know Phoebe is to...
Part 1:Better to have loved and lost
He shimmered onto a lonely beach on the pacific coast and collapsed, lying there on the sand gasping, using the fresh salt air and feeling to heal his soul and allowed the magical healing of his body to take over. Even for something as powerful as Cole, the process took nearly half an hour. He alone knew the hammering he had given his soul, both through the demons and taking Leo to the above. He was surprised he had got through; wondered how he did get through especially carrying demonic energy and venom in his soul. His body and soul and aura felt bent and battered. Finally when he could breath normally and hold his battered spirit and body together, he shimmered back to the manor.
Paige was lying barely awake on the sofa where Cole had laid Leo. Her sisters were both fussing over her, and a sombre white lighter in a robe stood back after he slowly ran his hand over her, healing her. Phoebe, Piper and the whitelighter looked at Cole as if they could not understand who he was. Cole started to ask if Paige was okay but the blank rigid expressions on Piper and Phoebes faces were far to familiar. Cole knew them well; he was not welcome. He shrugged a little helplessly and shimmered away. After all what he had done. Nothing unusual, he had saved the family again and they did not say thanks.
Cole went back to the apartment and braced himself for a bad night. He finally decided he could not stand it there and because it hurt so much to shimmer, he drove to a beach south of San Francisco and sat on the beach and watched the sunset. He was not alone on the beach but even so the waves and air gave him some peace. His body could repair itself but the damage done to his soul was harder because the only way to heal was to attach to something and all he could think of was Phoebe and why he loved her.
And just thinking of the Phoebe he loved eased the pain in his soul. Phoebe who was so frightened of being evil, which was ironic when she was so very, very good. She could not have defeated evil when it attacked her so many times if she had not been, much of the reason he loved her was because she was good, not perfect but good. Cole smiled to himself; Phoebe was far from perfect. She could be difficult, outrageous, demanding, possessive, contrary, awkward, confident, fearful, loving, trusting, bitter when betrayed, sexually provocative, experienced and a total innocent. He was both fascinated and irritated by her.
There was passion between them, undeniable, exciting, flaming passion between Cole and Phoebe. Cole was well aware that even now he only had to be near her for the passion to explode. At the moment the passion showed itself in anger, irritation and annoyance, because that was the only way they could express it, but other ways were just as easy. However, aside from all the passion and deep soul wrenching attraction and heart ache she had brought him, Cole cared deeply for Phoebe. Mild as the word seemed he liked her. She irritated him and she amused him. When she chose to be outrageous even at his expense, he laughed. Phoebe was a contradiction upon a contradiction. To know Phoebe was to live in a world of confusion. The one thing that he and Piper and Prue all had in common was that knowing Phoebe they forgave her a great deal because she so damned sweet and good and she needed to be forgiven so badly.
He felt the warmth of her humour, her aggravating demands, and the integrity of her choice to follow her destiny, he felt her idealism and it healed his soul.
He found the Phoebe he loved on beaches. She healed his soul and his heart and as the sun went down he was calmer and more at peace than he had been for quite a few weeks.
Calm enough to be able to look at some things he had previously not dared. Today had been both good and bad. The Charmed Ones had come to him and asked, demanded his help and there was some satisfaction in that. He had taken risks but not reckless ones. He knew what it would cost him, although it was easier to accept that his soul was going to be badly hurt than to live the reality. He had been able to tell the Charmed Ones what he would do and what he would not do. That was today.
But Cole also knew that today he had come very close to the limits of what he could do without altering the balance between good and evil. This time he had not crossed the line, but he had gone very close because Piper had cried and he felt her hurt and because Phoebe had looked at him with big brown eyes, pleading, demanding, hoping. And he had not hesitated. Why had he done it?
Had he done it to please her, to be near her, to make her want him again? All that had happened was what had happened every time. The Charmed Ones, Phoebe, had barely acknowledged what he had done. Nothing changed. The next time would he take the risk, cross the line, do something so dangerous that it would cost all of them more than it was worth? As he had done when he had taken the Hollow.
For what? To win Phoebe, who if she no longer blamed him, resented him. He reminded her of things she did not want to be reminded about. He believed, he knew that on one level she loved him which meant when she was near him, she blew hot and cold, and it was tearing him apart. He loved her, would always love her but she was the worst temptation he could have. He feared that somewhere in the hurt she inflicted on him, his courage and resolve would fail, he would give into the hurt in an unguarded moment do something he would regret. And it came to him that in a choice between living with unrequited love and regret and having his guts ripped out, it was no contest. There was nothing left for him in San Francisco, the job that he held onto to was not worth it, the girl was not there for him. All he had to do was finish off with a couple of innocents who needed help in the court and move on, move away.
He would never love again. It was not an option for him as far to much depended on him loving the witch his fate was tied to but if he could put some space between them then perhaps time could put distance and harmony between them too, instead of just being the agonising counting of minutes and seconds they were apart which it was now. He could live as a mortal, help the odd innocent, find a small life for a while at least, away from the battle of good and evil, of great fates and realms. Find some peace for his soul.
On a beach in Ireland, on a summer solstice night so many, many years later a dark clad man stared into the fading light and listened as the waves crash, lost in his thoughts. She came to him on beaches. He found the Phoebe he loved on beaches, all the contrary, confusing, loving beauty of her and for a little while the memory of her brought peace to his soul.