How Quaint the Ways of Paradox

Part 2: Promises,promises,promises

Chapter 11


"How quaint the ways of paradox;  At common sense she gaily mocks"

(Gilbert and Sullivan. Pirates of Penzance)

We must learn to endure what we cannot avoid. Our life is composed, like the harmony of the world, of contrary things, also of different tones, sweet and harsh, sharp and flat, soft and loud. If a musician liked only one kind, what would he have to say? 

Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592), French essayistt


Cole was very glad for small mercies, at least the confrontation with Francesca had been on a Friday and it would be a full two days before he had any reason to see her. He and Phoebe spent Saturday on mundane things such as shopping and house keeping and spent the night at P3 with Leo and Piper while Paige baby sat. On Sunday Cole woke up at dawn to find Phoebe leaning back on the pillow  staring at the ceiling.


“What’s wrong?” he asked nervously wondering frantically if the time line had changed. Phoebe was not one to lie awake pondering. Phoebe was one to be sound asleep and almost impossible to get out of bed in the morning.


“Morning baby“ she said distracted leaning over to peck his lips. She fell back on the pillow. “Baby have you got any time powers?” she asked trying to be casual.


“Why are you asking?” he asked carefully.


"I.. once when Tempus changed the time I got this really strong feeling of Déjà vu and you remember . way back before we got together again, you warned me about time changes and because Tempus was the leader of the underworld. WellPhoebe said "I seem to have been getting some very strong time feelings for days"


“What sort of time feelings?” he asked even more carefully.


”Like I was being dragged back to places I don’t want to go“ she said. “Really strong no matter how much I resist.”


“ Are you sure baby“ Cole said bending over Phoebe to kiss her lightly. He threw back the quilt and got out of bed reaching for the track pants that he kept close by, because Phoebe’s sisters kept invading their bedroom and he had been caught huddling under the quilt to many times.


“I’ve just got one thing to say.” he said pulling the pants on.


“Baby what are you talking about“ Phoebe said getting annoyed.


He stood up “When you get mad at me because I didn’t tell you just remember Piper wouldn’t let me.” he said gutlessly, then he stepped back opened the door and roared “Piper “ at the top of his voice.


When Piper did not come immediately he went to Piper and Leo’s room and opened the door. Piper was scrambling awake and Leo jumped up.


“What’s wrong?” Piper said sleepily.


“ Phoebe’s getting time feelings“ Cole said.


“ I’m coming“  Piper said.


Phoebe had jumped out of bed pulling a kimono around her and Paige appeared in the passage drowsily rubbing sleep out of her eyes. “Can’t this wait?” she muttered shoving Cole away as he tried to make sure she was between him and Phoebe.


“ I’ll make some coffee“ he said heading for the stairs.


“Gutless“ muttered Paige.


“What’s wrong?” Phoebe demanded watching him go.


“We know there is a time problem“  Piper said “We’ve just been waiting for you to verify it. “


They sat around the parlour drinking coffee. Leo and Piper on the sofa, Paige in her favourite chair and Phoebe in the one opposite. Cole had decided to take the risk and sat on the chair arm beside Phoebe. He usually found it impossible to be in a room and not be in touching distance of Phoebe. He invariably sat on sofas so she could curl up against him or chair arms next to her. For a while when he first returned to the manor Paige took great delight in putting herself between him and Phoebe and watching the ways he found to get close to Phoebe.


“Okay what gives?” said Phoebe.


“Cole thinks the time line changed early this week then changed back“  Piper said.


“Cole knows it changed“ Cole interrupted.


“It changed,” said Leo.


“And just how did Cole know it changed?” Phoebe pushed.


“I didn’t change timelines“  Cole answered. “I guess I’m outside Tempus control. I woke up one day and it had changed, I woke up the next day and it hadn’t.”


“What do you remember about Monday and Tuesday?”  Leo asked.


“If Tempus changed the timeline why did he change it back?” Phoebe asked.


“He either got what he wanted and changed it back or he didn’t get what he wanted and he thinks he can have another attempt later on. “ Leo said.


Phoebe shook her head. "Okay I went to work on Monday. Did the radio show. Came home. Piper and Paige and I went and had cake and coffee for my birthday. “  Paige and Piper were nodding Cole came home. “ We went out for dinner, on a harbour cruise, came home. Next morning she glanced up at Cole you went to work, I slept in. In the afternoon those demons the ammom thingy ones, the ones all made of gas.”


“Amomitines“  said Paige. 


“Yeah those things“  said Phoebe “attacked down at the churches. The ones who like to go to places where good inhabits and let off stink bombs. We got the suckers. Piper and Paige got stink bombed. “


“So did you“  Paige put in.


“Okay I did. Okay“  Phoebe admitted. “Then we came home. I showered for about 2 hours, met Cole after work went and saw a film.”


"Which one“  asked Paige.


“Retro. Beaches" Phoebe said.


“Oh God Phoebe you didn’t?” Paige said “Poor Cole.”


“What“  said Phoebe and Cole.


“Whoever said good does not come out of evil was wrong“ Piper said.


“What are you talking about?” Cole said looking around. He hated it when they talked about human things like old TV shows and movies he did not understand.


“She can’t make you see it again“ Paige explained “ You’ve seen it.”


“What?” said Cole.


“Chick flick, big time“  Leo said.


“Oh“  said Cole.


Phoebe glared at them. “ Then we went to a sleazy bar over on the north side, Red Lantern, just for fun. “  She saw her sisters horrified expressions “What? I was with Cole. Nothing nasty could happen and then we came home. Cole was going to stay home on Wednesday. Francesca rang and made you go to work. What changed? “


“Not much“  Cole answered hastily “You had brown hair.”


“Is that the only thing that changed?” Phoebe demanded “You’re all carrying on because my hair was a different colour.”


