A Matter of Relativity
Part 3: The impossible takes a little longer
"They do not love that do
not show their love"
Part 3 of 4 Parts
WHERE WILL THE DIMPLE BE ?
On the baby's knuckle, on the baby's knee Where will the baby's dimple be? Baby's cheek or baby's chin Seems to me it'll be a sin If it's always covered by the safety-pin Where will the dimple be ?
Every night we stay at home, my love and me alone Making wishes over dishes in the sink Will our bundle full of joy be a darling girl or boy? Will the booties be a baby blue or pink?
Now I wake up every night with such an appetite Eat a chocolate pie, topped off with sauerkraut Then I put some records on, munch on crackers until dawn And just sit around all night and try to guess CHORUS
(Bob Merrill / Al Hoffman)1955
Phoebe walked away from the unconscious body of the witch, her face blank of emotion and shook her head. She put her hand to the collar on her neck, with the three Medusa pendants hanging on it. It felt tight and heavy and evil. She took a breath, air real air from the mortal realm, sweet to her lungs after the heavy putrid air of the underworld.
"It will be kept on an altar, hidden probably " she said looking around " or should be at least, some witches aren't as careful as others" she added cynically.
"Witches have no true spirituality Chickadee, " said the demon Elisheeva, breathily, from behind her, materialising in mortal form of Elisabeth.
Phoebe grimanced "Depends on what you call spirituality" she answered "no don't " she ordered the demon as Elisabeth raised her hand to fireball the witch.
"Its just a good witch" said Elisabeth with a laugh that was evil. "Not having second thoughts about our ahh alliance are we Chickadee?"
"I am not risking my sisters summoning me over a dead witch " Phoebe said through her teeth. "I am not risking my baby being drowned in evil winds, for you, for my sisters, for Cole, for the god damned throne of the Underworld. " The demon hesitated " I mean it Elisabeth. Mamma, Elisheeva" she said. "Its the witch or the book. "unless of course " she smiled slyly " You want to remove this damned collar and just..trust me."
"Not quite yet Chickadee" Elisabeth smiled, blue eyes bright and amused behind the peek a boo blond hair.
"Pity " said Phoebe. She walked round the room feeling panels and corners "here it is " she said and murmured her spell and for good measure added "Open sesame " as a panel moved and the witches altar with her Book of Shadows was revealed.
Phoebe walked into the altar and picked up the Book and the largest of the ritual knives. She turned and smiled at Elisheeva. "Ready."
The demon walked to her and put her hand on Phoebe's shoulder. "And don't think about the witch" Phoebe said putting the athame against Elisabeth. "I'm evil, these things work for me now." she said.
"Oh" said Elisheeva" are you certain?"
"I'm learning" Phoebe answered "I have a good teacher.. Mamma" she added "But if you don't believe me, you can always tempt me to try using the athame and we'll both know."
"Kill me and you and Quillon die on the winds of evil Chickadee" said Elisheeva calmly.
"I can do a lot of damage without killing you " Phoebe said.
"I'm starting to understand what my son sees in you Chickadee" Elisheeva said "you're a lot like me " and she shimmered with Phoebe.
The whitelighter Caleb orbed into that attic. Caleb was a tall thin man who had once been a doctor. He had accepted his assignment as whitelighter to the Charmed Ones reluctantly but he understood his duty and sincerely did his best to impart the wisdom of the Elders and encourage Paige and Piper to accept it. Piper was on her best behaviour with Caleb and Paige told Cole that frightened her more than anything. Leo made a point of leaving whenever Caleb appeared.
Caleb's concern that Phoebe was missing, believed to be in the underworld with the demon Elisheeva, was evident in everything he said. Caleb having heard the rumours in the upper regions that one of the Charmed Ones had seduced her whitelighter and brother in law and got herself pregnant was convinced that embracing complete evil was the natural progression.
He only had to read Phoebe's history to sorrowfully understand she had once again given into the temptation of evil. He was not however in agreement with Paige and Piper's belief that she had been driven evil, that she could be saved. In fact he was quite puzzled as to why they would believe this.
