A Matter of Relativity
Part 2: Shame and Scandal in the Family
"They do not love that do
not show their love"
Nearly two weeks after Cole and her sisters discovered Phoebe was pregnant, Leo orbed her into the Rim and they both half collapsed onto the ground. He had only just managed to get his hand on her before orbing and the effort of keeping contact with her during along dangerous orb from the old vampire realm had exhausted him.
Phoebe lying on the ground beside him looked around gasping for breath. "I hate this place," she said taking in the grey nothingness of the place. She put her hand on her stomach. "Its okay" she told Whosit "safe for a while. Again."
"Only a little while" Leo said slowly getting his breath back and pulling himself into sitting position.
"Do you think there is any chance it already has its own clear aura." he said.
"Even if Whosit does" Phoebe started to say angrily "I'm not going to risk it. Not until I am sure no-one could even make the slightest ..."
"Yeah I know" Leo muttered. He had heard it before.
"How long before they realise where we've gone?" Phoebe asked biting her lip and her retort.
"A little while" Leo said. "Get you breath back," he ordered his face looking grim.
"Where?" said Phoebe.
"Thinking " said Leo "I'm running out of realms and plains."
"What in the hell is Cole using to find us?" Phoebe demanded for the 100th time that week.
"Some sort of tracking device" Leo answered for the 100th time that week.
Since the fairies had less than politely asked them to leave 10 days ago, Leo and Phoebe had hidden out in more than 6 different realms and plains and four times Cole found them. But Phoebe's luck had held and Cole's had not. The first time he found them in the fairytale realm museum. He had shimmered in when she had been standing transfixed looking at Cinderella slippers. She had only been aware of him when he called her name. She spun and breathed Cole only barely stopping herself running to him.
He had stood still and said gently. "I won't hurt you."
"And Whosit" she asked.
"Not unless I have no other choice" he said quietly calmly and it was his calm voice that scared her.
"You won't get a choice " she said chin in the air, ready to protect her baby and her lover. 'I won't give you one."
"Phoebe, we have to talk," he had said making the mistake of trying to reason with her and giving Leo the time to orb in and drag her away. That was the first time they went to the vast grey nothingness of the rim, where Cole could follow but neither he nor any other magic creature could track them. In the vastness and mist Cole lost them but only because Phoebe and Leo had huddled together for hours not able to move. Sighing in relief when he left suddenly, in fact dragged away by an urgent call on the spirit winds, they had stayed for nearly an hour waiting for him to appear before moving.
Leo had finally orbed them to a parallel plain in the small western town where Bo and his sister had once so connected with Phoebe. They had 3 safe days there with Bo because whatever Cole was using must have had problems with recognising parallel plains within the same realms. However sniffer demons managed to track Leo's orbing and they were followed by four zoltars, bounty hunters. They only got out of there, because Phoebe remembered a vanquish spell that got rid of two and the other two seemed intent on taking Phoebe alive not killing her. Hiding again in the rim, Leo worried about why zoltars turned up but Phoebe was inclined to put it down to bad luck. They had a furious argument about whether she was being targeted by evil, Leo concerned they were scenting Whosit and Phoebe flatly refusing to consider it.
Leo was to nervous to try another plain again and opted for the magic realm of elves. The elves who had an early warning system of magic, any magic arriving were more than happy to offer hospitality to a good witch but Leo and Phoebe had barely been there a few hours when Cole located them. This time he was obviously not planning on giving Phoebe a chance to talk but the elves warning system had given Leo enough time to orb and once again he got Phoebe to the rim, after Cole tracked them through some time folds. Leo and Cole played orb and shimmer around the rim until Cole finally stood still near them and yelled out this was getting to be a farce and he would get them next time.
Phoebe and Leo had another huge argument about where they would go next. Leo wanting to stay in the Rim and Phoebe insisting that Cole would be back with her sisters if he could not locate them any-other way. She finally convincing Leo, that is insisted so much he gave up arguing, that the wood nymphs realm was a place that Cole would not likely want to follow them and she needed sleep.
Leo and Phoebe did get a few days rest in the wood nymphs realm, actually because Cole was distracted by a court case and Piper and Paige with a magic emergency in France and they agreed a few days one way or other would make no difference.
