A Matter of Relativity
Part 1: Home is where the Heart is
"They do not love that do
not show their love"
Cole lay on a bed in the same cheap hotel he seemed to use every time he and Phoebe found a reason not to be together. He was hurt and bitterly angry and despite what he told Piper confused. Because whatever this was about, it was not about Phoebe loving him, connected as they were he could feel every emotion coming out of her and what came from her was love. What they had together, he and Phoebe somewhere past being in love, something so entrenched it was as much as a core of her existence as his, was well and truly there.
But the other emotion he had felt was deep, deep fear. It was the reason that he had left because he could feel genuine fear of him, coming from her and he was totally perplexed by why she should be so deeply caring and so frightened. And knowing how real that fear was, was the only thing that stopped him shimmering straight into their room at the manor and demanding to know what was wrong.
Cole’s "things" such as they were, Phoebe had sent to the hotel, although Phoebe’s idea of packing his things was limited. She sent nothing but clothing and some law papers, and even the clothing was minimal. He was almost certain he owned more than four shirts and three days supply of underwear. Perhaps that was a good sign.
Cole decided this was one time he really needed the booze again. He stood up and nearly stepped on top of Leo orbing into his room.
"You ought to put the magic bar on the room if you don’t want any power chasers to get a lock on your magic" Leo said.
"‘Gee" Cole answered sarcastically "I guess Phoebe forgot to pack my crystals. What do you want?"
"Just checking you’re okay" Leo said.
"Piper tell you to come?" Cole asked.
"No" Leo said indignantly.
Cole looked at him.
"All right, she suggested it and I agreed" Leo said.
"It’s me you’re talking to Leo" Cole said.
Leo grinned but did not answer
"You want a drink" Cole asked.
"Beer" Leo said.
"I was thinking of something stronger" Cole mused.
"Beer" Leo said firmly.
Cole shrugged but agreed. They wandered over to a nearby bar.
"Seems we’ve been here before" Leo said as they made their way to a table in the corner after buying a couple of bottles of beer.
Then after gulping a mouth full of beer Cole asked "Why Leo?"
"Don’t know" Leo said between swallows.
"Would you tell me if you did?" Cole asked a after a few moments.
Leo put the bottle on the table "Don’t know" he said "depends what she asked."
Cole nodded. "Something’s not right with her" he said after a few minutes.
"‘What do you mean?" Leo asked.
"I felt her aura" Cole sighed.
"I know she hasn’t said anything to Piper" Leo said "and she probably would"
"Something’s wrong with her" Cole said.
They were silent for while, just drinking.
‘I’m pissed at her Leo" Cole said a little later. "Really pissed."
Leo nodded. A few minutes later he said, "Don’t blame you. I’d be pissed."
Cole got up and bought two more beers.
They drank the beers.
"Want another one?" Cole asked.
"She’s damned lucky to have me love her" Cole said as he stood up. He came back with two more beers.
"I often thinks she’s lucky" Leo said as Cole handed him the beer. Cole nodded.
They drank the beer.
After while Cole said "Francesca told me she spoke to you."
"Yeah" Leo said.
"Okay?" Cole asked.
"Need to think about it" Leo said.
"Okay" Cole said.
They both drank beer.
"Better go" Leo said".
Cole sighed. " Leo its, th.. its goo.."
Leo nodded "Yeah."’
As they left the bar Cole said angry and hurt" I just don’t get why I have to go through this with her all the time. Its on, its off, its not really off but she wants space or time to find some answers and then she wants me.’ As they walked he thrust his hands in his pockets "I don’t get why I have to go through all this I’ll love you to eternity but I don’t want you in my life and then I want you and I can hardly wait to have you. I don’t get why I have to put up with it."
"Because you fell in love with Phoebe" Leo said, half turning to look at him "If you didn’t want to put up with the garbage you should have fallen in love with some-one else."
‘Who?" said Cole snorting.
"Well I always thought Prue would have been interested if you’d asked" Leo said as Cole gapped at him "then all you would have had to worry about was doing what you were told."
Cole stopped in his tracks "You know Leo" he said" for an angel you can be a nasty little bastard."
Leo laughed "I’ll call you I the morning. Just don’t do anything stupid."
"The only thing I want to do is go home, Leo" Cole said quietly.
