A Matter of Relativity
Part 2: Shame and Scandal in the Family
"They do not love that do
not show their love"
Cole more or less slept that night, lying in his and Phoebe's bed without her for the first time. It was not until he lay down in a bed that smelt strongly of Phoebe, that whole of impact of what the day, what the last seven weeks meant. As he lay there he was for the better part of half an hour, so furiously angry with Phoebe, it was probably just as well for her she was out of range. That she could do it to him again, pull away, not ask, put him through the distress, the panic the pain. That Phoebe knowing the secrets of his soul, knowing his most vulnerable spot, the loneliness he feared, his need to be with her, his dependence on her as the focus of his life had once again pulled away from him, seemingly without concern what it did to him or how he would cope. Said she loved him but not enough to care about him.
After half an hour of sheer anger, he got up and wandered around her, their room and found himself sitting at her dresser with the lamp on. The bottles on the dresser were arranged in a big little big little pattern on one side of the dresser. Phoebe liked to put her things in order but then she changed the order almost daily. One day they would all be lined up by size, another by colour, another by level of content, sometime laid out in a cross. Cole had got used picking her mood by the way she lined up the bottles. In anger and hurt he opened the top draw of the dresser and swiped the lot into it in a cluttered heap.
As he did so he glanced at a photo on her dresser. It was a framed photo of the family, one that Phoebe loved and he hated and always threatened to throw away. It was taken last Christmas with a time delay, when Piper had made them all sit around in silly hats. Phoebe had set up the camera and thrown herself across the family to get to him before the it flashed. The timer went off and flashed as Cole in the middle of the family, with a stupid expression on his face, matching the silly hat, caught Phoebe and Paige and Piper thew themselves across her, while Leo holding Melinda laughed.
And he suddenly smiled. The one her saved for her. Phoebe being Phoebe. Manipulating, playing around with the feelings of everyone around her. Phoebe hadn't left him alone. She always said he should trust her family to look after people they had loved, and she trusted them to do it and was right. And he was home with her and his family and she was god knows where. And the smile turned into a deep frown. He was frightened for her and worried about her and all he could do was trust Leo would, could look after her.
He knew he ought to be furious that she did not trust him enough to tell him about the pregnancy, but he had no idea what his reaction was, so he could not blame her for having her doubts, or at least he shouldn't. Probably the most overwhelming feeling was fear, fear of what the last pregnancy had done to Phoebe, fear of the possibilities, fear of the decisions. Cole had lived with fear all his life and here he was again with the on the one person who would understand what that fear did to him not there. He sighed. She had done what she could for as long as she could to protect him from that fear, at whatever the cost. Phoebe being Phoebe and trusting him when he said he would always love her for being Phoebe.
And as for what she was carrying, he could hope with every feeling of his being that it would be all right, But if Phoebe would do anything to protect it, if she would believe that she could keep a demon good, if she would risk everything including the love of her life for it, he of all creatures should be the one being who could understand why a mother would risk everything to protect her child.
Leo turned up around mid morning. Paige had gone to work and Cole looked after Melinda to her delight while Piper exhausted emotionally and physically from all that had happened ,slept. He had tried feeling for Phoebe magically and in the early hours of the morning checked some of Leo's favourite haunts but was unable to trace them and was seriously wondering of his chances of sneaking into Arturo's house to try using some of his magic. Piper had just got up and was pouring coffee while Cole morosely stared into another cup. Melinda sitting on her toy horse were whizzing around the kitchen and shrieking at the top of her voice. Normally no-one in the family actually noticed Melinda making huge amount of noise but this time Piper was feeling tired and strained told, her to stop. Melinda stopped the whizzing around planted her feet firmly on the floor and said very loudly " No."
"Melinda do as you're told " Piper said tiredly.
'Nooooooooooooooooooooo" roared Melinda.
Cole started to laugh, "They make you keep things in proportion," he said slowly.
"One day you're not going to find that so funny my friend" Piper snarled "and I hope I'm around to see it."
Before Cole could answer orbs sounded and he looked up. Melinda shrieked dada and Leo picked her up, hugging her close.