Phoebe's luck held and Cole's did not when he finally came after her. The Wood Nymphs last experience with Durand, another creature of demonic power beyond Good and Evil was not one that made them predisposed to assisting Cole in their realm. Wood Nymphs closely related to fairies, could be just as vague, obtuse and incommunicative and once again Leo had enough warning.
He had orbed not to the rim because he knew Cole would be there waiting but to a plain he knew existed in a time fault on a small pacific island where a witch some 150 years ago had thought she was correcting a time line lapse by stopping a demon causing a massive tidal wave. The problem was the wave was an act of fate and the Elders confronted by the choice of destroying 300 innocents to fix the timeline had used some very powerful magic. Leo suddenly wondered if it was Guardians who created the alternate plain for those people. In fact it had been Durand at his most brutish insistence it was wrong to kill 300 innocents just to correct a witch's mistake.
Leo and Phoebe got a couple of nights rest at a hotel there before the sniffers and bounty hunters located them, this time with magic very similar to nets to contain a levitating witch which they used to catch Phoebe before Leo could do anything.
But Phoebe's luck held when Cole chose that moment to arrive and faced with the need to protect Phoebe he did not hesitate to turn on the bounty hunters and smite them. As the zoltars disappeared, Leo moved to orb Phoebe but Cole just stopped him in a power field and turned toward Phoebe while she watched him with big frightened eyes.
"Phoebe" Cole sighed.
"Behind you" she said and he turned to see another wave of vanquish fodder and sniffers and Cole sighing released the power field around Leo and told him to get Phoebe out of there while he made sure none of them followed
By this stage Leo was certain, and frightened that evil was tracking Phoebe. Once again he opted not to go to the rim because he thought Cole might be waiting. He jumped a few time folds to make sure he was not followed and took Phoebe to the deserted vampire realm.
The cave was cold and miserable and smelt of evil and Phoebe was very frightened being there and because she was Phoebe did not keep it to herself. She and Leo had a less than happy discussion about the situation where he accused her of moaning and whining and always wanting her own way and she accused him of having no imagination. Leo announced how he bitterly regretted helping her and Phoebe pointed out he wasn't much help. It was only luck and Cole that had save her so far and she couldn’t depend on either of those forever.
Phoebe stopped mid sentence as a peculiar feeling stuck her and she realised she was feeling Whosit move for the first time. For a second she was thrilled and then said sadly to Leo "I've stuffed it haven't I? Leo. dammit. All I wanted was to have something of Cole to exist in the mortal world. I thought if I had a baby, his, if fate let me, if I didn't try and stop it, it would somehow make up for the last evil spawn, to Cole and maybe the world." She sideways at Leo smiling wistfully. "I've really stuffed it haven't I?"
Leo in the cold and evil smelling realm of the vampires reached over to comfort her.
"Dammit" she said finding the strength not to cry. " Dammit it Leo." She smiled softly, which he could feel more than see. "I'm beholden to you Leo, you know that. If it ever works out. Whosit and me, we're beholden to you."
Leo said gently "Thanks sweetie" and threw some orbs to add some light and reveal the demon Elisheeva and 5 sniffers.
"Gotcha chickadee" murmured the demon in a soft hissing voice that creeped the hell out of Phoebe and she was stunned by Whosit actively jumping in fear at the first contact with an upper level demon.
The demon stepped to swipe Leo against a wall and but he managed to touch Phoebe in the shoulder as he went and orb and they played orb and seek through a number of time folds with Elisheeva until Leo finally lost it and headed for the Rim...again. Not knowing where else to go.
"What do we do now?" Phoebe asked. "Cole can follow us to any realm except evil places and demons are catching us there."
"Don't know," said Leo quietly, almost in despair "Seems every realm and plain that is accessible by evil, the sniffers are on to me. And it looks like that damned Elisheeva is using me to find you and anywhere we go where evil has trouble Cole is tracking us. Go home and let Cole find out if Whosit is evil," he suggested almost hopefully.
"Leo" Phoebe said, "I'm so sorry. "I regret.."
"Regret what dear" said Francesca orbing in so close that she could have put a hand out and touched Phoebe's belly, if she was the sort of person who did that. "Regret running away with Leo, or the belly." She frowned severely at both of them, her twisted face quite intimidating "Not a good idea to go back yet " she said.
Phoebe said nervously looking at Francesca " Whosit was an accident" she declared.
"Accident" Francesca said in the best school marm voice she usually kept for Cole "And the man in the moon is made of green cheese."
