A Matter of Relativity

Part 4: All truth is relative

Chapter 30


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

Part 4 of 4 Parts

do you believe in magic in a young girl's heart
how the music can free her, whenever it starts
and it's magic, if the music is groovy
it makes you feel happy like an old-time movie
I'll tell you about the magic, and it'll free your soul
but it's like trying to tell a stranger 'bout rock and roll

if you believe in magic don't bother to choose
if it's jug band music or rhythm and blues
just go and listen it'll start with a smile
it won't wipe off your face no matter how hard you try'
your feet start tapping and you can't seem to find
how you got there, so just blow your mind

if you believe in magic, come along with me
we'll dance until morning 'til there's just you and me
and maybe, if the music is right
I'll meet you tomorrow, sort of late at night
and we'll go dancing, baby, then you'll see
how the magic's in the music and the music's in me

yeah, do you believe in magic
yeah, believe in the magic of a young girl's soul
believe in the magic of rock and roll
believe in the magic that can set you free
ohh, talking 'bout magic

do you believe like i believe do you believe in magic
do you believe like i believe do you believe, believer
do you believe like i believe do you believe in magic

Sung by Lovin' Spoonful
Writer J.B. Sebastien


Phoebe stood at the door of the apartment. She pressed on the bell and when there was no answer, she leant on it. Finally she heard footsteps on the other side and the door was pulled open. Arlene half leant on the edge of the door looking down her nose and over her boobs at Phoebe. She was dressed in a very tight boob tube and jeans.


"What do you want?" she asked in a dull voice.


"Just came to see if you were all right" Phoebe started to say.


"Bitch" said Arlene in a peculiar flat voice.


Phoebe opened her eyes wide and stared in the dull soulless eyes of a minion of evil.


"Arlene" she started to say.


"Bitch " said Arlene again "you and that that what his name that bastard I used to work for, you got me fired."


"What "said Phoebe softly.


"That Kline" Arlene said passionless "said it was because I wasn't any good at what I did. But it was really because he was jealous of your..CCCC…him what's his name, your boyfriend and me" she said struggling for words. "That Kline, he got three of the office supervisors to say I made mistakes but it was because, what did he say, I was a cold, frigid. I wasn't frigid, I was bored. It was just an excuse. Kline, he was jealous of that what's his name you screw" she whispered impotently. "Its not as if Kline was anything great at it."


'I'm sorry Arlene" Phoebe said knowing she watching another lost and impotent soul like Roger, that Lara and perhaps Marly had sold her to Elisheeva. Phoebe put her hand out to quite deliberately touch Arlene and steeled herself for the response.


"Don't touch me" Arlene said in what should have been a snap but was came out as a dead voice.


Phoebe held onto Arlene long enough, long enough to be flung into the premonition she didn't need to see. Or this time see the vision of previous events.


Arlene was on her knees in the dark underworld caverns, with Elisabeth smiling laughing, teasing, coaxing Arlene to crawl to the Apollyen blade.


"What do you want?" Elisabeth asked her "What can I give you? What's it worth to you?"


Arlene swallowing and gasping "I want to be wanted" she said "Make them want me, make them care about me."


"Come to me," said Elisheeva "I want you."


And then Phoebe almost had to smile as Arlene trance-like dragged herself up to the demon and Elisabeth was pulled down those great pendulous jutting breasts. The demon's expression was one of distain, horror and sheer disbelief.


"Come to me" whispered Elisabeth hoarsely pulling away and Arlene with a little whimper flung herself at Elisabeth and on to the Apollyen blade.


Phoebe was brought back to the present by Arlene hissing in a cold satanic voice of a demon "Let go of me."


Phoebe felt the connection of the demon  who now controlled Arlene and  frightened of the deadness and evil that assaulted her, she tried to let go when Arlene held on. Suddenly Arlene's eyes half lit for a second.


"Help me witch," Arlene whimpered.


Phoebe caught the fear and agony of a lost soul and then it was gone. And all she was looking at were the dead soulless eyes of a minion of evil.


"Bitch " said Arlene and pulled free, slamming the door in Phoebe's face.


Phoebe gritted he teeth and touching Whosit said "Get me home, precious." And they transgleamed away.


