The Life and Times

Part 3: Rhymes and Reasons

Chapter 31

"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 and Paige were eating breakfast when Cole came downstairs.

"What the hell was that noise?" asked Paige.

"Piper tried to kill Rodik " Cole said in a matter of fact voice.

"Did she? " asked Phoebe bright and hopeful while Cole grinned in reply and shook his head.

"Damn" said Phoebe and Paige.

Leo came downstairs a few minutes later. "Piper's putting Melinda back to bed for a while" he said.

"Why did Piper try to kill Rodik?" asked Paige.

Leo poured himself a cup of coffee and at the kitchen table. He winced "Apparently Rodik had been regularly exchanging with an alp, even worked out how to summon it. That's why Melinda had been getting nightmares. He's been using the alp to get even with her for her magic tricks." Leo snorted, " Little shit."

"What's an alp?" asked Phoebe.

"A sort of spite that comes to children at night and induces nightmares" said Leo.

"Isn't that evil?" asked Paige surprised.

"No " said Leo " ust not good."

"So does this mean, Rodik is not evil " Phoebe asked " just not good."

"I sure hope he's not good" said Cole sarcastically " because if he is, Good is in trouble. He gets his kicks from killing, from vanquishing evil, creatures that do evil and don't try and tell me just because its maybe a good idea they go, or the reason he is doing it is good, he's good."

"I wasn't going to" said Leo sipping his coffee while Paige and Phoebe glanced at each other.

Piper came into the kitchen, looking a little sheepish and uncomfortable. Phoebe jumped up and made her a coffee, and told her to sit down.

Piper winced " I really lost it " she said " but when I found out what that little shit was doing to Melinda."

"Yeah well you only tried because you got to him first," Leo answered still bristling. "Where is the little shit?"

"Gone for a walk" said Phoebe. "Said he could not stand being in the house with a bunch of whores, murderers and miscreants. I assume that about covers all of us."

"Good" said Piper "Melinda's asleep. I told her if she has any nightmares just to vanquish them "

"She might vanquish Rodik too" said Paige concerned.

"Good" said Piper unconcerned.

Cole put his coffee cup down so hard, they stared at him "You damn well make sure you tell her not to vanquish anything when she wakes up" he snapped.

"What? " said Leo and Piper.

Cole glared at Piper "She isn't going to kill any-one or anything" he said in his almost source like don't stuff around with me voice "And you are going to make sure she knows it."

"What" said Piper snarling because it was only 10 in the morning and she was having a very bad day. "So its okay if you tell me to butt out of raising Patsy but you know all about Melinda. "

Cole swallowed. "She's three years old " he said.

"She's a witch Cole" Leo said as carefully as he could "witches are given great powers to protect against evil, to fight evil and sometimes that means killing or vanquishing. Maybe it's not what you want but it's a need, at times. It's not evil in itself. Not to vanquish…"

"Kill" interrupted Cole.

"Witches vanquish, kill if you want that word, because they fight a Great Battle." Leo explained in patient voice of the Angel that always went down badly with Cole. It reminded him of the time when he was falling apart after the Source was vanquished and Leo had used it to encourage the Charmed Ones to vanquish him.

"Did you kill when you went to war Leo when you were mortal?" Cole demanded nastily.

"I was a medic " Leo explained his voice getting more patient "It wasn't my role to kill. It was my role to save."

"Who chose that role Leo?" Cole pushed.

"The army" Leo answered grimly.

Cole just looked at him.

"I was a medical student, planning on being a doctor." Leo said a touch defensively "They made me a medic because of my gifts in that role."

"Leo you're goddamned pacifist now and you were then"  Cole bit out "Would you have killed if the army had not directed you into the medical corps. I wonder?"

"Yes" said Leo "I would have killed to protect those who needed protection and I would have fought with the army. For something good that I believed in."

"And if it wasn't something you had chosen to believe in" Cole demanded. "If you were an eighteen year old who didn't believe in what you were fighting for, would you have fired the gun because you were a soldier and that's what soldier's did, regardless of their own beliefs and choices."

Leo did not answer.

"You've killed since then Leo " Cole added bitterly "Because the Elders told you to, because you wanted to see the creature die. Hell you told them to kill me. You all wanted to kill me " he accused "But at least you all knew why you were doing it. Melinda doesn't."

Piper stared at him eyes flaming, angry, furious while huge tears welled up in Phoebe's eyes and Paige just went pale and paler.

