To know Phoebe is to...


Part 3:Keeping it in the Family


Chapter 24


As Paige needed some hair from the two people to make the potion, after lunch they shimmered and orbed off to the gaol where Cole used his time slow power while Paige sniped some of Eddie’s hair and they did the same think to Harold Carter. Neither man had the slightest idea what had happened


Cole offered to drive Paige home and she said snappily “I can orb. “


“If you want“ he said casually.


“Why are you getting so weird about using your powers?“ Paige asked curiously.


Cole shrugged. “I’m not being..weird.“ he mimicked. “I use them when they make things easier and I don’t when they complicates thing. Mostly they just complicate things.“


Paige put her hands on her hips “Is that some sort of advice?“ she demanded . “Learn from your mistakes?“


“It wasn’t meant to be.“ Cole answered sweetly “but if you think you can learn from me go ahead .“ Paige orbed off before she heard the finish of the sentence.


“I just love Phoebe’s family.“ Cole said out loud.


He was in court the rest of the afternoon and then had a late meeting with the client and Phoebe worked late as deadlines were starting to loom. They met at the hotel, had a very quick make shift supper in the room and Cole told Phoebe what he was getting Paige to do. A very long emotional week was taking its toll on Phoebe and she was never very good when she was over tired. She was already in bed curled up against the pillow, as Cole put the breakfast order on the door


“Why didn’t you ask me?“ she demanded.


“Because it complicates things to much.“ Cole answered straining to be reasonable. Phoebe was not in a mood to be reasonable


“I don’t think you ought to hang around with my little sister.“ she said petulantly, “or my family for that matter.“


Cole muttered “Jeez in the last few days I’ve had Leo tell me off, Victor warn me off and Paige orb in and insist I help her, no thanks offered. And I can hardly wait to find out whatever reason Piper will have for hammering on my door. If you can tell me how I’ll be glad to not hang around with them.“ he went into the bathroom.


Phoebe sat up glad he did not see her smile. “That’ll get him thinking about how he’ll deal with my family.“ she thought pleased with herself.


“And while I’m on it“ she added “How come you always called Paige to say you were all right and not me?“


He came out of the bathroom and stood at the end of the bed looking down at her.


“You really are in a mood tonight aren’t you honey?“ he asked barely hiding his amusement.


Phoebe looked up at him with a shy little girl smile. “I’m over tired and I’m cranky, and I’m sick of trying to be nice and good and I want to be a bitchy?“ she said.


“You’re getting there honey“ he said lying down beside so she could snuggle into him.  “But you’re not going to get a fight out of me so stop trying. There’s nothing you can do or say that is going to ruin this week for me. This week I’m going to be happy.“


“Betcha you never thought you’d be this happy to have me bitch at you.“ she added almost asleep.


“You’d lose. I often thought I’d be this happy.“ he said softly.


“Well just don’t tell me you know me. “she said snuggling in closer and determined to get the last word in.


“But I do know you Phoebe.“ Cole said stroking her hair when she fell asleep.


He lay there for long part of the night just watching her sleep, taking in every scent, every breathe, every feature and still trying to work out how the hell he had ended up here when last week it was supposed to be over and also wondering as the realities of their destiny, work, magic and family started to bear down on them, how they were going to create that promised future together.


Cole was supposed to leave early in the morning for work. Phoebe was not happy. "This is getting like a routine," she sulked "What happened to romance" she added petulantly as he bent to kiss her goodbye. She caught his tie and pulled him down and he said no three times before giving in as a vision of a future with Phoebe sulking because he would not screw her and Francesca bitching because he was late for work flashed in front of him.


“You sister in law called 3 times“ Francesca said severely “and you’re going to be late for the appointment at the gaol. “


“I won’t be.“ he assured her.


“Well you will unless you can fly.“ Francesca told him. He tried to read her expression but she said severely get a move on and he jumped to do as he was told.


He called Paige and she said she had the spell and the potion. He told her to meet him at the gaol in a few minutes. "Orb" she said surprise.


“I’m running late. Magic makes it easier.“ he explained.


