To know Phoebe is to...
Part 3:Keeping it in the Family
He had spent lifetimes alone on beaches, alone watching feeling remembering. Beaches had called him, since times gone by because even alone on beaches he could never quite isolate himself. Intending to or not he become caught in the passion of nature, the turning of tides and joining with earth.
Some beaches called to him more than others and a certain beach on the west coast of Ireland always drew him back. He had sat on that beach through some very bad times, and the memories it evoked were not always happy ones, but in his long lifetime he had learned that there was no help for it, sometimes the only way to find a way forward was to go back, look honestly at the mistakes, relive the experience. And if the experience had been harsh, time could blunt the pain and you could see it for what it had been. And when he looked back mostly he saw that each experience was a contradiction, good and bad, happy and sad, high drama and comedy. Life.
he thought that he had learned everything he knew about life sitting on beaches.
It was one very happy ex-demon who drove out to see Rodriquez at the gaol. He hummed along to every love song he heard on the radio, humming one out loud as he entered the gaol.
He smiled to himself when he realised how embarrassed he would be to be overheard, then he decided he was so happy that he did not care. The visit was mostly one to reassure the boy that things were on track. He had been in gaol a week but it probably felt like an eternity. There were those who would feel he deserved it, he had a stupid drug conviction as a kid and he was mixed up in some smuggling but Cole had to much experience with the nature of evil to even question the wisdom of making Rodriguez problems go away. Although maybe a week realising the consequences of getting caught for other things might not do him any harm.
Because Cole was late for his appointment with Rodriguez, he was late getting back to work and these days he guessed one of the partners would already have checked up on him, which meant that Francesca would be mad at him. Cole was right on both scores, Jackman had been checking upon him and Francesca was mad at him.
“You’re not going to ruin my day” Cole grinned at her happily when she pointedly looked at her watch as he came in.
“Speaking of your wife ex-wife, your brother in law ex brother in law is waiting in your office“ Francesca said primly.
Cole could think of any number of reasons why Leo would wait to see him and none of them good. “You just ruined my day“ he said.
He went in his office. Leo was sitting in a visitor’s chair. He did not have the look of some one who had come to enquire after Cole’s health. He stood to face Cole.
“You’re looking better than the last time I saw you“ Cole said to Leo. Was that only Saturday Cole thought? It seemed like a lifetime.
“Yeah I am" Leo snapped shortly, which made it apparent he had not come to say thanks “I want to talk to you“ he said and he was not happy.
Thoughts that Leo knew about Phoebe and was warning him off, flashed through Cole’s brain. But it was not about that. Leo faced Cole; “I wanted to ask you when you are going to stop taking such damned stupid risks as you took on Saturday“
Cole glanced at Francesca and kicked the office door shut. “What risks?“ he said pleasantly.
“You know damned well“ Leo snapped. “Those demons come after magic souls Cole, magic human souls and suck the power, the more magical and powerful the soul, he better they feed, the more power they get. “
“So“ Cole answered sardonically.
Cole in that mood always annoyed Leo “You knew they would swarm to you because of your magic soul. “
Cole shrugged “The magic in my human soul is very weak. They would not get much of a feed off me. “
“Your demonic powers aren’t weak“ Cole Leo retorted, noting with surprise that Cole did not deny he was magical “When you went in there, you deliberately put yourself at risk. “
“So“ Cole repeated just as sardonically and this time his smile did not reach his eyes.
Leo smacked his lips in self righteous annoyance “You did exactly what you always do Cole. You took it on yourself to go out and save someone but in the end you’re the one who becomes the danger, you become a bigger threat than anything you fight“ Leo eyed Cole with his best I am good and I know best expression, “You did exactly what you did with the seer, what you did back when the seekers came, you took into on yourself to fix it but in the end you become more of the problem. “
Cole felt a sudden welling of anger that Leo should feel he had the right to come in sanctimoniously telling him when and where and what to do. Especially when he started spouting some of the things that Cole had spent the last six months trying to deal with alone.
He silently eyeballed, Leo thinking all that time he spent so painfully dealing with all the terror and fear that those demon powers had brought him, alone, no Charmed Ones, no whitelighter, no family, no wife there to help him. That he finally comes to some form of healing and understanding, alone, and then one contact with his ex-in laws, his ex family and Leo feels he has the right to just start preaching at him again. Especially when he no longer had any connection to the family, when he was not evil, when no innocents were at risk.
Then, Cole suddenly realised that he was going to have a connection to Phoebe’s family whether any of them liked it or not. And if Leo knew that he would explode into a cloud of orbs. The image was so satisfying that Cole relaxed and felt his temper if not his irritation slide away.
Leo misinterpreting, Cole’s easing temper as acknowledgement of his point, pressed it “Its what you always do, just never discuss anything Cole. You won’t talk about it; you won’t look for any other way. You put yourself in huge danger. If those demons had got hold of your power. Think of the consequences. “
Cole crossed his arms and sat casually on the edge of his desk. Very calmly he said “Leo, it was a considered risk. It worked; you aren’t a zombie. “ Then with calculated tones he looked Leo straight in the eye and said “So Leo stop squawking, nothing bad happened”
“This time“ Leo snapped.