"Its Cole's" Phoebe said defiantly.
'I'm sure you want to believe that dear" Francesca said.
"I’m not going to let any one hurt my baby, no matter what" Phoebe said determinedly. "Demon, mortal, human, magic, Whosit is my baby and" working herself into hysteria.
"Well that would only be a problem if it was Cole's wouldn't it" Francesca said.
"Its Cole's "Phoebe declared "who else's would it be."
"Well running away with your brother-in-law leaves some suspicion." Francesca said primly "which may be useful at some stage" she added.
"I get it" Leo said grimly
"Good" Francesca said sighing. "Okay. I take the running was because you understand Good Evil, your family, Whosit's father and his colleagues may regard this baby as very portent of evil… if it was Cole's."
"My baby is innocent, its not even born. It may be a little," Phoebe swallowed "a little demonic but my baby is innocent. Cole is more than a little demonic and he is good."
"He's not mortal dear, he's a guardian," Francesca answered.
"Arturo had children didn’t he " Phoebe said, "They must have had a little demonic nature. Not demon spirit or anything, just little demonic...nature."
"I seem to recall it was great deal more than a little," Francesca smiles "I seem to recall that witch daughter of his was a hellion, dark hair green eyes, very beautiful."
Phoebe glanced at Leo.
"No" said Leo "Don't even go there."
"And" said Francesca" working on the principal that Daddy spends half his time arguing in court, if of course Daddy is a lawyer, you're innocent until proven guilty, even when caught with the bloody weapon on your hand leaning over the body, I suppose we have to assume that Whosit is also innocent until proven otherwise."
"Will you try and remind Cole that about Whosit," Phoebe said.
Leo winced "Its not just Cole. If any other… being wanted to hurt Phoebe because of the baby or any other motive, he's not inclined to be reasonable or rational. You know, he makes no secret who he would chose if push come to shove."
"That Leo is the reason I’m going to help you, one of them anyway," Francesca sighed "sometime I think Cole needs a full time whitelighter just to protect him from his own best instincts. And to remind him of his calling" she added listening to the spirit winds.
"Follow me " Francesca told Leo. They came out in a soft peaceful place of rainbow mist light where the vision was very clear and the closing mist was safe and comforting. "This isn't the 'up there' I know " Leo said.
"We're a little higher up, in 'up there'" Francesca said. "Are you all right dear" she said concerned, as Phoebe fell on the ground throwing up?.
"Its not fair" said Phoebe "Most people don’t get to heaven and throw up on it."
"You're not in heaven dear " Francesca said "But you’re right most people don’t do that"
"My baby isn’t evil" Phoebe declared.
"Are you sure" Francesca said "or you just don’t want it to be."
"I knew from the start last time" Phoebe protested. "This time all I feel; is baby but everyone is so convinced I want this baby that I will do anything, say anything to protect it."
"Wouldn’t you dear" said Francesca." But then it’s a long way up here. Probably that's the reason and the fact that not to many living growing beings come here."
"Make yourself at home" she said as she orbed.
Francesca orbed into the attic to see Piper frantically jump in front of whatever it was she was scrying on. Cole was standing back and watching with an intensity of expression that Francesca recognised as his Phoebe hunting face. He looked at her and said "Are you here to tell me that you've located Phoebe?" he said.
"No'" Francesca replied "I'm here to tell you that you are still a guardian and there is a call on the spirit wind for you."
"I heard. I'm going " Cole answered snakily.
"Still can't find Phoebe" Francesca asked conversationally.
"No" Cole replied grumpily and glanced at Piper. "Did you?"
"There is no innocent down below according to Arturo and Therold ": Francesca answered honestly. " I don't suppose you'd care to tell me what you are using to locate her in the realms" Francesca said looking at Piper who stood legs apart defiant, not daring to say anything, a picture of guilt, which she was because she was using stolen property.
"We all have our little secrets," Cole answered.
"Well when you won't share your secrets," Francesca said, "You can't blame other people for not sharing theirs can you? Get going" she ordered as Cole looked mutinous."
He shimmered, leaving Piper to face Francesca.
"He really does understand his calling" Piper said defending him "he's just well its Phoebe."
"This is always a hard time for guardians " Francesca said "While they still have ties to the demon world and the mortal one. It is sadly something time cures. Although to be honest if I know Phoebe and I do she may find a way to change that."
