A Matter of Relativity

Part 3: The impossible takes a little longer

Chapter 29


"They do not love that do not show their love"
 William Shakespeare

Part 3 of 4 Parts

Lara and Benedict stood at the Manor door, and neither had an expression that indicated they had a great joy at coming. After nearly six  months of delays, further police investigations and disruptions, Benedict's trial was finally proceeding. The police had not quite given up on the idea that Benedict was involved in other killings but as they had not been able to find enough to charge him, the ADA Krantz had finally decided to go head with what he had in the case with a number of witnesses and a clear train of evidence.


When Lara saw Phoebe standing by the edge of the parlour she turned her nose in the air with contempt, barely acknowledged Cole's somewhat stiff good morning and demanded "Does this mean, even if my father is found innocent in this trial, it will all start again?"


"We both know that the only way will find any evidence to prove your father's connection to any other killings is if its manufactured" Cole answered in a cold quiet voice that made Phoebe open her eyes wide. "Phoebe" he asked in the same voice "Can you entertain Lara for a little while why I talk to Benedict alone. Privilege "he added as Lara started to protest.


Phoebe said sure and waved Lara into the parlour but she could not help glancing back at Cole as he stepped aside to let Benedict enter the conservatory. Connected as they were since he had touched their auras, she could feel many of Coles' negative emotions. She was surprised that at the moment what was coming out of him and focused totally on Lara was dislike, sadness and what Phoebe would have described in any-one else but Cole as righteous anger.


Lara sat rigidly on the edge of one of the chairs and then stared rudely at Phoebe "You know that demon Elisheeva you failed to get, trashed Maggies shop" she said.


"Yes" said Phoebe "Cole's helping Maggie fix the insurance problems."


"Maggie's problems would never have happened if you had got the demon" Lara said prissily.


"How did you know we didn't get the demon?" Phoebe asked through her teeth.


"Whitelighter" said Lara "That demon has to go."


"Sh..It’s a powerful demon" Phoebe said in a non-committal voice. "To powerful for almost any magic except the Power of Three."


"There are ways" said Lara who knew herself to be a more powerful witch that the traitor to the cause who sat opposite her. "Ways to use its evil against it, ways to render it ..impotent." And she smiled superiorly. "That demon has to be got at any cost" Lara said "and if you can't, won't do it .I will."


"Lara, you simply aren't strong enough" Phoebe said tartly "and you know damned well that there is no demon that has to be got at any cost. You know damned well that vanquishing demons must not be done when the cost is innocents. You were at that meeting and you heard that."


"I was at that meeting" snapped Lara "and I heard you say that. But then you survived being kidnapped by Elisheeva didn't you. Why would it spare a good witch? Are you sure Phoebe Halliwell that's what you are?"


"Are you sure Lara Haslett, that's what you are?" Phoebe asked her voice getting heated.


Lara jumped to her feet and spun at Phoebe "You think because you're a a a a Charmed One" and Lara spat the words "That makes you a more powerful witch than me. You haven't got half the power I have," she said through her teeth. "You, your sisters, your grandmother" she said her voice like an icicle "are just weak and evil." She glared at the bump that was Whosit "You're just whores who use sex to manipulate and bewitch. Look at the fool Cole is making of himself, over a whore who seduces every man who comes into range. What spells do you use to keep him besotted, the ones your grandmother taught you to keep a man besotted, even when he has …obligations to another woman. How can your sister even bear to look at her husband let alone let him back into the house...with you."


"That enough Lara"  Phoebe said quietly, to quietly.


"Its not even a start" Lara said deadly "My mother was Tarryn Haslett and she was twice the witch your whore of a gran...that Penny Halliwell was. She knew how to get demons and I… she made sure I know." Lara's eyes lit up and for a second he reminded Phoebe of demons that she had known "I know how to do my duty, how to serve the cause." Lara said softly.


Phoebe swallowed and hoped Cole would be finished with Benedict soon.


She and Lara sat in silent, Phoebe uncomfortably and Lara in smug contemplation for another 15 minutes before Cole with still a cold calm about him, ushered Benedict out. Lara stood up and barely acknowledged Phoebe as she left.


As they approached the door, Marly and Piper came out of the kitchen. Piper had to spend the day at the club and to give Cole and Phoebe some time together she had called Marly in. Marly had been a little reluctant but finally agreed,


Lara saw Marly and wished her a somewhat superior but for Lara warm good morning, although she ignored Piper. "I'll see you later" Lara said to Marly as Benedict wished them a general and not convincing good morning and the Hasletts left.