"Where's Phoebe Leo? " Cole said quietly, too quietly.
"Safe " Leo quietly " where you can't get her."
Piper walked to him and stood right in front of Leo. He eyed her a little apprehensively and she threw her arms around him as Cole watched, a wry smile on his face.
"Is she safe from me? " Piper asked a few minutes later.
"For the moment" Leo answered.
"Leo" Piper started to say, "You can't protect her, protect what she's carrying. It could be evil incarnate."
And both Leo and Piper caught Cole's face as it visibly paled and his eyes shut.
Leo hastily interrupted. "She wants some things. Can you go get them." he said glancing at Cole " I'll come up and talk to you "
"What?" Piper asked following his glance.
Leo laughed "Vitamins, a change of clothes."
"I'll get them. Piper said, walking out the kitchen but not before she sent Leo a glower that was calculated to give him nightmares for weeks.
Melinda cuddled against Daddy.
"How is she" Cole asked slowly.
"She's having a bad time with the pregnancy," Leo said "But you probably guessed that accounts for well a lot of things over the last three months."
"Yeah " Cole said quietly. "Three months" he said, "I didn't even know how long."
"What are you going to do about it " Leo asked in a matter of fact voice.
Cole shook his head. "I don't…. I wouldn't hurt her."
."She knows that" Leo said. "That's not what worries her."
"I know" Cole answered, "Tell her there's no shift in the spirit winds, about a power outside the great Plan.
"That's good " Leo said.
"I hope so," Cole answered. '
"When does a being get its own aura?" Leo asked.
"Guess I'm going to learn " Cole answered. "Tell her its okay. I promised her.. She knows what I promised her. I keep my promises. Tell her I love her."
"I will" Leo said.
"I'm going to follow you" Cole said.
"You won't catch me." Leo said.
"Have to try " Cole answered.
Leo nodded and orbed upstairs still holding Melinda to be with Piper, who managed despite all her best intention to tell him she understood and make him promise to look after her little sister.
Cole flew after Leo when he left but Leo had been chased by demons before and headed 'up there', and fighting the spirit winds Cole lost Leo and had to return to the manor, only narrowly managing to avoid shimmering into the kitchen when Marly was there and frightening the daylights out of her by walking in from the dining room to his not concealed annoyance.
Francesca orbed in and had some very school marmish things to say to Cole about taking what she considered to be very foolish risks trying to shimmer 'up there' and she did not consider finding Phoebe even remotely justified it.
"I thought you were here to advise me not yell at me," Cole muttered.
"I am advising you," she said her crooked face taking on an expression, that despite being guardian, ex-demon, former source of all evil, reduced him to quivering little boy. "Don't do it. She sighed, "What's the urgency Cole. I assume Guardian, lover and father you intend to wait until you are sure what has to be done must be done."
"I want her back, " he said.
"Suffer" said Francesca orbing.
Paige came home from work having had all day to worry "What are we going to do about Power of Three or a whitelighter." She asked irritated. 'I don't suppose you'd care to fill the gap." She demanded from Cole. "That bloody Elisheeva and Taskeel or whatever demon's it's consorting with or fighting with haven't gone away. To say nothing about other assorted and unrelated innocents who need protecting."
"Can't help you" he said " Not my business.' As Paige turned her nose up he added remembering he was a guardian. "Do the best you can " Cole said "Look after the innocents."
"Oh shut up Cole " Paige said stalking off in a temper because she was worried.
Cole had to go back to work the next morning. He would not have bothered if it had not been for a review for Benedict Haslett's bail, and he felt it was his responsibility. He had dreaded demon inquisitions when his very existence had been threatened if his magic human soul had been discovered more than going back to the law office. And as he showered and dressed he felt the misery of missing Phoebe. He was not used to being alone in that room. Even though she was usually asleep when he left for work, she was there, the room was full of her presence and it felt empty and cold without her.
