "I love this brooch. it was the last thing Piper left me.

"I know " he said " just the know why I don't like it.."

"Can't change it," Phoebe said, blunt as he remembered her: "We've had fifty years, a time I never dreamed we'd get. I want it to happen Cole. I want my lifetime with you, and if it doesn't happen, I might go back not wearing this." She put the coffee pot down, pulled her wedding ring off and shoved it in his face.

He took the ring from her and examined it. "Put it back on " he ordered her "And I hate that outfit " he said grumpy. God had he really let himself get...old . He saw a quick reflection of himself in the mirror over the refrigerator. "God that mirror must be antique. Now" he thought .He was old, his face showing some-one who had lived, his hair, almost not there, he moved his tongue in his mouth, teeth were still there.  God did he let that happen. He got old for her.

"Isn't Mandy coming home today? " he asked and his voice sounded like a caricature.

"No" said Phoebe "Wants to play mom" she said "Jess's team is in the finals. Tomorrow."

"Can't we go and watch? " he said grumpy, feeling hurt. "My grandkid."

"Jess says you get to agro about winning " Phoebe told him without worrying about his feelings. "We could go to Nairobi and see Jenna tomorrow. Liz will be home from college. Patsy is working all weekend though."

"Yeah all right. I'll call Patsy. He can damn well take the time to come home too" Cole decided.

Phoebe planted herself at the table, short grey hair, steely determined eyes and the Cole of the past both caught his breath because he could feel what the Cole of the future felt for her and something inside him hurt, and something inside rejoiced that somehow they had stuck it out, made it. "Its hard for Patsy to get away " she said.

He smiled suddenly, the one he had always saved for her.

"Bastard" said Phoebe.

"What" said Cole hurt.

"You promised you'd get old with me"' she said '"That smile came out of fifty years ago."

'"Sorry" he said not quite stopping the smile.

 '"I can still tell when you're lying" Phoebe informed him.

"Nice to know you still love me'" he sighed.

"Told you I always would" Phoebe smirked. "Don't bitch at Patsy when you call him. He works hard, got enough people bitchin' at him."

"Tough" said Cole as a grumpy old dad. "It shouldn't always be Jenna making time for him."

"He knows that," said Phoebe. "Realm sure is smaller these days, with family spread all over it."

"At least they stay in this realm" Cole muttered.

"Stop bitching about Paige " Phoebe told him "You always knew she was semi mortal."

"I didn't always know. I only " and he caught Phoebe smiling at him:" I love you" he said suddenly. "And go and change," he ordered her

"It didn't happen last time I wore this, or the time before" Phoebe said reasonably.

"It will" he bit out his voice hoarse. "One time.'

"It isn't the end," Phoebe said in a reasonable voice.

"It should be," he told her  "I don't want you too." he said wondering how many times they had had this argument.

"Yes you do," she said not giving an inch "Stop lying."

"Don't do it, " he pleaded pulling himself to his feet "I'm begging you Phoebe. Promise me," he demanded.

"No" she mock glared at him. Eyes a little watery, but bright and sure of herself. She started to pour coffee and he sighed accepting. Phoebe would always be Phoebe. Wanting what she wanted

"Put the ring back on " he ordered her again.

"Want to shuffle down to the Bay, Baby " she asked. "After breakfast."

"Phoebe " he breathed. "Its is a long way, you don't shuffle so good since that demon massacre."

"Well you could always go guardian and shimmer if the hill the starts looking too big coming back" she said expectantly. '"Best fuck I can get these days."

He smiled, the eyes those of Cole, the smile the one that had been hers all her life. "I still get pretty good" he said. "put your ring back on."

"Give it to me. Arsehole liar" she said with a small laugh and he smiled again.

It was the last thing the mortal Phoebe Halliwell would ever say to him.

The light flashed and she was ripped out of the kitchen. And Cole held onto the table choking, unable to breath, as he succumbed to the fear of the moment he always knew was going to come.

He knew where she had gone, as he had known for fifty years where she would go. She was back in the old time, the time when the Old Source had taken him over, to confront him and save him and give him the life they had had.

It did not take long, seconds in the time he stood now; an eternity and a half century ago in the earlier time, the lights flashed and she suddenly was flung back, lying on the floor at his feet. He bent to her, caught her body against him and felt for the connection, felt for her aura.


He screamed her name "Phoebe. Don't do it " he screamed " don't do. Come back. Phoebe don't do it. Come to me."


He could still see the blood where the sword had gone through her and it was lucky for the demon Kurzon that there was fifty years between his vanquish and this time where Cole stood because at thist point Cole/Guardian/ Belthezor would have hunted him through the wasteland and the mores of hell to damn him to eternal pain.