Marly went to follow Piper up the stairs when Cole leaning on the door called "Marly" and the little witch spun to face him. "Maybe Marly" Cole said quietly in a voice that made Phoebe gasp because she recognised it a the guardian voice, "Lara isn't really the best friend you could have."


Marly shut her eyes swallowed and then flushed red angry red "What do you know about friends? You're not my friends you just, you just want a weak witch to be a servant. You, you think you're so special. Lara is my friend," Marly bit out "Lara is my friend" Marly glanced around at Piper "I can't stay" she said "I can't stay." And she rushed just the hall caught her bag and jacket off the hall table and actually pushed Cole out of the way to get past him.


"What the hell was that about?" said Piper stunned.


Cole sucked his breath and raised his eyebrows "Nothing good" he said glanced at Phoebe.


"Nothing good" said Phoebe meeting his eyes.


Piper was distracted by Melinda rushing into the kitchen and went after her, with Phoebe following.


"We can look after Melinda" Phoebe told Piper "Unless you called Marly because you don't trust me."


"I called Marly because P3 is doing okay and I thought she could use the work." Piper said shaking her head. "Teach me to be concern….." and she stopped looking past Phoebe's head at the ever turned on television. "Roger the Dodger sure gets himself on TV these days." she said "evil bastard."


"He is these days" Phoebe said and as Piper's eyes opened Phoebe told her about Elisheeva stealing his soul.


"Why didn't you tell me before?" Piper demanded.


"I forgot" Phoebe answered "Its not like he's an innocent to be rescued."


"Its not like he's going to do much for evil" Piper said watching him stumble and stutter and lose words and make a fool of himself amongst the guests of the show. "As evil goes he looks pretty impotent to me," Piper added and did not notice how pale Phoebe went at the word.


Later that day Phoebe sat on the sofa in the attic staring at the Book of Shadows. She only glanced at the page about swords such as the dragon blade and that Apollyen blade that extracted souls because she knew that page off by heart she had looked at it so many times. She finally found the page she was looking for, the one about the symbiotic relationship between evil beings and mortals whose souls they converted to evil and what Phoebe read about the transference between them left her deeply concerned.


She sighed and called out loudly "Manuel" and waited  When nothing happened she impatiently called the name of the new whitelighter and after a third call he finally appeared his mournful monk features not hiding their suspicion.


"Can you find out how the witch Tarryn Haslett died?" Phoebe asked without bothering to be polite because she was still upset with him. "Do you have to ask the Elders permission to find out?" she said sweetly.


"No" he said sadly "I just wondered why you wanted to know."


"I think the way she died might be connected to Elisheeva" Phoebe said not untruthfully.


"Not that I'm aware" answered Manuel.


"Find out for sure," said Phoebe exasperated.


Manuel hesitated and then he told Phoebe because he could never resist a sad tale. " I was not her whitelighter but ..a  friend was " Manuel told Phoebe "Tarryn was a witch whose power was to mindmeld and help people focus and reason. Her daughter has the same power I believe. Tarryn was a very..proactive witch. She was not always that way but she a lost a …friend to a demon and she changed." Manuel watched Phoebe smile "All right" he told her "She lost her lover to a demon creature called a Guardian. They are creatures that serve a master who gives them to evil mortals and they share the mortals body and protect it." he added a little pompously.


"I know about those sort of guardians" said Phoebe curtly.


"Tarryn's marriage was not happy" Manuel told Phoebe confidentially "Her husband was a mortal had been married to another witch and I don't believe he ever really got over his first wife. Oh" he said realising.


"I know about Grams and Benedict" Phoebe informed Manuel. "You can't destroy guardians through mind-melding. It took all my sister Prue's powers to do it and Tarryn could not have been as strong as Prue."


"Oh" said Manuel sadly disappointed he was not giving Phoebe news "I believe she found a way, a spell to render the evil mortals impotent and the Guardians became vulnerable because the impotence infected their magic. As I heard it" said Manuel who enjoyed a good gossip, even when it made him sad.


"How did she die?" asked Phoebe.


"Well" said Manuel "she was very proactive and of course the demons targeted her. She was warned" he said "About being proactive but it was only time before a powerful demon..." Manuel tailed off.


"Those evil mortals Tarryn rendered impotent" said Phoebe "they were all evil weren't they? It was a demon that killed her."


"Well of course" said Manuel "what else would it be?" But his voice wavered lightly and Phoebe already knew the answer.


"Hello Manuel"  Cole said leaning against the door jamb "I thought I heard voices up here."


"Cole" Manuel said in a different voice. He did not approve of witches mortal partner's any more than Caleb. "I have to go" Manuel said "I have answered your questions?" he said to Phoebe.


"Yes" she answered in a voiced nearly sad as Manuel's.


