The Life and Times

Part 3: Rhymes and Reasons

Chapter 35

"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

Cole came home from court as fast as he could get away to find Leo and Piper and Phoebe sitting around the attic.

Piper was scrying. "We've lost Paige and Rodik," she told Cole worried. "Are you getting anything on the spirit witch, I mean doing...something maybe a good witch shouldn't be doing?"

He shut his eyes for a second then winced and slowly shook his head. "Nothing that's my business anyway " he said. "Whitelighters fix up about Jade?"

"Called in to say that they have been with the family." Phoebe said.

"Non-magic family and friends believe she died of an aneurism at home. Nothing to connect her to the courthouse." "Leo added slowly. " She was thirty nine and there was a history in the family." He said sadly. "Whitelighters have it covered."

"They do it well"  Cole said slowly, the lawyer in him admiring their efficiency.

Paige orbed back to the manor a couple of hours later, feeling for the first time in a year that she could face her life, feeling that her existence was no longer going to be a battle to just exist day after day. She felt she had magic and a purpose which was something other than dying for magic and good. She then stopped almost mid orb in the spirit winds and remembered Jade was dead. And the she suddenly smiled "You're going to get your wish Jade," she said "From now on every time I have sex, I'm going to remember you."

She came out of the orb in the hall of the manor to find her family anxiously having a conference in the living room. They stopped mid conversation as she appeared, dishevelled uncombed hair all over the place, her bra hanging out of her jeans' pocket.

"Where were you?" asked Leo quietly.

"Why?" queried Paige stalling for time.

"You were off the whitelighter radar" Leo said. "They were here."

"Where are they now?" Paige asked.

"Helping Jade's family" said Piper. "Where were you?" she demanded.

"The Rim  if you must know " replied Paige a little dreamily, then she remembered Jade was dead. Then she remembered she could keep a promise to Jade.

"Not in the underworld" asked Cole quietly and Paige heard the guardian in his voice.

"Why Cole? Ogres coming to get me if I took Rodik to the Underworld." she demanded,

"I would believe so sweetheart" he said with some sympathy" Where is he?"

Paige stopped caught by the note in his voice when she wanted to be mad at him.

"Where's Rodik?" Piper said grim.

Paige looked at her .

"Where's Rodik " said Piper determined, frightened. "Paige I ...honey I know Jade was a friend but where is Rodik? What did you do honey?" she said "No-one's going to blame you but we need to know where he is."

"I didn't kill him" said Paige.

"Where is he Paige?" said Leo trying to be kind but letting fear and tension enter his voice.

"If you must know " Paige said defiantly "he's in Tijuana, the tourist district." .

"Tijuana" said Phoebe. "Not hell."

"Tijuana " said Paige.

"He can't be orbed in the realm" said Phoebe "

"He can if he's already in the spirit wind, or somewhere that can only be reached on the spirit winds" she said. " Except the landing is bit rough." she added.

"Hs passport is still here " said Piper.

"I know" said Paige.

"Are you sure he's in Tijuana?" asked Phoebe gently.

"Damn" said Cole "Rodik's right "

"What do you mean?" said Phoebe distracted.

"You don't treat me lie the real family" he said.

"Cole that is not true," said Leo not ready for a fight.

"You all yelled at when I dumped Inspector Cortez in hell " he said. "Why don't you yell at Paige?"

"Shut up Cole," snapped Leo "Not everything is about you."

Cole smiled as Paige stuck out her tongue. "Why didn't you bring him back? " he asked. "from he..Tijuana."

"Can't orb him once he's out of the spirit winds" she said. "Should we go over to Jade's?" she asked.

"Enough people around at the moment " said Phoebe " to many " she added remembering what it was like to lose a family member as Piper who also remembered nodded. "Better to wait and be around when most people are moving on."

"I promised her I would…help her kids "said Paige a little awkwardly "Just in case, if anything happened " she added while her sisters nodded and Phoebe stood up and put her arms around her.

They were all so intent on Paige the whole family jumped when Not-Casper orbed in.

