How Quaint the Ways of Paradox

Part 2: Promises,promises,promises

Chapter 12


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

(Gilbert and Sullivan. Pirates of Penzance)

Phoebe was in a temper with Cole all day. It was Sunday and normally it was their day to be together, just enjoying each other’s company, even shimmering off to a favourite place or one of Cole’s beaches. When Cole suggested that they shimmer off somewhere, anywhere Phoebe liked, she looked him up and down and said “Shimmer with you. I’d sooner have sex with you and just at the moment the thought of having sex with you makes me sick to my stomach. “


“Phoebe“ he said almost pleading.


“I hate you“ Phoebe said and stalked off go into the garden and work in the flower beds by herself. Cole had tried appealing to Paige for help because she had been sympathetic earlier that morning but she had suddenly remembered that Cole had given her date last night a very hard time, and she was cross enough with him to refuse to offer him any sympathy whatsoever.


When Cole had first returned to the manor Paige varied between being fond of Cole, using his car and being really pissed off with him because he had to her disgust not been any more pleased to hear about her married boyfriend, than her sisters or Leo.


A few weeks after Cole had moved back to the manor, Phoebe had decided that he was doing to good a job of avoiding living there, he worked late most nights, shimmered off for the weekend and spent as little time as possible with the family. She made him take three days off and refused to go away. Made him live at the manor to his great unhappiness. The first morning he and Phoebe had such fight over it they weren’t on speaking terms. Paige had come down just before midday dressed in her sexiest best while Cole sat in a corner of the parlour reading, ignoring Phoebe, who had found a reason to sit in the other corner and discuss the Elders with Leo.


“Where are you going?” Leo had asked.


“Lunch date with Todd?” Paige had answered.


“Lunch date“  Leo answered in a different tone, glancing toward Cole who sucked his lips together and raised his eyebrows.


“Lunch date hmm“  Cole said.


“What’s wrong with lunch?” Paige demanded.


“Cheap imitation of dinner“ Cole said straight faced, and then caught Leo’s eye and the two burst into sniggering laughter.


“That’s why they have a special menu“ Leo added, then he and Cole dissolved into laughter again.


“What’s wrong with them?” Paige demanded.


“They’re being bastards“  Phoebe snorted and managed to shepherd Paige out the room.


“That guy is bad news“ Leo told Cole.


The demonologist married professor Todd arrived about 20 minutes later. Piper opened the door and let him in, introducing him to Cole while calling to Paige. Cole went out of his away to be pleasant and charming to Todd making sure Todd knew he was a successful lawyer, which Cole very rarely bothered about, creating an impression of some one Todd really wanted to know.


When Paige followed by Phoebe came into the lounge, she kissed Todd looked at Cole smiling benignly and at Leo and Piper looking unimpressed, then she did her best to remove Todd. Todd turned to Cole and said he looked forward to getting to know him better. Cole very blandly said that he was on vacation why didn’t he and Phoebe join them for lunch.


The effect was nearly ruined by Leo’s barely choked down whooping noise and Piper’s snort as they both remembered. Phoebe glanced at all of them, sympathising with Paige’s anger and glaring at Cole’s smugness. Todd was caught between staying on good terms with Paige’s family, and irritation, Phoebe started to say no, when Todd shuffling decided being on friendly terms with a partner in a well known law firm might be useful and smilingly agreed. So Phoebe was left with no choice but to agree to the lunch swallowing the word yes but she still managed to get a hard wack across Cole’s backside with her purse which Paige saw but Todd did not.


When they left Piper looked at Leo and the two collapsed into each others arms laughing. “OMG I love Cole when he’s being an arsehole“ Piper said.


“You got to give him credit for learning from my experience“ Leo said and swung Piper around in his arms just making her forget for a few minutes, she was a witch, a mother and an older sister.


Lunch was about as successful as Phoebe expected. Todd spent most of the time impressing Cole with his knowledge of demons, Paige sulked and Phoebe was caught between admiration for Cole’s ability to be a bastard and sympathy for Paige’s misery.


It was a short lunch as Todd had to get back to the university for a class. Phoebe removed Cole's car keys from his pocket; and firmly told him to get lost; she was taking Paige shopping.


Cole shimmered back to the manor. Leo had disappeared but Piper was in the kitchen making up home made baby food. She jumped when Cole appeared.


“You can be a right arsehole“  she told Cole firmly.


“It was fun“ he grinned.


He leant on the bench and took a deep breath “You need to break that up Piper“  he said seriously.


She spun on him amazed “Cole you think you of all, whatever the hell it is you are have the gall to tell me to interfere with my sisters romance. “


He smiled “You mean it would be wrong to break it up because even though Paige is mixed up with a married bastard who is screwing her for a fling, to use her, its none of your business. At least I loved Phoebe. “ he said “Its all right I get it“  he added at Piper’s unconcealed glare. “You need to break it up“  Cole said “because he’s dangerous. He’s playing around with demonology, and he is getting to close to some every dangerous stuff, really dangerous. “


“You think he could summon something nasty?“  Piper asked.


