A Matter of Relativity
Part 4: All truth is relative
"They do not love that do
not show their love"
Part 4 of 4 Parts
"Leo's staying at over with you" Piper said. Firmly
"What" said Cole "I don't need a baby sitter."
"If you damn well think that you are being left alone tonight after, well after last time " Piper said. "think again."
"I " said Cole as all three sisters and Leo just eyed him balefully.
"And don't even think of going anywhere near Phoebe's dress" said Piper.
"I" said Cole.
"And if you even come near this house tonight, I'll " said Paige.
"You'll what" challenged Cole.
"Get Francesca to deal with you," said Paige.
"I" said Cole.
Phoebe saw them to the door. Cole turned as if he was going to run back into the house. "Poor baby " said Phoebe catching his sleeve and stopping him. She put her arms around his neck, pulling his head down to her and kissing him hard. "This time I know I'm safe" she said.
"All I can do is promise," he whispered holding her against him.
"That's enough" Phoebe said. "Go" she said pushing him away. As he looked like he was to refuse. She started to shut the door. "Be a good boy, " she said, one hand on the door the other resting across Whosit.
"I need a drink," Cole told Leo as they got into the extremely practical two year old, dark blue family sedan he had bought, very reluctantly, to use to see clients. It had cost him dearly not to look at sports cars.
"Sure" said Leo.
Cole put the beer down in front of Leo. "Seems we've been here before," he said looking around the bar.
"Yeah once or twice," said Leo.
"Yeah," said Cole swallowing the beer in a gulp and getting another one.
"That stuff effects you," Leo said.
"Good," said Cole his hand shaking on the bottle.
Leo looked surprised and amused "You weren't this scared last time," he said.
Cole just stared at him. "It wasn't me last time" he said gulping down the beer.
"That stuff effects you," Leo said.
"Don't think I can do it Leo," Cole said.
"Marry Phoebe," Leo said. "That's all you ever wanted to do. All you have do is to show up tomorrow and say I do and you get it all."
"I've got it all," Cole said, "I want to marry her. Leo I can't go through that wedding."
Leo sighed "Aren't you the one whose mother brought him up to understand the importance of ritual."
Cole moaned, "All those people, all of them pretending to smile and smirking about whose kid she's carrying. All those people holding their breath hoping something will happen, one of us will run or not turn up, or you'll jump in and say its mine, don't marry him, or Piper and Phoebe will have a cat fight."
"I swear on my honour," Leo said straight faced "I won't jump up and say its mine, don't marry him."
"They don't know that," Cole muttered into his beer.
"Want me to announce I won't?" Leo asked.
"I can't do it," Cole said. "I went to that wedding with Paige. I saw that guy look a like a gormless twit. I'm that guy Leo. I can't do it."
He gulped down another beer.
"You could try spoiling their fun by turning up saying I do and just getting married," Leo said, not entirely succeeding in keeping the amusement off his face said as Cole gulped down more beer.
"I can't do it Leo," he said. "Why did she have to invite all those people, that bitch she works for, all those people she works with, those witches who were gossiping seven months go, I know Lara Haslett told me. And all those relatives, all Victor's family, hell even those cousins of Phoebe's who only ever turn up at weddings and funerals. Margaret," Cole shuddered, "Eleanor, those damned daughters in law of hers, my god " he said "even Beryl. And the neighbours. How the hell did she find 158 people to come to a wedding on 4 weeks notice."
"I think Margaret comes as part of the package with Victor." Leo smiled "Anyway there are friends who wish you well. Darryl and Sheila, Francesca, Marly."
"Darryl hates me since the Haslett trial," Cole said miserably, "Mrs Rinaldi just wants to yell at me when I screw up and Marly will be shaking in her shoes because some might say wedding and sex in the same breath."
"I think even Marly might have figured out you and Phoebe have had sex by this stage," Leo said.
"No she figures you and Phoebe have had sex, like everyone else," Cole said "I can't do it Leo " he added "we'll just go back to Las Vegas or cancel and have a small family wedding," he said determinedly
"Cole," Leo shook his head" "Its Phoebe we're talking about. You know Phoebe, your soulmate, the love of your life. The one who wants what she wants when she wants it. The Phoebe who wants a fairytale wedding when she's eight and a half months pregnant. The Phoebe who wants you to very publicly tell them all you're hooked'."
Cole sighed, "I could do it with a small family wedding, just us, honest I could Leo. She'll understand. " Cole said "but I can't, not like this, she loves me " he said gulping more beer. "She'll understand."