That afternoon Phoebe was in the kitchen boiling water for herbal tea and carefully watching Melinda. The constant battles to stop Melinda orbing were straining Leo and Pipe's marriage and every-one else's relationship. Cole was the only one powerful enough to stop her actually orbing but it was an unfair battle because Melinda didn't care what she telekineticed at him and he had to be careful not to hurt her.


"It's because she couldn't kill me when she was in your womb" he said bitterly to Piper after Melinda hurled a cut glass vase at him when he flicked his fingers. Acid blood dripped out of his forehead before it healed.


"Look what you're doing to the floor" said Piper.


Cole flicked his fingers to fix the smoking hole in the wooden boards.


"The varnish is the wrong colour," said Leo.


Cole ground his teeth.


Piper had been having to spend long afternoons at P3 because the club was in the middle of one of its regular reinventing itself periods which kept it in business and the Halliwell family from bankruptcy.  Leo had gone with her somewhat reluctantly leaving Melinda with Phoebe because they had to make some choices with the carpenters and Piper really needed his advice. Cole was in court for the last of the pro bono cases, other than Benedict Haslett,  he had outstanding from his time at Jackman, Carter and Kline.


Phoebe faithfully promised she would not take her eyes off Melinda  So between worrying about innocents and watching Melinda it took three shouts from the front door for her to answer. "Come on in."


"Why don't you lock the door when you're alone?" Mark asked coming into the kitchen.


"Demons and warlocks keep breaking it down," Phoebe said." Anyway I'm a witch.. what are you doing here?"


Mark shook his head smiling. "Paige went to take a client to a job interview. I said I'd meet her back here. You know I keep thinking I can cope with everything Paige is throwing at me and then one of you says something like that I .... "


"Doesn't get any better "Phoebe said "we have a friend who's a cop and has known we're witches for 6 years and still freaks when 'things' happen." she laughed.


"Sounds like a sensible guy," answered Mark.


"Want coffee "Phoebe asked. "I have to drink herbal tea. Cole bitches if I drink coffee."


"Do you and Cole really bicker as much as you say?" Mark asked amused.


"Yes " said Phoebe "we .. we don't pretend about things. Know the best and worst." she grinned "Besides its fun."


"Not worried you might bicker yourself out of a relationship?" Mark asked.


"No" said Phoebe "it isn't going to happen. We exist as part of each other. We stick it no matter what."


Mark looked at her and started to say something, then stopped.


Phoebe saw it "You get that way" she said "by walking through a fire to be with each, by going through such pain and such happiness both of which hurt to much, by pulling everything apart and finding out at the end of it all, all there is, all that matters is being together" she smiled "it may look like a very safe place to be" she said "but I wouldn't recommend the process."


"Can't exist without each other." Mark said. Almost hurt.


"Can't exist without the fact of loving each other" Phoebe said. "Cole's may have to have to exist at some level without me, and I may have to exist on ..another level but I'm working on it." she smiled. "He doesn't do very good without me." Mark looked at her.


"Cole's immortal, more or less" Phoebe answered "You do understand. At Christmas. Francesca...what she meant."


"I got that " Mark said and then summoned his courage. "Paige won't talk to me about magic much..but I wanted to ask" he started to say.


Phoebe braced herself.


"She's frightened about something for me and she won't tell me" Mark said.


Phoebe met his eyes " Mark I ..if Paige can't, then I… "


"I'm not asking you as Paige's sister " Mark said "I'm asking you as my friend."


Phoebe swallowed" It's the whitelighter thing " she said making a decision.


"I'm starting to hate that word " Mark said. "It seems everything that is a problem between Paige and me is about that word."


"Oh" said Phoebe.


"Phoebe please"  Mark begged, "If I can't understand, get around this I'm going to lose her. I feel her pulling away. She means a great deal to me" Mark said with a self derisive grin.


"I know Mark" Phoebe said thinking hard and wondering how much of a betrayal Paige would feel that her telling Mark would be.


"Phoebe if this is not about Paige but about me," Mark said determinedly. "I have some rights to make my own choices. I'm not a child to be protected for my own good."


Phoebe nodded knowing Paige would not see that. "What frightens her" Phoebe said " is your friend Sam."


Mark stared at her " Sam! What's he got to do with this."


"Sam's Paige's birthfather" Phoebe explained "he's also your whitelighter."


