To know Phoebe is to...
Part 3:Keeping it in the Family
Phoebe left the hotel about an hour after Cole. She caught a taxi to her work, collected her car from the car park where she left it and drove home. She was both happier than she had ever been in her life and just a little confused and resentful.
She loved Cole and she could say it out loud, she could say it without bitterness or blame. She laughed out loud at Cole’s perplexion and total of confusion. Poor Cole she bet herself he was spending half the day pinching himself wondering if yesterday really happened. Serves him right.
Last night had been wonderful, not just the sex, but being part of a couple, belonging to some-one she loved, being with some-one who cared about her more than life itself. Some one who more than anything else wanted her to be happy. Last night she had been part of the only couple she ever wanted to be part of. Each time she looked up and saw him there she had gulped a little, hard to believe that it was him in the flesh, more or less, all the laughter, smiles teasing playing. It was Cole, it was Cole, it was Cole.
And a small part of her resented it and resented him, because she had spent a year finding Phoebe, understanding Phoebe, knowing Phoebe, and the only time in that year she was replete, felt alive, felt fulfilled was last night with Cole. And it dawned on her that having your fate tied to some one else, was something of a two edged sword. She wondered if he ever resented loving her. She thought of the dry way he had of saying he accepted his fate. If he meant he had gotten past being resentful of it, he was smarter than her. Damn him.
When Phoebe arrived back at the manor, she found Piper at work in the sunroom washing floors. Phoebe stood at the door and watched Piper work. "Today’s Thursday" she said. “I’m almost certain we pay for some one to come in and clean on Thursdays. “
“If they saw how bad this room was“ Piper answered "they might not come again."
“Where’s Paige? “ Phoebe asked not even daring to answer.
“At the university researching more on witchcraft. “ Piper answered derisively.
“What’s wrong with the Internet? “ Phoebe asked Piper.
“No married professors on the Internet“ Piper answered. Then she looked at Phoebe and said “How was the big.. date? “
Phoebe smiled a little nervously “Great. “ She gulped. “Really good um sex. “
“And when do we get to meet this mystery man?“ Piper demanded.
“When I’m ready to talk you about him, when I am sure about a few things“ Phoebe answered honestly.
“He’s not married is he? “ Piper demanded.
“Divorced“ Phoebe answered honestly.
Piper put hands on her hips “I worry about you Phoebe“ she said.
Phoebe hugged her “I know you do love she said but its just whether you’d worry more meeting him or not meeting him. Piper I’m your little sister but I’m nearly thirty, you’ll just have to trust that I can make the right choices. “
She went upstairs to shower and change. Under the shower the day after the most momentous act of her life, she had plenty of time to think of the complications of demanding she and Cole be together. She knew very well that Cole in her life meant Cole was in her family’s lives whether they wanted him or not and no matter how much she and Cole could put the past behind them, it was not only their past.
It was not just her who Cole had betrayed, who were betrayed when the Source took over Cole, her family and home had been his family and home. If it had just been a marriage breakup, between two people she could have insisted they all be polite to each other for her sake. How many letters had she answered where she had firmly stated that families should not interfere in marriages.
The little girl in her wanted to run to her family and tell them all about it. She was almost overwhelmed with the need but because she was not a little girl anymore, she knew she had to wait. Her families’ reaction would be the same whether she told them today, next week or tomorrow. She thought about what would happen. Her sisters would be angry, fighting bitching, so would Cole but he was the one who was vulnerable.
He was still in such a state and so confused by the change that the chances of him being wise were not good at the moment. She was not going to chose between Cole and her family, she had learnt that lesson so that on some level he, they, were going to have to rebuild some sort of relationship that was really nothing to do with her. But she could perhaps manage the process, just a little. Wait.
She came downstairs dressed for work and carrying her overnight bag.
Leo had orbed in while Phoebe was upstairs. He was sitting in the kitchen, holding Melinda and talking to Piper. Phoebe ran over to him and gave him a big hug and kissed Melinda.
Leo returned the hug, then suspiciously eyed the bag “Off again tonight. “ he said “Who is he? “
“Just a guy Leo, just a guy“ Phoebe answered.
“Are you sure he is not some evil magic being or something? “ Leo asked
“Pretty sure“ Phoebe answered sweetly.
Leo sat rocking his daughter in his arms but as Phoebe turned to go, he decided to take the plunge. “Talking about men in your life Phoebe“ he said hesitantly.