Cole shrugged “He won’t be the first mortal to play around with dark magic. You know what can happen when those idiots send messages on the spirit wind as well as I do. Happens to demons all the time and they ignore it if they can’t find a use, but Paige is a Charmed one and this fool could just be stupid enough to put her at huge risk and you and Phoebe by association.”


Paige was furious when Piper tried to approach her and flatly refused to give Todd up. Piper and Phoebe who remembered Kali in the mirror and Gram's friends calling demonic intervention tried to reason with her. She blamed Cole who made it worse by warning Todd off and for two weeks the manor resounded with anger followed by long silences.


The resolution was not anything any of them wanted. Todd got his wish to see a real demon and became caught up in a network of Skali demons who were middle level demons trading on control of human cult groups. The girls had to deal with the impact of the demons  using the knowledge they dragged out of Todd to nearly destroy what had previously been a group of harmless druids,  and the fact that Phoebe nearly got disembowelled in the fight.


Cole found it hard  because in every fight, in every action the witches fought he could feel the balance between Good and Evil spin when he considered using his magic. Fortunately Leo arrived before any decisions had to be made about Phoebe. Paige was terribly upset and Todd was arrogantly resentful of the Charmed Ones breaking his connection.


Phoebe told Paige not to be stupid, they all got hurt, that was the name of the game and Paige waited for Cole to say I told you so or blame her but her had been around to long to do it, even though he used it as an excuse to vet all her boyfriends from that point  to Phoebe’s amusement and Paige’s fury.


But the Skali were another group to be added to the long list of demons who were out of control and had been since the Source had been vanquished, and the concern for evil out of control was seeping into the Elders and Leo knew it was felt by other magic beings and when he broached the subject  with Cole who was very reluctant to talk about Source related things said it was out of balance and he could feel it but he was not willing to interfere and Leo worried because he saw things he did not want to see. The Charmed Ones near fall last year because of their belief in the infallibility of their own calling was not the only one amongst those who fought for good. Leo knew good were fracturing and something was nor right.



But that Sunday morning Cole was not to interested in demon cults and the fight between Good and Evil. He was having to much of a hard time with the fight between him and Phoebe. As he could get no sympathy from Paige and Leo was not around Cole finally wandered into the kitchen where Piper was already putting things together as she always did for the Sunday evening family meal. She glared at Cole but she glared at anyone who invaded the kitchen while she was preparing Sunday supper.


“I didn’t get it what’s wrong with your damned sister“  he said sticking his hands deep in his pockets and reminding Piper for all the world of a little boy who had lost his favourite toy.


“If you mean Paige. She’s pissed at you for giving her boyfriends a hard time“  Piper said “If you mean Phoebe she ‘s hurt, a little betrayed and a little frightened.”


“Phoebe’s being unreasonable“ Cole muttered “What did she want me to do? Risk it all, not be there, so that when the time line came back, we lost each other.“


“No Cole, “ Piper said doing something with flour in a bowl that left flour on her hands and her nose. “She wanted you do anything you could to make sure you two were together. “


“Then I don’t get it“  Cole grizzled.


“She’s frightened that you have found something in the Phoebe she was there that isn’t in her and you might prefer it, or find something in that girl you hated and hate her for it. “ Piper explained.


“That’s ridiculous“ Cole said “All I saw in that Phoebe was the girl I loved, the best of her and the worst of her, all of her. It was just my Phoebe, Piper, just the Phoebe I loved when I got past all the baggage. Tempus isn’t that strong he can’t change souls and he can’t change destiny. “


“You’d know more about that than me“  Piper snarked. “Cole, have you ever told Phoebe why you love her. “


“Of course I’ve told her what I love about her“ he said.


“That’s not what I said Cole“ Piper answered. “When a girl is as scared of being loved as Phoebe was, when a girl never expects to be loved, really loved like Phoebe did, when it happens. somewhere inside you, you wonder why, you even wonder if it is really you. Cole what you did to be with Phoebe, it’s the stuff of legends. “ Piper shook her head, “Only Phoebe doesn’t feel like a legend, and some part deep inside wonders if its all a mistake, why it could possibly be her and right at the moment that part of her is feeling very pissed at you. “


“I see“  Cole said “Saying you I’m sorry sure didn’t help.”


“Well you’re not are you“ Piper said “You’d do it again tomorrow if it was a choice of losing her not. “  She laughed “Give her time to be mad at you, It’s the best thing you could do for her. “


He laughed, and said “Thanks Piper“  and turned to leave.