Cole had seen Benedict and Lara at their house before he left for Greece. He was very reluctant to have a discussion anywhere near the office. He asked Lara about her being a witch. A touch of his aura made it very clear that Benedict was mortal. Cole had asked Lara if magic was involved and felt for her aura as she denied it .Unfortunately all he could feel was a conviction of self-righteousness, so that while Cole did not believe she was telling the truth she did.
He tried again and said " You must realise I have a pretty good understanding of good witches and what they do. I promise I won't be shocked."
"I am a good witch " Lara had answered " and I fail to understand why the work of good witches would shock anyone" Cole had taken a deep and aggravated breath as Lara added "I am passionately devoted to the cause of good." Which Cole sincerely doubted because he would have bet almost anything that Lara did not even have a nodding acquaintance with what passion meant and if Benedict ever had he had long since gotten over it.
Benedict listened to the conversation with approval written all over his face "I assume " Benedict asked "the family connection you said, that asked you to help me, was your ah partner's ah family."
"Yes" Cole answered and then because curiosity had got the better of him " How did you know my ah partner's ah family?"
"My wife and Penny were in the same coven" Benedict answered " for a while."
"Oh" said Cole.
Lara saw him to the door. "I will understand if you don't want to go on with this case," she told him in that dull flat voice that grated on every nerve he had.
"I wish you would be honest with me," he said
"I was referring to the fact your family connection is broken " Lara said.
"My family connection isn't broken" Cole replied.
"There has been some talk in the covens about the break-up of the Charmed Ones relationship, especially after they all saw you at that meeting" Lara said "It takes a very special mortal to live with a witch" Implying Cole wasn't.
"I would have thought witches had something better to gossip about " Cole commented, with a dryness that would have warned a more sensitive person than Lara they were in dangerous territory.
"It was in the nature of a reminder of our calling" Lara had answered "How did you meet Phoebe" she asked with a blunt cheek that left Cole amazed.
"She was a witness in a case where I was the ADA" Cole answered.
"Did you know she was a witch?" Lara asked.
"Some magic was involved in the case" Cola answered, "I found out fairly quickly what she was."
"Were you prepared for what being involved with a witch cost?" Lara asked.
"I can honestly say," Cole said "that nothing I knew then, left me remotely prepared for what being involved with Phoebe cost."
When Cole had left for the Greek Islands a few days later, Benedict and Lara Haslett were added to the long list of things he needed to escape from, for a short while.
And having to go back to the office for Haslett's just added to Cole's sense of grievance against Grams. He arrived at the law firm and was greeted with an amused smile by the receptionist as he walked to his office. To his surprise, it was open and the lights were on, which meant that, unusually, Arlene was at work, before him. He went into the outer office, which was empty, but the door to his office was shut. He did not have to have demon hearing to hear Arlene and her lover Henry Kline in his office, shrieking at each other as only lovers can.
Before Cole could get out of the office he could got a fair understanding that Kline was pissed with Arlene for getting involved with a new group of friends, to fill in the time he was spending with his family. Kline seemed to feel that this group of friends was a bad influence based on the evidence that Arlene's preferences in bed were becoming more exotic or erotic or just plain peculiar, Cole wasn't sure which. Arlene seemed to be of the opinion that if Kline was not prepared to divorce his wife for her, he ought to be at least willing to perform enough to satisfy her needs. At that point Cole scuttled out of the outer office as fast as he could.
"You could have warned me," he said to the receptionist Erin.
"I thought you'd enjoy it," she said cheekily. '"There's something about that office of yours that makes people behave erratically." Erin was very secure in her relationship with the fourth ranking partner in the firm and could afford to be cheeky to junior partners.
"I'll be in court" Cole replied deciding to wing it rather than face what was going on in his office. Benedict and Lara both turned up at the court, looking grim, self righteous and ready for martyrdom. The ADA Krantz was apparently not prepared to light the pyre just yet. He demanded and got another deferment. His reason was that the police were investigating other cases that may have relationship to this one. Cole caught Lara's quick intake of breath behind him and became aware beside him Benedict's whole demeanour became one of stoic rigidity.