"I'm just an ordinary mortal, person, " Mark said " I'm not magic."


"I guess you're not so ordinary, " Phoebe said "but whitelighters don't just look after witches, they look after future whitelighters." she explained carefully.


"I see" said Mark. He was silent for a few seconds and then he asked "Isn't one of the main qualifications to being a whitelighter is that you're dead?"


Phoebe nodded "That's what frightens Paige."


"How did Leo get to be a whitelighter?" Mark asked.


"He was killed when he was really only about 18 or 19" Phoebe explained "In world war 2"


"I see" said Mark" and it's a short life before…"


"Often people who sacrifice themselves for a good cause become whitelighters." said Phoebe.


"A short life " Mark repeated quietly.


"I don't know a lot " said Phoebe "but I understand for many who are called it is. Or a hard life, a life of great endurance, a long very good one. "


"Do I get a choice? " Mark asked with grim humour.


Phoebe smiled.


"The whitelighters you have, seem to be by the rules types, good hearts but lacking…I don't know, imagination, just from what I hear." Mark said.


Phoebe smiled wryly.


 "I never thought of myself as a by the book, do it by the rules sort of guy," he added.


"Maybe they're looking for a new breed" Phoebe said trying to keep it light and failing.


Mark was quiet then he said, "It's a bit of a shock to find there's a hereafter mapped out for you.," he said "even if you believe in that sort of thing, its not exactly a solid concept."


"I've seen some hereafter" Phoebe said gently ;"Its just another plain, another realm, another part of life or death. Only " she took a deep breath "Only it sometimes means we have to separate ourselves from those we care about. At one level anyway," Phoebe told him, thinking of Pattie, thinking of Cole, thinking of her if she could not find a way to stay with Cole.


"I see" said Mark "What's the rest of it?" he asked Phoebe calmly.


"What rest of it?" Phoebe said innocently.


"Stop sounding like Paige," Mark answered severely. "The bit you're not telling me."


Phoebe looked away shaking her head then she met Mark's eyes as he regarded her with a 'don't mess with me' expression.


"My power is premonition" Phoebe said nervously "I had a premonition of you, a couple of months ago. Getting killed by the demon, Elisheeva, in hell."


"Elisheeva?" Mark asked.


"Demon we’ve been chasing, the one who kidnapped me" Phoebe answered "Okay Cole's demon mamma, evil bitch. Look things changed because I ..they rescued me. Maybe it was a warning for me to escape." Mark pursed his lips. "Sometimes my premonitions are a warnings to change, sometimes they are a..


"Warning" said Mark.


"Sometimes" said Phoebe.


"Cole's mother" said Mark after a while "any idea when?"


Phoebe glanced at him bleakly. "I'm guessing around about now" she said "but I get premonitions to change something" she said "They don't always happen that way."


"Do they ever happen that way?" Mark asked


"Yes" said Phoebe.


"Soooo " said Mark "I end up in hell"


"Well if that premonition wasn't changed by me being rescued from Elisheeva" Phoebe said.


"I see" said Mark contemplatively "Okay this is going to sound stupid but I guess now is a good time to risk a stupid question."


"I do pretty good on stupid questions," Phoebe said smiling a little as Mark laughed.


"How do you tell when there's a demon following you?" he asked.


"Can't really." said Phoebe "They can look pretty mortal at times. Cole didn't look at all demonic.  Looked like he does now, hair was shorter. Looked pretty damn good " she said, "Why?"


"I don't know" Mark answered "I just… since Christmas, a couple of times I've sort looked up and seen, I thought, just glanced, a sort of cloud, a dark shadow. I thought, you know, it was all this talk of magic that was making me..making my imagination overactive but if and I say if what you are telling me is true.."


Phoebe gulped "A dark shadowy thingy, " she said in a soft dull whisper.


"That 's not how I'd describe it but I get the picture" he laughed and Phoebe looked at his grey eyes, plain  intelligent face and balding sandy hair and had some idea why Paige thought he was so special.


"A demon?" Mark asked.


"No" said Phoebe "a…an angel."


Mark looked at her " And the truth please" he said.


"Its Death, Mark" she said. "the angel of Death."