"Melinda needs to be older, understand what it really means before she gets into the vanquish everything that gets in your way cycle" Cole bit out angrily not caring what he said or who he hurt.

"You bastard " said Paige calmly and deadly.

"Did they ask you if you wanted to kill?" Cole demanded aggressively turning on Paige. "Did they ask you?" he said.  "When you came here to find your sisters, did they ask you if you wanted to kill?"

"You arsehole lawyer " Paige bit out.

"As you ran out the door after you killed Shax" Cole asked as Paige glared at him. " "What did you say?" Cole demanded. "What did you say? " he repeated.

"I said ' What did you turn me into?' " spat Paige.

Cole sat down on a kitchen chair. He noticed Phoebe an expression on her face between anger and hurt and Piper had one that was just bitterly angry.

"Paige you were what 25, same as you Piper, maybe Phoebe a bit it younger, the first time you killed." Cole said softly

"What's that got do it with?" Leo snapped. Furiously rubbing his hands.

"We're discussing Melinda" Piper said angrily "I love my daughter and I am not going to leave her defenceless, frightened to protect herself."

"Know how old I was when I first killed " Cole said quietly glancing toward Phoebe. "I was three."

"You were a demon," said Leo furiously.

"Mostly then" Cole said slowly not looking up "I was a mortal child. I lived with my father, as a mortal child, Maybe not the most well behaved mortal child. But mortal." he half smiled, his eyes hurting "And then one day this beautiful blond woman appears on the door step insisting I was hers and I was going with her." He shrugged "I remember and I was only three.  I remember my father saying 'I'll be damned  before I let you take my son, I won't let you turn him into a killer. Like you."

"And she caught my hand, this beautiful blond woman, and dragged me away. 'You are already damned' she said and she killed him before he could do anything to stop her." Cole told them.

"You don't remember that Cole " said Piper cold, angry. "You were only three."

"I remember" he said,.

"He does " said Phoebe hurting.

"So you can tell he's not lying" snarled Piper sarcastically.

"No " said Phoebe " I saw it once on a premonition." She swallowed awkwardly while Cole gaped at her.

"You know Elisheeva, Elisabeth my mother really loved him, my father and me" Cole said almost quiet. "She took me down below, tried to teach me to be a demon, to defend myself. I didn't want to learn."

"My. Daughter. is. not. a. demon." Piper bit out.

"Set me up you know " Cole continued ignoring her "made sure I learned to kill, to protect myself. I did it. Can still see it, just a lower level demon, a spite. Nothing much. I can see it go," he said. "Screaming in agony, as it was pulled apart, fireballed it. I was three" he said his voice shaking "That's what I said to her, Paige 'What did you turn me into?' Do you know what she turned me into?  She turned me into a killer. "

"Cole" said Phoebe going to him and wrapping her arms around him

Cole looked at Paige and Piper and Leo from the safety of Phoebe's arms. "Do you know what it turned you into, killing? " he asked Paige, "when you killed for the first time it turned you into a witch. Do you know what you are? You're a witch, Do you know what I am?" he said sadly "I'm a still a killer. Its what I'll always be, and whatever the reasons I do it. Its what I am."

 "Cole" said Phoebe again gently, holding him to her.

"I wasn't evil then Phoebe" he said "I was three years old and protecting myself. Melinda is not going to learn to kill before she has any other choices or understands the reason. Even," he said looking at Piper and Leo "Even if in the end she choses to die rather than kill. She's going to old enough to choose if she wants to be a killer like me. All of them are " he added. "Patsy, Wyatt, Melinda."

Cole glanced around at his family. Seeing the pissed off faces, Cole decided he had better make himself scarce and give them a chance to bitch about him. With a wry self conscious shrug he got up and left them.

"At least I'm being honest with you" he said defensively as they stared at him in silence.

He went upstairs to check Melinda who was making up for her miserable night by sleeping with little whimpers. He touched he face, "Its okay sweetie " he told her "I know you're the wild kid. I can feel the passion in your soul sweetie" he said gently " I know how frightening the power can be when you don't know how to control it. Its okay sweetie " he told her "I won't let it harm you."

He watched her sleep for some time when suddenly against his will felt himself pulled into a wild swirling shimmer.