He had a pained haunted angry look on his face. One Leo recognised very well from when a whitelighter lost a charge, even when the charge was not their primary concern.

"We know where Rodik is?" Piper told him.

"Tijuana" said Not-Casper with some very grim humour flashing across his face "Angela is with him."

"Poor Angela" sighed Phoebe.

"Yes " said Not-Casper slowly.

"She'll need his passport " Phoebe said quietly "So he can fly back. I'll get it." She stood up "We'll pay " she said nobly doing her duty for good and Paige, while Cole stared at her and Leo sniffed.

"Well," said Not-Casper awkwardly " We, the elder's don't think he should fly back, unprotected."

"What leave the shit unprotected in Tijuana?" mused Piper enjoying the thought.

"Tijuana is actually quite, safe, protected, from magic, in fact, Angela had the devil's own time locating him" Not-Casper said "Its in a time fold, in an abyss, it so goddamned."

"Goddamned what?" asked Piper.

"God damned." Said Not-Casper.

"I love you Mark" thought Paige "You know how to play the rules."

"So the Elders think it would b better if some-one drove down and gcolected Rodik, and took the passport so he isn't tempted to go somewhere less…"

"God damned" said Piper.

"Less protected," said Not-Caper sanctimoniously.

"Don't look at any of us," said Piper.

"Well " explained Not-Casper carefully "Angela  and I had a private discussion and we thought than perhaps Phoebe, and her husband could go, if you are willing of course" he said to Cole.

"What?" screamed Cole and Phoebe while Paige and Leo and Piper stared at him.

"I'm not willing," snapped Cole "Do I look like some sort of moron or idiot?"

"Rhetoric question," asked Piper and got a glare for her trouble.

"Why do you think we should go?" hissed Phoebe indignantly. "Why in the hell should we put up with him bitching all the way back from Tijuana?"

"Because" said Not-Caper "We, I mean I.. I mean Angela and I thought that well " he stopped as Phoebe stood there tapping her foot." We thought you and your husband getting him will piss him off the most," said the angel.

"Oh well in that case,we'll go." Said Phoebe without hesitation as Cole groaned.

"I felt sure you would see my point of view," said Not-Casper as he orbed with a smile on his face was not at all angelic.

"I am not entirely sure that knowing Rodik is miserable for 12 hour in the car with us is going to make up for us being miserable for 12 hours in the car with him" said Cole his voice strained.

"If some-one has to go get it him" Piper said in a no argument entered into voice "and some-one has to get him, it's the ones that make him most miserable. No more discussion."

"Bitch," said Cole.

"Jade's funeral will be in two days " Leo said "Husband doesn't want to drag it out. Can you get back in time?"

"Back in a bit over a day if we leave now " said Cole caught between two places he did not want to be. He hated funerals because he had seen to many of the demon rituals associated with the other side of them

Paige caught her breath slightly. "Should Rodik be around during that? "she asked,.

"Probably not" " said Phoebe making decision "We can leave in the morning. You got that five hundred bucks joy money," she said Tto Cole.

"Yeah" he said "But I'm not spending it on Rodik."

"How about Disneyland on the way?" she asked leaving Cole totally speechless "Instead of the funeral."

"Go to Disneyland instead of a funeral" said Leo in an offended voice.

"Yes" said Phoebe determined.

"Good idea" said Piper remembering Jade's wish.

"Great Idea" said Paige softly.

"I'll explain" Phoebe told Cole "We better get some sleep" she said. "If we're driving all tomorrow."

"You sure it will take you 12 hours to get back from Tijuana" Leo asked. "Can't you speed it up."

"Phoebe has to pee every two hours at least," said Cole who had spent a considerable amount of the times he and Phoebe had slipped off to prowl around the world, lurking outside restrooms waiting for her. He had long since decided there were things he did for love that had never dreamed he would have done.

"That will piss Rodik off" said Leo who had a wife, "Good."

"Good," agreed Cole.

