The Life and Times

Part 5: Of a good beginning cometh a good end.

Chapter 55

"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

On a Sunday ten days after Rodik's departure and Cole and Phoebe's first wedding anniversary Whosit Patrick Benjamin Victor Turner sometimes known as Patsy Victor Benjamin Halliwell had his slightly late family and friends first birthday. He actually had two birthdays because on his real one the family had a small cake and family presents. Phoebe celebrating having a job bought him a pedal car.

"Great," said Cole "He gets a car before me."

Phoebe calmly told him to quit bitching. "If you wanted a new car you could have used the money we were going to give to Paige instead of starting the college fund."

"That money would not have bought a new car, and we needed to put something on the overdraft to extend it for the college fund." Cole bitched.

"How in the hell can paying a little bit of money on an overdraft convince them to extend it by a huge amount for a college fund." demanded Paige.

"Its," Leo started to say.

"Its something only a economist could figure out I know" said Phoebe "I hate economists."

"The money was enough to buy a car for me but not you" Paige asked sweetly and got a very dirty look from Cole. It was not that he was envious of her new car, it was just he didn't have one.

The new car was something not all the family were thrilled about. Two days earlier Piper and Phoebe had been in the throes of a long conversation.

"Piper you don't think evil is targeting us financially do you?" Phoebe asked. "I mean evil can't get us any other way. Paige said they went for Cole's car deliberately, and its enough of a pain with him being able to shimmer, but if he really was mortal we'd be screwed. And the problems I had with my job and those offers that were to good to be true at P3."

"I don't think it, I know it," said Piper grimly as Paige came flying in and dragged her sisters outside, yelling for Cole and Leo to follow. They ran out expecting a demon, and then stood staring at the curb.

"What's that?" Cole asked.

"You really are a smart lawyer," said Paige, "It's a car."

"Where the hell did you get it ?" asked Phoebe.

"Archbishop" said Paige.

"What did you for the archbishop?" asked Phoebe innocently while Piper punched her.

Paige gave Phoebe a dirty look.

"Is this good or evil?" Phoebe whispered to Piper.

"Live," said Piper.

"That's top of the range," Leo said walking around to inspect it "Why did you get anything so good for work?"

"Its finance," Paige said. "If I'm going to be running round between 3 centres, its cheaper to lease the expensive one. The more expensive the car , the better the tax write off on the lease. The community hasn't got the resources to claim it but the archbishop does and so they said I had to take the car because it means there is more money available for getting jobs."

"Sounds to good to be true" said Piper. "Does it sound right to you?" she asked Cole as Leo was to busy looking under the hood.

"I'm a lawyer not a an accountant" said Cole slightly peeved thinking of his lost car.

"I mean the people in the office get to use it if they need it but because of the job, I get to use it most " Paige explained. Justifying it.

"If its more economical to lease than buy why the hell doesn't Cole do that?" Leo asked, bringing his nose from under the hood.

"Because you have to make money before you can spend it to save money on tax" said Piper "And you don't have to be an economist to understand that."

"Ha" said Cole.

"Is it to good to be true?" Piper asked Phoebe again,.

"Sounds just the sort of cockeyed logic economists would use. I hate economists," Phoebe said.

Patsy's real birthday party was a happy occasion. As well as the car, he received a tool kit from Leo, some complicated puzzle games from Piper because she hoped they would distract him from magic. Paige decided he was still a little boy and bought him his own cuddly teddy bear. His father realising he was a father not an aunt or mother, and not able to compete signed his name on the card for the car and found  a copy of a biography of Nelson Mandela's biography and signed it with love from Dad,  the first time he wrote that name.

"I don't think he can read that yet," Phoebe said when she found it.

"Maybe he needs to know it isn't being powerful that makes you a villain but how you use it," Cole told her seriously.

"Sure baby" she said kissing him.

Melinda helped Patsy blow out the family cake, and Piper was generally applauded. She decided it was worth the slight guilt of not telling any-one she had found two ginger kittens on the kitchen island licking cream off the cake.

"I wonder how you're going to explain to him in a few years why his birthday is a couple of days after your anniversary" Leo asked a touch un-angelically.

"Mommy vanquished and divorced daddy, which really pissed him off" said Cole who was still feeling irritated about Paige having a car when he didn't.

"That reminds me" said Paige "What did you do to the Book of Shadows Cole?"

"Nothing I never go near the damned thing" said Cole surprised at the question.

"Where's the entry on Belthezor?" said Paige peeved.

"In the book?" Cole asked factiously .

"No its not" said Paige"

"Well I didn't remove it" said Cole " Why were you looking it up?" he asked sweetly.

"I" Paige  said as Cole pursed his lips. "I was just showing Mark. I mean things about our…history. He's our whitelighter. He needs to know." she muttered as Cole raised his eyes.