Cole came over and flung himself on the sofa beside Phoebe only just avoiding the Book of Shadows which shot itself across the floor out of his way while he glared at it to Phoebe's amusement. "Witch's business" he asked.


"Maybe" Phoebe said catching his hand. She took a deep breath "Was Lara Haslett's mother ..removed by a Guardian, the type of Guardian you are?" she added "Don't lie to me "she said seeing Cole's face.


"I wasn't going to" Cole said "As I understand it yes."


"All those murders the police are looking at, to see if Benedict is involved, they were mortals who had guardian demons like the ones Prue destroyed, when I first met you?" Phoebe asked hesitantly.


"As I understand it,"  Cole said.


"He killed them so Lara would not have to, to protect her from Guardians, like you," Phoebe asked.


"As I understand it " Cole said.


"Will it?" Phoebe asked and then quickly added "don't answer that "


"I wasn't going to" Cole said.


They sat quietly for a while, as Cole held Phoebe's hand gently moving his thumb in a circle in her palm.


"You want to take me and Melinda to the Doll House for a banana split" she asked finally. The Doll House was Phoebe's favourite ice cream parlour in New Orleans.


"Piper gets pissed when I shimmer Melinda" Cole said "Piper gets pissed when I get her ice cream to close to supper."


"I really want a chocolate banana split " Phoebe said "What " she added "Bananas are good for you and cream has calcium."


"Chocolate banana splits have chocolate" he said "All right " he added giving in when the big brown eyes opened.


"I have to pee first" Phoebe said.


"Phoebe" Cole sighed as she almost made it to a run to get past him.


With all the things that had happened with Whosit, many of the irritations of pregnancy had been barely a pinprick to Phoebe so that aching back, cravings, swollen ankles and needing to pee all the time were just background annoyances but once she safely home, they stopped being irritations and became her constant and very intrusive companions.


The peeing at all hours of the night had threatened to become a major argument between her and Cole. He did not complain about being woken up every hour or two as she hauled herself out of bed, there was no way she could slide out without waking him, but he did complain about cold feet when she got back into bed. He told her to wear socks and she said Whosit was like her own heating insulator and she wasn't going to overheat the only cool part of her. In whispers they argued until Phoebe lay back on the pillow giggling "God this is a boring argument "she said.


"I' know" he said "I really was worried there for a while that I would never have another boring argument with you and" he added "I'm not god."


"I have to pee again" she said.


"Put some socks on" Cole told her.


Then there was the chocolate. Phoebe's cravings weren't anything exotic, just chocolate and more chocolate and even more chocolate. Cole watched as Phoebe ate chocolate and more chocolate "You know when you're breast feeding you can't eat that stuff" he said" Shouldn't you break the habit now?"


"I told Whosit you'd turn out to be a damned know it all about pregnant women" Phoebe accused him.


So It was probably just luck that Phoebe saw them but then Phoebe was lucky. Or maybe it was chocolate.


Phoebe had sort of promised Cole she would not use Whosit's powers but sort of promising was something you did when you could not think of a reason to disagree when he had ordered you and she had said okay because well she couldn't think of a reason Cole would accept not to agree. But it didn't count when she craved chocolate, special chocolate, the sort of chocolate that was sold in a shopping centre on the other side of the harbour. Paige was at work, Piper had taken Melinda with her to P3 and Cole was using her car to visit a government department on behalf of Maggie's cousin who was having licensing problem's for their plant nursery. The cousin was not a witch just totally frustrated with the department regulations. And Phoebe craved chocolate.


So it was really just luck that she came out of the transgleaming in a corner opposite the chocolate shop and next to a bar called Murphy's old Irish bar and saw the witch Marly in earnest conversation. The sight of Marly in a bar made Phoebe's eyes pop open but when she saw who Marly was talking to her jaw dropped and she had to clutch at a nearby bench to avoid falling.


Because smiling at the little witch Marly from behind her blond peek a boo hairstyle was Phoebe's demonic not mother in law, Elisabeth Turner. All thoughts of chocolate were driven from Phoebe's mind as she stepped back out of sight and watched. Phoebe could not hear anything but she was very certain she lip read Marly saying the name Arlene and then watched Elisabeth reach over and take the witch's hands and Marly commenced the stuttering grateful thank you sequence that usually sent Paige and Piper and Phoebe crazy.


All thoughts of chocolate forgotten, almost in a trance Phoebe and Whosit  transgleamed home and she immediately went into the attic to open the Book of Shadows. She did not have to really read the entry she knew it off by heart, she had read it so many times since she had returned from the underworld


The page was about swords that extracted souls. Blades such as the dragon blade and that Apollyen blade that was now in the hand of the demon Elisheeva.