She turned around. “I saw Cole this morning“ Leo said. “Thought I better tell you.“
“Why? “ Phoebe demanded “I mean, why did you see him? “ she said nervously.
“Yeah why? “ demanded Piper
“I wanted to warn him off about what he did on Saturday. “Leo answered
“Leo he saved you“ Piper said surprised. “What was wrong with that? “
Leo looked as if he resented explaining, “Look Piper I know how worried you must have been about me but Cole interfering was dangerous. He hasn’t changed good or evil. He is still a reckless idiot who puts himself in danger, without ever thinking of the consequence. If he would just think, maybe we would all avoid some very bad things. “
“What do you mean? “ Phoebe asked almost choking.
"With the seer what he did“ Leo said “if he had not rushed in and taken the Hollow then just think what would have avoided.”
“I know what he did then“ Phoebe said "I mean why do you think he was at risk?“
“Didn’t he tell you? Him and his damned secretiveness“ Leo said. “He let them swarm him to get them off then shimmered out and grabbed me and got me out of. Then he killed a few but he did not wipe them out. He should have got rid of them. “
Piper pursed her lips. “He said he was not because he was not killing when he did not have to and anyway he could not kill them fast enough to get you away. “
Leo shook his head in annoyance. “Is that what he says? “
“Leo, how was Cole in danger? “ Phoebe asked all but stamping her foot. “Those demons go after magic human souls. Cole’s human side isn’t magic“
“Well“ Leo said. “They went crazy when he came, when they scented the power he had. “
“They couldn’t harm Cole“ Phoebe said.
“They thought they could. He isn’t invincible, just unvanquishable. I told him that he just got nasty“ Leo added.
““Cole always said he was half human“ Piper said, “he never said magical. When we vanquished Belthazor he lost his powers. “
“He certainly didn’t deny it this morning“ Leo said “he just said it was very weak magic. But I’m guessing weak or not that’s how he survived Belthazor’s death, that's why he survived the wastelands. You can’t vanquish a magic human soul with demon vanquish spells or potions. And because he’s magical that’s why he could absorb all those power. “
Leo turned to Phoebe “I don’t suppose he ever told you that did he? “
She shook her head. “Another of the many secrets Cole hadn’t told her. “
“I told him he was a fool and if those demons had got hold of all his powers the danger would have been“ Leo added
“And Cole agreed naturally?“ Piper asked flat voiced. Leo recognised the sarcasm.
“Cole just said they would only have spread a lot of demon powers between them that it was the sum of the powers in him that made him what he is. He just would not accept the danger. “ Leo answered.
Piper said “Leo I’m not saying you should not talk to Cole but he seemed pretty sure what he was doing on Saturday. I trusted him on Saturday. You’re alive and he is all right. Maybe he had a better understanding of the risk. “Piper added carefully “This is Cole we’re talking about. He never was stupid."
“Just reckless“ Leo muttered unconvinced.
Phoebe had been very quiet. She did not know why hearing the soul he had always talked about was magical human not demonic was such a shock, except Cole and his damn secrets. Demons were spirit beings who manufactured bodies. She had never got him to explain why demon with a soul, meant unique. She had not understood the difference, Cole and his damn secrets.
“I’ll talk to him“ Phoebe sighed said quietly.
One thing about family she thought, they sure as hell can take the fantasy out of your fairy tale.
Cole felt his heart sink when Phoebe called him at work and asked if they could change from meeting at the hotel to a nearby restaurant, a good one that he had fairly private tables. “Leo“ he thought.
Cole was on edge all day. A couple of partners muttered the word erratic when he was totally distracted at a meeting.
Cole was not supposed to meet Phoebe until 7.30 but he was at the restaurant before 7 sitting and drinking for a while and working himself up to a very nervous state.
She arrived a few minutes late and Cole stood up as she approached and found himself shaking. The nervous smile that did not quite reach her eyes did not reassure him and Cole was left feeling that this may be a very short reconciliation.
Phoebe approached and kissed him. On the cheek. “Bad“ thought Cole, “very bad. “
She sat down and when the waited approached ordered a drink only. “Very bad“ thought Cole.
“How was your day? “ she asked awkwardly.
“Okay“ he said then plunged in “How’s Leo? “
She swallowed “He told me about seeing..you today,“ she hesitated. “What happened Cole? “ she asked.
He met her eyes ”Probably what he told you. He told me off, I got annoyed, he left. But that isn’t the problem is it?“
She shook her head slowly, “Was he right Cole? Were you taking stupid risks just to be a hero again? “ Her eyes were filled with tears.