"Yeah 'said Leo. "Phoebe loves you. Sure Phoebe will understand. It's Phoebe Cole. You're an idiot," said Leo "and that stuff effects you."
"I can't do it" Cole said " and I'm going to tell her."
"This I'm going to enjoy," said Leo.
"Leo you know I would do anything for Phoebe," Cole said almost desperate. "I've faced the Source of all Evil for her, I've face my mother for her. I've moved in with her, because she wanted it, when I knew you and Paige and Piper hated my guts so much you wanted to kill me on sight. I've faced bounty hunters, and evil factions, and vampires and the spirit winds. Hell I've even faced Grams and Prue for her. I can't do this. " he said.
"I guess she's the first one who ought to know," said Leo.
Cole glared at him and pulled out his cell. He dialled the manor and took another swig of beer. "Its me Piper " Cole said, "I want to talk to Phoebe."
"Oh for goodness sake its only one night without her:" Piper said.
"You're interrupting our hen's party." All three sisters were sitting in front of the fire, wearing pyjamas, eating popcorn and toasting each other, magic, Grams, Pattie, Prue, Mark, Leo, and once Cole when Phoebe insisted, with lemonade. All three were wearing Paige's special face cream.
"I need to talk to her right now," said Cole.
Piper sighed and handed the phone to Phoebe "Its Cole " she said unnecessarily.
"Phoebe," Cole said
"Did I tell you I love you?" Phoebe said perkily.
"Yeah" said Cole "Phoebe."
"I can't believe finally tomorrow is really going to happen," Phoebe said "It's going to be the happiest day of my life."
"Phoebe" Cole said in agony.
"Baby it's been a long road. Baby I love you. I so love you " she whispered.
"Phoebe," Cole said hurting.
"What baby" she said her voice trembling with everything she felt for him.
"I can't do it," he said. "The wedding."
Phoebe was silent for seconds.
Cole finally whispered, " Phoebe I love you baby but.."
"You can't make the wedding," she said conversationally "why not?"
"It isn't necessary Baby. There's no reason to front up just to give al those people the satisfaction of gossiping and talking about you and Whosit and all that. I don't want to put you through it. I can't put you through it. It isn't any of their business." Cole said desperate.
"After everything you said, don't you want to marry me Cole," Phoebe asked quietly as Piper and Paige caught their breath, Phoebe smiled and shook her head.
"I want to marry you Phoebe" Cole said. "But his is just crazy. A big wedding for what, to give some people we don't care about the satisfaction."
"I'm not getting married in Vegas" Phoebe said.
"Then just a handfasting us and the family" he said. "With Grams" he offered feeling noble.
"So all we do is call the elders and explain what you are," Phoebe said "or do I just tell them I want a hand-fasting with some-one who is not a demon " she added brightly.
"Phoebe we don't have to be married," Cole said "it doesn't make any difference. Phoebe I can't do it," he said.
"Hmm," she whispered
"It's not necessary," he said.
"I want to tell those gossiping, prying family, people just how much I love you," Phoebe said. "I'm proud of how much you love me," she added.
"I do love you," he said "Baby I do love you. You know that."
"Yeah" said Phoebe "I do and tomorrow you are going to tell the 158 people I... we invited, the society reporter for the Bay Mirror and any-one else who cares to come along and hear. Get it. "
"Phoebe," said Cole.
"Put it this way, " Phoebe said calmly, " If the next time you kiss me isn't at the end of that wedding ceremony tomorrow in front of at least 158 people, you ain't going to touch my lips or any other part of me until you front up. How many weddings can you organise Cole? This will be our fifth try, want to go for number six."
"Phoebe I know damn well you wouldn't leave. We won't separate even if I didn't show " he said really desperate.
"Whose talking about separating," she said " I'm talking about sex."
"Phoebe" said Cole.
"Cole," Phoebe said firmly "Go back to the hotel, go to bed, put on a pair of socks. That should solve the cold feet problem. No put on two pairs. You've got the worst case of cold feet I've ever heard of. No don't say anything else" she ordered "I'll see you tomorrow at 3.30 at St Andrews church. I'll be the one walking down the aisle in a veil, carrying a bouquet. You will be the one standing up at the front of the church wearing a tuxedo with a white carnation waiting for me. There will be 158 people watching you. You will smile at them, you will accept their good wishes. No Cole don't say anything," she ordered. "Goodnight." She said and hung up.
Piper and Paige glanced at each other.
"Damn Leo," said Phoebe.
"What" said Piper.
"Leo should have more brains than to let Cole get on the beer, Leo knows that stuff effects him," Phoebe said.