"I had your child Cole " snapped Phoebe pushing him upstairs. "Woman who have had children have to pee a lot."

Wyatt started to cry. Leo looked at Piper "I'll check Honey" he said seeing her expression.

"Good idea ",she said.

"What happened? "Piper asked Paige as soon as he left. 

Paige looked as if she about to collapse as the long day hit her.

"What ?" said Paige?

"Why didn't you kill Rodik?" Piper asked." I wanted to kill him yesterday. Only I was stopped " she added.

"I was stopped, " admitted Paige.

"Pity," said Piper grimly.

"I was stopped for my sake not his " said Paige.

"Bloody Guardian?" asked Piper sitting opposite her.

"Bloody whitelighter," said Paige. "Mark " she added.

"Oh," said Piper "that complicates things.

"Or simplifies things" Paige. I need to think a few things through," she said.

"Everything okay…with Mark ?" Piper asked apprehensively.

"I know what whitelighter wear under their robes " said Paige with false brightness. 'You could have told me."

"Oh " said Piper. "Sorry"

"I enjoyed it Piper, so much," Paige confessed "and Jade had just died."

"Jade wanted you… us to do something happy," said Piper.

"I wasn't thinking about Jade," said Paige flushing a little guiltily. "At least not until the way back. And I was when I was going to kill Rodik, only..."

"Only?" asked Piper gently.

"I think I may have just got a life" Paige said "Because…because Jade lost hers."

"Then thank her every day of it," said Piper bluntly.

Phoebe and Cole left very, very early the next morning and made it to Anaheim for lunch. Both of them were some what apprehensive because this was the first time they had ever left Patsy over night without one of them being there. Phoebe promptly fell asleep in the car because she had been awake all night worrying and fretting over Jade and did not even notice that Cole played 40's band music CD's for nearly five hours as he drove. She changed it to classical soon as she woke up.

They stopped at a cheap hotel, in Anaheim went into Disneyland and spent the rest of the day and night, pretending to be kids, having childish fun running around and jumping in the queues for space mountain, singing along to songs and even squashed onto the children's fairyland rides which was okay for Phoebe but not some-one over 6 foot.

"You know he best thing about this " Phoebe said as they squashed together. "Rodik's as pissed as hell waiting another night. That will please Jade."

They spent the last hours using the rest of the joy money to buy presents for the kids.

"You can't spend 300 dollars on Disney toys" Phoebe told Cole stung into practicality." Especially when you can buy them anytime at any shop in San Francisco.

"Sure I can, its not like I'm spending a thousand." said Cole happily "And these ones are special. They came from Disney land "

"Sure they are" said Phoebe.

They were just about the last ones out, leaving arm in arm clutching and joking and singing. Phoebe stoped and looked back at he lights as they worked over the car park. "I'm really happy "she sighed tiredly. "Thank you Jade."

Cole was laughing almost drunk on fresh air. "Me too" And he lifted Phoebe up an spun around her around. 'Thank you Jade."

"I bet that was more fun than being a demon kid" Phoebe giggled.

"Anything is more fun than being a demon kid." said Cole with a wry shake of his head "The only fun demon kids get is making other creatures miserable.

They went back to the hotel and shared a bottle of champagne and Cole not wanting to risk the mood did not even argue with the nothing or nothing rule.

Before going to sleep Phoebe said " I sure hope Jade really meant that about having a day to remember her by" as she lay back on the pillows where she could get a better looked at Cole sated and happy, and not quite squashing down a twinge of guilt at being happy the day after Jade had gone.

"Hope so" Cole answered lying on his side so he could watch her.

"You didn't know her that well, "  Phoebe  remarked softly.

"No " he answered "But I'm going to be around for eternity or a damned long time," he said " and I'm going to remember this as one of the happiest days I've had with you. I'm going to remember why I had it. I'm going to remember Jade for a very long time." he said as he watched every movement of Phoebe's face storing his memories.

They drove down to San Diego early the next morning somewhat reluctantly and across the border. The queues coming back from Mexico were very long at customs to Cole and Phoebe's considerable pleasure.