He agreed to the deferment, and the judge set a date 3 months ahead, while extending the bail. Lara quietly came up and asked what the problem was. Cole answered honestly he did not know but would find out but he told them more than likely the ADA was trying to pressure Benedict into offering a plea. Benedict quietly told him to find out what was being offered. Cole looked at him surprised but caught up with Krantz in the corridor. Krantz was talking to Darryl Morris who Cole had not seen for nearly six weeks because he and his wife Sheila had taken an extended six week holiday touring the country with their children. Darryl raised his eyes as Cole approached and left Cole to talk to Krantz. Krantz' offer was quick, 20 years non parole for 2nd degree murder. "He's 73 years old " Cole said.
"Take it or leave it" Krantz said uninterested. Cole shrugged. He told Lara and Benedict they may as well fight at this stage because any custodial sentence meant that Benedict would likely die in gaol.
Both Lara and Ben nodded with a stoicism that irritated the hell out of Cole.
Cole called Darryl on his cell from his car. "I need" Cole said" I would like..to talk to you about, the Haslett case."
"That’s hardly ethical" Darryl said "for either of us"
"I know" Cole said "and you're going to hate this but I think magic may be involved." When he was greeted by silence Cole said "Darryl."
"I was feeling really good after my vacation" Darryl said grimly.
"Yeah okay" Darryl sighed choosing a crowded mall cafe which did not look as suspicious as an isolated meeting place. " Make sure you um.. use a means of transportation where you won’t be followed, if you get my drift."
"I do," said Cole "in an hour."
"Hour and a half " said Darryl.
Cole went back to the office, put up with a few complaints about his absence and then said he was going to lunch. He shimmered into the mall and watched Darryl arrive. Darryl had chosen a table where it was nearly impossible for any one to watch him without being observed. Cole went to the counter, ordered a coffee and sandwich and walked past Darryl, making the whole thing seem like a plausible chance encounter should it ever be reported, which was unlikely but better to be safe.
Cole sat down.
"Just once" Darryl said "Couldn't it be some arsehole moronic human killer."
"You would know more about them than me" Cole answered.
"What do you need to talk to me about?" Darryl said.
Cole looked "I’m, Darryl the ground rules are nothing you say to me comes out in court and nothing I say to you comes out in the ADA’s case." Darryl nodded "How was the holiday?"
"Great " said Darryl "Not a witch, or demon in sight."
"How would you know " Cole asked, "What's Krantz chasing with the extra cases?"
"They're looking to get a number of unsolved cases solved " Darryl said "Any in recent years that have involve stabbings and impaling." Darryl shut his eyes then nodded. " You’re not going to tell me this is all supernatural stuff," he asked.
"That’s what I’m trying to find out," Cole said. "Lara Haslett is a witch and I’m assuming here the one that was killed was too."
Darryl swallowed "Shit" he said
"The cross bow" Cole asked, "Was it a normal crossbow? I know I saw the evidence report on where he got it from, is it true, nothing fixed."
"As far as I know" Darryl said "he bought the crossbow from a sports store about two weeks before he killed the guy"
"No demonic markings on it" Cole asked as Darryl winced.
"Not that I know" Darryl said" But I’ll check."
"And you're sure the body, the victim was a mortal" Cole asked.
"Yeah" Darryl said "petty crim from north side" He looked at Cole "They did an autopsy, three people there. It was a body human, mortal, killed with an arrow through the forehead."
"Just checking" said Cole smiling.
"You'd tell me if it was something else wouldn't you?" Darryl asked.
"Honestly" Cole answered, "Don't know, you'd tell me if here was something that was only explainable by magic?"
"Yeah" said Darryl "where can I contact you, if not at the office?" Darryl had greeted the news that Cole and Phoebe had separated again with a shake of his head.
Cole winced "Home" he said "the manor."
"All sweet between you and Phoebe" Darryl said sarcastically.
"Not exactly " Cole answered "She's pregnant and run off with Leo."
Darryl swallowed this news silently then very carefully he said, "It could be worse. Like it was yours and she's carrying Satan." he smiled "You'll forgive her anything and maybe Leo is just.. "
"Its mine" Cole said angrily.