“Yes and no“ he said leaning back in his chair.
“I don’t understand“ she said.
“Yes I was taking risks, I don’t think they were stupid, and no I was not trying to be a hero“ Cole answered slowly and deliberately.
“How bad was the risk? “ she said.
“Calculated enough, for me to think that I could do what needed to be done as efficiently as I could, with the best chance of getting Leo out of there“ he said “without playing Judge or executioner or even Rambo. Without slaughtering everything in sight. Which believe it or not is something that means quite a bit to me. “
He eyed her watching he reaction intensely.
She gulped “Paige was badly hurt when they got into her. So were you? “ she said.
He did not miss the significance of the question “Yes“ he answered “I was. Felt like my.. who I was got sucked out of me but I got some help to get over it" he answered dryly "had a visitor that night who distracted me. “
She softened but demanded “Cole“ she said “how much danger were you in, we, everybody else in because of you?“
He sighed “Leo is a Leo a fussy old woman at times. No he’s not, I don’t know any the old woman who can be as pedantic about anything as Leo gets about good and bad. “ He caught her stare “I really like Leo I do. In fact there are times when I would have said I was fond of him but he has the imagination of a gnat.“ And to his great relief he caught a glimmer of a smile on Phoebe’s face. “I took a risk“ he said “I took the same sort of risk you take every time you fight, every time you take on evil. There is always a chance something could go wrong and it does and Leo heals you. There was a chance but I know what I can do and I know how to use what I have and I know how much I can regenerate and all up it was worth the risk. “
The waiter came to take their order. To Cole’s immense relief Phoebe did not tell him to go away but ordered. So did he slowly, deliberately, until the waiter showed signs of getting every impatient.
When the waiter left he got up his nerve, “I guess this is where we need to talk about it all isn’t it. My that came fast“ he added sarcastically because he was worried.
She went to interrupt and he stopped her “My turn“ he said and she shut her mouth. "I have the powers and I‘ve learnt alot about them. You want to know how dangerous it is, if anything evil got what I have and could learn to use the powers, which by he way I rather doubt they could because of what it takes me to use them, they would be the most dangerous creature in the realms. But mostly what I have is a collection of and he lowered his voice at the word demon powers which individually can be taken and destroyed like any other. And you have a whole Book of Shadows to do that, if the other powers did not stop you" he smiled "As Leo so rightly put it I’m unvanquishable not invincible. I can be ah conquered“
“And how can you be –ah conquered?“ she asked a little nasty, reacting to Cole’s temper and suspicion of her questions.
Cole took a deep breath because he had a feeling this could be the end. “I’m not going to tell you“ he said.
“You just don’t trust me“ she gasped hurt not understanding, going back to those times when the Source had taken him over, secrets, always secrets. “Are you ever going to tell me these things?“ she asked not able to hide her hurt.
Very deliberately he said “Its not I don’t trust you I do but I need to trust your belief in me, well more than I do right now. I think you’re doing pretty good" he added "Leo told you some things and instead of coming to threaten me you came to ask me and that“ he smiled suddenly “is a long way from where we’ve been baby. “
“And so its better I don’t know everything about you“ she said bitterly hurt.
“Much better“ he agreed. Then he met her eyes “Do you trust me?“
She looked at him, took a deep breath and said “Yes“.
He eyed her sardonically ”Where’s the grimoire Phoebe?“ he asked quietly.
Many thoughts flashed through her mind, she went to open her mouth then shut it, thought of the danger thought of her sisters, looked across at the man she loved and slowly shook her head.
He laughed a pleasant undeniable easy laugh. “Don’t tell me Phoebe“ he said gently. “Its much better I don’t know. “
She visibly relaxed “Okay I get it“ she said.
She did not respond to the smile. She rose and then sat, as if she needed the movement “What are you Cole?“ she asked tightly.
He had waited a long time for her to ask “I’m human" he said very softly so people around did not hear him "I’m not mortal but I am human with a magic soul, much the same as you, except the demon powers I took from the wasteland to create a body, leave me pretty well immortal" he added dryly. "I was a human soul stranded in the wastelands. But because of what I was born that magic soul always had and it seems always will have, a demonic core that can absorb and control demon powers.“ He hesitated a little, “that’s how the Source got me and that’s how I got myself out of the wasteland.“
“I will tell you something for the future“ he said “its not the powers that are the problem. The part I can’t control is the need to find powers, demons crave it. Take them away from me and I’ll go looking or they’ll find me. I know it was stupid to take on the Hollow but I had no idea about the craving for power that my demonic core has. “
Phoebe stared at him, eyes wide very apprehensive.