He still had to wait for her at the gaol. Paige materialised between a couple of cars and found him prowling around the edge of the car park. “I have to say the spell and throw the potion.“, she said “How am I going to do that.“


“Just do it before he goes.“ Cole said.


“He’ll think I’m nuts.“ Paige muttered


“Who cares.“ said Cole to her disgust. She followed him in, signed in as his assistant. “Stop worrying.“ he whispered “I wiped the record. “


Eddie was in a state so incoherent he barely noticed Paige. Cole told him that it was nearly over another day or two.


“Eddie.“ he said “this is important you have to listen to me.“


Eddie nodded


Cole said firmly “For the next couple of days no matter what any one says you answer you can’t talk without your lawyer, even if they want to know whether you have cream in your coffee you got it. .“Eddie looked uncertain "You got it" Cole repeated he nodded and turned away. Cole called his name again and he stopped and Paige orbed the potion at Eddie back and said the spell. Eddie barely registered the bang and the green smoke that went off.


When they left Paige looked at Cole and said “You really are trying to help.“ and then she remembered again he could be very kind. “If he’s innocent its so wrong he should be in gaol, suffering like that.“ she said.


“Well he’s not completely innocent so I suppose he’s getting what he deserves or at least needs" Cole answered


“What now?“ Paige asked.


“Back to my office.“ Cole replied.


They had time for coffee because Cole would not go back in less than an hour “Francesca knows how long it takes me to do anything down to the last second.“ Cole said trying to explain.


“She really gives you a hard time.“ Paige said happily “I think I like Francesca.“


They went upstairs to Cole’s office and Paige thoroughly enjoyed the fishy glare Francesca gave Cole when she saw him usher her in.


"Just go into my office" he told Paige.


He turned to Francesca and asked "Can you call Carter’s secretary and tell her Rodriguez has agreed to a deal with the ADA, to tell all about the smuggling, and can you tell her my attractive ah sister in law is in the office with me. I want Carter to meet her .“he grinned.


“What are you up to?“ Francesca demanded.


“Trust me.“ Cole said and went into the office.


“What are you up to?“ Paige demanded.


“Wait“ Cole told her. In less than 5 minutes Carter who was looking strained came into Cole’s office very anxious to be introduced the attractive Miss Matthews. Paige barely concealed her annoyance as Carter made a play she did not appreciate.


Carter finally said he was going after making Paige a sleazy promise he would meet her again, and telling Cole happily that he knew he was just the man to make sure the firm got a satisfactory result on Rodriguez. Cole did not miss the implication about his integrity.


As Carter turned to Cole mouthed at Paige “Do it.“ and after a hesitation she threw the potion and said the spell.


Carter spun around at the noise and the smell of smoke “What was that?“ he demanded.


“What was what?“ Cole asked, blue eyes open and innocent.


“Why did you hesitate?“ Cole demanded of Paige when Carter left.


“Because I seriously thought there is a case for letting some-one murder him.“ Paige answered.


Francesca came into the office “What was that all about?“ she asked looking from Cole to Paige.


“Better you don’t know.“ Cole said.


“When are you going to trust me?“ Francesca asked mildly but before he could answer said “and when are you finishing this?“


“Right now.“ Cole said. He dialled the ADA for Rodriguez case and told him that Rodriguez in return for no gaol time would be prepared to testify against the people he worked for. The ADA fussed a little and said he would have to know more and Cole happily said he could talk off the record and to Paige’s undying admiration rattled off a very plausible story how Eddie Rodriquez was going to implicate 4 of the cities most notorious bad boys in the smuggling of heroin.


The ADA spluttered and muttered and said he would call back.


“What happens when they find out that story is a lie?“ Paige asked.


“I think they already know dear.“ Francesca said “that’s the whole point of it. “


Cole grinned and said to Francesca “Will you call this guy and say you have a story from this office if he wants it. Use my phone, I want him to know where it came from.“ Cole sat back and listened as Francesca rattled the same story to a reporter on Phoebe’s paper.


