How Quaint the Ways of Paradox

Part 1: Promises,promises,promises

Chapter 19


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

(Gilbert and Sullivan. Pirates of Penzance)

Cole was in court all day Wednesday and was somewhat relieved that he did not have to see Francesca. She left him a couple of messages on his phone but apart from that he was relatively free and if he could not forget the fears that were raised by his discovery that she was a whitelighter, he could put them to one side. He had not been in court for quite a few weeks and then suddenly had four days in a week. Phoebe had calmed down at him to be speaking to him again. He returned to the Manor from the court and found Marly in attendance and a note saying they were off on another demon attack, nothing very serious just some warlocks chasing witches in the bay area.


Cole tried to get Marly to agree to go and leave him with baby but she scuttled out of the room whenever he approached her so he gave up and settled down into his corner with a glass of Piper’s best red wine and went over evidence for the case he was defending in the morning.


The girls arrived back at nearly midnight exhausted.


The witches lay back on the chairs and sofa of the living room, to exhausted to move. Cole came back with a tray of coffee mugs. He gave each one a mug and taking his own sat on the arm of the chair beside Phoebe, she tiredly leaned against him and he stroked her hair.


“Nearly got it right“ Paige said to him. “Swap Piper this is the one with all the cream.” She leant forward and exchanged mugs with Piper.


“Near enough is good enough“ Cole said.


“You’re almost useful to have around“ Piper said but only because she was exhausted.


Leo orbed in.


“Is it there?” Paige asked.


“Don’t tell me where it is“ Cole interrupted.


“Its still there“ Leo answered “And hasn’t moved again. Any more of that coffee?” he asked.


“I’ll get it“ Cole said. He went out the kitchen and came back with a mug for Leo and handed it to him. “Thanks“ Leo said and turned back to the conversation while Cole resumed his seat on the chair arm beside Phoebe.


“This is getting bloody ridiculous“ Piper said. “Getting the Grimoire away from evil was supposed to make things better not worse.”


“Well that’s solvable“ Cole said, trying to make up for his temper tantrum about the Grimoire a couple of days ago.


“What do you mean?” Piper demanded.


“Give ’em back the Grimoire“ he said. “Joking“ he added. “Bad Joke“ he said seeing their faces.


“That’s the paradox“ Leo said “We took the Grimoire away to weaken evil, to destroy the power of the Source and without the power of the Source, evil is out of control.”


“Yeah and if we gave it back what are the consequences, if we create an all powerful source of evil“ Paige demanded looking at Phoebe.


“Don’t look at me“ Phoebe said “I have to touch things to get a premonition and there are limits on how many sources of evil I’m going to touch“ she said reaching out her hand to capture Cole’s.


Leo sighed “Well I wish to God Tempus would find some way of getting control of the Underworld because if this keeps up, I’m not to sure how we can keep things under control. Its not just you non stop. Its every charge I’ve got "he said" and other whitelighters are getting desperate to do something.” He stopped and choosing his words carefully added “You shouldn’t know this but the Elders are getting pretty divided about  what’s happening. A couple have suggested even using the Grimoire itself.”


“Yeah well that’s what that wizard thought“ said Paige.


“Do they know where it is?” Piper asked sharply.


“No“ said Leo quietly “and I’ve decided I’m not ever going to tell them“ He added “Sometimes I think that bloody thing is as big a temptation to Good as it is to Evil.”


“Can’t we just find a way to destroy the damned thing“ Piper asked strained tired.


“I’ll ask the Elders again if they have any idea how to destroy it“ Leo said “but they seem dead set against it.”


“Why is that ever since I found out that an Elder is a fifteen year old kid, I just don’t have the same faith in them that I used to?” said Piper.


“When did you ever have any faith in the Elders?” Leo asked in mock surprise.


Piper gave him a glare then grinned.


“You don’t think the Elders are just a bit interested in using it, well not for Good do you?” Phoebe asked “Just with the thing there and its power.” She tailed off “I’m just asking.”


“I’m sure they only want to use it for the purposes of Good“ Leo said primly “No Elder has ever turned or given into that sort of temptation.”


