A Matter of Relativity
Part 1: Home is where the Heart is
"They do not love that do
not show their love"
Cole and Paige arrived back at the Manor in the early afternoon, both relieved the whole experience was over for different reasons. Piper’s car was missing but Phoebe’s was there. Paige went in while Cole carried bags up. He always did things like that. When Piper had asked why demons did all those manners things, he grinned and said, "All the better to tempt you to evil with my dear."
Paige yelled out "Phoebe."
Phoebe answered" Attic" and Paige ran upstairs. Cole followed and dumped Paige’s bags on her bed and then went into his and Phoebe’s room. He dumped his bag and suit bag on the chair in the corner. The suit bag fell on the floor and the bag fell open spilling things over the floor.
Cole glanced around at the immaculately clean bedroom and when he went into ensuite all the ceramic sparkled. Phoebe must have been filling in the time alone by scrubbing everything in sight. Cole was not entirely sure he appreciated Phoebe used scrubbing toilets as a substitute for his presence.
"Do you have to throw everything on the floor?" Phoebe muttered from the bedroom door as he came out of the bathroom.
"No" he answered deliberately walking over to her and lifting her while she flung her arms around him.
"Can’t you shut the door when you do that?" Paige demanded from the landing.
Phoebe put her foot back and kicked the door shut as hard as she could, taking another kiss as deep as she could get.
After a while she murmured into Cole's neck "Very nice, what do I get if you’re away for more than one night."
"Hello" he muttered and then yelled ouch as she bit into his ear.
He sat on the bed then lay down taking her with him, locking a leg over her to make sure she couldn’t move away. Pulling her face in his, he breathed slowly "Hello."
"Hello" she said against his lips.
He rolled over with her under him taking wrestling her still while she wriggled then taking what he wanted. He finally moved enough to let her up. She half moved away then fell back and kissed him again.
"You taste nice" he said almost seductive" peppermint" he sighed.
" Spearmint" she laughed and stood up turning to once again noticed the half spilled bag and suit bag on the floor. " Do you have to throw everything on the floor?" she asked.
"No" he said sitting up to watch her unpack his bag, throw clothes in the laundry basket and hang up his suit.
"How did it go?" Phoebe asked from his closet "This suit needs dry cleaning, so do these" she said with two more hangers of clothes in her hand. "You could save a fortune if you hung them up."
"I earn it, I spend it," he said "It was interesting but don’t ever complain about demon rituals to me because I can tell you they ain’t got nothing on mortal ones."
"You’ve been to a wedding before" Phoebe sounded surprised.
"Leo and Piper’s was hardly typical and I could not really …..It wasn’t me at ours" he pointed out "and..it was torture."
"I know that is the thing about weddings, Phoebe laughed "all emotional and families bitching. You should have been at Grams fifth."
"Thanks but no thanks" Cole said and told her about Paige’s mother’s family giving her a hard time about her father.
"Games in every family" Phoebe said. She half brushed off his suits and then noticed the pile of jeans two shirts, sweater and tee shirt that he had thrown in the corner of his closet last week when she bitched about him throwing things on her floor.
"Cole" she said turning to glare at him.
"Phoebe " he mimicked and watched as she picked the clothes up to throw them in the laundry basket, stopping only to go through his jeans' pockets.
"Hmm" she said pulling out the keys to his briefcase that he swore black and blue he had put on the kitchen bench on Wednesday and caused an awful ruckus when he blamed Piper for throwing them out with garbage.
"Oops" he said.
"Hmm" she said in a different voice pulling a fifty dollar note out of the jeans' back pocket and a ten and a twenty from one of the shirts.
"Mine" he said holding his hand out.
"Finders keepers" Phoebe said walking over to her purse and putting the money in it.
"You know I love this room," he told her. When she looked at him quizzically, he smiled "It's got happy memories and I plan on having a happy future in it" he explained as Phoebe came to him.
She stood in front of him putting her hands on the back of his head. " If you love it so much, why don’t you keep it tidy" Phoebe asked.