Cole came out of a shimmer on one of his favourite beaches, a cove in a not very populated Greek island where the sea was brilliant green. The cove was protected from the worst of any Aegean storm. It was a place of safety, for a three thousand years or more a beach that had been a 'haven from the storm' for generation after generation of Greek sailors. The beach was sheltered by an olive grove and the only path up the cliffs was hidden from view. It was a place that he and Phoebe had brought Melinda and Patsy a couple of times during their travels around Europe. Melinda had her first swimming lesson there, safely held by 'Unca' Cole while she flapped away in the water. And she had been just as excited because she saw her first dolphin there, dragging 'Unca' Cole down the beach to watch it cavorting in the water.

For a second as Cole seeing the cove and the small waves and brilliant Greek sunshine, wondered if he was mistaken about the shift. This place seemed much the same as it always did and then he saw her and he knew he had shifted and, his future self smiled wryly as he watched her for a few minutes.

Hunched up into a small ball with her arms locked around her knees and her chin resting on them she stared out to the sea watching two dolphins cavorting in the water. She was barefoot and sand covered her toes. Her tight, tight jeans were rolled up revealing the tattoos on her ankles that made Piper grind her teeth every time she saw them. As she leaned forward the tight low cut jeans revealed surprising modest panties. The red tee shirt, with the picture of two elephants mating on the front and the words "I fuck to survive" on the back, that she had put on that day because it drove Piper crazy when she wore such things in public, flapped in the breeze.

When Cole finally approached her and stood looking down at her, she gazed up at him, big hazel eyes almost flashing green, her turned up nose making her face look even more pixie than usual. Her hair was short and straggly showing no signs of recovering from when she hacked it off in anger because her mother had made such a fuss about the new purple colour.

Cole smiled gently as he looked own at her. "Mind if I join you?" he asked gently.

The eyes flashed and her lower lip trembled " I'm mad at you," she said and looked away.

"That much I figure," he said sitting down beside her.

"You'll get sand on your suit " she said.

"We can afford the dry cleaning. Just " he added.

"Even when some-one wastes all the college fund money the whole family works hard for," she asked bitterly.

"Even then" he agreed. "And if you learned something, then it wasn't wasted. Even if what you learned was you didn't want to be a college graduate."

She sniffed "You could have said something before " she bit out " you just sat there and didn't do anything to help."

"I thought you were doing pretty well without help, sweetie " he said smiling.

"Don't call me sweetie" she snapped. "Mom's a bitch" she swore.

"That's been said before " Cole agreed.

"And Dad is a… just a. " she said faltering "He let's Mom rule the roost. Anything she says is okay by him. She can push, demand be totally unreasonable and he never says anything."

"Well you have to make allowances for your father," Cole said," he loves her."

"Ha" she said," You're not frightened of her."

"Neither is he," Cole told her "Your mother is, since I've know her sweetie, she gets angry when she's frightened or worried. She says things and pushes."

"That's supposed to be an excuse Uncle Cole," she said looking at him passionate and wild." Mom was vicious and you know it."

"No Lindie " Cole said firmly" Its supposed to be a reason. She's frightened for you. Frightened you don't understand your power, frightened you don't understand the consequences of your actions, frightened where all this passion and rebellion and wildness will take you. Comes with the territory of being a mother " he said.

"Doesn't excuse what she said, just because I don't want to finish college," Lindie snarked her eyes wild. "I'm not acting on a whim Uncle Cole." she said the passion firing in her eyes. "You know, all my life, I loved animals. Helping animals, protecting them is all I ever wanted to do, and if I join the foundation, I can. A college education isn't everything. Doing something practical can be more important." She added almost pleading him to understand."

"I know that," Cole replied. Easily understanding.

"I saw Pegasus, when I was three" Lindie told him" when I went with daddy to see Mr Durand. It was the most beautiful thing I ever saw." Eyes bright with passion she shook her head. "Every time I see an animal, I see a little bit of Pegasus. They're beautiful and I won't let them be hurt." she told him, the fire flashing in green eyes .

He reached for her hand " Lindie sweetie," he said " you need to know you can't protect living things from being hurt. It's the natural order."

"So you don't think I should do what I want to, fight to look after the animals." she started to say bitterly trying to pull her hand free "Just like mom."

He refused to let her go. "I think you should know that you can't win every battle, sweetie," Cole told her "It does not mean you shouldn't fight, you just need to know you can't always win. Otherwise when you lose one you might stop fighting, thinking you'll never win again."

"Oh" she said deflated and watched the dolphins.

Cole smiled and shared the silence holding her hand.

"I didn't mean to take away the chance for the others to go to college" Lindie whispered a little while later.

"You haven't," Cole told her firmly " your mother was just being a bitch because she was frightened for you."

Melinda stared across the sea watching the dolphins play in the Greek sunshine. "They are so beautiful," she said.