"Yeah" said Cole " Well I guess its buried in the book somewhere. Don't those entries change places all the time. Seems to me they do when I have seen it. Why don't you get an index for it and maybe you'll find the page and quit blaming me."

"Its not there," insisted Paige hands on hips " Why is it missing?"

"Deep dark magical secret no-one knows about yet" said Phoebe because she hoped it was missing. "And don't tell me to shut up" she added "My opinion is as valid as yours."

Magically it was a crazy week for the Charmed Ones. They had two individual demon attacks; a visit from sorcerer who appeared insisting demanding the witches intervene to help his brethren who had been threatened with immolation by demons using a power to project metal as molten lead that had not been seen for over 300 years in the demonic middle realms. And a pixie accompanied by a dragon friend, to Melinda's delight, had come to insist that it was written the Charmed Ones would led the emergence of a new order in their realm.

"Don't you dare breath fire in here," Piper snapped at the dragon. "This attic is full of my family's heirlooms."

"This one distinctly lacks charm " the pixie told the dragon.

"Does this mean things are back to normal or a another crisis is around the corner?"asked Phoebe.

"Shut up Phoebe," said Paige and Piper.

"Maybe I misread the writing" said the dragon.

On the Sunday the day of the real party Paige orbed into the manor kitchen clutching all three of Jade's daughters who were trying to pretend they were cool with this mode of transport. " I thought we were only having family and close friends to Patsy's birthday party" she said eyeing off the mountain of food spread around.

"Well family and close friend seem to be multiplying" Piper answered wiping her hair and putting flour all over it. "Aunt Eleanor kid's kids, Eduardo and his wife from Cole's office, people from P3, Marly, Clarissa and her husband, girls from Phoebe's work."

She jumped as two ginger kittens flew across the kitchen bench and one landed on the curtains and the other took a dive for the top of the refrigerator.

"Melinda " roared Piper throwing her hands in the air "Come and get those damned cats."

"I wouldn't do that" said Paige as Melinda appeared from the conservatory.

"What," snapped Piper.

"Keep the hands down" Paige ordered.

Piper dropped them in a hurry.

The kitten on the curtains let go and did a slow slide into the sink, leaving a rip in the curtain. Piper instinctively froze it just before it hit the water, then winced when she realised what she had done. The kitten on the refrigerator knocked a cut glass bowl on the top at the same time. Piper thought about freezing, hesitated and the bowl crashed and shattered.

"Melinda" roared Piper.

Melinda stamped her foot. "Don't frighten pussy mommy" she ordered while Jade's daughters eyed Piper nervously.

"Ah" said Piper. "All I need know is another damned wizard to appear."

"Sorcerer" said Paige " they aren't the same as wizards. Cole said so."

"Bugger Cole" said Piper "I still think its odd we haven't had any magic calling, demons or anything the whole time we were chasing Willem and suddenly this week we have sorcerer's and pixie's and dragons coming out of the woodwork.

"Make's you wonder if evil wanted us to go after Willem" said Phoebe appearing at the door with a watering can. "And I won't shut up. It's a perfectly good point," she added as Piper and Paige exchanged glances.

"Can I help?" asked Paige and stopped as she saw Piper's dirty look.

"Help Phoebe do the flowers " ordered Piper under some pressure.

Paige collected the kittens and bundled them into Melinda's arms where she lovingly showed her babies to Jade's daughters.

Piper half smiled as she heard Jade's youngest daughter ask if Piper hated cooking. Paige assured her Piper loved it, as she ushered the girls and Melinda and the kittens out to the living room where Phoebe, helped by Jade's daughters went back to carefully arranging flowers, and Melinda cuddled her kittens and kept asking if cutting flowers hurt them.

"Why does Mr Turner know about wizards?" asked Jade's youngest daughter.

"He reads a lot," said Phoebe quickly.

In the conservatory Patsy was carefully following Leo who was crawling around the floor checking tiles, at the same time arguing with Cole. He was not happy with the tiling Cole had fixed magically. Leo claimed that some of it was uneven.He was also not happy that somehow the casements had become warped and claimed ever since Willem's demise the glass seemed to rattle in an alarming manner. This too he seemed to blame on Cole who was suitably outraged saying he was not a glazier.

"I know" snarled Leo.

"You're imagining the extra rattles" Cole told him "Its an old house its always rattled."

"Don't" said Leo without looking up a Cole in exasperation started to flick his fingers.

"Boys are having fun" said Paige indicating them.

"I know" said Phoebe. "Leave them to enjoy themselves."

"Paige orbed us here," Jade's middle daughter told Phoebe.

"And she can drive you home in her brand new car," Phoebe said.

"Car" said the girl disappointed.

Phoebe and Paige watched interested as Leo stopped crawling and inspected a tile. Patsy squatted down beside him and put his finger on it as his proud mother smiled.