‘That’s what I keep you for" he answered and got his lip bitten for his trouble.
A minute or so later they were interrupted by a gurgle, thump, bang, thump gurgle thwack gurgle, gurgle noise from somewhere in the wall.
"I don’t love that," Cole said.
About 4 months ago the plumbing seemed to have taken a turn for the worse and it developed into a very loud noise that happened at all hours and without warning, only in Piper and Leo's room it was more gurgle bang thump bang gurgle and in the kitchen it sounded gurgle bang bang bang gurgle. Leo had spent hours and they had spent a fortune on plumbers to no avail. Piper sarcastically told Cole to use magic to fix it when he complained about the bills and the noise and just as sarcastically he said that he had to know what was wrong to fix it and as he was not a plumber he could not. Piper stalked off for which he was very grateful because he got out of telling her that the thwack gurgle gurgle noise on the end which appeared about two months ago was when he had in a fit of exasperation tried using magic to fix it.
" Want to make love?" Cole asked Phoebe hopefully.
"Yes" she said "but I promised Piper I would take Melinda down the park when she wakes up" Phoebe sighed "She’ll be awake soon."
Cole nodded regretfully.
"Got time for a quick fuck" Phoebe said.
"That or nothing?" he asked.
Phoebe nodded happily as he put his hands on the edge of her hipster pants and pulled them down.
Cole arrived at the law offices of his firm Jackman, Carter and Kline a little before nine. He was greeted by Erin one the receptionists, a pretty blond girl who was also one of Carter’s girlfriends. Half of the administrative staff at the firm were "friends" of some sort of various partners and senior lawyers. The other half were very efficient professionals who managed to keep the firm running as productively as it did.
He walked up the corridor to his office. The door was locked and the lights were off. He sighed as he swiped his card on the door lock, now nostalgic for the days when no matter what time he came in Francesca Rinaldi was there ahead of him, with all the things he needed for meetings, his schedules and files for client meetings all ready.
These days he came into a dark office, he kept his own diary and made notes in is own files. He did have an assistant. Not because she was any use but the partners felt it gave a better impression of their firm if all partners even junior ones had an efficient or failing that attractive assistant. As Cole was not sufficiently in anyone’s good graces at the firm he got very little input into his new assistant when Francesca had left. Francesca had truthfully told the firm she was leaving the firm due to the pressure of other commitments. As her abilities had been highly appreciated, not the least of those abilities being that she could manage Cole, he had to bear quite an amount of comment and questions about what he done to force her to leave. And no amount of denials was really believed. The partners were convinced he had done something to make her leave which to a certain extent was true. He committed himself reluctantly to his destiny and calling as guardian of the realm.
Worse he had been stuck with Arlene. Arlene was the sometimes girlfriend of the partner Henry Kline. She was a tall very attractive but in Cole’s view very hard very blond woman in her middle thirties who had done very well for herself in the legal profession without being a qualified lawyer. Her relationship with Henry Kline was not exclusive and she had taken one look at Cole and decided she was on a good thing. She had also heard of his erratic and apparently on off relationship with his ex wife and decided that too was a good thing. All in all support from Kline and interesting relationship with her new boss had seemed a good idea.
She did not handle rejection well. Arlene and Cole’s relationship had gone from frozen politeness to cordial dislike to not a trace of cordiality. She was late, deliberately misunderstood requests, complained non stop about Cole to her lover Kline, could not be trusted with any private information Cole had about his dealing with clients, reported his time keeping and his visitors to his bosses and generally tried to make his life impossible.
Francesca when she regularly orbed into the manor was not overly sympathetic. Cole was aware that Francesca’s visits were in the nature of keeping the same sort of eye on him as a guardian that she had kept as lawyer.
"So sad you have to keep your own diary. Very hard on a smart lawyer and guardian." she said. " But it doesn’t justify strangling her or even fireballing her."
Cole turned his nose up and scowled and she relented" Leave Cole" she said. "That firm isn’t evil but its..values are not good. If you can’t do good there leave."