“Did you and Cole make out?” Piper asked.


“What?” said Phoebe.


“You and Cole make out, screw, have sex in that time?” Piper asked impatiently.


“None of your damned business“  Phoebe said.


Cole winced “Yeah it is baby“  he said.


Phoebe shook her head “You’re nuts“ she said Monday night, okay. Big Time.” She glanced at Cole “I was feeling a bit off on Tuesday morning, Tuesday night. Pretty good. A couple of times. Wednesday morning. What?” she said looking at Piper who had her nose in the air. “What? “ Phoebe said.


“I didn’t say anything“  Piper said.


“What changed Cole?” Phoebe demanded.


“Not a lot“  Cole answered carefully. `


“What changed?” Phoebe demanded again, her voice becoming angry.


Piper met her sisters confused eyes “As near as we can figure, when you and Prue had that fight when you were 18, the one about running away to New York, you went to New York and did not come back until after Prue died. Paige was the sister who found the Book of Shadows.” She answered.


“What else changed?” Phoebe demanded her anger turning cold.


“Nothing big not the destiny thing just us, personal things“ Piper said.


“You three weren’t as friendly as you are now“  Cole said. Leo made a choking sound.


“Phoebe“ Leo asked “ iI there something in the feelings you are getting that you keep coming back to, thinking about even when you don’t want to?”


Phoebe nodded “Yes“  she started to say.


“Don’t tell us“ Paige interrupted.


“Why not?” Piper challenged her sister.


“How does Tempus change time Cole?” Paige asked.


“I don’t know a lot“  Cole answered. “He has some means of viewing the past, particularly the evil past and as I understand it, if there is enough evil, he can influence decisions made and change timelines. “


“Could he view this time, what we’re talking about?” Paige asked in the near future, “ like in an hour?”


“Perhaps possibly, if there is something evil here “ Cole answered  “Why? “


Paige said “Because I just thought, maybe Tempus changed the timeline back because he knew Phoebe would realise about the change and we might talk about it. He might  be hoping he could get his answer if we talk about. “


Phoebe stood up and walked to the bureau and took out a notebook and pen and wrote. “I can’t stop thinking about when we took the Grimoire from the Underworld“ and handed it to Paige who handed it to Cole who handed it to Piper who handed it to Leo.


“I knew it“  said Piper grimly “I knew it was going to be that. “


Leo sighed “I’ll go check“  he said.


“Go somewhere else first Leo“  Cole said “I don’t want to know, I really don’t want to know …anything.”


Leo nodded and orbed off.


“There’s nothing evil here“  Piper said as she glanced around at the expressions of her sisters.


“What changed Cole?” Phoebe asked quietly.


He took a deep breath “Piper and Leo were divorced“  he said, “we weren’t together.”


“I see“  she said “so we didn’t…. make out then.”


He couldn’t lie to her. He had touched their auras once in moment when he desperately needed her trust him, to give them a chance to be together and because of that he could not lie to her, she would always know he lied to her while she loved him.


“Yeah we did“ he answered just as quietly.


“Why?” she asked.


“Near as I can figure you picked me up in one of the night clubs down by the pier on Monday night. I returned the favour on Tuesday night, picked you up at the Red Lantern“  he said “We came back here both times.”


“I see“  Phoebe said and started to leave. “So there is evil here.”


Paige caught her arm “Phoebe“ she said “You can’t blame him for being unfaithful when it was you he was with.”


“Can’t I?” she said and went upstairs.


Cole watched her go “Damn“  he said under his breath and followed her upstairs.


Phoebe went into the bedroom and flung herself on the bed. She lay on her side, her back to the door. Cole followed her into the bedroom. He stood at the door and said “Phoebe.”


“Go to hell“ she muttered into the pillow. He came into the room and walked around the bed and sat on the edge putting his hand gently on her arm "Phoebe" he said.


“I hate you“  she muttered into her pillow.


He sucked his breath in “So much you can’t even talk to me?” he asked hurting.


She rolled onto her back, tear stained brown eyes looking into aching blue ones. “Why did you do it Cole?” she demanded “Why did you do it?”


“Because “ he said “I woke up with you that morning, the timeline was changed but I woke up with you. I got scared I thought if I couldn’t find a way to be with you, wake up with you, it might all get screwed around and the line might change so we weren’t ever together. “ he sighed “I thought it was for the best. “


“Do you know how betrayed I feel?” she asked “Have you any idea how you betrayed me. “


And because he had touched their auras, and the only way they could be separated was if she fell out of love with him, he knew, he knew just how betrayed she felt.


“I thought it was for the best“  he said.


“That’s what you do isn’t it?” she said through her tears “Demon, mortal, who knows what, its still Cole and you still betray, don’t you? Because its for the best.“


“I couldn’t bear to lose you now Phoebe“  he said “And what I saw of you without me. You’re better off with me Phoebe“  he said.


“So you betrayed me“  she said bitterly. “You betrayed me, for all the right reasons.  You betrayed me. You did what you always do. You betray and you do it so damned well. “


“And you can’t forgive me“  he said frightened, realising how close he was to losing her when all he had wanted to do was protect her.


“I love you" she said "I told you I would forgive you anything as long as you weren’t evil. “  She sat up“ I hate you. I hate you so much. “


“I’m sorry“  he said because he did not know what else to say.


“No you’re not“ she sniffed “You’d do it again tomorrow if you thought it was for the best.”


“What do you want Phoebe“ he asked uncertain of her, uncertain of where they were going.


“I want you to hold me you stinking bastard, I want you to hold me like you will never let me go. “ she cried.


 He nodded slightly, reached for her and pulled her against him, letting her cry her pain and hurt out, her face buried against his naked shoulder.


I hate you.” she cried.