"Its all right " Cole told Leo.

"Some-one could fall over that" said Leo looking at a tile that has lifted a micro millimetre. Patsy inspected it carefully.

"Leave it" said Phoebe coming over to watch "Wicked stepmother is coming with Dad."

"Goody" said Paige joining her "Francesca and Margaret at the same party."

"I didn't invite Francesca" Cole said snippy. "Seeing she claims she is no longer my friend."

"Oh" said Paige bewildered.

"I did." said Phoebe "She's my friend," she told Cole "and don't argue she ordered him as he raised his eyes and muttered Jesh.

"Patsy" said Leo as he started to move the tile. Leo looked up at Cole worried "He put it back" he said.

"It wasn't out" said Cole.

"He likes things to fit" said Phoebe.

Melinda seeing Pasty was the centre of attention decided to impress Jade's daughters with few air spins.

"I'm a good girl" she insisted "You want to help me get dressed. "She demanded carefully putting the kittens on the sofa. She then levitated toward the stairs, the three girls follow her.

"Don't let he use magic with mortals around." Phoebe called after them.

"How can they stop her?" said Paige.

"Melinda knows what no means" said Phoebe. "This party could be a bad idea " she added as Leo rescued his hammer from Patsy who had kineticed it to him. "If anything goes wrong its your fault " she told Cole, "I knew it was a bad idea to let him get any powers."

Cole rolled his eyes and growled "No-one notices if they rattle" he told Leo "or care."

"Any-one would notice it" said Leo "and in case you haven't noticed I care about this place."

Cole raised his eyes. "Leo the damned things rattle leave them."

Patsy sitting on the floor beside Leo as he inspected the windows waved a hand and the windows slide into place so tightly the whole house seemed to shudder.

"Hell" said Cole.

"He's only trying to help Uncle Leo " Phoebe said defensively picking her baby up to cuddle him "Clever Patsy.

"Hell" said Uncle Leo "he's only year old. He couldn't possibly understand."

"Hell" said Paige "I bet he does."

Before she could say anything else there was a crash in the dining room and they spun around. The vase of flowers had been knocked over and one ginger kitten was hanging off the table cloth while the other was splashing water around trying to retrieve the flowers.

"That's your fault "Phoebe told Cole annoyed.

"I know" he said finally pushed to far. "I made you flirt with Therold so he had to give you some of his treasures."

Phoebe put her hands on her hips.

"Why are you being such a bitch?" Cole asked snaky.

He turned on his heel and stalked in to the kitchen.

"I suppose this mess is my fault too" he said to Piper who was taking advantage of absent kittens to ice cakes.

"It s your kid." she said wiping her hands on her forehead. "If you don't like Phoebe being bitchy you should have done the good guardian thing and run while you had the chance."

"You've got lemon icing over you hair," Cole told her. "I love Phoebe, I just wonder sometimes what goes on in her head. "he said "Running isn't an option." he sighed. Never will be. Couldn't justify any of the guardian stuff if I did."

"That is very wise" Piper smiled smugly trying to wipe icing off her hair and putting more there.

Cole picked up a cloth and wiped it off her. "Not my wisdom" he told her.

Piper grimaced "Its your fault " She told Cole.

"How?" he asked hating himself for asking.

"You're the only one who has to have lemon instead of chocolate." Piper told him "Whose wisdom are you quoting?"

"I'm just taking a lead from Phoebe and Proctor " he said. "So many creatures around me being wise I'll think I'll just do as I feel."

"My god." said Piper "Proctor and Phoebe have something in common."

"I guess" said Cole.

"I wonder if they exchanged during the eclipse," Piper mused."

"Phoebe would have told me if she had. "Cole said not entirely sure.

"Maybe Proctor exchanged into her " Piper suggested with an evil grin.

Cole's eyes opened wide then to Piper's surprise he suddenly paled.

"OMG." he said"

"What?" Piper asked amused.

Cole wailed, shocked, horrified. "All the shadows Phoebe felt when we were …. together…. you know I mean just us and.".

"I know." said Piper tongue in cheek and finally finishing icing the cake.

Cole was going paler by the second. "I always assumed those shadows…. those connections were….the ones sharing her soul…. when we talked… when we joke about her sharing. When we …shared. I …assumed…thought they were like …. Phoebe."

"Magic?" asked Piper enjoying herself.

"Female," he whispered as Piper shrieked with malicious laughter.

Feeling a need to be alone and wondering what could be worse than fearing Proctor had been an unwanted third between Phoebe and him, he went out through the laundry and found his way out blocked by the little witch Marly busily ironing. She had been helping Clarissa in the bookshop all week, but accepted a birthday invitation  when told Rodik had left and had arrived early that morning to help get ready for the birthday party, looking down shyly when Leo said hello and blushing furiously when Cole did.