"I’m thinking of it" he answered honestly. "But to live as a mortal, I need to work, or steal."
"You're good at what you do." Francesca answered primly "Work some where else."
But he was still dealing with the case of the 19 year old prostitute Jenny at the time and he had been caught up in several other pro bono cases that he needed the resources and the prestige of the firm. And he had had to trade off some of his connections in the DA office to deal with a very complex fraud case in order to get the firm to take on a long complicated case against a state government department on behalf of a group of mildly disabled people who were being denied access to state resources on the grounds they weren’t disabled enough to get help. That one was very expensive as the government department took every loss to a higher court. Although as the representations in the higher courts became more spectacular the partners who were getting a great deal of work out of the prestige were taking a far more detailed interest, but all they ever pointed out to Cole was the cost
"I will leave when its no longer worth it to me" he said but between Arlene andthe partners attitude he was getting close and if he could find a way to finance some of the special work he did he would. He thought of trying to work for legal aid but after speaking there he realised he was going to have more problems getting them to pay for cases than the firm he worked. Very ironic once again as powerful as he was he was stuck with using a bad firm because he needed financing funding and resources to help those who really needed his help. Because to really help them, being a good lawyer was more useful than the occasional shortcut with magic.
The situation was made even worse for Cole when the partner’s happily announced that they had scored a contract with one of the largest real estate broker’s in San Francisco. Phoebe’s father Victor Bennet worked as a senior sales executive at Compton’s and had a few months ago remarried another executive Margaret, a petit and determined dark haired woman in he late 40's. She was actively suspicious of Victor’s grown daughters although she appeared to be very fond of Paige, to Piper and Phoebe’s consternation.
Margaret was downright distrustful of the daughter’s partners. Cole thought at first he could not be so unlucky as to run into in-laws at work, but sure enough the first person he saw at the welcoming drinks session was Margaret and the third was Victor. He said hello but more prestigious staff wanted access so he moved on. About half an hour later he was talking to a fairly influential client, and a senior lawyer and wishing he was home, when his demon hearing tuned in one Margaret and another senior lawyer of the firm. The lawyer asked Margaret how she knew Cole and Margaret whispered that he lived with her husband's daughters. Cole's living arrangements had been the source of some gossip in the firm and the lawyer asked slyly, "Daughter or daughter's".
Margaret laughed nastily "You know I often wonder what goes on between the five of them in that house."
Cole unfortunately was mid swallow of some mineral water as he heard it. He choked and spat mineral water over the senior lawyer and the client and couldn't explain why he choked. Something else the firm could add to his list of sins.
Phoebe had at first not been very sympathetic about his complaints of Arlene until she had one day gone into his office to drop off some newspaper cuttings she had used her most persuasive smile to the library assistance at the newspaper to get for him. Phoebe that day had had enough of being the in control career girl probably because Elise her boss had been giving her long lectures about image. She was wearing one of her favourite skirts, silk with a chiffon outer in contrasting colours of reds, purple and yellows and a purple short sleeve low necked sweater with a kitten monogram. Her hair was loose and she had minimal makeup, she looked young and she as she said Cole’s name to Arlene her eyes took on the soft glow that they often did when she was with him.
Arlene looking up in the girl/woman who was the source of so much gossip in the firm, took in the streaky blond hair, the clothes, the big, big brown eyes, the very bright red nails, the tattoos on her wrist and was not impressed. This was not the type of girl who made men go crazy, sent them into erratic spins and unpredictable behaviour. There was something about looking into the eyes of a girl whose ability to attract and keep a man was legendary in the firm that caused Arlene to take an active dislike on Phoebe on sight. And vice versa.
"Leave them on my desk" Arlene ordered, "He’s at a meeting."
"I’ll put them on his desk" Phoebe said.
"Its off limits" Arlene replied.
"Not to me" Phoebe said firmly.
"Perhaps you misunderstood me," Arlene said standing.