“Don’t look at me like that“ he snapped, “I’m telling the truth.“
“Do you know how much I want to believe you?“ she said
“But that’s the rub isn’t?“ he said with a touch of irony. “You want to believe me but wanting to isn’t enough, does not quieten down that little nagging doubt, especially when some-one on the family who you do trust flames it. Leo was wrong Phoebe“ Cole said gently “I’m something beyond his experience and understanding and he knows it and he’s panicking. “
Cole leant forward to take her hand over the table “All I can do is tell you, you can trust me and hope, pray you and your family will believe and then continue to be trustworthy. “
She gulped a little “I do understand and I so badly want to, need to trust you. But in the past things have happened.“
He nodded and asked almost conversationally, “How badly do you want it. I mean“ he said “If there was an I know I can trust Cole spell in the Book of Shadows would you use it?“
“You mean a make Cole trustworthy spell“ she said smiling a little.
He matched the smile but answered “No, I mean a trust spell that would prove you could trust me would you use it. “
“Wouldn’t that be personal gain?“ she said.
He nodded “and there would be a backfire.“
"What sort of backfire?“ she asked.
“You’d know some of the bad stuff, the dark stuff I haven’t told you.“ Cole said “Could you handle it?“
“There isn’t a spell like that in the Book of Shadows.“ she said primly “I already know some of the bad stuff, “ she added “I just risked humiliation; rejection and pissing you off to get you back knowing the bad stuff.“
“Just as well“ he smiled “Would you use it if you had one?“
“I don’t know“ she said. “Because what do you want me to say, I trust you forever, without any doubts. I don’t have any now but twice, three times since I’ve know you you’ve been dragged into evil even when you did not want to and three times I’ve felt betrayed and I know it wasn’t your intention but it happened. I don’t know Cole, I feel I ought to trust you. “ She looked into his eyes and was not quite able to read his mood “Lucky I don’t have to decide whether to use the spell“ she smiled.
He had thought about seriously since the day he had used the spite’s power to connect with Darryl he had thought long and hard about it, when he thought of the whole miserable mess of the Source taking him over and no-one even recognising the lies and deceit, all of the family that were supposed to care and understand who he was, barely noticing anything wrong. Taking him on trust while he, while the Source took all that was good in him and used it to ruin the people he loved.
He thought about it because Phoebe trusting him, her family trusting him had nearly destroyed all of them. He thought about it because he needed them to be safe from him. Except she would probably kill him, no she would find a way to torture him for eternity, if she did not stop loving him, which would be eternal torture anyway.
“Ask her if she wanted it, “ he told himself “that would be sensible but knowing Phoebe she would freak about using demonic power, and a little voice nagged at him and said do it and let the cards fall. Do it because its better that some-one knows, do it because for the rest of your lives it will hang over you, do it because the most dangerous evil thing you ever did was abusing Phoebe and her family trusting you on faith. And you can make no promises about the future.“
The waiter came with their meals and he sat back silently watching Phoebe, taking in her face, every movement.
“Do you love me?“ he asked. “I don’ mean in love with me or frustrated as hell and wanting sex.“ She was genuinely horrified he knew about that “but do you love me for ever for life? What you said about always and being together did you mean it?“
"How did you know about the sex bit?“ she said.
He laughed, “I do know you Phoebe. Do you love me?“
“Yes“ she said simply,
“And the only condition is the not being evil one?“ he asked.
She meet his eyes then looked down and slowly nodded her head.
He put the glass that he was holding down. “Are you sure that’s the only one?“ he asked. “Nothing else, not having to be nice to your family, pretend I like Piper, not get mad when Leo preaches, not bitch, do as you tell me, whenever you want me. Never get mad at you. Nothing like that?“ he pressed.
“No“ Cole she said getting angry “that was always the only one.“
“Could you handle the dark side of me knowing about it?“ he asked.
“I told you I do know your dark side.“ she said her voice getting sharper at every word.
“Even the little bit you know. It freaks you.“ he said very quietly.
“Only because I understand it. “ she whispered.
“Are you trying to tell me there is some dark side I need to know about?“ she said panicking “Are you really evil?“
He looked her in the eyes, shut his eyes and concentrated for a second and then he reached for her aura. He felt everything of her, how much she loved him, how much she feared what he could do to her and lead her to, all the conflict and confusion.