He pulled her body to him " Don't " he screamed at her "Don't do. Phoebe. I'm begging you." he pleaded tears falling down his face.


He screamed for Leo and as he knelt over her pulling her against him, Leo arrived after what seemed an eternity to Cole but was probably minutes. He looked very much the Leo he had always been, taking on the face he would wear through eternity since Piper had gone.

Leo seeing Cole clutching Phoebe grimaced and he knelt beside Cole.

Cole looked up tears unashamedly coming down his face. "Bring her back, " he demanded. "Leo, bring her back."

"You know I can't do that, " Leo said slowly. "I don't have that power over mortals. It was her time Cole.'" he said," that's what happens with mortals" he added his voice shaking as he remembered.

"Call Mark." Cole ordered his voice a whisper of pain and anger, tears pouring down his face, knowing he had just lost that small, mortal life he loved, the one he and Phoebe had shared for fifty years..

Leo hesitated then called the whitelighter.

Mark orbed in shaking his head as he saw Cole still clutching Phoebe. "Heal her" Cole demanded his voice rasping..

Mark knelt touched her body, then rocked back on his heels "I can't heal the dead Cole" he said slowly "You know that."

"It was her time Cole" Leo said putting his hand on Cole's shoulder "It was always written that way. We saw it happen 50 years ago, she went back to make sure the two of you could have the time you had. It was always written that way. Cole" Leo said, very close to tears himself  "You knew it and she knew it. She is…was mortal. Its the natural order."

"It was written Cole" Mark said quietly "Her time came. Her destiny fulfilled"

Cole looked up and as he did he caught a glance of himself as an old, old man very thin hair, Phoebe had teased him about that ,bent, eyes still very blue and brilliant,  tears falling down his face.

"Where is she Mark?" he said quietly in the voice of a guardian. "Feel for her," he ordered

"She was mortal " Mark said," you always knew…"

"Where is she?" he demanded his voice cracking.

"I cannot feel her, " Mark said shaking his head "She is out of my care."

"Is she where she ought to be? " Cole asked his voice deathly quiet.

"She's out of my care" Mark insisted, his plain intelligent face, twisting because as mortal or whitelighter he could never be immune to another's pain.

"Find out if she is. Where she should be," ordered Cole the guardian

"Cole you know the rules" Mark argued " after a witch passes out of a whitelighter's care…." he stopped "Stuff the rules "he said, "I'll look."

Cole nodded. He stood there staring down at the lifeless body that seemed to have no connection to the Phoebe he loved. "What do I do Leo?" He asked through the tears "What do I do now?"

"Face what you always knew you would face" Leo told him, his voice flat and beyond emotion, because it was a question he always dreaded coming "Mourn her, cry for her. Face what you must. As I did. Then be what you must be, live as you must live. As I have."

Mark orbed back, and stood there awkward and uncomfortable. Cole turned to him "Well " he demanded his voice cracking.

Mark slowly shook his head.

Cole froze and then half bent as Leo caught him "I can't mourn her Leo " he said his voice shaking  "Damn her. Damn her, She didn't leave me that. I begged her damn her" he said  "God Phoebe I love you. Damn you."

The spirit winds moved and Cole found himself on the Irish beach where, he alone and later with Phoebe, to share, had created some of his worse and best and dearest memories.

He sat alone, twirling the wedding ring her gave her in his hand, staring into the wildness of the deep green grey sea as the brilliant green cliffs towered above him. "Damn you Phoebe " he said out loud and only the seabirds heard him.

He shuddered as all the long painful memories of being alone from Phoebe on this beach, overwhelmed him. He remembered that time after he returned from the wasteland, rejected by her, feeling he was condemned to be alone for eternity. To be without her for an eternity.

In the loneliness of that time, as he walked alone through a long painful fire of his own making to find his destiny as a guardian, he had found the Phoebe he loved on beaches. She had come to him on beaches and for a few moments, the agony had receded and he had found some peace. She had come to him on beaches.

The demon guardian Belthezor the self of Cole fifty years on sat on the same beach in the same place, and tried to mourn the passing he knew would always happen. And the Cole of the past who shared the future, shuddered in fear as he as he stared at a loneliness that was beyond him to bear.

Visions and memories flooded the Cole of the future as he thought of the path that had led him to this place and time. He had memories of the first time he had seen Phoebe, her eyes lit up and glinting. He remembered moments of pain, the surging feeling when evil had overwhelmed him, the girl who kept running back to him. The family she had given him, shared beers with Leo, friendship, sisters and children.