"Shit" said Darryl gulping. "OMG, hell. I mean I saw what it did last time, threw Paige out of the attic window. Tried to set fire to a cop's office. Couldn't you have been careful?" he demanded.
"Why does everybody keep telling me it's my fault?" Cole demanded, "I thought Phoebe was taking precautions."
"No-one who knows Phoebe would trust her to be responsible for anything, if she got a bee in her bonnet." Darryl said firmly "What you going to do?"
"Find her" Cole said " and then…"
"Yeah " said Darryl.
"So she hasn't changed her mind about the ah love affair of the millennium" Darryl said.
'No but" Cole said "she's doing her best to make it difficult."
"Phoebe is always difficult" Darryl said," She thinks its part of her charm."
Darryl stood up "My partner Andy. He found a list of cases that well turned out to be demonic. Got him killed by a demon," he said. "Cole, between you and me should I be concerned whatever I am doing ethically, it isn’t immoral in this case."
"Leaving out the m word" Cole said "Do your job Darryl and I’ll see you in court."
Darryl nodded and left.
Mark sat at the table looking at Paige almost sadly " Are you ever going to tell me what's wrong" he asked. He had watched Paige all day, alternating between frantic action and sitting staring into space. Twice he had tried to get her to talk to him and he had despite her refusing three times, managed to drag her off to dinner after work
"Nothing is wrong" Paige said "well just family stuff, not really" she gulped "something you can't help with, or shouldn't. Its always family stuff with me isn't it?"
"I know your family is not my business" Mark said " But you're my …friend and when my friends are upset, then it is my business. My friends are my business. I know you're upset about Cole and your sister breaking up. But maybe you need to talk about it. Outside the family."
Paige shook her head "Its complicated" she said.
"Look Paige" Mark said "when a stable relationship, when a marriage breaks up in any family its not just the two people involved and in your family its even harder because well its your home that'd broken up. Its a natural for you to be upset you know."
Paige smiled at him "You're a good man aren't you Mark."
" I have a certain amount of self interest in seeing you happy," he said wryly.
"You don't want to be mixed up with my family Mark," she said. "Sometimes its not all that healthy."
"My choice " he pushed.
"Oh okay. You asked "Paige answered, suddenly needing to be out of her family herself. "It’s not about Cole and Phoebe breaking up." she sighed "I sort of doubt they ever could you know, they are so locked into each other, they fight, argue, Phoebe does a runner, Cole makes her come back to him. It's what she does, every time there's a problem." She smiled "We well keep telling him if he doesn't like it, he should have fallen in love with some-one else."
"That can be pretty wearing on the rest of the family" Mark commented.
"I know" Paige sighed "Phoebe's pregnant. That is what all this is about."
"I " Mark started to say.
"Don't get it " Paige answered. "Cole has, there was some um hereditary problems with him having kids. Not for certain but enough to make, well he.. we, all thought it was better he does not have kids, Phoebe got pregnant while they were married and it .. nearly killed her. Phoebe decided apparently she wanted Cole's kid and well more or less made sure of it. She thought Cole might put pressure on her to well not have it, and us too so that was why she more or less pushed him off. Leo knew and we guess, he decided to help Phoebe look after her until, well any problems are known. So they've nicked off together." She glanced nervously at Mark "You okay."
"The worst scandal we had in my family was my aunt was 10 weeks pregnant when she got married " Mark said trying not to show any reaction. "Makes Cole sounds like a bastard," he added " I shouldn't say it I know but..wanting to push her into doing something like that. And it makes your sister sound like a manipulative ..I shouldn't say it," he said.
"Well you wouldn't be the first" Paige sighed, "Phoebe wants what Phoebe wants. Its part of her charm. And Cole. He's not a b…, an arsehole maybe, a bastard no" Paige swallowed " if you'd seen what, if you'd know what, how dangerous that last pregnancy was, you'd understand. Piper is furious with Phoebe. Cole is worried sick about her, and I suspect he wants ..it as much as Phoebe but is terrified of the…problems."
"And Paige " Mark asked reaching for her hands over the table.