“That’s that crusading creep I met at Phoebe’s work party.“ Paige said surprised. “The one who is always writing those pieces about the DA not being tough enough. “


“Once he starts asking questions, I’m making a pretty good bet that they will say there is no case against Eddie rather than try and explain why they don’t want to prosecute those guys.“ Cole said pleased with himself.


Cole glanced at his watch 10.38, “That was a good days work.“ he said happily “I'd say Eddie's case has gone away. “


“The bad boys get away with it.“ Francesaa said but she was sad rather than severe.


“Eddie’s case goes away.“ Cole said, “a few people of varying degrees of guilty get away with it but trust me. I know bad guys, some-one will get them some day.“


Paige turned to go. She wouldn’t have been Phoebe’s sister if she had not got the last word in “I have to say Cole" she said to him "One thing about you, when you want to be an arsehole you’re damned good at it. “


Francesca looked at Cole “You might find yourself skating in hell before long.“ she said.


His face showed his total disbelief but he was not quite brave enough to contradict her.


Cole was in court in the afternoon and he was so caught up in the case he realised rather guiltily he did not think of Phoebe until he checked his phone about 4 and there was message from about 20 minutes ago to ring Phoebe urgently. It suddenly occurred to him that it was ironic that just as he was able to develop a life with Phoebe because he was living as a mortal, while he lived and worked as a mortal, as a human, there was going to be a large part of his life that did not include her.


And when he called her he had was almost immediately confronted by the fact that with the choices he had made there was going to be a part of her life that did not include him.


“I just had to let you know that I can’t make it tonight” she whispered into her phone “A family problem" she said "you know the usual one.“


“Where are you?“ he asked.


“Home“ she said and then her voice got stronger. “Its okay I’m in the hall now Piper and Paige are making potions.“


“What’s the problem?“ he asked.


“Elders asked us to deal with another one of that cult, swarm demons that are popping up, some innocents getting hurt. Something called Lamieds. Know them.“ Phoebe enquired.


“Yes“ Cole answered “Blood sucking demons, they like young men. You should be okay.“ he added.


“Yeah. We are going down to watch the basketball match now.“ she said excitedly.


For all the fact that Cole knew he had to separate himself from her calling as Charmed One, for a second he found himself resenting that she could be excited and eager to start something that excluded him. Then he remembered all the choices and hard won battles and he relaxed "Enjoy yourself" he said.


“You’re not going to try and interfere or anything are you?“ Phoebe ask nervously.


"No“ he said “I told you I wouldn’t. The Charmed Ones seem to have managed pretty well without my help for the last year. Unless its my…the old Source’s legacy, its not my problem. Take care honey.“  he said in a matter of fact voice. “Call me when its over. I have to get back to court .“


Part of Phoebe was excessively irritated that Cole, could be as unconcerned when she going into battle and another part of her was relieved that he could accept her responsibilities to the Charmed Ones world without creating a fuss. It was along way from their marriage “Don’t think of that“ she said “It wasn’t Cole. “


The girls spent a very long evening and night, scrying and chasing the blood sucking Lamieds from sporting session to sporting session. The problem was that the Lamieds attacked in change and shower rooms and Paige had to orb them in to catch the demons. When they were in the first change room Paige and Phoebe eyes were bugging out of their heads to Piper’s annoyance. In the fifth room, at 3 in the morning, in a seedy gym on the south side, after Piper blew up two demons and Paige and Phoebe used potions on 2 others. Piper stopped to tie up a shoelace before she unfroze the scene, Paige told her to hurry.


“What’s the rush?“ said Piper.


“I never thought I would get sick of the sight of frozen naked men.“ Paige said “but they just start looking the same to me.“


Phoebe sighed. “Hurry up. They just aren’t as interesting like this.“ she added.


“You think.“ Piper said.


The girls finally found the last of the demons at an early training session for a college hockey team and finished them off. They returned to the manor where a grumpy Leo had had a difficult night with Melinda. He had only just got her to sleep and wanted some himself.


Paige because she had had a very big magical day and could sleep in, fell into bed and Phoebe who had to be at work the next morning decided she would be worse off sleeping so she and Piper had a quiet morning breakfast which was not something they could do often.