He was silent for a little while  "I knew that " he said quietly. Then he grinned with an odd understanding expression. "Do you mind if I have another coffee?" he said "with something a bit stronger than caffeine in it "


"I'll get it" offered Phoebe not quite knowing what else to say to him.


He sighed "Francesca " he said "I don't suppose you would describe her as a by the rules, by the book person, not your average whitelighter."


"No" said Phoebe "that's not how I would describe her."


"She's very good isn't she " Mark asked. "I got the impression of some-one who really cares, who did good, helped innoc.. those who needed help. Really gives."


Phoebe thinking of her tough hard caring for Cole, her humour, the way she managed to help Leo. " She's very good " Phoebe agreed,"


"She is a whitelighter" Mark asked. " A real one, not.."


"Yeah sort of but not your average one " Phoebe answered "I think she may have had a very hard and difficult journey to be what she is. Just a few things she has said."


"I don't do average very well " Mark said and lapsed in silence as Phoebe reached out to put her hand on his wondering how much she had betrayed Paige by telling him what he wanted know. "I guess it helps to know whitelighters can be ..special." he said.


"I think they all are" Phoebe said "Its just that some, most…."


"Are by the rules types" Mark said "and occasionally one isn't."


Phoebe nodded "I think" she said.


Mark looked at the bump that was Whosit "I guess we are in a life or death situation." he said grimly.


Mark was sipping coffee, highly laced with whisky, when Paige came back. He stood up and with a smile on his face and almost no hint of what he had heard, and walked over to Paige. Smiling at her in a way that Phoebe understood how special he made her sister feel, teasing her, laughing as he followed he up to her bedroom to talk to her while she showered and got dressed for another of their regular not dates.


Phoebe spent the next day writing her column and searching every spell, every account of witch lore and writing she could find in the Book of Shadows, and in Grams and earlier Halliwell witches collection of books about magic. She searched for any information she could find for symbiotic relationships between demons and evil souls and the value of souls to demons, as well as information about the artefacts that extracted and contained souls. And in all of them the solution to saving those innocents lost through their own failings and weakness rather than the evil nature of their soul was the one as old as the battle between good and evil.


That afternoon Phoebe sat in the conservatory staring at the Book of Shadows page on soul catching blades. She no longer had to read the words because they were imprinted in her brain and the awful of feeling inescapable destiny caught hold of her.


Piper was so frantic about Melinda's latest power boost and chasing magic ways to protect her daughter from the consequences of her orbing,  she was not really paying attention to what Phoebe was doing to Phoebe's great relief. Phoebe heard Mark and Paige come in and Paige giggling, laughing happy.


Paige started to run up the stairs.


"Hurry up " Mark called and Phoebe watched as Paige leaned over the banister and Mark reached up for a long drawn out kiss.


"You're going to be so surprised when you see what I'm wearing tonight " Paige told Mark archly. "You just wait for me "


"I'll wait for ever" he said. When Paige ran upstairs Mark looked around and noticed Phoebe sitting in the conservatory watching them. He smiled a little uncomfortably and walked into the conservatory.


"Mark" Phoebe smiled " How are you?"


"Not dead yet" he said wryly.


She smiled a little uncomfortably as Mark sat on one of the chairs.


"That shadow seems to be following wherever I go," he said.


Phoebe swallowed.


"Why don't you tell me not to worry, its all a bad joke, anything to not believe what that shadow is? " Mark asked.


"If you can see it you're getting a warning, a choice," Phoebe said "perhaps you're lucky."


"Not quite my description." He said. "Is there some magic to make it go away?"


"Making it go away isn't the answer" Phoebe explained uncomfortably "I tried to stop it happening to some-one I thought I had some feelings for once" Phoebe said. " I nearly screwed the universe up. And my sister Prue tried to stop Death once and found.. stopping Death is not the answer" she said awkward. "Death the angel, told Prue, it ...he was not evil, just inevitable."


"Pity" said Mark dryly.


He was silent for a while "I love Paige " he said "Did you know that?"


"Sort of figured it" Phoebe smiled.


"I never thought it could happen to me," Mark said "and then just one day 9 months ago.  You never know when its going to hit you " he said. "Never know where its going to lead."


"Sure don't " Phoebe answered thinking of a night not all that many years ago and a tall dark and drop dead gorgeous demon stepping up to her saying. "Ladies my name is Cole Turner."