Marly, happy to be of service now the bastard retriever was gone had seen the three week old pile of ironing and frowned. "Your family will think you're not coping if they see this " she told Piper and set herself up.

"Slotting back into her nice safe corner of the magic world," Cole thought , "Safe from evil witches hell bent on seducing her to evil, safe from anyone remotely bent on seducing her."

As Marly careful as ever ironed one of Leo's shirts Cole smiled his most disarming smile, so she would not get nervous when he pushed past. Behind her was a neat pile of sheets, Melinda's and Whosit's tee shirts and play pants and Leo's shirts.

Cole wanting, needing to get past her to get out of the house, made a bland comment about the weather, because he could never think of anything else to say that was totally safe from any implication that might frighten her that he meant sex or remind her he was male.

Marly stopped ironing leaving the iron still on Leo's favourite yellow shirt, she stared at him as if he had two heads or had morphed into Belthezor. She gulped and then she flushed bright, bright crimson, so crimson Cole glanced behind to see if some naked flame thrower had appeared in the kitchen.

She tried to say something but was totally embarrassed, lost for words. It crossed Cole's mind that she was at the age to start hot flushes, then he realised she was staring directly at his groin. He glanced down wondering if he had left his zip undone. Her glance went to his face and she shuddered, a swift little shiver of anticipation and then she flushed an even brighter shade of crimson.

"You're burning Leo's shirt," Cole told her but she just kept staring at him tongue tied and then to his extreme discomfort she licked her lips.

"Leo's shirt," he said embarrassed.

She stared at him getting more and more crimson.

"Leo's shirt " Cole said "You're burning it Marly"

But she kept staring at him. He stepped over and to his surprise she allowed him to touch her as he took hold of her hand and removed the iron.

Her eyes had taken on this glazed almost orgasmic expression.

"The iron is hot " he told her.

"Hot " she murmured and bit on her bottom lip.

Somewhat nervously Cole stepped away. Leo's shirt was beyond redemption.

Marly swallowed, glanced at his chest and then downwards, this time she went even more crimson and then sighed with a little whimper.

"Marly" he said helpless.

He was rescued by Phoebe coming in behind him "Cole " she started saying.

"What do you want?' he asked his voice sounding unnatural to him.

Phoebe narrowed her eyes and winced at his tone "I'm sorry. I was just being a bitch " she said looking at him coyly. "First time my son's had a birthday party stresses."

"Gee  first time mine has too " he said, snaky. "You came out to apologise."

"No I came for the foldout table in the top cupboard to put presents on " she said pushing him out the way and reaching up "You just happened to be here."

Cole snorted as she reached for the table.

"You should let… him do that" said Marly firmly.

"I'm not helpless," Phoebe answered surprised.

"Are you pregnant ?" Marly demanded. "Did you get pregnant?" "She stopped and flushed again and then sneaked another look in the direction of Cole's groin.

"Why do you think I'm pregnant ?" said Phoebe said surprised.

"I ….I heard you were trying," Marly said so red she looked about to burst. "You shouldn't stretch when you're a little bit pregnant. It isn't good "She whispered Obviously caught. "You're not pregnant " she said sadly almost reflecting Phoebe's disappointment a few weeks ago.

Phoebe glanced at Cole and at Marly swallowed and seeing Cole's sudden narrowed eyes decided this was not the time to lie.

 I" she said. She gulped. "I think I am " she said eyes darting at Cole "I mean last time I almost knew straight away and its only a teeny teeny bit pregnant and. "He was just staring at her frozen "I mean my period isn't due for nearly two weeks and hell I was waiting just for something other than I think I am. Honest." she said "I wouldn't not tell you. Honest " she said. "You believe me."

"Hell" said Cole very slowly, swallowing hard.

"And don't yell at her because you didn't want it " Marly said suddenly brave " I know you do."

 "What?" said Cole "How the hell do you know. Shit," said Cole glancing back at Marly who was staring at Leo s burnt shirt with a glowy expression on her face. "Shit " he said flushing crimson to the roots of his hair "Shit," he said damn you " he said to Phoebe because Marly was not taking any notice of him swearing.

"Don't damn me and don't get pissy" Phoebe said angry, hurt "I don't care what you say you want this as much as me."

"Damn you " he said and he glanced at Marly still holding the shirt with an orgasmic smile on her face. He caught Phoebe's arm and hauled her out in the yard.

"I was not telling any-one until the last possible time. " Phoebe insisted before he could say anything. "They'll just get worried. And I could be wrong."

"I'm not just any-one," he said "Are you wrong?"

She shook her head and looked down and then looked up and caught the smile on his face.

"No "Phoebe said happily. "Why does Marly? Oh hell" she said "That night,  you… me.. we decided and you joked about not being alone maybe it was. Oh shit." Phoebe stopped and thought about it. "What have I got in common…I mean…I wonder if she enjoyed it as much as me."