Piper quietly asked Phoebe if she would be there tonight and Phoebe shook her head and said she was staying with her friend.


Piper who had been trying to find a way to approach this without it turning into a long complaint finally took the plunge “Honey“ she said “we are going to have to deal with this. If you’re living here, you’re living here not just keeping your clothes here. And if you aren’t well that’s a whole new set of problems and it isn’t you who is affected. “


Phoebe nodded. She knew this conversation. She had been waiting for it


Piper when her sister showed signs of listening continued “I know you seem to thing this guy is the one, at the moment, but it's all to fast and I have to tell you.“ she said carefully “Leo and I are pretty damned suspicious of this new love of your life coming out of the woodwork and being the perfect mate right after you are finally well over all the stuff that happened with Cole. Are you sure honey?“ she said.


Phoebe smiled gently “He’s not perfect she said "far from it but he’s what I want and it does seem fast but then it also seems for ever. But he is the one, the only one. “


“I’ve heard that before.“ Piper said dryly.


“Well this time I’m sure.“ Phoebe said. “This time I know. “


“And have you told him about us about the Charmed Ones.“ Piper said trying not to sound as if she was judging.


“No“ Phoebe said “but it’s not a problem.“


“Then how can you be so sure he is the one when you really don’t know he is going to deal with your family an all your secrets?“ Piper said with some exasperation creeping in “If this guy is it, is for real“ Piper started to say “it isn’t just you that's involved“


Phoebe clasp her hands around her knees “Sweetie I know better than anyone that with us, it isn’t just him and me but you also know what Grams said, a charmed future does not keep a girl warm on a cold night. “ She looked into Piper’s face pleading for understanding “I hate being alone Piper and I don’t want to be grams going from marriage to marriage trying to find something that never is because I can’t share who I am“


“Being able to share it didn’t help you last time“ Piper said bluntly.


Phoebe sitting in the Halliwell kitchen her arms hugged around her knees looked at her sister intently “I know I am a Charmed One and never again am I going to chose a man above my sisters and a life that doesn’t let me be a Charmed One.  I promise you, I promise you, I promise you it isn’t going to happen. “


“That’s the whole thing isn’t“ Piper said sadly “Its why Prue never found any one after Andy, its why the Source was able to use Cole to screw everything up with you and Cole, even with Leo and me, its never about US. Its about the family and this damned calling and this damned house. Love me get stuck with my family. No way out and no escape. No wonder Paige is having so many stuffed up relationships" she said sympathetically.“


“I knew you understood Piper.“ Phoebe asked “Whatever you end up feeling about this, its not been just secrets, its been about making it an us. I always knew it would be about family. Its just these last few weeks, I needed a little romance, I needed to play at falling in love again, to flirt and tease and be silly. I know if there is a future, its not all us, its barely us, its all about family but at least this way there is an us and if I made it a family thing to soon there may not have been one .“


Pipe held her hand “And if it turns out he couldn’t deal with the family thing, what’s your choice.“


Phoebe swallowed “The choice is made, its who I am, my family, my calling but I think he will. And if he doesn’t I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun and some really great sex these last few weeks.“


After showering and getting her things ready for work a she called Cole to let him know she was all right, and a little bit to check on him. He was already at the office. He asked he if she everything went all right and she said yes but she was sick of the sight of naked men. He was silent for a second and Phoebe asked "Cole?"


He finally answered in a half choked voice “I’ll make a note. You’re sick of seeing naked men.“


“Oh not you.“ she said blithely “Love you. I have to go.“


“Love you honey“ he said and was not in the least embarrassed to know that Francesca as listening to every word he said.


He smiled ruefully “Just when I think I know her, I realise I am totally bamboozled by what goes on in her head. “


“I believe I could become very fond of that girl“ Francesca said.


Not long after less, than 24 hours after, Cole had offered to deal, the ADA called him to say that all charges against Eddie Rodriquez had been dropped.


“Why?“ Cole asked enjoying himself.


With a little pushing the ADA explained when they started getting things together for the case they discovered the major evidence, the heroin along with some evidence in other cases had disappeared.  “You used to be an ADA.“ the lawyer said “You know when drugs are involved no-one is incorruptible. “


“Yeah I do Cole said and it was lucky the lawyer could not see his expression.