"I know," said Cole watching the sea, still holding her hand.

She looked at him under her lashes" You don't get nasty like Mom, I mean when Patsy when he makes mistakes, you just laugh."

"Patsy makes mistakes? My bad I thought Patsy was born knowing everything" grinned Patsy's father, "Anyway I used to be a demon, haven't got the right to judge him and I'm not a mother. I'm just his father."

"Aunt Phoebe never judges or yells or threatens, just because some-one does something a bit." and Melinda swallowed "…silly " she said hesitantly.

"Phoebe's made a career of doing …something silly " Cole said " and she's married to a guardian/ogre who isn't above reminding her."

Melinda swallowed:" I can never see you as an ogre," she said.

"Thank you my love" Cole smiled.

"I shouldn't have done it, should I? " she asked starting to cry, "threatened a good witch, used my powers on a good witch. Even if it was my mother being a bitch."

"No" Cole said softly "But if it makes you feel any better, you're not the first one in the family to make that mistake."

"Mom doesn't understand what it is like " Melinda cried passionately, "Dad doesn't. None of them do. " She turned so she could look at Cole " "You're the only one who knows what it is like to have this power that seems to control you, that makes you… doubt everything, to want to damn those who want to  use you…. to want to…. hurt people, even people you love, because they don't understand " she said in tears. "I can't control it sometimes " she said.

Cole leaned over and put his arm around her and she cried bitterly into his shoulder "That control only comes with age and maturity you know" he said " You're only 20."

"Patsy's mature, responsible and he's only eighteen." She sighed, sniffing and still safely held by Cole, watched the sea again.

"Patsy has his own demons" Cole told her "Don't think he missed it all because he is a haunted by different demons than you."

Melinda was it quiet for a while "Was it very bad?" she asked "Was it very stupid?. The consequences could have been …evil. I know."

"Pretty close" Cole told her gently. "Close only counts as warning though."

"Is that the Guardian talking?" Melinda asked watching him under her lashes and he nodded a little "I knew you were here as a guardian " she said trusting him, as she had done all her life "You look different, like you did in the wedding photos with Phoebe."

"Just me" he said smiling wryly.

She sat quiet watching the sea, sitting hearing the waves. "I love this place. I'm glad" she said "you taught me to love beaches. It's the only way, sometimes, I feel just me, sitting here watching the sea.

"I'm glad I got the chance to share the sea with you," Cole told her.

"I sometimes wonder "Melinda pondered " What my life would have been if you hadn't been in it. God knows how many creatures, people I would have….you know, got cross at."

"You've also got the family calling to be Good" Cole told her.

Shea was silent "You don't think I'm evil, " she asked " fighting with Mom like that when I know she isn't well, when she none of us know from one day to the next…"

Cole stared at the sea." You sweetie you're not evil. Makes your mother feel alive , feel like a person not an invalid. Ever since I've know her she's always been happiest when she is being a bitch."

"Wouldn't you think they would have found a cure for heart problems," Melinda demanded, not quite having understood him when he told her not every battle could be won.

"Your great grandmother had the same problem, "Fate " Cole said "Lindie promise me something.

She looked at him "What?" she asked nervously.

"Lindie" he said " Promise me no matter how tempted, no matter how wild you want to be. No matter how much passion, temper you feel. No matter where the power takes you, you will never do anything that will make you see me as an ogre."

Melinda shook. She looked at the sea and made her lifetime choice. She put both her hands on his as he held her close. "I promise Unca Cole " she said as Cole felt the spirit winds drag him away.


Cole came out of the winds and was still in Melinda's room watching he sleep. He jumped a little as he realised he was not alone. Piper was at the door watching him.

"You still speaking to me Pip?" he asked her quietly.

"Rodik being here make us all pissy " Piper grinned. "Thanks for this morning" She said awkwardly. She came to watch her sleeping daughter. "I worry about her Cole, " she said. " She's so wild, so passionate, just so damned difficult. Reminds me of Prue and grams, and even Phoebe. Wants what she wants. Our family has a great tradition of being passionate witches and it has a price, Prue," she said " Melinda Warren, Mom Grams." Piper touched Melinda "It's not always been a happy tradition.

"I think she'll be okay," Cole said quietly.

"Why?" demanded Piper.

"Just a feeling" he replied. "And…you're a bitch and I'm an arsehole and her father's an angel. One of her aunt's is a capricious minx and the other is sweet. Somewhere in all that, we'll help her find her way."