"No" said Phoebe smiling innocently "I did not misunderstand you one damn bit" and she stalked into Cole’s office. She dumped the news cutting on his desk, pulled the yellow legal pad he had left there over and wrote a note, saying here was what he wanted and in large print that she loved him and that new secretary is a bitch, underlined it three times and noticed Arlene standing in the doorway glaring at her.
Phoebe walked around Cole's desk, stuck her hand to the back of the CD rack until she found the keys to his top draw, opened it and rifled through it until she locate Cole’s spare car keys. She deliberately removed them, locked the draw and put the key back behind the CD’s. As she walked past Arlene, she dangled the car keys in her face.
"My car’s in the garage" she said "Nothing about Cole is off limits to me" Phoebe added sweetly.
Cole sighed when Phoebe rang him to say he would have to collect his car from her workplace but pressed his lips together in annoyance when Phoebe told him about the note because it was missing when he found the file with the cuttings.
He was sitting at his desk after a particularly difficulty meeting with the government officials when he became very aware of the sudden movement of the spirit winds in his vicinity and jumped up to see the demon guardian Arturo in the outer office, dressed in very expensive casual clothes and to Cole’s amusement, charming the panties of Arlene.
He stood at is office door and watched Arturo flatter the woman a sardonic expression.
"I wasn’t expecting to see you" Cole said.
"Merely passing my boy" Arturo told him. Cole sometime wondered if Arturo and Francesca took notes on how to irritate him into behaving like a brat, Arturo smiling at Arlene walked into Cole’s office and to his annoyance sat on Cole’s usual place on the edge of his desk.
"Nothing is wrong Arturo" Cole asked "I felt nothing" Living with the constant feeling of the good and evil moving and the spirit winds in his head sometimes made Cole want to scream to shut it out.
"No" Arturo "merely passing as I said."
Cole looked at him.
"I felt a disturbance with a demonic ah intervention in some political events in Africa. Then the disturbance disappeared. Was that you?" Arturo asked.
‘I thought my business was my business "Cole said.
"It is" Arturo replied" curiosity more than anything."
"It was me," Cole answered.
"Useful calling you have" Arturo commented.
"I’m glad you think so," Cole said straight faced.
Arturo acknowledged the comment with small smile.
"This is not a good place to talk" Cole indicating the outer office.
"Somewhere else?" Arturo suggested.
They left the building, with Arleen openly staring at Arturo as they walked out To Cole’s not concealed annoyance and Arturo’s amusement.
There was a bar in the building opposite. They walked over. Arturo ordered brandy and without asking ordered another for Cole.
Cole looked at it and said, "That stuff effects me, at least it does if I live mortal."
"I envy you Belthezor" Arturo said," All I can do is taste it."
"Why are you here?" Cole asked again. "Checking up on me."
"More or less" Arturo answered.
"Its not necessary" Cole muttered.
"My decision" Arturo answered "but not everything we do is necessary" He met Cole’s expression. "In the end we're all we have. A family as such, only we look outward not inward."
"I can hardly wait to meetmy "new" family" Cole sighed "Seeing the old one I have is such a pleasure."
"I assure you" Arturo drawled, "Durand is no pleasure."
Cole laughed, "Is he as bad as Francesca makes out?"
"No" Arturo answered dryly" He’s worse. Hear many stories about the demon ogre Fhila?"
Cole nodded. All demon children heard stories of the most legendary demon monster, as a role model of evil.
"Fhila was a pussy cat compared to Durand" Arturo answered.
Cole laughed, "If he is so bad why did he turn?"
"He knows the difference between right and wrong" Arturo answered "he knows very little else but he does know the difference between right and wrong. If you ever have any doubts listen to him, hard as it is" Arturo shook his head "sometimes I think his only other purpose is to remind us to resist the temptation to judge and destroy. He tempts us."
"How is your family" Arturo asked interested. To both Cole and Leo’s disgust the two times Arturo had been to the manor in the last months, the girls had behaved like teenagers with a crush. They fell on his every word, were just about panting as they looked at him, and absolutely nothing was to much trouble. Not even Piper was immune.