Cole went over and told Carter and Jackman the case against Rodriguez had gone away. Carter visibly paled, clearly wondering at the consequences of him failing to trap the real target Reynolds and Jackman prissily told Cole it took him long enough and they expected him to work more efficiently in future.


“I can only do my best“ Cole answered meekly


Cole went out to the gaol and picked Rodriguez and bluntly told him this time he was lucky. Eddie said defensively he only got involved in smuggling to pay for his parents house and anyway the stuff they brought in was harmless, and anyway Tom Reynolds was the one who was the real smuggler.


“Well you were involved, you were responsible and you were stupid“ Cole told him uncompromisingly "And what’s worse you’re making me sound like my holier-than-though ex brother in law god help me. “


When he dropped Rodriguez off at his family place Cole had to spend some time accepting the thanks from his family, which was almost suffocating. After he arrived at the office, Cole called Reynolds and told him Rodriguez case had gone away and got very curt thank you and when Cole asked him if he wanted any more information the answer had been a hesitant “Thank you and I’ll send the payment. I’ll see you around“ Reynolds answered


"Yeah you will“ Cole said “I’m sure. “


He finally rang Phoebe late in the afternoon and asked  “Are we still meeting?“ She almost yawned into the phone and said yes but she had a long day and a deadline by 8 and Elise on her back


“You're just about asleep on your feet aren’t?“ he asked gently.


“I’ll make it she answered you’re not going to feel all rejected about sleeping with some-one who just needs sleep.“ she said.


“No“ he answered “Do you want to go back to the manor?“


“I want to go back to the manor and I want to be with you and as you won’t come to the manor I guess I have to meet you.“ she garbled


“I have something to do first.“ he said


“What?“ she said suspiciously. 


“Put the fear of god and I mean the fear of god into some-one.“ Cole answered.


He worked a couple of hours and around seven when he was a sure things were very quiet he shimmered into Tom Reynolds office. Reynolds was looking out the large glass window watching the harbour below and it took him a few minutes to turn around and see Cole, standing there watching him.


Reynolds jumped with surprise “How did you get in?“ he demanded.


“I just slipped in.“ Cole answered pleasantly. “ I wanted to talk to you. “


Reynolds glanced at the phone on his desk and Cole, and was obviously wondering about using it to call for assistance. Cole swished his hand so it blew away in smoke and almost laughed to see the fear and incomprehension on Reynolds’s face


“Calm down Tom“ he said sitting on the visitor’s sofa “I like you that’s why I’m here. I don’t see you as an evil man“ Cole continued “but there are things you are doing that are going to have to stop.“


“I don’t know what you are talking about?“  Reynolds said.


“Yes you do" Cole said still smiling. Then very softly he said “Its this little fixation I have about innocents Tom.“ he said “Even more than it offends me that they should need defending, it offends me when they are lead astray. “


“I don’ t know what you mean?“ Reynolds said but his voice wavered.


“I mean get out of the smuggling business Tom.“ Cole said amiably.


“How do you think I am going to keep in business, pay all the people do what have to do if I didn’t work the game?“ Tom bit out, conceding.


“Start a precedent“ Cole said still smiling “try trading honestly. I like you Tom" he repeated "but what you are doing offends me and I’m not some one who you offend more than once.“ He was still smiling as he flicked his hand and disintegrated Reynolds’ desk. “I do that when I am offended“ he said.


“You have no idea what it would take to get me out of this mess.“ Reynolds whimpered obviously in shock and disbelief.


“I do actually“ Cole answered “Call me and we can start working your way out of this. “


He moved his hand and the desk came back. Reynolds looked from him to the desk and back fear and incredulity written all over his face. He started to gasp for breath and Cole waited until he began to breathe easily and then deliberately gestured and finished off a particular ugly and flashy piece of sculpture.


“Call me“ Cole said slowly I mean it then with a smile shimmered out leaving Reynolds wondering what the hell had happened and if it had happened and if it didn’t how the sculpture got broken.