A second or two later her opened his eyes and said, “No I’m not evil.“
He knew she felt something, because her face twisted a little as if she felt the impact of who he was and then softened. And he gave her the power over him. He could no longer break the connection.
“What the hell did you do?“ Phoebe said angrily suddenly horribly aware that he had changed something.
“A trust Cole spell.“ he said because he could no longer lie to her. ““Sort of, my version.“
“Take it off.“ she ordered him.
“Can’t.“ he said happily “You can.“
“How?“ she hissed.
“Stop loving me.“ he said smugly.
“Bastard“ she snarled at him, as people around started top stare. “Couldn’t you have asked" she bit out between her teeth.
“You’d have said no.“ he replied.
“You always do that just act without asking without thinking where it could lead.“ she said in fury.
“Oh I thought.“ he said.
“I need to get out of here.“ she snapped standing up.
“Running, Pheobe?“ he asked.
“No you’re coming with me and you’re paying too.“ she stormed standing up and walking off.
She stood up and stalked off then turned at him “Leo is right.“ she snapped loudly “you are a reckless bastard.“ as several people stared at them.
“What do you want to do?“ he asked after paying the bill while a furious Phoebe stalked up and down outside the restaurant.
“Kill you.“ she snapped then caught his face “Stop worrying Cole. I promised nothing would keep me away from you tonight and it won’t“. She looked at him pensively “I didn’t promise I wouldn’t go out of my way to make you miserable though. “
“Want to walk?“ he asked “Over the bridge. “ He drove down to the bridge and parked the car and Phoebe was quiet all the way as they went to get out she said flat voiced “I hate you at times.“
“No you don’t“ he answered almost surprised at the moment that she didn’t because the most overwhelming emotion coming from her was relief.
They walked over the bridge and stood in the middle staring over the harbour.
“I love the view from here.“ Cole told her. “It helps makes sense of things. I come out here a lot just to .. find me and some peace. “
He turned to her. “Don’t you want to know what I did? “
“Was it evil?“ she asked.
“No“ he answered and she knew he wasn’t lying.
“Are you evil?“ she asked.
“No“ he answered seriously, looking down at her.
“Are you good?“ she asked carefully.
“I’m trying damned hard to be.“ he said.
Standing on the walkway in the middle of the harbour bridge looking at the lights of the harbour and buildings, feeling the wind and the sea smell Cole leaned on the rail and did not look at Phoebe. Finally he said “Phoebe I can’t lie to you so what I’m telling you is the truth but because I can’t lie to you what I’m telling you isn’t the whole truth. Its not just my secret. “he added quietly “My father’s heritage was my humanity, but my mother's was demonic and the two couldn’t merge so I became the some of my parts. He was a good man my father and that is what I inherited from him, that and his magic and the right to a human soul. You know what I got from my mother. I thought the demon heritage was the strongest" he added. Phoebe showed no response so he continued "but you said you fell in love with the good man you saw in me. I found that part of me because of you and it seems that is the strongest part because its still going when all the rest is gone. “
He turned to look down at her. “I had a human soul a good magical one in a demon world Phoebe. If they had known that it was my death warrant. I learned to protect myself in ways I won’t tell you but before I could protect myself and even after other.. creatures protected me at a cost and I owe them and I need to protect them. “
“What sort of creatures?“ she asked relenting.
“Creatures the Charmed Ones and the side of goodness and light may not consider should be protected. That’s the problem, the good part of me knows what it owes those creatures you would call evil. So I hide the magical heritage. Usually.“ He winced a little “Leo damn him had a point I was reckless this morning. I let him push me into saying something I shouldn’t. Tell Leo to shut up about it will you” he asked a little apprehensive of her reaction. “
“Maybe you should tell him.“ Phoebe answered carefully.
“I might not stop at shut up“ Cole said ruefully.
“That’s between you and Leo.“ Phoebe said firmly. She took a deep breath “What‘s the magic Cole?“
“Nothing much“ he said “My father was a low level empath, I gather. Me I can just sense things, and I have to work hard to do it. If I was mortal, just human I’d have some small psychic ability and nothing more.“
She turned to look at the view, leaning against the rail, Cole put his arm on the rail beside her so she was caught between him and the rail, and she snuggled closer
After a few minutes she giggled a little and asked “And does trying to be good include making nice with my family“
He took a deep breath and said “Yes.“ He did not have a hope of missing the elbow she sunk into him.