She nodded “Cole“  she said and he stopped. “Paige may be pissed as hell at you for vetting her boyfriends, but I’ll be pissed as hell if you stop. Just work out which one of us you want pissed at you. “


“No contest“  he said over his shoulder. With nothing better to do he wandered in the conservatory to work on the court cases he had during the week. When he got so lost in what he was doing that he did not bother to join the girls for lunch Phoebe came out and dumped a sandwich and coffee beside him and wordlessly turned away. To his disgust  It was a healthy salad sandwich but he was not brave enough to refuse to eat  it.  He worked away all afternoon until about 3 o’clock when Phoebe appeared with Melinda in her arms, having just woke the baby up from her afternoon sleep. Melinda took one look at Cole and held her arms out to him gurgling happily.


Melinda loved Cole. To all the family’s surprise. She could not get enough of him. If she heard his voice or knew he was in the room, she threw a temper tantrum that was highly reminiscent of her aunt until he paid her attention. If he picked her up she gurgled happily. Piper caught between annoyance that her daughter was happy when he held her and being happy when her daughter was happy, told him he should not give into her temper tantrums.  Advice he ignored. Paige thought the fact that it annoyed Piper was one of the reasons that he liked to fuss Melinda.


Phoebe liked to take Melinda out on Sundays while Piper prepared dinner. Cole usually went with her. He was good with Melinda but Phoebe occasionally saw his face with the baby and it was hurting. And once he caught her holding Melinda tenderly to her with tears down her face and he asked if she wanted to talk about it but it was to raw and she shook her head. All Cole could do was hold Phoebe with the baby between them until Melinda strongly objected to being ignored and they were forced to pay her attention.


When he had first come back to the manor, Piper had taken some delight in telling them that there was a rule in the manor that Melinda came first, that she must be looked after and protected regardless of all Charmed One duties. He had muttered dryly  “A rule in the manor what a surprise.”


Piper had insisted that he learn how to feed her, bath her, change her and put her to bed. To Phoebe and Paige’s considerable enjoyment.


He had had  to look after Melinda. He firmly refused to interfere with the work of the Charmed Ones and kept to his decision to the surprise of the witches, so on several occasions at very short notice he had been left with Melinda while they chased demons, protected innocents and fought evil. Cole when given a choice of the baby sitter Marly in the house or looking after Melinda, opted for looking after Melinda every time.


“I’m taking her for a walk“  Phoebe said “do you want to come?”


“Yeah sure“  Cole said jumping up “Where do you want t go?”


“I said walk not shimmer“  Phoebe said.


“Walk. Sure. Good“ said Cole said “Love to“  as Phoebe eyed him balefully.


Phoebe put Melinda in her pusher and let Cole push while Phoebe walked beside him with her arm locked around his elbow. She did not talk but she kept her hip thrust firmly against his and if Cole thought there was anything ironic about the former Source of all Evil walking down San Francisco street pushing the baby who in her mother’s womb had nearly destroyed him, while her aunt arched against him  but refused to talk to him he was wise enough to keep it to himself.


They stopped at a small coffee shop. Cole ordered Phoebe a latte and chocolate éclair without asking her and an ice cream for Melinda. Piper hated her daughter having sugar treats. They were still silent until Phoebe pushed half the éclair at Cole “I only said that we would be together as long as you weren’t evil“  she said “I never promised I wouldn’t make your life hell.”


“I remember“  he smiled the smile he saved for her. Phoebe “I love you. You’re all I ever wanted, all I ever will want. There isn’t, never was any one else for me"  he said.


“I know“ she said “ I’m just pissed at you. “


“I’m not saying I’m sorry again“ he said.


“I wouldn’t believe you“ she answered. “Cole. Promise me something“ she said.


“Yes“  he said without asking what.


“No matter what, “ Phoebe said “No matter how pissed I am at you for it, promise you’ll make sure we stay together, you’ll do everything you can to keep us together.


Cole smiled again “I promise“  he said. He slide into the chair next to Phoebe and leant over and kissed her, a passionately, deeply loving her, and for a few moments not even Melinda, her mother’s daughter, dumping the remains of an ice cream cone over her head caught their attention.


“And“ Phoebe said “Promise me you’ll be polite to Francesca when you see her at work. Promise me you’ll behave yourself.”


Cole shook his head. "I don’t make promises I can’t keep“ he said.


Phoebe went to bed relatively early for her and Cole catching the amused stares of her family followed her up. He stood at the door and watched her digging around in one of her drawers. She went into the ensuite and firmly shut the door. He sat on the bed and started to undress as he heard the shower running. Phoebe emerged wearing very large flannel pyjamas, which he eyed disinterestedly. “Are you having a shower?” she asked.


“I guess I am“  he said.


“Don’t bother shaving“  she said.


“I wasn’t going to“  he replied ruefully.


“Good" she said.


She was lying on her side with her back to him when he came out of the shower and lay down beside her after turning out the lights.


“Poor baby“ she murmured “ you're having a really bad day“  She turned over pecked him on the lips and said “Night baby“ and a little while later he could hear her even breathing.


“God I love you Phoebe“ Cole muttered to himself but fell asleep not that much later.