How Quaint the Ways of Paradox
Part 1: Promises,promises,promises
"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
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
“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
“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
“What do you mean?” Piper
“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
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
“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
“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
“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?”
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
“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
Phoebe sadly watched him go upstairs
because she knew that somewhere in his outburst was something that was not quite
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
“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
He aimed a whack at her backside under
“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
“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
“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
“Sounds small time for Harpies“
“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
“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
“He won’t fight our fights “
Piper said but Leo orbed her out before she could finish the sentence, panicking
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
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.
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.
lead one squealed in delight. “Baby“ it hissed “Witch’s baby. Ours.”
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.
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.
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.
always talk about the balance“ Leo said.
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.
eyed him and slowly bent and offered Cole his hand, Cole took it and Leo hauled
Cole to his feet.
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.”
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.
Thanks“ said Leo “and it would
be bloody bad luck.”
orbed back with Phoebe Got the other suckers Paige said watching Leo and Cole
standing close almost eying each other off. “What happened?”
went after Melinda“ Leo said “Cole got them.”
thank God“ said Phoebe said running to Cole to throw her arms around him.
went into the kitchen to see Piper sitting on a chair rocking her daughter.
the bitches?” said Piper.
said Paige “You okay sweetie“ she asked.
nodded Melinda was in no danger. “Cole got them, no problems.”.
said Paige bending down to stroke Melinda’s cheek .
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.”
was meant to be“ Paige said. “It didn’t happen so it does not count.”
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.
Paige asked, “You’ve seen him kill before.”
like this“ said Piper “He didn’t fight them Paige“ Piper said “He
swatted them like flies. What the hell is he Paige?”