"Be patient" Leo said putting his hand on Cole’s shoulder before glancing around to see no one was watching and orbing away.
Cole sighed and walked back to the hotel, realising as he walked, as painful as was, whatever fit Phoebe was having about him, this time, he was not carrying the deep overwhelming pain of isolation and being alone.
Paige had worked quite late that night and then had a meal with Mark. She had finally got used to the idea that she was more or less dating Mark, since the night he had removed her credit card from her hand when she went to pay dutch and said firmly "No."
"But why not" she said. "Mark leaned over, gently putting his mouth on hers and kissing long, slow and deep.
"That’s why not" he said. "Is it a problem?"
"I don’t know. I guess not" Paige said.
She had got in the habit of staying over Mark’s place one or two nights a week. This night he had followed her home, so she could drop her car off. Leaving it at the car park at the community centre was not a good idea. Paige was relieved to see Cole’s car was not there although Phoebe’s was. "Come on in while I get a few things" she said to Mark brightly, knowing Cole was not around to give Mark a hard time.
The manor seemed peculiarly quiet when she went in, no classical music clashing with TV sets, no voices. With so many people in the manor these days quiet was not a usual state. Paige fearing something horrible, something magic called nervously "Hey"
Piper to her relief answered "Kitchen."
Paige went into the kitchen, followed by Mark and found Piper in a silent kitchen sitting at the table staring at the wall, half a glass of wine beside her.
"What’s wrong?" Paige asked apprehensively.
"Cole and Phoebe broke up" Piper said.
"What" said Paige stunned. "Why?"
"Actually they did not break up" Piper said" Phoebe told him to get out."
"Why" said Paige stunned, as Mark stood awkwardly at the kitchen door.
"She says there's some-one else" Piper said. "But Cole doesn’t believe her."
"Yeah. Well Phoebe falling for someone else is as likely as.." Paige "It isn’t even a consideration. He can tell anyway, how she feels" Paige added, forgetting Mark was there.
"He says she still loves him" Piper said ignoring Mark "and he’s really pissed at her and so am I. We just get this family together. Its okay and she… I could wring her neck." and suddenly Piper realised Mark was standing at the door.
Paige following Piper’s glance, turned toward Mark.
"You obviously don’t need me here" he said quietly "I’ll go Paige. We can do this another time." And he turned to go.
Paige nodded and started to follow him out. " Where’s Cole?" She asked.
"At the Belview" Piper said "its okay Leo is over there with him, making sure he’s not alone."
Paige nodded "Good" she said. She followed Mark to the door. He opened it and went out. She stepped onto the porch behind him, pulling the door shut.
Paige leaned on the door and Mark turned back to her "You okay?" he asked.
Paige leaning on the door still holding the handle behind her back smiled "Yeah" she said taking a deep breath "Its none of my business, what goes on between Cole and Phoebe but" she looked up into Mark’s soft grey eyes "Dammit it Mark" she insisted "he’s family and she can’t suddenly say he’s not. Especially after everything she did to insist he is."
"You never know what goes on between two people," Mark said quietly.
Paige snorted, "Three days ago she was getting all teary just talking about how much they loved each other. They have this epic thing going. You have no idea what they went through, what we went through, so they could be together."
Mark reached over and pulled her toward him and Paige for a few minutes enjoyed the comfort of burying herself in some-one else. When Mark let her go she looked up at him shyly.
"I’ll see you tomorrow" he said "It’ll be okay love" he added.
"Mark" Paige said "Thanks."
"You’re welcome love" he said.
Paige went back to the kitchen trying to remember the last time she dated some-one she could just talk to. "I’d like to wring Phoebe’s neck" she said to Piper.
"Line up" said Piper "That Mark, he’s a nice man."
Paige shrugged" Yeah" she said.
"Where’s it going?" Piper asked distracting herself.
"He’s a nice guy" Paige said. " But you know, he’s just a friend, nothing serious or anything."
‘Isn’t it?" said Piper wryly.
"He’s fourteen years older than me" Paige said " Anyway he’s not that good looking" she added.
Piper smiled to herself.
"Is this just a storm in a tea cup" Paige asked Piper "Between Cole and Phoebe, just another drama?"
"I think this is serious," Piper replied.
"And he isn’t evil, hasn’t done anything bad?" Paige said.
Pipe shook her head "He has no idea what the problem is."