A demon who held one of those blades could use it to extract evil souls, souls gone bad, beings gone bad. The demon could take the essence and merge it with their own magic so the evil of the lost soul added to the demon's strength. The demon even got to keep the mortal as a zombie slave, vanquish fodder.  But the sword only really only gave the demon all its great powers if the demon could induce an evil witch to fall on the sword and extract her soul to release the evil. And the witch had to be in the underworld and willing. Elisheeva, as soon as she acquired the Apollyen blade desperately needed the soul of a witch who had turned to evil.


Phoebe smiled grimly to herself. Elisheeva certainly was the demon who wanted more. She wondered again, how Elisheeva had been going to induce her to fall on the Apollyon blade after Whosit was born. It would have taken more than a blue eyed smile under the peekaboo hairstyle. Phoebe had no doubts Elisheeva thought she knew a way.


She had not told Cole about the sword and Elisheeva's plans for her. He knew on one level how evil his mother was, but knowing in your soul and being presented with the evidence of it was to different things.


She smiled wistfully "You know what Francesca told Daddy" she explained to Whosit. "There's a bond and responsibility between child and parent that was nothing to do with good and evil. We know don't we Whosit that it is just as wrong for Daddy to hurt your bitch of a grandma as for him to hurt you. And he won't hurt you so…"


As Phoebe read the Book of Shadows entry for the Apollyon sword she swallowed a little convulsively as once again she saw the vision of Mark dying in the Underworld. Phoebe would love to have handed over the choices to her sisters, talk to them all about the evil she saw around them. But this was not an us against evil. Phoebe knew only to well some of the choices you made when you were in love were not the wisest choices or even good ones.


Phoebe who had lied to her sisters, visited the Underworld and turned evil for her love decided she was not going to let a sister she loved make those choices. Paige was not getting the chance to risk an innocent to protect Mark.


Piper would be caught between Paige's fear for Mark, Cole's very strong advice not to dismiss again Paige's feeling for evil, and her belief in the sister she had known from birth.


Phoebe could have asked Leo for advice but Leo was not her whitelighter any more, just her brother-in-law and she had made him make enough choices between which member of his family he could help.


She could ask Francesca but Francesca, was Cole's whitelighter and she may well feel Phoebe's premonition was destiny and witch's business. Francesca's place in the plan was to guide the Guardians. She was generous with her time and advice but her business was not witch's business.


Cole, Phoebe was very certain was steeling himself to intervene but his business was Guardian's business. And her business was witch's business, the real witch's business to protect, to defend the innocents and as long as she could do that then Cole, could deal with consequences of evil and the Great Plan. Phoebe did not envy him his business.


It was one time that Phoebe really wished she had a whitelighter she could talk to, but the thought of asking Manuel and trying to explain around Cole. She shook her head. No Manuel was not the person with whom she could discuss the evil she was very certain was surrounding them all.


"Dammit " she said aloud as she realised that she really needed a whitelighter who could guide her through the complications of her life, as lover, sister, witch and mother " Dammit" she told "Whitelighters are never there when you need them."


"We have to protect the innocents Whosit " Phoebe said and she stared at the images of the Book of Shadows "But who's the innocent, Whosit " Phoebe asked "Is it Paige or Marly or Mark or even Roger or Arlene? Is it Benedict or Lara? Whose choosing their path and who's being forced to do something they don't want to. Its all relative isn't it precious."


She gulped and touched her belly "Looks like precious" she said to Whosit "its up to you and me to find out."




She's Always A Woman To Me

She can kill with a smile, she can wound with her eyes,
She can ruin your faith with her casual lies,
And she only reveals what she wants you to see.
She hides like a child but she's always a woman to me.
She can lead you to love, she can take you or leave you,
She can ask for the truth but she'll never believe you,
And she'll take what you give her as long as it's free,
Yeah she steals like a thief but she's always a woman to me.
Oh, she takes care of herself, she can wait if she wants,
She's ahead of her time.
Oh, and she never gives out and she never gives in,
She just changes her mind.
And she'll promise you more than the garden of Eden
then she'll carelessly cut you and laugh while you're bleeding,
But she brings out the best and the worst you can be.
Blame it all on yourself cause she's always a woman to me.
Oh, she takes care of herself, she can wait if she wants,
She's ahead of her time.
Oh, and she never gives out and she never gives in,
She just changes her mind.
She is frequently kind and she's suddenly cruel,
She can do as she pleases, she's nobody's fool,
But she can't be convicted, she's earned her degree,
And the most she will do is throw shadows at you
But she's always a woman to me.

                                            Billy Joel