He looked at the girls and shook his head. "I'm afraid your sister has struck again, " he said. "Another Book of Shadows stolen from a witch in England. An old one. From a witch whose family's spells to remove evil spirits and souls from dwellings are legendary." Caleb shook his head "I think" he said gravely "that we need to come to some understanding that your sister is not just evil, she is becoming dangerous to the side of good and something had to be done about her."
Cole was sitting in the background. Caleb was not thrilled that Phoebe's mortal partner was present during his discussions but Cole simply refused to leave and Piper refused to ask him, all very polite. Caleb had to use all his powers of restraint to deal with some-one who was not only a mortal but a cuckold who was besotted by his witch he could not accept the evidence she had become evil. This was not Caleb's first experience of mortals who did not understand the complexity of the battle between good and evil, and occasionally despite his calling sometimes he found it hard to be patient with nativity, especially when the mortal was so naively blind, he did not notice his witch tuning evil under his nose, as she committed the heinous crime of seducing a whitelighter.
Caleb glanced at the sisters " Do you realise that those witches are only alive because your sister is obsessive about her child."
"Perhaps they are still alive because she isn't evil and was doing her best to protect them" Cole said.
"Cole she's been over taken by evil" Piper said in a dull flat voice because she had been saying this ad nausem for nearly three weeks. "And we have to find a way to rescue her. Before she kills a good being."
"She's gone evil Cole" Paige said "and you damn well know why that is certain" she added daring him to argue in front of Caleb.
Cole's expression told her very clearly that the argument would be continued when Caleb left.
Caleb pressed his lips together severely "Your sister according to the witches was hysterical about the baby, saying she knew you needed the Power of Three to get her and that could not happen but she was terrified of being summoned and the child being destroyed. She begged the demon to take her back to the Underworld, somewhere she was safe from being summoned, someplace she could be evil without good finding her."
"The Elders see her words as a threat "Caleb said before he orbed a way. "You already tried to summon her and she let evil interfere and stop it. She was just threatening you if you tried it again."
"A threat or a message" Piper said.
"I say we summon her and kill the brat " Paige insisted "I say that is what she is telling us."
"Shut up Cole " said Piper almost automatically because this argument had been going on in the Manor at various levels of intensity. For three weeks.
"Phoebe isn't evil. My child isn't evil and if you try and do anything that risks either of them you will find out just how powerful I am," Cole said between his teeth.
"We're not going to do anything that risks Phoebe, or even Whosit until we are certain what is happening" said Leo.
"We are certain" Paige said "That spawn Phoebe is carrying sent her evil and if we don't get it from her she's going to get Mark killed."
"We're not going to do anything that risks Phoebe or Whosit period" said Cole in a soft deadly cold voice. "And I will find her and find out " he said.
"What about Mark?" demanded Paige, hands on hips and stamping her foot.
"Or Mark" said Piper, sighing in an exasperated tone.
"You've tried to get down there" Leo told Cole in the patient tone of someone close to their limits.
"And you can't" added Piper. "Its impossible for you to break through the Spirit winds."
"Then I'll try harder, " Cole answered calmly.
Pipe glanced at Leo and he shook his head sighing.
Cole shimmered back into the hall of the manor not entirely surprised to see Francesca and Arturo in the parlour talking to Paige and Leo and Piper. He swallowed a little nervously before he walked into the room with a false friendly smile.
He was greeted by an expression of annoyance on Francesca's face, something very close to demonic rage on Arturo's and bitterness and anger on Paige and Piper's faces. Only Leo looked remotely sympathetic as they all turned toward him.
Cole was battered, his face was raw as if he had been through a desert sandstorm without any protection, his clothes were ripped and rented and the shirt and jacket was no longer effectively clothing. His hair was standing on end.
"And what good did that that do?" Piper roared at him: "Look at you, you look like you have battled a tornado single-handed."
Cole smiled but it did not reach his eyes, "Just about" he said and glanced nervously at Arturo "I had to try again." he said almost desperately.
Arturo sucked his lips and then said quietly " I thought we had already agreed that the Underworld is off limits to you," he said and his voice was lethal.