"Certainly never think that it will end with you being fireballed by a demon…in hell" Mark shook his head. "Although, you know I've felt for a long while, this strange feeling I wasn't meant for happy ever after" Mark said "even before I met Paige, maybe that's why I was never really looking for love."


"So it jumped out and bit you "Phoebe said " I know that feeling too. Deciding it isn't for you and..."


Mark grinned, his plain face lit up and almost attractive "That's why I haven't asked for more you know. I love her Phoebe. I love her and I have, its been a magical time for me but I don't want her to love me Phoebe. Don't want her to want me as her one true love. Don't want to .."


Phoebe swallowed " I think " and she stopped.


"What" he said.


"I think you underestimate your appeal" she said." She was ready to damn me to protect you."


"Oh" he said and for a second his eyes lit up and then he sobered. "That's probably not good. Piper married her whitelighter didn't she?" he said almost hopefully.


"Elders weren't to thrilled" Phoebe said and then added guiltily "and now because Leo tried to…help me. I think they must be busy rewriting the rules now so it doesn't happen again."


Mark shook "I never was a by the rules sort of guy. Do you think they know that?."


"Maybe they think you will have a conversion." Phoebe smiled thinking how ridiculous this conversation was, unless you happen to believe in the existence of magic and the eternal battle of good and evil.


"I'm thinking if that happens it had better be soon." Mark said.


"Yes " said Phoebe.


They looked up as they heard voices in the hall and saw Piper and Marly. Piper quite irritably told Marly "Its fine if you can't do it Marly " but she put her hands on her hips and gave every indication that it wasn't fine. "Just don't say yes and then tell me no at the last minute."


Marly looked at her eyes brimming with tears and then suddenly her head came up " I don't like this house " she said " there is evil in this house " and she glared in Phoebe's direction "and fornication " she said glaring at Mark. "This house harbours evil." she said "you all think you're so powerful. You have no idea of power. You want me not to be powerful " she said "it make you feel strong just because you think I'm weak. I cared about you and you betrayed me " she declared vehemently.


"Marly" Piper started to say.


Marly ran to the door and pulled it open and froze struck by the blinding pain  "Oh god " she said "oh god , I didn't mean it. I didn't mean it. I know what I have do. Make it stop. I'm so sorry. Piper I didn't mean it .I'll be there tomorrow I promise " she said all good little girl " I will. I promise." And she pulled the door open and ran.


Piper stared at her and then went back to Phoebe "We should go after her" she said


"No " said Phoebe sadly " I think, she'll be back."


"Phoebe " said Piper "I think that we should .."


"I know we shouldn't " Phoebe said in such a tight voice that Mark and Piper stared at her "She's just still working out about all that powers she had. She needs some time to think about it " said Phoebe the psychology major and Phoebe the witch who was terribly relieved that Marly was still angry and bore none of the signs of soullessness and impotency that Lara's victims and Elisheeva's seemed to have.


Piper glared half incline to argue and then got distracted as Melinda yelled.


"No you're right "'Phoebe the lover of a Guardian who knew she had to protect innocents. She turned to follow Marly into the street and saw her fumbling for car keys;


"You're evil" Marly told Phoebe.


"Marly" Phoebe said "I saw you with the demon."


Marly froze "What demon?" she asked slyly.


"You know what demon" Phoebe said. 'You can’t defeat it. Lara can't defeat it. It will… Marly keep away from Lara and Elisabeth. No matter what they offer you,"


Marly stared at her


"You're good Marly" Phoebe said, "You're stronger than they are."


"You're evil," said Marly in the self righteous voice that mimicked Lara Haslett.


"Marly" Phoebe said "My sisters and …, we care about you. Keep away from the witch and Elisabeth. She, they can't give you what you want."


"Bitch" said Marly as Phoebe stared at her in shock.


"Do you know what the matter is with Marly " Mark asked quietly standing at the front door as Phoebe came back up the steps.


"I'm terribly afraid I do" said Phoebe and he shrugged as he heard Paige come down stairs.


"Promise me something " Mark said to her before turning around. "Don't, it isn't your business. What I said should just be between me and Paige. Don't talk to her."


Phoebe nodded. "Yes" she said.


Mark turned away from her "You look beautiful" he breathed as Paige came downstairs.