Piper nodded smiling "Phoebe will get what Phoebe wants regardless" she said.
"Phoebe's lucky," Francesca answered before she orbed.
When he returned Cole wandered around the house until he finally stayed in the conservatory sitting morosely staring at the floor. His mood was jumping between fear for Phoebe, and bitter that Phoebe had put him in this position.
Piper came into the conservatory, her face a pretty good reflection of his mood.
"I tried scrying on the realm map," she said. "Not a trace."
"They're somewhere," he said.
"Are you sure they're not in the Underworld?" Piper asked.
"I can't feel anything on the spirit winds and Arturo is sure there are no innocents in the Underworld." Cole answered.
"You're sure Phoebe is still innocent Cole," Piper asked " just asking" she said.
"Leo still is, isn't he." Cole asked pointedly.
"I understand Pip, I understand why she did it," Cole said "but .."he stood up" I have this thing you see" he said slowly I’m not evil, never was, not quite. Even at my worst" as Piper looked disbelieving. "That was what so bad before, to believe I could father…a monster. I was a disappointment to my mother, she stuck with me because I was her son but I was a disappointment." He laughed "She thought I was a total screw up."
"You, screw up," said Piper in mock disbelief.
Cole smiled. "My father was a good man, maybe not a strong man, maybe a weak one. I used think of him as weak because he gave into her, he let her have everything she wanted from him." Cole sighed "Maybe I’m like him because I just give Phoebe what the wants, maybe like me he, he just loved, not as wisely as he should."
He paced the floor and then spun around "I love her Piper. I find it hard to even consider I could father that sort of evil again. Not when I love Phoebe so much. Not when she loves me so much, not when what we have is so good."
Piper nodded understanding "What are you going to do when you find her?"
"I don’t know" he said "Piper its mine. Everything I am supposed to be, everything that I, Phoebe and I went through to get me where I am and I may have to destroy it and destroy her and destroy me and maybe fight Guardians whose business it is and I didn’t even get a choice, a say."
Piper smiled:" You know what Phoebe would answer to that."
Cole sighed "Yeah, if she’d asked I’d have said no, so she didn’t ask. You know I was getting very proud of myself being able to say 'No' to her when she demanded and still not have any backfires, still be together and she just …. She’s just a manipulative little b.."
"She’s Phoebe" Piper said "You should have fallen in love with some-one else if you didn’t want to be dragged over hot coal’s, through barb wire and have your guts turned inside out on regular basis."
"So I’ve been told," Cole said "I don’t know what I’m going to do Pip. I got to make my choices and a lot of people waited a long time for me to do it. Does she think I wouldn't do it for my own child."
"You have no idea how strong the call is for a mother to protect a child Cole" Piper said.
"Don't I" he said, " I grew up the recipient of that protection."
"And if it turns out everything is okay" Piper asked. "What are you going to do?"
"Wring her neck" Cole answered.
"Line up " said Piper ‘But I think it is .. not good to kill her. For just well being Phoebe."
"Can I yell at her " Cole asked " a lot, big time, really nasty."
"Line up " said Piper.
"I promise myself I’ll yell at her " Cole said "if everything's all right, but I know she'll look at me with big eyes and somehow or other it will be my fault, and all I’ll end up doing is holding her and promise her I'll be good. I know" he shrugged, seeing Piper's expression "Its all you can do with her isn't it " he said " you can't kill her so you have to love her."
"I can still yell at her " Piper said. "and if it is all right what then? "
Cole laughed "I’d bet eternity on Phoebe not having given one consideration to that. Can we cope with another kid?" he said "Still have the Charmed Ones to think about."
"And" said Piper "there's the kid to think about."
"What did you mean?" Cole asked confused.
"Well could you trust Phoebe full time raising a kid or even you. I mean it would never know what a regular bedtime or bath schedule meant and the first solids will probably be fries when its ten, if Phoebe did not forget to wean it altogether."
Cole laughed and he caught Piper in a quite spontaneous hug. They did not hear the doorbell ring, and it was only when Paige coughed behind them that they pulled apart to see her there with Phoebe's boss Elise standing behind her.
"I came to check on Phoebe" Elise said, her eyes bulging.
"Phoebe's visiting relatives" Cole said quickly.
"My husband took her," said Piper "Cole was busy."
"So I see," said Elise.