Piper and Paige glanced at each other.
"What " said Phoebe " Cole's just got a freaking case of cold feet. He'll be there."
"She hung up on me, " Cole said.
"What did you think she'd do," Leo said "Say sure thing Cole you're going to get away with not marrying me in front of 158 people again."
"I can't do it Leo," Cole said as Leo stopped him buying another beer. "Anyway It was only 80 last time."
"You can't not do it " Leo said firmly dragging him out of the bar and back to the hotel.
"What do you mean he's not here " Piper hissed at Leo out the front of the Church as got out the limousine twenty minutes late for the wedding because Phoebe could not get a garter belt to stay up. She was so nervous she ripped three pairs of pantihose and Paige had to orb to a shop an buy her more. Piper took a firm old of Melinda who was looking very cute in a dress the same colour as her mother's cherry red silk bridesmaid dress.
"You didn't get him here," Paige whispered angrily, not missing a few people who had stayed outside the Church to smoke or see the bride arrive were watching what was going on. "Leo that's the only thing you had to do this morning, " Paige shook her head "and we had to fix flowers, make sure the caterer was okay about getting everything at P3, go to the beauty parlour, get the bouquets and .."
"Paige " said Piper. "Leo why didn't you tell us before this?" she snarled getting in close to Leo as the extremely interested watchers who had waited outside to see the bride arrive or not arrive as the case may be, moved closer.
The bride's car pulled up and Leo went over to open the door as Victor got out the other door. Phoebe in her wedding dress and veil smiled happily.
"Cole's not here," Leo said feeling like hell.
"Where is he?" demanded Victor.
"Working" said Leo. "I think."
"What" said Victor "I'll kill him. Hell learn no case is as important as my daughter." Victor stopped as Margaret came out o the church and signalled him. He said "'half a minute honey." to Phoebe and went over and spoke softly to his wife.
Paige and Piper holding Melinda firmly came over to the car.
"What happened, where is he?" Phoebe asked quietly. "Is he okay?"
"I don't know," said Leo he was doing up the studs on his shirt cuff and dropped one and said shit and then he was crawling around the floor looking for the stud.
"He was crawling round the floor in the tux," said Piper.
Leo ignored her "and then he said ' damn'. And I said what's wrong" and Leo leant close so Victor who was still talking to Margaret did not hear "he said 'spirit winds, have to go. Damnit 'and he shimmered."
"And you let him go," Piper leaned in close to Leo letting her breath out, her temper plain for any-one top see. Quite a number of interested spectators, the ones who had heard that there was some question of the parentage of Phoebe's baby moved closer as they eagerly watched to see if this was the reason the family were huddling around the car.
Piper also noticed a few slipping back into the church. Obviously to pass the not unexpected news to the congregation that something had gone amiss.
"How the hell could I stop him" Leo said "he's a guardian. I don't look like Arturo."
"He'll be here," Phoebe said, unconcerned.
"Oh Phoebe," said Paige and Piper a little to loud.
"He was so ready to run last night," Piper added trying to keep her voice down but the crowd moved closer.
"He was just being Cole," Phoebe said" Just being an arsehole, just being annoying."
"Where the hell is he?" Victor demanded coming away from Margaret.
They heard Margaret in a very loud stage whisper tell Victor's sister Eleanor "Looks like the groom's done a runner."
"Oh dear " sighed Eleanor very loudly " not again. Poor Phoebe. Poor, poor Phoebe."
"Not sure, " said Leo. "Get the driver to take you around the block one more time" Leo suggested.
"Leo'' said Phoebe "I'm not moving."
"Go and ask Francesca if she can find him?" snapped Piper
Leo went into the church and found Francesca sitting in a corner fairly close to three of Victor's nieces.
"We seem to have lost the groom," Leo whispered as the three nieces picked up there ears. "Can you sense him?"
Francesca shut her eyes "Not here, " she said "I'll come out."
"Where the hell is he?" Leo leaned forgetting where he was.
Francesca followed him out the front "He's mid shimmer somewhere," she said "Don't worry hell be here."
"I'm going to kill him," Piper as Francesca came up and more spectators came out of the church.
Eleanor's daughter in law joined the little group at the front of the Church. So did Phoebe's boss Elise who lit up a cigarette.
"Groom's done a runner," said Eleanor.
"You know Piper's pregnant too" said the daughter in law "after I saw her leave that hotel with him.. Well " she breathed.
"Done a runner on both of 'em has he," said Elise not pretending to lower her voice.
"I threatened to orb his balls somewhere else once." Paige said "I swear I'll do it if he doesn't turn up."