"Phoebe wasn't in it when I agreed to that" Cole replied.
"Its off limits " Arturo said his voice even quieter. "Next time, and you realise you've only been given a certain leeway because I can understand why you are doing this, I'll deal with it and you " he said "I'm warning you Belthezor because I would not wish on you what you are going through, but its not our way to threaten, I do not threaten. You understand me clearly."
"Then get down there and find her," Cole almost begged.
"I find no trace of a good witch or an innocent down there:" Arturo said softly "you know as well as I do that there is nothing on the spirit winds. The only disturbance on the winds is you, Belthezor " he added quietly "Therold searches. If there is a good being, an innocent held down their and evil has found a way to mask it, we want to know, but he has to search each nook and cranny. There is no sense of innocence down there."
"Then you get me down there and I'll feel her," Cole begged him.
Arturo looked him almost with compassion "Its not me keeping you from going, I couldn't take you any more than you can get there. The underworld is not the business of the Guardian Belthezor " He said " it is not in the Great Plan for Belthezor to be there. And I must arbitrate the Great Plan " he said in a voice so cold that Piper said "oh" and Paige took a quick in take of breath.
Cole looked around at the faces near him. "Then what the hell is the use of all this power" Cole roared at him "if the only reason I have to exist is caught down there, suffering in hell, just because she…she just remains true to herself. Because she is goddamn well Phoebe… When she is….. I love her" he said helplessly "and I'll I swear to god I'll find a way to get to her."
Arturo shook his head before he shimmered away while Paige and Piper and Leo exchanged concerned and uncomfortable glances.
"Phoebe isn't the only reason you exist and you know it " Francesca told Cole firmly.
"She's the only reason I want to exist" Col spat out his eyes bright and damp. "I'll get her back. I swear to god I will get her back." He repeated intensely.
"She's evil Cole " Paige said he voice shaking. "Whatever she's carrying is evil and it has made her evil."
He started to shake his head and said "I don't believe that, I know that isn't true."
"You don't want it to be true " Piper said. " Do you know how lucky it no-one, no witch has been killed because of Phoebe."
"Phoebe's lucky," Cole said " and I still don't believe it."
"Even with the bloody knife in her hand?" Leo asked.
"I've defended people caught with the bloody knife in their hands who weren't guilty," Cole snapped. " And as a demon I've set innocents up to take the fall for my… sins."
He barely registered the concern on the faces around him. "Excuse me, " he said, not ready to continue arguing, not ready to give up "I guess I better go and…" He turned away. "Damn you" he said.
He stalked up the stairs to his and Phoebe's bedroom. He stood in the middle of the room and pulled his shirt and jacket off and threw them on the floor. That was not satisfying enough and looked up and saw himself in Phoebe's dresser mirror and picked up a book that he had left on the bedside for the three weeks that Phoebe had been missing and threw it at the mirror which shattered.
"That may explain why you're not lucky," Francesca said from the door.
"She's not evil" Cole said, " and neither is the ba.. Whosit". I'd know Franc..Mrs Rinaldi. I'd feel it." he added. "And she's down there in hell, scared witless and I can't get to her."
"Your family just think you want her, and the baby, not to be evil," Francesca said quietly.
"They don't understand the powers I have," Cole said quietly, then he laughed mirthlessly "I make sure they don't understand it." He shook his head "Phoebe will be trusting me to get her out of there and I'm not going to fail her."
"If she is evil" Francesca said quietly "again, she's where she and the baby ought to be, she's with evil and as long as she stays with evil, and there is no evidence that the child is an evil beyond the Great Plan she's just another lost innocent, a sad case to remind us that no-one is safe from the persuasion of evil. No-one is so innocent that they can't be lost."
"You care about Phoebe" he said angry "and you can wipe her off like that."
"I care about Phoebe because you love her " Francesca said "I would care about her even if you did not. I like her " Francesca smiled.
"I've heard enough of Phoebe's going evil, I made her evil, the child, my child made her evil " Cole declared passionately. "I crossed, you know what I did to be with Phoebe, because I loved her because she was good and still managed to be" and he smiled softly "…Phoebe. I couldn't believe that is her fate. I know its not." he said.