"I’d like to wring Phoebe’s neck" Paige said.
"Line up" said Piper.
The next evening Cole sat at a table near the harbour looking out at Alcatraz. He had been tied up with court cases all day and one or other of the family had been calling, every hour or so, almost on a roster he suspected. He had eventually needed to tell Paige he wanted to be alone to think a few things out that evening, but he was grateful, very, very grateful and more than a little surprised.
The misery and evil of the view of Alcatraz exactly suited his mood. He and Phoebe often wandered down around the harbour, especially in the times when neither of them had been working and the only way they entertained themselves was each other’s company.
The tourists and visitors, in groups and happily on holiday made him feel more aware of being alone. He watched a very young couple walking together, the boy with his arm possessively around the girl’s shoulder’s and the girl arched against him.
"I wonder if she promised she would be with him for eternity" Cole thought bitterly and then smiled cynically a few minutes later, as a women walking beside another man suddenly turned on him and hissed some words at him and stalked off. "Bet she promised to be with you for eternity too buddy" he thought.
He stared morosely into the latte and a half eaten hamburger beside him and then pushed the plate away. He looked up at Alcatraz again and then almost caught the table as he felt the world around him spin off balance. Cole glanced around carefully. The feeling was similar one he sometimes got if Arturo came near him outside the magic protection of the nexus of Arturo’s house or the manor but he could see nothing. He glanced through the crowd straining to see any sign and then shut his eyes to feel the spirit winds, and whilst there was nothing untoward from them as he opened his eyes he still felt the harbour spin. He shut them again and opened them and looked up at a man staring down at him from behind dark glasses.
The man was tall, very tall and thin and his lank hair was cut roughly. He wore very dark clothes, and a long dark coat hung off his spare frame.
Cole wondered why he did not have demon written across his forehead and yet he seemed to melt so much in the surroundings he doubted passerbys would have ever noticed his presence. Cole half stood then sat as the man sat opposite him. Cole had got used to the eerie feeling of the ex-demon not quite humanity of Arturo, but this one, this guardian was highly unnerving.
Proctor removed his dark glasses, his thin satanic face taking on a smile that was almost a leer "Well met Belthezor" he said in the old demonic greeting "I am Proctor."
"It had to be one of you" Cole answered not quite knowing the protocol. In the underworld old demons held their place in the hierarchy but this was not the underworld.
Proctor raised his eyes, knowing well what Cole was thinking.
"You have a reason to find me" Cole asked still feeling very awkward.
"It is time..to meet you" Proctor answered "but yes I have a reason."
"Shit" thought Cole remembering how much Francesca disliked the other demon guardians and understanding why.
Proctor in a word or two ordered coffee and Cole watched barely hiding his amusement as the demon took 4 sugars. Sweet tooth demon guardian of he Great Plan he mused.
"You have heard of me?" Proctor asked.
Cole nodded "Yes Francesca told me of you" he answered.
"What does she say of me?" asked Proctor dryly.
Cole gulped "Um… I.."
"Just so" said Proctor smiling but this time the smile went to is eyes "I love Francesca too" he added.
And Cole laughed.
The smile left Proctor’s thin face "I watch" he said. "I see things"
Proctor continued "Your business is your business and my business is mine, as is Therold’s, as is that of all guardians. But" he said quietly "when I see things that should be known I make it my business."
"Sure" answered Cole not knowing what else to say.
"And" added Proctor "The time had come to meet you" he added.
"Sure" said Cole "I’m glad."
"You know Arturo but have not met the others" Proctor asked. "Therold?"
‘No" said Cole.
"Durand?" asked Proctor.
"Haven’t had the pleasure" answered Cole.
"It isn’t a pleasure" said Proctor.
"That’s what Francesca says" Cole replied.
"Oh" said Proctor interested "Francesca has been dealing with Durand?"
Cole nodded and said "Some difficulty with offending wood nymphs with stories of demon bestiality and pigs."
Proctor laughed demonically.
"And monks with the subject of impotency" Cole added.
Proctor laughed, not demonically, to Cole’s surprise. "Poor Francesca" he said "I must remember to offer her my sympathy" he grinned satanically" I do love Francesca" he said
Cole nodded, not quite knowing what was expected of him.