"Hell have to turn up for you to do that dear" said Francesca. "At least he's with the demons, he's not bringing the demons here."
"He'll be here," Phoebe said.
Marly crept up "Can I help?" she asked nervously.
"Here take Melinda," Piper said dumping her daughter on Marly who picked her up.
Francesca smiled " I can feel him close enough. I'll go get him dear " she said trying not to laugh. Phoebe caught her eye and nodded, not to upset. Francesca slipped off away from the crowd to orb.
"Unca Cole runned away and mommy's gonna kill him" Melinda told Marly at the top of her voice to the great pleasure of those listening and watching.
Francesca found Cole standing in the hotel room in jocks and sock's and staring at the tuxedo on the bed in total distress.
"What on earth is that smell?" she asked.
"Me and the tux" he said very close to losing it."Stupid damned vanquish fodder didn't have the sense to go when I told them and stupid damn witches don't know how to make potions, over did the arrowroot. The witches used the potion and I got slimed, green gooed, covered in it." Cole all but wailed.
"I do love romance," said Francesca.
"Do you know you know how to get green goo out of a tuxedo," Cole whimpered. "I tried and made it worse."
"I do" said Francesca serenely "Why don't you just manufacture a new one?"
"Because I'm not standing in front of those people feeling like I'm stark naked" he moaned.
"Leave it much longer and you won't have to stand in front of them." Francesca commented.
"Is Phoebe going to kill me?" he asked.
"No, Phoebe is the only one who is unconcerned." Francesca told him. "Piper wants to kill you. Paige just wants to ensure .. another pregnancy won't be on the cards."
"Sh.. da bother " said Cole as Francesca pursed her lips "Fix it " Cole told her.
"And the magic word is " Francesca asked school marm.
"Please " he begged.
"Go an have a shower," she ordered him. Francesca called Leo and told him they would be ten minutes.
Piper was prowling and Paige and Leo were standing together looking around every three seconds. Marly was with them trying to keep the mood from upsetting Melinda. Melinda had been looking forward to her role of flower girl and she was both disappointed and bored.
Phoebe was sitting in the car, the least upset of any of them, when Leo's cell rang. When he called Cole will be here be here in ten minutes, she just laughed.
The minister who by sheer bad luck was the same one as the last wedding, because no one else was available somewhat apprehensively slipped out of the church and approached Victor who was leaning against the car near Phoebe and planning Cole's imminent demise.
"Are sure he'll be here in ten minutes?" said the minister. "We're already 45 minutes late."
Victor looked at Piper who shrugged.
"If he isn't here then," the minister said severely "we'll just have a make a decision if this wedding is going to happen."
"He'll be here," said Phoebe.
" Damn him," cursed Piper. "I'm sorry " she said seeing the minister's expression.
"Fuck him," said Melinda.
"What did you say?" said Piper in horror.
"Fuck him Mommy" Melinda with a big smile Piper cringed as the minister stared at the little girl and the growing crowd of watchers exchange glances or laughed at Piper's embarrassment .
"Ten minutes," said the minister between his teeth and then looked sorrowfully at the little girl realising the poor child was nothing but a product of her environment. Melinda who gave him a bright smile
"Shit " breathed Piper "I mean Cole keeps saying it in front of her" she told the minister, deciding blame was relative to the need.
"Piper" said Phoebe firing up "He does not much. You do."
The watchers all moved closer hoping that the not unexpected Halliwell sister cat fight was about to happen.
"Phoebe, Piper " said Leo.
"Shut up Leo" said Paige, Piper and Phoebe as the watchers waited expectantly.
':Fu.." said Melinda again and Marly firmly planted a hand over Melinda's mouth "I told you not say things in front of her " Marly told them firmly.
Piper shrunk behind her sisters knowing she was a 'bad' mother and caught Phoebe laughing.
"Ten minutes " said the minister firmly and walked off,
"Hold still " Francesca told Cole as she beautifully tied the bow tie his fingers could not manage. "Day hasn't been a total loss" she said " Do you know I really can't remember the last time I dressed a man" she said straight faced.
"Ahhh" said Cole.
"All done," Francesca said resisting the temptation to smack him like a naughty boy.
"Thanks," He said and meant it.
"Go" she said the severe expression on her face not fooling him that she was laughing at him
"Its not funny," he said.
"Yes it is," Francesca said "Typical but funny. Go and enjoy your wedding," she said.
"Thanks" he said "I .."
"Make sure it doesn't happen again." she said school marm. "Be well Cole " she said, "be happy."