"That's going to piss Rodik off waiting," Phoebe said happily.

They finally found one very pissed retriever waiting in the foyer of a dive hotel in the seediest part of Tijuana. He was prowling up at down looking dishevelled and unhappy. His clothes had not handled tthe orbing and dumping in Tijuana well, they were dirty creased and there was a noticeable tear in his jacket, although he appeared to have a new but cheap shirt. He was also clean shaven .

"Angela must have relented enough to let him buy a few articles of clothing " Phoebe whispered disappointed.

"Or he bullied her into it " Cole muttered.

Rodik was missing his beret altogether and the few strands of hair plastered down across his scalp was stringy and greasy looking. He clutched a small cheap leather bag.

The desk, clerk watched him as he stormed up to Cole and Phoebe "Where the hell have you been?" he wheezed. "Whore " he added glaring at Phoebe.

"Disneyland " said Phoebe "Murderer" she added.

The desk clerk sighed, so did Cole. 12 hours seemed like several life times.

"Where's my passport " demanded Rodik. Phoebe handed it to him after pretending to have lost it. "Pay the bill " he ordered.

Phoebe smiled "Broke " she said. "I have to pee." she added as the desk clerk indicated a door at the edge of the foyer.

Cole turned his back on Rodik who finally pressed picked up the small leather bag, and dug around for a wallet and counted money carefully and resentfully to the clerk. Rodik stuck his wallet and passport back in the bag.

"Yeek" said Phoebe coming out of the door and holding her nose and without a word walked out of the front door. Rodik stalked out leaving his one bag for Cole to pick up. Cole dangling car keys looked at the bag and left it.

Rodik pushed past Phoebe to stand by the front passenger side of the car waiting to get in. He sniggered at Phoebe who glanced at Cole and then slide in the driver's sear and across to the passenger seat. Cole got in after her. They both sat there as Rodik sniffed an whine outside.

"How many hours to San Francisco?" Phoebe asked pulling out her purse and checking her makeup while Rodik whined.

"How long can he keep that up?" said Cole flicking through CD's.

"Rodik hates rock " said Phoebe.

"Rock it is, " said Cole.

Finally Rodik realised that neither was going to move and he climbed in the back seat with a sniff and whine. "This car smells of baby " he snarled.

"Shut the fuck up," said Phoebe and Cole.

"We need to get away, " said Rodik " I can feel this demonic power around. Great demonic power, very hostile. I just became aware of it."

Cole manoeuvring through Tijuana traffic took his eyes off the road for a second to glance at Phoebe which Rodik looking at the rear view mirror did not miss.

"I can feel power" he sniffed. "I sense it."

"Shut the fuck up " said Phoebe sliding down the seat then reaching over to turn the sound up.

They arrived at the border and joined the very long queue which made Rodik start fussing and fuming about the power following them. Nearly an hour later they were almost at the front of the queue when Rodik demanded "Where is my bag?"

"Where you left it" said Cole lolling back in the head rest with his eyes closed.

"My passport is in that bag " Rodik insisted. "You'll have to go back " he hissed  in panic as a customs officer approached.

"Sure I'm going to spin around and disappear now" said Cole "I would have half the customs officer chasing us." Rodik started to full on panic and Phoebe glanced at Cole who nodded.

"They'll arrest us" screamed Rodik "You've got to go back"

"I've got my passport , said Cole.

"Me too" said Phoebe.

As the customs office approached Cole flicked his finger quietly and they were waved through.

"Sometimes you just have to be lucky," said Phoebe nervously .

"Sometime not," said Rodik sniffing. "I felt that power more hostile than ever."

The were barely across the border when Cole put his foot down and started to speed. Phoebe glanced at the speedometer and he shrugged and she decided the risk of using magic to speed safely was worth it.

"Slow down" Rodik ordered, "I do not approve of breaking the law."

"Unless its murder," said Phoebe.

Cole glanced at her and flicked his finger so the speedometer slowed down but the car didn't.