He remembered the laughter and understanding he shared with Phoebe, the secret delight in their small private world. He thought of sisters and bickering and moments of fear and moments of trust. He saw Piper angry at his return to the underworld and insisting he learned to care for her daughter and he remembered Paige when she came to the family and the distrust and fear and the slow developing caring. He had had a life with Phoebe.

And now her mortality was gone and so was that life, and the destiny, the one that he had always dreaded was confronting him and he could not bear to face it.

He thought of Phoebe. The Phoebe he simply he loved. He said he always would and it was true. He could not exist and not love her. Phoebe in all her incarnations, laughing, angry, happy, deep pain as the mortality of her family tore her apart, joys of life and children, sad moments, proud moments, sex, making love, the smell of her, the feel of her, the passion of her.

Contrary, sexual, little girl, wise woman, innocent. Phoebe. Cole watched the crashing waves on a beach where he had sat so many times before. She came to him on beaches. He sighed and watched the mist drifting in from the sea, where the light and sea mist shimmered. She came to him on beaches.

The spirit winds shifted and the Cole of fifty years past found himself separated and looking down on his future, a dark clothed guardian, sitting alone on an Irish beach, crying alone because he could not face an eternity without his love.

His self of the future suddenly looked up, the sea wind drying the tears on his face.

"Phoebe" he breathed reaching as if to touch her. "Hello baby" the self he would become breathed, softly, gently and a smile came across his face, one the Cole of the past had no trouble recognising; the one he saved for her. The Cole of the future stood and reached for some-one Cole of the past could not see.

This future self shrugged suddenly then sighed. "Damn you Phoebe," said the future self "Damn you. I begged you not to do it."

As the spirit winds dragged Cole back fifty years, he knew what he had always known. She came to him on beaches.


Next morning Cole was staring in the mirror in their bathroom supposedly shaving but thinking of the meeting he had during the night with his future self, and of the things he now knew were already written.

Phoebe was already downstairs getting breakfast, as she was in her off limits for 3 days part of the month. She said sex when she was feeling bloated, crampy and not sexy was icky. Cole in the early days of their relationship had pointed out there were other alternatives she usually enjoyed.

Phoebe had screamed at him in horror "Not everything is about you" and stalked off.

Cole had tried to talk about her reaction to Leo who just stared at him and muttered "Over share." Cole then and now was prepared to admit there were many things he did not understand about living mortal. Including why Phoebe would choose some form of spirit existence for an eternity just to be with him, with no guarantees of any physical contact. He sucked his breath and remembered Francesca had told him that the visions of future self were often out of context.

Trust Francesca was all he could conclude, and trust Phoebe.

Which was all he had time to conclude as he heard Melinda scream angrily and an almighty shriek from Piper coming from the hallway. He ran out shaving cream all over his face and found Melinda, looking cute in her green pyjamas pointing at Rodik with hysterical tears pouring down her face. Rodik prissily looked at Piper with an expression of total loathing, and Piper in bright red pyjamas and not looking as cute as her daughter, her face as red with anger as the pyjamas.

"Fucking bastard" she screamed in a cold bitter voice. Her face took on the expression of some-one who had made a decision and she deliberately lifted her hand to blow Rodik up.

Cole got to her by half shimmering across the landing. He caught her arms then held them in front of her.

"Get out of here" he ordered Rodik "Just go."

Rodik sniffed as Piper swore at him and Cole for stopping her killing him. She kicked her legs in the air and managed to get a few thumps into Cole's knees while he roared ouch. She called him and Rodik every kind of fucking bastard she could lay her tongue to.

Leo hearing the fuss came upstairs as Rodik pushed past him nearly knocking him down. He stood at the top of the stairs watching Cole clutching Piper hard and swinging her around trying to stop her getting her hands free.

" What are you doing?" Leo asked Cole interested.

"Stopping your wife killing Rodik" Cole answered as Piper let fly with a barrage of names and  vicious kicks.

"Why? "asked Leo glancing down at Rodik, who had just fallen over one of Melinda's delayed trip spells on the stairs.

"I want to kill him" Piper screamed "I want to kill him. I want to kill him so bad,"

Melinda started to sob hysterically and Piper struggled to get to her. Cole apprehensively let her go.

She ran to Melinda and Leo sucking his lips went over and put his arms around his wife and daughter.

Piper kept muttering "I want to kill him."

Cole turned back to his and Phoebe's room.

"Cole "Piper called "

"What "he said,.

"You got shaving cream in my hair " Piper complained.

Cole laughed. "Sorry" he said.

"Thanks " she said. "But you should have let me kill him. He deserves to die."