“I was told that for over a hundred years about demons“ Cole said to no one in particular.


“Aren’t you the only one who has turned?” Piper demanded.


“That’s the thing“ Cole said “I don’t know, do you, do you know about the Elders?”


“Anyway the Grimoire’s only of use to some one who wants to be the Source isn’t it?”  Phoebe asked.


Cole did not answer and Piper said tightly “Isn’t it Cole?”


“No“ he answered “As I remember it had the spells to provide power for rewarding demons in factions, for destroying good witches and other creatures of lights, for turning witches to evil and turning mortals into demons and various spells to extract souls from mortals and do ah interesting things with them, spells for nullifying vanquishes and witches potions, chants for stealing powers, protection for evil from witches summons, other stuff I can’t remember. It was the lore of Source as well the means of being coronated.”


“Didn’t you learn all that stuff when you were.. when the Source took you over?” Piper demanded.


“No“ Cole said getting huffy “That why the Source keeps the book, so he didn’t have to learn it. There were only about 5 dark priests who knew what was in it and I gather you took care of those when you vanquished the Seer.”


“Is that stuff written anywhere else?” Phoebe asked.


“If it is it would take.. some pretty powerful magic to find it” Cole answered.


“That settles any issues about giving it back“ Piper said firmly.


“Oh yeah“ said Phoebe.


“So owning it could be used for unlimited power even if the possessor did not want to be the Source“ Paige said and she looked straight at Cole.


“Yes“ he said meeting her eyes “but any one doing that would be evil and I’m not, so I naturally don’t want it.”


“Cole“ Leo started to say.


“No he said getting angry “I knew as soon as you started talking about the cursed thing in front of me you’d all start accusing me. How many times can I say it. I’m not evil. I don’t want the Grimoire. I don’t need it. I don’t want to use it to be the source. I don’t have any idea where it is and I don’t want to know.”


“Cole“ Leo started to say.


“I’m going to bed“ he said annoyed, angry.


Phoebe sadly watched him go upstairs because she knew that somewhere in his outburst was something that was not quite the truth.


She went upstairs and found him getting ready for bed still in a very bad temper. He looked up at her and said “I don’t want the cursed thing Phoebe" he said "I’m not evil and I don’t want to be the Source.” And she walked over to kiss him because that part at least was true.


Phoebe got ready for bed and lay down. In between yawns she pecked Cole on his lips “No sex to night“ she said firmly not unless you’re into making out with zombies.”


He laughed stroking her hair gently. “As long as you promise not to wake up a virgin screaming bloody murder in my ear.”


“Promise“ she mumbled as she fell asleep. Cole watched her as she slept for a little while taking in every moment because he could feel the balance around him moving and whether he wanted or not he was about to face some things he much preferred not to. He could see it in Francesca’s face and he could feel a call on the spirit winds that was almost overwhelming and it frightened him.


He woke up early the next morning because he had an early meeting before court and was relieved to find the girl lying on her side with her leg and arm across him had long blond streaked hair falling across her face.


He sat in the edge of the bed and kissed her gently.


"Piss off Cole“ she muttered “I’m tired.”


He aimed a whack at her backside under the quilt.


“Ouch“ she snarled “Piss off Cole“ she said rolling over to look at him. She reached her hand around his neck and pulled his mouth down  for long sleepy kiss then sighed and said “Piss off Cole, I’m sleepy.”


He arrived at the office to find Francesca in residence at the office, so he totally ignored her, refusing to say good morning and went into his office collecting the papers for the early partner’s meeting. He was duly punished for his surliness because the papers he took to the meeting were the wrong ones and the senior partner Kline made a big deal about him being careless and muttered the word erratic. It seemed not even a year could get him away from that word. Barely hanging on to his temper and blaming Francesca he left the meeting 15 minutes early, on the excuse he had to go to court.


Francesca was still at her desk and started to say something to him. He brushed past her into his office picked up his briefcase and still ignoring Francesca headed for the door.


“I’m so tempted to let you leave“ she said “If it wasn’t for the problems it would cause your client if you make an idiot of yourself turning up to an empty court.”