"That power is stalking me," Rodik complained.

"Shut the fuck up," said Cole and Phoebe but Phoebe's voice wavered as she said it.

They stopped at a road house outside Los Angeles and Cole got out, put gas in the car and met Phoebe coming back from the bathroom as he paid.

"Why is Rodik picking up on your power so clearly? " she asked nervously.

"I'm not in a magic nexus, I guess." Cole answered. "Never been near him outside the manor before, except when Willem's powers confused things. Hope to god we can keep the paranoid little bastard believing he's being stalked."

"Haven't you got some power like Piper's freezing power?" Phoebe sighed.

"I've got a fist " Cole answered tersely as he paid for the gas, 2 blocks of chocolate, 3 mineral waters and a bag of oranges and tallied it against the cost of drinks at P3.

Rodik never took his eyes off the speedometer, which stayed on the speed limit as they passed car after car and never came near worrying any-one else. Rodik sniffed each time cars just refrained from pulling out in front of them and complained they were being stalked by a great power.

And sniffed and complained even louder when they passed police cars and at least two speed traps. Cole ignored them. Phoebe slithered down in her seat. Both she and Cole were silent but occasionally she slide her hand over and touched Cole's knee.

Ten hours of rock music was having its effect on Rodik  who spent the last five hours sniffing and whimpering which grated on grating on Cole's nerves as much as the rock music.Two hours out of San Francisco, they stopped at another roadhouse.

Cole put more gas in the car and Phoebe stopped to peck him on the lips. "You know " she whispered "For some-one with a demonic nature you do pretty good on the tolerance scale."

"It just ran out on the rock music," he said.

"I can cope with great film scores for 2 hours," she laughed " seeing you've been such a sweet little demon."

He tapped her backside as she went off, and only vaguely noticed Rodik was opening the door. When he came back from paying, Rodik was prowling around..

"Where is she?" he demanded " we need to get back. I can feel the power stalking me," he  sniffed.

"If I were you " said Cole quietly "I would not be so anxious to return. As far as I can tell the only reason Paige didn't kill you was because a whitelighter interfered, and " he said " most would have called it justice if she had not listened" he said and did not stop the Guardian slipping into his voice."

"And what would you know about Justice," sniffed Rodik "

"Apparently enough to make a life time calling out of it," Cole answered softly enough for Rodik to shiver at the tone "You my friend" he continued "had better hope justice does not come after you and judge you, because my friend, even an arsehole lawyer like me could do nothing but throw you on the mercy of the court."

"I am good," Rodik whimpered shivering.

"You're a fucking bastard Rodik," Cole said putting the guardian aside.

"I am necessary to the cause of good," Rodik sniffed getting a little braver. "Do you know where Good would be without me?"

"They'd have a few more witches to call on" Cole commented quietly.

"Witches are soldiers in the cause" sniffed Rodik "their role is to fight and kill and die if necessary for the cause of good."

"Which of course your's isn't? "Cole asked.

"Good needs to retrieve their lost powers " Rodik insisted "they support me, they need me."

"I'll concede that" said Cole quietly "But you know you may want to examine just at what point ,some of your supporters might decide that you are not worth the damage you cause or that you should offer retribution for your sins."

"I don't sin" sniffed Rodik "I am good."

"I would think there are a few great powers around who would disagree" Cole said. "And if you piss off enough powers of good they might be happy to let it happen."

"They know how necessary I am " Rodik said" They know that the loss of powers is the greatest disaster to their cause. Why do you think they send so many witches after warlocks?"

Cole smiled demonically "Maybe but they only need a retriever, they don't need you. If you couldn't retrieve, who would protect you from the wrath of all those you pissed off."

Rodik stamped his foot. He glared at Cole ,shivered and then spat "I don't need lectures from a….."

"A what?" asked Cole softly.

"A whore's cuckold," snipped Rodik.