"Paige is as usual trying to see it from every-one's view" Paige said "I love my sisters and I am very glad they came into my life but, well its been .. difficult."
"You're a good sister Paige" Mark said.
She smiled. "I try and I am glad.. . I do love them," she said, "But sometimes.. you know."
"It'll work out" Mark said. "One way or the other and maybe at some point they can worry about you."
"I think it will" Paige answered. "Cole, Cole says he's not lucky and if it can go wrong it will, but you know, Phoebe is lucky. She pushes, demands, manipulates until she gets her own way and you know in the end it all works out. Its her gift." Paige smiled. "Phoebe's got a good heart but she gives Cole hell and everyone else. Phoebe's lucky though. I think this will be all right " Paige said.
"And Paige?" Mark asked.
Paige gulped "I'm starting to thing Paige may be lucky too " she said wetting her lips with her tongue.
Mark smiled but he was smart enough to pretend he did not notice. "You're not telling me everything are you Paige?" Mark said.
"No" she said "but I'm telling you the most important part. What I feel."
They sat looking at each other and Paige felt suddenly safer and warmer than she had felt with a man since that terrible day when her father died. Safe, trusting she nearly blurted out the words "I'm a witch" but as they formed a shadow came over the table.
"Hello" said Mark "Surprised to see you here."
Paige casually glanced up inwardly cursing the person for interrupting them and then caught her breath in a choke and gasped.
Mark eyed Paige oddly. "Paige this is one of the youth workers I was telling you about, the one who help the kids who have been in custody."
"I know who Sam is." Paige said tightly as she looked into her birth father's concerned eyes.
"I was just having coffee with friends" Sam said never taking his eyes off Mark's hands holding Paige's. "I thought I'd say hello."
"Nice to see you" said Mark politely but a little dismissively, trying to get Sam to go.
Sam, as a good whitelighter took the hint. "See you around" he said.
Paige looked into Sam's eyes "Why don't you drop in some time soon" she said, "It’s a while since we have talked."
"I'll do that," he promised.
"You know him?" Mark asked.
"Family acquaintance" Paige answered but Mark noticed she was visibly paling.
Paige entered the manor quite late after spending considerable time sitting in Mark's car cuddling up kissing. Not that she was really dating Mark but she liked to kiss him and he was great in bed. Cole had scared every other date away and it was nice to think there was a man who found her attractive and wasn't turned off by her family. Even if he was fourteen years older than her and wore daffy duck ties and was balding, he was sweet, and at least he wasn't scared of Cole. Even Piper liked him and he was sweet and some people found Daffy Duck ties cute.
Sam appeared in the conservatory almost as soon as she walked in the door.. Piper came flying down the stairs as if she had been lying awake waiting for the sound of orbs, She sighed when she saw Sam and awkwardly backed away when it was obvious he wanted to talk to Paige.
"Why are following Mark?" Paige demanded as soon as Piper had gone upstairs
"Its what I do," Sam said.
"Mark is mortal " Paige insisted' "He's not a witch."
"No" Sam said obviously concerned and uncomfortable. "But he is a charge."
"But if Mark's not a witch." Paige asked
Sam took a deep breath "I shouldn't be telling you this but..what else do whitelighters do?" he asked quietly.
Paige thought and then said ": Hell. Look after future whitelighters" she whispered.
Sam nodded slightly, very wary of her reaction.
"Why did you come over?" Paige asked.
"I was shocked, surprised when I saw you with him" Sam said awkwardly.
"Oh" said Paige. Smiling and then caught her breath frightened "How future Sam?" she asked.
"I don't know " Sam said, "I have no gift of the vision and I wasn't told."
"Oh" said Paige relieved. "I'm glad to see you," she told him belatedly
"Me too" said Sam still awkward "I know we talked last year but,.. "
"Yes' said Paige.
"I have to go" said Sam.
"Oh said Paige "Okay." She reached forward to hug her father. "Give my love to Mom."
"I will," he said before he orbed,
It was only as she lay in bed that Paige realised while Sam said he did not know when Mark would be called he did not say he had no idea.