Cole was defending a 17 year old, hard as nails prostitute who had killed her pimp and justified it on the grounds he was a shit. She had run away from home at 15 and her distraught parents had only discovered her whereabouts when she was charged with second degree murder and hired Cole’s firm to defend her. No one else in the firm would touch the case. Today was supposed to be a pre trial hearing.


“What?” he snarled.


Francesca smiled, amused at his temper, which annoyed him even more, then handed him a note. He suspiciously took it


“Oh“ he said glancing up at Francesca’s amused and cynical smile. Francesca for all her determination to make Cole behave was not above enjoying some gossip. Cole had been delighted to draw Judge Northcote for this case because he was a judge who tended to be extremely sympathetic to young girls but it was not unnoticed in the legal community that he was very prone to 24 hour flu attacks, particularly when his wife was out of town and a certain well known television reporter was in town. Francesca had her own opinion of the judge’s heath and Cole was not above enjoying that opinion.


“Yes“ said Francesca.


“Hmm“ said Cole.


“Yes exactly“ said Francesca.


He returned to his office made some calls to his client and her parents and started to work, on some contracts that he had been putting off. He lost himself in them for a few hours when the phone rang and Francesca told him it was Piper. Piper rarely called him.

“What’s wrong?” Cole asked.


“You’re not in court?” Piper asked.


“Obviously not“ he said “Judge has the flu“ he added "or the hots I’m not to sure which.”


Piper laughed a little  “Can you come home and baby sit?” she asked “Marly is with her mother and we got word that Harpies have been off stealing some of the memorials at the children’s cemeteries around San Francisco and terrorising grieving parents.”


“Sounds small time for Harpies“ Cole said.


“You know Harpies. Steal everything in sight“ Piper said “Can you? Leo could look after Melinda but given the claws it may be better if Leo stays with us.”


“Yeah“ he said “How soon do you need me?”


“You can drive“ Piper said “Phoebe is on her way home so we’ll be a little while.”


“I have a family emergency“ Cole announced primly to Francesca knowing how much she hated having to cover for his absence to partners. “You can tell any one, any partners who might be interested“ he said.


Francesca looked up at him “And this allows you to win?” Francesca said “How?”


“I’m not taking orders from any master ever again“ he said between his teeth.


“I haven’t asked you to Cole“ Francesca said calmly “and I’m not going to.”


“Get out of my life“ he snapped.


“Be careful what you ask for“ she said and Cole suddenly to her great satisfaction paled.


He drove back to the manor in a far from calm mood but managed to hold his temper and even be amused as Piper organised her sisters to chase the Harpies, her daughter and him to look after her. Leo orbed in and caught the end of the orders and glanced at Cole who raised his eyes and Leo grinned.


The witches were finally ready to go Harpie chasing and Leo orbed Piper off while Paige and Phoebe went together.


Melinda was in her playpen in the conservatory because Cole was supposed to be working there. She gurgled happily at him and he bent down to lift her out of the pen. Just you and me kid he said lifting her up so she was face level "You had better take after your aunt and not your mother or this love affair is over" he told her seriously.


Melinda said go gah


“Yeah well don’t make promises you can’t keep“ Cole advised her.


The witches chased the Harpies from cemetery to cemetery; sometimes they had to separate because the harpies seemed to be working in two groups of 4. The Harpies were intent in stealing every memorial and tribute from every child’s grave in San Francisco, but always managed to fly off before they could be vanquished.


“This is damned ridiculous“ Paige screamed as she managed to avoid a claw ripping her insides out for the fourth time. “What is it with them? There seems no point.”


“Yeah“ Piper said gasping for breath “There’s no purpose to this. They just seem to want us to just chase them all over San Francisco. Can’t even tell how many half the time.”


“Yeah“ said Phoebe “Like they want to drag us away from what they really want.”


“Shit“ said Piper suddenly standing still. And then she screamed “Leo.”


He appeared at her side “Get us home“ she said.


“Cole’s there“ Phoebe started to say.


“He won’t fight our fights “ Piper said but Leo orbed her out before she could finish the sentence, panicking himself.