Cole answered evenly. “I knew what I was doing. It was not the same as happened with the Seer. There were no dark archangels seeking domination of all evil, through Charmed Ones through…innocents and premonition“ Cole smiled unpleasantly, “not even any witches interfering so that a desperate demon of fear could steal the power. I can manage the powers Le. I know how when to use them and when not to. “
Leo snorted derisively.
Cole continued with only a thin veneer of pleasantry “They’re just powers. All the soul suckers would have got was an assortment of demonic powers that were poison to them Leo. “ Cole smiled almost evilly because he was feeling some very bad thoughts “I am what I am because of what I am, not by what powers I took but by the way I can put them together. Believe me“ he smiled.
Leo’s expression clearly said he did not.
“Sorry to disappoint you Leo, but the only risk was to me and that was my choice“ Cole added.
“Cole you are going to have to learn you are unvanquishable not invincible. “ Leo said.
“And you are going to have to learn it isn’t any of your business. “ Cole retorted.
Leo looked Cole up and down "Cole" he said “We used to be friends, so I’m here to give you some advice because of that. I would hate to see you go evil again, for your sake as much as anyone else’s. “
Cole uncrossed his arms and stood up clearly indicating he wanted Leo to go. As he stood up he shook his head almost regretfully and said Leo, “It may surprise you but I do take advice off. friends. But he continued grimly I’ve spent the last six months learning, learning more than I ever believed I could, learning more than I want to, in fact. I’ll tell you something I learned Leo. I learned what friendship really is. “
He smiled bitterly, cynically “You were never my friend Leo. If you were MY friend you would have been worried about ME, not what I can do. Even if Phoebe and I never got back together, you would have been there, just making sure I was okay. “
Leo was getting very red in the face. “My responsibility is to my family“ he said.
Cole smiled ugly “I was supposed to be part of your family Leo “ he said. “I screwed up with the seer, but if you were my friend you would have understood and forgiven me..a little."
Leo looked at him in disbelief “You were evil. “
Cole shook his head “No Leo I wasn’t evil, just looking that way and needing help. A friend would have helped. You are not my friend so don’t come in here giving me advice I would only take from a friend. “
The two stared at each other and then Leo realising he was getting no where, said, “Cole find a friend you will take advice from“ as parting shot before he left.
“Yeah it was a pleasure helping you too Leo“ Cole said “no thanks necessary. “
Leo walked out of the office, stopping only to wish Francesca a pleasant good morning.
"Thank you“ she said and glanced toward the door to Cole’s office where he stood watching Leo leave. Cole's expression was not happy.
“Ruined the day for you? “ she asked Cole her tone although not sympathetic, was not quite judgemental.
Cole threw himself down on the visitor’s chair in Francesca’s office.
She stopped working and said, “Your brother in law isn’t happy about you and your wife working things out? “
Cole shrugged “He doesn’t know yet. You know if it piss..“ He caught Francesca’s expression “if it upsets him I can hardly wait to tell him. “
“That will make things better“ Francesca answered sarcastically.
Cole grinned “Leo is upset because I helped my.. his family on the weekend. “
“How? “ Francesca asked.
“Just used a .. um.. few talents I had to fix a problem. “ He eyed Francesca but she did not push and he added, “Leo seems to think my helping caused more problems than it solved. “
“Did it? “ Francesca asked bluntly.
“No“ Cole answered “it solved the problem but um in the past well sometimes I did cause more problems than I solved, trying to help. “
“Then“ Francesca said practically “you can’t blame him for being concerned now can you. You might find her family are more forgiving than you think. “
Cole grinned “Hell will freeze over before they forgive me. “ Cole shook his head wryly. “Leo isn’t just my brother in law. When Phoebe and I first got together, I lived with her family, with Leo and his wife on and off for about 18 months, even after we were married, so well we shared a few things, when well Phoebe’s older sister died and a few things after that. Leo hasn’t quite forgiven me for... because when our marriage fell apart, it nearly pulled my.. his family apart too. “ He sighed “That old cliché about marrying the family not just the girl was double for me. Leo doesn’t trust me“ he added.
Francesca looked severe “Why doesn’t he trust you?“ she asked.
Cole gulped “because of the things I did that led up to Phoebe and me separating.“
“Do you want my opinion? “ Francesca asked.
Cole sat forward resting his hands on his knees. He looked down and then he looked up at Francesca “Yeah I do“ he said.
“Does the reason he won’t not trust you still exist“ she said.
“No“ Cole answered.
“Then whether your brother in law trusts you or not isn’t anything to do with you. He either works out he can or he lives in the past and you can’t change it“ She looked down at her nose at Cole dismissively.
He took the hint and got up to return to his office. He stopped “Thanks“ he said “you’re a smart lady aren’t you?“ he smiled, the little boy smile.
Francesca glanced over the top of her glasses as she if she did not understand what he was saying, but she was not quite as unaffected by the smile as she pretended.
Cole went back to his desk. He started to work and only about ten minutes later did he remember the last thing Leo had said was find some one you can talk to.