Cole shimmered into the empty vestibule of the Church.
Leo appeared behind him. "You are so dead," he told Cole.
"Phoebe didn't think I wouldn't come," said Cole.
"No " said Leo "she was the only one who was certain you would."
Cole and Leo went out to the Church. Cole cringing as he heard the titters and murmurs of the people who had been expectantly waiting for something to not happen.
Cole, glanced backward at the sea of 150 odd faces all looking at him with various degrees of not support. He swallowed hard and Leo had to hang on to him to stop him running.
The minister arrived in front of them and the congregation sighed.
"You made it," said the minister with a sarcasm unworthy of his calling and not missing Cole's still wet hair.
"I" said Cole as the minister ignored him and signalled the organ player to start.
The congregation murmured as Melinda excited, skipped ahead of mommy and auntie Paige, not even remotely remembering to walk. Piper tried to call her back but she would not have a bar of it,. She ran down the aisle and Leo caught her while she called for "Unca Cole" because she rightly knew he was the focus of all attention.
Piper and Paige followed looking sweet and sisterly and barely anything of Piper's pregnancy showing in the red silk dress, made it down the aisle with no drama. From the sigh that went through the congregation, a cause of great disappointment.
Piper sent Cole a filthy glare as she and Paige arrived at the front of the church.
"I got slimed," he muttered.
"Ha" Piper hissed, "that's not an excuse."
The conversation was not missed by delighted onlookers in the front rows. Several people further back whispered loudly "What did she say?"
Cole didn't have to turn around to know that Phoebe was coming the gasp was loud enough top satisfy all those who come to see how much of the gossip was true.
He looked up, with a dumb gormless expression on his face and watched as Phoebe hanging onto Victor with one arm, the other firmly under her belly for support , tottered down the church aisle. She wore a white tight cut on the cross spaghetti strapped dress that showed every inch of the enormous bump that was Whosit and the veil she had worn at the first wedding.
Both Cole and Piper watching had a quick and nervous vision of the fate of the red dress. Phoebe had an absolute grin on her face, no shy bride this time. Her eyes were large brown bright and shining as she almost ran the last few steps to reach him.
Cole didn't remember doing it but Leo had to catch him to hold him as he started to move up the aisle the meet her. All but snatching her away from Victor, who glowered at him. Phoebe caught his arm to hang onto him all the way through the ceremony.
"You look beautiful," he whispered. "I got slimed "
"I knew you'd be here," She whispered back "You're not brave enough to miss it." She giggled.
"I love you," he said softly.
"Say it out loud," said Phoebe smugly. He looked down at her caught his breath at her big brown eyes.
Cole glanced over his shoulder, at the 158 expectant curious and not all friendly faces. He sighed and suddenly laughed as the minister glared primly.
"You look beautiful," he said loudly "I love you."
And the congregation sighed.
"I love you too," Phoebe said loudly but she giggled as they turned to the minister.
Cole's eyes very eyes were bright all through the ceremony, blazing blue while Phoebe could not take the smile of her face.
They survived the ceremony with no major disasters, except for Melinda insisting she stood between Cole and Phoebe because that was the centre of attention and Phoebe managed to confuse her left and right hand when they exchanged rings, Cole using his original one, Phoebe having a new one made. They were both quite proud of themselves they kept a promise and replaced the 'til death us do part' with 'forever'.
When the minister asked "Who giveth this Woman to be married to this Man? There was a nervous hush from those who had been at the last wedding as Victor said "Her sisters and I do."
And then a titter of disappointment as absolutely nothing happened.
There was as satisfied ripple through the church the kiss at the end of the ceremony was long enough and deep enough to please most of those who watched, and the smiles as Cole and Phoebe left the church were nearly all genuine. Apparently despite the ceremony passing without drama, Cole was besotted enough and gormless enough and Phoebe was gloriously and happily pregnant enough satisfy the most demanding relative.
There was the odd hiccup. A few people held their breathes when Cole breathed 'Mrs Turner' as they left the Church and Phoebe happily replied 'Ms Turner -Halliwell.'
And when Victor asked Cole "Where were you?" after he kissed Phoebe and shook Cole's hand.
"I got called away, working " Cole said truthfully.
"I thought you were unemployed," said Margaret who was standing beside Victor.
And when Piper told them they were going to have to get married again after she and Paige hugged Phoebe and Cole.
"Why?" said Phoebe as Cole went green.
"Because both so nervous you got the names wrong. You married some-one called Coolidge and Cole married mom." Paige explained.
"What?" said Phoebe.
"Cole married Patricia Phoebe" Leo explained.