"I have watched you Belthezor" said Proctor sipping coffee" I know a little of you. You have some wisdom but you are rash. I see something that you need to know now, to avoid being.. tempted" and the pain he put into that word made Cole look at him sharply. " We need to assist each other sometimes, help resist the temptation to act rashly" Proctor said.
"I don’t understand" Cole said,
"I rarely worry about the business of witches" Proctor said" but the business of the Charmed Ones lately has caught the attention of my friend Therold. A demon storing old lore and artefacts perhaps to create a faction within the loremasters and priests of the Underworld."
"I know," said Cole " But it’s not my business. I felt nothing."
"No" said Proctor "it is the business of Therold not Belthezor. This is what I came to tell you."
Cole’s head this time was spinning as much from the words as the presence of another guardian.
"I don’t understand" Cole said again.
"No" said Proctor "I will make it clear. The demon who undertakes this work is called Elisheeva. Did you not hear this in your family" he said as Cole’s lips pursed and his eyes narrowed and he shook his head.
Proctor watched him.
"I understand" said Cole grimly.
"So do I" replied Proctor "Resist the temptation to interfere."
"I will interfere if my family need protection," Cole said.
"That is your business" answered Proctor "but as for the other…" Proctor stood up. He tossed some money on the table and Cole stood and held out his hand . Proctor shook it. "Therold’s business is Therold’s business" Proctor said.
"And mine is mine" Cole said "Thank you Proctor."
"It is no small thing" the guardian answered "If you see Francesca before me" he smiled sarcastically "give her my love." He turned and then "Belthezor" he said "we are not beyond being tempted. We just understand what we must do."
‘Yes" Cole answered and shut his eyes for a second and when her opened them, Proctor was gone. Cole could still feel the balance move. He guessed Proctor was some where close by watching
He needed Francesca’s advice on the demon Elisheeva and Phoebe.
"Francesca" he called. "Mrs Rinaldi:" but there was no immediate answer.
"Damn her" he muttered viciously. "Damn her."
Phoebe went to bed early the night after Cole left, after she told him to go. She was restless and miserable but needed to escape the not even remotely hidden censorship of her family. The empty bed felt big and lonely. She had not changed the sheets so it still smelt of Cole but he was missing and the she felt bereft. He was so much part of her life, even when he was somewhere else she felt as if she had lost a part of her soul. Which she had.
She looked around the room and realised when she had packed Cole’s things yesterday how few of those things she has actually packed. There was a pile of books he had bought a couple of weekends ago still sitting on the edge of the bookcase. There was another stack of papers and computer discs on the table he used to keep his work papers. On her dresser were 2 sets of cuff links, several small things, lip balm, a brochure for a B&B, a law journal and an address book. She decided he wasn’t going to get them.
And she had left half the clothes she had thought he didn’t wear, in the closet. He was not going to get them either Phoebe decided.
She went into the ensuite and there were still things of his, after-shave, that had been given to him by a client as a Christmas present and he hated, a spare toothbrush and razor. More things he wasn’t going to get.
In the laundry basket, there was still a considerable amount of his clothing ready to be washed. She pulled out a shirt that he had worn a couple of days ago and held it to her. Then she walked over and sat on the edge of the bed. She put her hand on her stomach and felt, searching again deep inside her for the dark mass of evil but could feel no black hole of emptiness, just something a little demonic.
"It's going go be all right" she said to Whosit. "I promise you it will be all right. Daddy is away for a while and when you hear from him he’s going to be a bit pissed, but" she said to Whosit "He’s a good man, a good person. He knows how to love" she said "so just ignore what he says for a little while. Its going to be all right" she said "he’ll really want you when he gets over panicking about the Great Plan thing, and you’ll need him." she explained to Whosit "He’ll know how to help you understand your nature. He’ll know how to show you the way to being good."
She pulled Cole’s shirt up to her face.
"I’m trusting you Cole" she said" I’m trusting you with everything I have inside. I’m trusting you meant everything you ever said about loving me no matter what I did. About it being forever and without condition." She gulped down tears "I’m trusting you to love me Cole Turner" she said.
Alas my love you do me wrong
To cast me off discourteously;
And I have loved you oh so long
Delighting in your company.
I have been ready at your hand
To grant whatever thou would'st crave;
I have waged both life and land
Your love and goodwill for to have.
Greensleeves (English Traditional Song)