"He’s so sweet" Paige sighed
"You have to admire a legend who know show to be a legend" Piper added her eyes bright.
"He’s such a romantic hero" Phoebe added, her eyes almost teary "like …like Abelard or.. or Casanova."
Leo gagged "Abelard was castrated and Casanova died of syphilis" he said.
"Oh shut up Leo" Paige snarled. "You too Cole" although he had not got around to saying anything" What do you two know of real romance?"
Cole who noticed both Phoebe and Piper nodding in agreement opened his mouth to snap and answer.
"Shut up Cole" Leo ordered. Cole looked at him. " Shut up" Leo sighed "There's no way you can win, you can only make it worse."
Cole shook his head as all three girl stuck their nose in the air and marched off.
"I think Arturo’s sweet" Paige said getting in the last word" and romantic" Piper and Phoebe nodded.
"How’s my family" Cole answered Arturo "Good. Irritating."
"Enjoy them while you can" Arturo advised.
"I will" Cole said.
"And your little witch?" Arturo asked.
"Phoebe good , happy" Cole answered.
"Make sure you keep her that way" Arturo said as Cole resisted the temptation to make some comment about being given orders. "She made some difficult choices to be with you and at some great cost. Make it worth her while."
"We argue a lot." Cole said almost as a confession.
Arturo laughed, "I never stopped arguing with Marie Jeanne." he sighed in memory and almost glanced to his side. "She had a temper, she was a .. she was passionate in all parts of her life."
"You had children didn’t you?" Cole said.
"Two" Arturo replied "a son and daughter."
"What happened to them? "Cole asked.
"My son was killed protecting a town from invaders when he was 23" Arturo answered a thousand years on and still hurting. "He left no heirs. At least none he was prepared to tell me about" Arturo noted wryly "my daughter was a witch, she had three children, one girl but I thought after a time, it was better, more natural if I lost contact. Who knows" Arturo said "Somewhere there may be witches descended from a demon."
"Hmm" said Cole thoughtfully "that could explain a lot about Piper and Prue, Phoebe’s sister who died." Then he stopped " I don’t think I want to go there." he said.
Arturo smiled wryly.
"What did they, your children, inherit from the .. from you?" Cole asked quite transparent in where he was going.
"More common sense than their mother had" Arturo answered "at least I thought so until Eduardo died, got himself killed. There was a …some demonic tendencies in their nature, or maybe they just inherited Marie Jeanne’s temper. But" Arturo added " I was more or less mortal when they were born. They always try to get rid of the demon, the void in me found the powers later. You aren’t mortal" he said to Cole who swallowed. "You are a spirit being who exists in mortal form because of demonic powers. The consequences of um…reproduction could be unfortunate."
"Could or would?" Cole asked.
"I have no idea" Arturo said" there would almost certainly be demon inheritance, of some nature, but that doesn’t not mean a demon, but if it was demon then what are the possibilities. It can’t exist outside the Greta Plan. It can only exist as a guardian or as evil. Is that what you want? Would you be prepared to ensure your own child did not exit outside the Great Plan or stand back and let me … ensure such a thing."
Cole swallowed again "Better not to find out" he said quietly.
"Have you discussed it with your little witch?" Arturo asked
"Its not a subject we can talk about easily" Cole answered "in the circumstances. Has it ever been a problem for others of .. like… guardians?"
"Not" Arturo said "that I am aware. Even after all this time, life has some challenges. There are other ways, you know."
Cole smiled "I know and then stopped as he felt the movement in the spirit wind "What was that?" he asked.
"A call for one of us" Arturo said" or Durand is in Canada bear hunting, closer to the pair of us than is wise."
"Durand hunts bears" Cole asked shocked.
"Hunt’s not kills" answered Arturo "Durand is disgusting not evil" He nodded "The call is for me. I have business elsewhere. Be well" he said in the demonic salute. "I am gone"
Arturo walked from the bar to the Cole's amusement leaving him with the bill.