Cole was silent for a second. "I warned you, you ought to be careful who you piss off, you never know what they might be able to do for retribution," he answered with a smile that had frightened minions of good for a hundred years and then walked around the car to get in as Phoebe ignoring Rodik climbed in the passenger seat and inclined her head. Cole shrugged.

Phoebe slept the next two hours and woke up as Cole stopped the car in front of the manor "Where are we?" she asked sleepily .

"Home " Cole replied touching her hair and then undoing her seat belt .

"Hm " she said stretching as Rodik who had huddled in the furthest corner from Cole for the last two hours, sniffed.

"Why don't you go in and say hi the folks" Cole said to Rodik who apparently realising his reception was going to be frosty stayed put. Cole and Phoebe ignored him. They went to the trunk to retrieve the parcels and presents they had bought at Disneyland.

Phoebe picked up the big Donald Duck doll. "I can't wait to here you explain to Piper why you think this reminds you of Wyatt " She giggled but the tiredness showed in her voice.

Rodik was still sitting primly in the car. Cole glanced at Phoebe who shrugged so they left him there sitting in the dark. As usual the front door was unlocked and they heard very animated voices as thy entered.

Piper's voice was downright angry. As Cole and Phoebe came in she stood up from where she was sitting at the dining room table where both whitelighters Angela and Not-Casper also sat along with the Elder Alana wearing a glowing robe.

Paige was up and prowling around the hall and half going back to the table. Leo was sitting the  table and had an annoyed expression his face.

The elder was saying in a patient prim voice "You no longer have that concern Leo. You gave up on your calling and I find it inappropriate that you should comment."

Not-Casper glanced at Leo with pity and asked submissively "Perhaps we should find a way to chase Willem into these other realms?"

"That is not an option, my friend " said the elder, emphasising her superior status " There are things beyond your understanding, great magic which pervert.. ."

"Bloody ogres " muttered Paige "Hi Cole, Hi Phoebe. " she said "Where's the little bastard?"

"In the car " shrugged Phoebe. "Why is she here?" she asked indicating the Elder.

"We have a small crisis" Piper explained. "Willem realises we know about him but apparently deciding to come out because we cannot get him, is risking open confrontation to challenge Tempus. The Elder's think our little confrontation withe Willem the other day allowed him to connect with Belthezor. That is the only explanation they have."

"Why doesn't Tempus just pulp him" said Phoebe " Save us the trouble."

"Apparently because he is more powerful than any of us believed until the other day" said the Elder "He is claiming an alliance with the last source the demon Belthezor, claiming that he can do what no other creature of evil has done and nullify the Charmed Ones because of this alliance and he apparently fought with and finished off two of Tempus' senior guards, upper level demons with huge powers to prove his claim "

"He has a few hundred years worth of stolen demon powers" said Piper banging her fist.

The elder ignored her  "Where is Belthezor, Miss Phoebe?" she asked "How did Willem call on him?"

"We vanquished him, " insisted Phoebe leaning against Cole.

"There are stories in the underworld of Belthezor appearing with greater power after you vanquished him, even stories of him trying to claim the throne again." the Elder insisted "This was great secret we kept because it seemed so unlikely. Leo once tried once to tell us of the reincarnation of Belthezor more powerful than ever," she added not bothering to acknowledge the Elders less than supportive response to his claims

"I was ..." Leo muttered. "Just ..mistook, some deeds because I was so scared of what could happen," he explained but kept his eyes lowered, the irony not lost on him.

The Elder did not answer because she was distracted as Rodik at the door, and pushed his way past Cole and Phoebe. He  waddled over to the Elder's side, ignoring the whitelighters, Charmed Sisters and Leo who glared  at him with varying levels of hate and disgust .

"I know where Belthezor is" he barked "Ask the whore and the demon she cohorts with." He pointed angrily at Cole standing there with a bemused expression on his face and arms full of Disney toys. "That is the demon Belthezor " Rodik yelled. "Ask the whore. She knows, he's the demon Belthezor."

"I'll note you in my book of memory"
William Shakespeare. Henry VI, Act ii, Sc.4.