"I didn't come up to tell you to accept Phoebe is evil" Francesca said " Innocent until proven guilty, still is I assume the rule." she said wryly "We need to find out for certain, not just for Phoebe's sake" she said "but for good and evil and your child" she added. "If evil has found a way to steal innocents…that is not in the Great Plan."
"I've been trying" Cole said "I've been trying, I can't get to her."
"Stop thinking with your heart and start thinking wit your head" Francesca told him bluntly "There's no place for the guardian Belthezor. Perhaps Cole can find a way." Francesca said and she orbed.
He thought long and hard while showering. He heard Piper and Leo go into their room and Paige go upstairs to spend another restless night flipping through the Book of Shadows. Cole lay awake thinking and planning and it was only a few hours later that he was suddenly hit by an overwhelming fear for Phoebe and Whosit.
He sat up and ran up the stairs to the attic and swallowed as he saw the circle of candles and caught the last line of the 'Summon a Witch' spell. He swiped his hand and the candles went out and the Book of Shadows moved off the stand. The force he used was so hard that Paige went flying backwards across the floor. She lay there her eyes reflecting anger and fear.
"It isn't a choice for me, Paige, who I'll protect and you know it." he said his voice as cold as any demon guardian.
"She wants us to do it, to call her, to kill the evil. " Paige hissed.
Piper and Leo came flying to the door, eying Paige on the floor as Cole stood over her. "What did you do?" Piper demanded.
"Me or her" Cole asked his eyes brilliant and both Piper and Leo shuddered because they had never seen the Guardian before. " I stopped her killing Phoebe" he said "I also stopped her crossing the line. " he added as the brilliance left his eyes. "I felt Phoebe in danger Paige, because I'm connected to her" he said gently "but I knew where the danger was from the spirit winds."
He put his hand out to Paige as she huddled on the floor. She hesitated for what seemed an eternity and then slowly took it and let him pull her to her feet. "Sweetheart you nearly crossed the line." He said gently." I understand what it is to want to protect some-one you care about..at any cost" he said "But Mark is a good man. Do you think he would want to be protected at that cost?"
Paige's lip trembled and Piper pushed past Cole to put her arms around her.
"Whatever we need to find her " Piper said looking at Leo and Cole " and stop the evil and rescue our sister from evil" and she looked at Paige "and us from temptation. Only I don't know how."
"Phoebe does, and we need to find out for every-one's sake" Cole said meeting Paige's eyes" And I think I know how to get to her and find out."
"Cole what's the point" said Piper "If other guardian's can't find her, down there how can you."
"I won't be looking for an innocent or a good witch " he said.
"What do you mean? " asked Paige.
"I'll be looking for Phoebe," he explained.
"You're not going down there" Piper insisted " You're not even going to try again, you're not risking Arturo after you. No Cole" she said as he tried to speak. "You're not risking your destiny and the universe for my sister."
"Well the universe got me because of her" Cole said slowly. "So I think it owes her. I've been thinking, " he said and smiled when Piper regretfully resisted the temptation to say the obvious "It's the guardian Belthezor who can't get through. Evil gets through all the time. Demons and warlocks. Its the sum of my powers that the Spirit Winds recognise. Without the powers I think I could get through and find Phoebe."
"What d you mean?" Leo said already knowing the answer.
"Strip the powers" said Cole "all but a couple. I need the spite power for empathy, to sense her and the ability to materialise, to maintain a mortal form but neither of those are really demonic so if I can dump the rest them then it isn't a guardian going through, just a minor demonic presence and I can find her."
The other three stared at him.
"Do you want to be told how stupid an idea that is? " Piper said "How damned crazy that is?"
"Not particularly " Cole answered.
"Firstly how the hell do we make a power stripping potion that selectively strips powers" Piper said continuing regardless.
"Because this time you have me to tell you how to do it and " he said "and you've had quite a bit if experience making them in the last few years." he added with something like an evil leer.
"Secondly" said Piper still determined to continue "If you can't shimmer how are you going to get down there?"