With the whole family away and no one to catch him, Cole indulged in the reason why Melinda adored him and Piper did not know it. He put her down on the floor and happily played chase and peekaboo around the tables and chairs on his hands and knees with Melinda crawling around the furniture, under tables and sticking her nose in all the places her mother would have been horrified about if she knew, and her father would have fussed and fumed.


As far as Melinda was concerned if she had to have parents who worried about her every move, and removed her from every challenge the only way a girl could have any fun was if she had an aunt who shacked up with an ex demon.


Cole was lying on his back in the middle of the parlour. He and Melinda had managed to crawl their way through the whole house. Melinda was about three feet away from him as her encouraged her to land on his chest. In a split second he was aware of the four harpies materialising in front of him.


The lead one squealed in delight. “Baby“ it hissed “Witch’s baby. Ours.”


She reached toward Melinda, while the other three moved toward Cole claws extended “Gone. Human“ they hissed advancing on him. It was the last words they ever said. Cole rolled half on his side his arm extended in the air with a fire ball he flicked his wrist and the fireballs split into four and the Harpies disappeared in blinding flashes.


Piper and Leo orbed in just as Cole raised the fireball and destroyed the Harpies.  Cole continued his roll to reach for Melinda but Piper beat him to it scooping her daughter up to her while rolled onto his back. He lay there looking into Piper’s frightened face as she cuddled her daughter who complained bitterly about her game being spoilt, punching her fist into Piper’s face.


Tears of relief started to run down Piper’s face and Cole still on the floor raised his eyebrows. Piper walked away and left Cole on the floor looking up into Leo’s concerned and distraught face. Leo watched Piper head for the kitchen, for her place of safety and Cole seeing his expression, lifted himself on one arm, said “You don’t think I would have let anything happen to her Leo surely?” he said.


“You always talk about the balance“ Leo said.


“Stuff the balance“ said Cole “I said I can’t fight for them. But I’ll protect Leo. Do you really think I would really just sit by and let anything happen to Phoebe, to my, to Phoebe’s family, to people she cares about. Stuff the balance for that Leo“ he said.


Leo eyed him and slowly bent and offered Cole his hand, Cole took it and Leo hauled Cole to his feet.


Leo let go Cole’s hand. He shrugged. “That’s it when you have callings. “ He gulped “Ever since Prue’s death I keep thinking of the choices you have to make. Who you’re responsible for. I have charges and I have to do what they need and it scares the hell out of me I can’t be here for my family. If I had to chose who. I….“ he stopped mid sentence. He looked at Cole “and the way things are going, with so many demons with so many things happening.”


“Hell Leo“  he said half smiling  “it would be bloody bad luck if both of us were caught with other responsibilities at the same time. Leo I said I can protect them and I will. I promise you that. I’m not worried about getting rid of vermin demons or anything else. Only the reason I have to do it“ Cole said not so far away from his demon heritage.


“Yeah, Thanks“  said Leo “and it would be bloody bad luck.”


Paige orbed back with Phoebe Got the other suckers Paige said watching Leo and Cole standing close almost eying each other off. “What happened?”


“Bitches went after Melinda“ Leo said “Cole got them.”


“Oh thank God“ said Phoebe said running to Cole to throw her arms around him.


“Piper?” said Paige.


“Kitchen“ said Leo.


Paige went into the kitchen to see Piper sitting on a chair rocking her daughter.


“Get the bitches?” said Piper.


“Yeah“ said Paige “You okay sweetie“ she asked.


Piper nodded Melinda was in no danger. “Cole got them, no problems.”.


“Good“ said Paige bending down to stroke Melinda’s cheek .


“Just got a fright Paige“ Piper said. “You know all the things today, if Marly had not gone to her mother’s, if that judge had not been screwing his girlfriend, if Cole had been in court.”


“It was meant to be“ Paige said. “It didn’t happen so it does not count.”


Piper smiled and took a deep breath “You know I told Cole I thought he was scared to kill,  well he scared the hell out of me Paige“ she said.


“Why?” Paige asked, “You’ve seen him kill before.”


“Not like this“ said Piper “He didn’t fight them Paige“ Piper said “He swatted them like flies. What the hell is he Paige?”