"Blink " Cole said.
"You can't blink, " said Paige awkwardly but determined to be involved.
"I only have to get in the way of a vanquished warlock powers and I can absorb it:" Cole said "Bound to be some warlock somewhere trying to do something that requires it to be vanquished. I do have a bit of a problem. Acquiring new powers make me ah tempted to evil, but I can resist it these days so."
"But you can't get her out of there blinking" Piper said.
"If I can get to her. We can see what I can do" Cole said. "I can't get near her shimmering or I can find out where she is and get Arturo to collect her."
"What happens to your powers?" Leo asked " You remember what happened when Paige pulled them out of you and the demon of fear picked them up."
"No I forgot that" Cole said resorting to sarcasm because he was tired and worried and frightened for Phoebe; "You know you tried to rip my powers out of me so many times, I forget what happened when."
Paige flushed uncomfortably.
Piper glared. "Are we talking about past..misunderstandings or are you trying to find a way to be demonic " she demanded.
"Both" said Cole nastily. "Are you going to help me or not?"
"Cole" said Leo. "Are you trying to get help or start a row."
"Both" Cole said but he smiled a little "Okay. I need to find somewhere to stash my powers" he said "Somewhere I can get 'em back with a minimum amount of resistance and somewhere out of evil's way."
"There's nowhere safe to stash that sort of power" Piper bit out "that is remotely safe from any other evil being."
Paige swallowed " I think he ought to try " she said.
"Paige" Piper said angry "You're thinking of Mark not Phoebe."
"I'm thinking of both" Paige said her lip trembling " I'll help you Cole" she said "On one condition. "You get rid of any evil within her" she said looking him in the face. "I mean any Cole " she said defiant looking at him. "evil either is or isn't, not just a little bit. Any evil goes."
"Paige " said Piper
"I mean it Piper ":Paige said "that premonition Phoebe had. Its because she's evil she gets Mark killed. If she's not evil that doesn't happen."
Cole looked at her and then very slowly nodded.
"How about giving Leo your powers?" asked Paige.
"No" said Cole " I'm not giving my powers to Leo to run rampant if he can't control them. When he can't control them. You saw what they did to me." he said "when I first got them. And I'm not risking something coming along and stealing them from him something evil."
"There's one place where evil won't go to steal the powers, " Paige said getting ready for the argument.
"Where?" said Leo
"The wasteland, I'm thinking" she said. When no-one said anything she added "As long as whoever has them can't leave the wasteland, nothing evil is going to come along and take them. Evil doesn't like going to that place.
Leo and Cole stared at her. Piper turned away in horror.
Paige said "I mean if we can selectively; keep a couple of powers then we can selectively strip one, so the shimmering goes somewhere else. Give the shimmering to Piper and then Cole can strip them and Leo picks them up. You did say a powerless good soul in the wasteland will pick them up."
"Only if it's got a demon core" said Cole. "So unless Leo has been keeping something back. Leo can orb anyway."
"if we combine the selective stripping with a power exchange spell "Piper said hating herself for knowing, "then no demon core involved. Do the same thing with Leo's orbing."
"Why don't we just put a loud speaker on the house roaring out. Hey demon guardian Belthezor lives here." Cole said "it would be just as effective as announcing I'm around as all his power switching."
"You're the one who suggested dumping the powers" Piper told Cole smarmily.
"Marly " said Leo " as long as my powers are in the realm, the Elders trackers can't tell who has them, and she just has to know they are to dangerous for me for a short time " he said.
"So its all settled " said Piper with a false sweetness. "To find out what the hell. Phoebe is doing stealing witches' Books of Shadows we're going to leave Leo alone in the wasteland with demonic power and no way out. Like hell we are" Piper said.
Cole took a deep breath;" Leo?" he asked.
"What the hell " said Leo " I haven't anything else to do."
"Hell " said Piper. "Leo" she pleaded.
"Not like its forever" said Leo braver than he felt.
Cole tried to say thank you and couldn't get the words out while Paige swallowed convulsively wondering what her determination to protect Mark could cost Leo.