Icicle Melting:

Part II of SHIMMER: An AU

He hadn't intended to call. Really. At least not so soon. Cole had planned to return to P3 a few more times and let Phoebe make up her mind that their relationship wasn't going anywhere so she wouldn't pursue it. Cole didn't go for long-term relationships - especially not with mortals - as the tended to lead to messy breakups. He rather liked P3 and didn't want to have to avoid it because the owner's sister hated him.

But the next day at work, Heather, his secretary, had news that made him change his mind. She knocked on his office door about midmorning. Cole hadn't been doing anything important and he welcomed the distraction.

Heather was in her mid-twenties and rather pleasing to the eye, or at least Cole thought so. If she hadn't been working for him, Cole would probably consider going out with her, but as it was, he had decided long ago never to get involved with the people he worked with, a decision only cemented with the birth of sexual harassment suits. Heather had been working there for about as long as Cole had. She was working her way through college by taking night classes. At the end of the year she would be finished and going to law school herself.

"What can I do for you, Heather," Cole said.

"I'm not interrupting you, am I Mr. Turner?" Heather asked.

Cole shook his head. "Nothing important. Believe me, I'm happy for any excuse that will take me away from this." He spread his hands to indicate the mess on his desk.

She came into his office and sat down opposite Cole. "Iím afraid I don't have anything that will get you out of that," she apologized. "I'm just here to remind you about the dinner this Saturday night and see if I should RSVP you as one or two."

"Dinner?" Cole asked blankly.

"You know, that benefit dinner Mr. Hahn is holding on Saturday. The one you have to go to. I was wondering if I should RSVP you as one or if you've found someone to go with."

"No, no, I have a date," Cole said. "Put me down as two."

"I will," Heather said, getting up to do so.

Cole had forgotten about that dinner, and for good reason. His boss' wife was going to be there and Cole couldn't stand her. She still dressed as if she had the figure of a twenty-year old although it had been a few decades since she had been able to get away with the type of outfits she word. On top of that, her hair was a horrible platinum blond, dyed badly to cover the grey. She hadn't been a blond in the first place and the colour just looked ridiculous on her.

The worst of it was she flirted with Cole outrageously. Every single time he had been in his presence, she had managed to embarrass everyone with her obvious attempts to get him into bed. For his part, Cole just tried to ignore her, but it wasn't easy.

No, there was no way he was going to that dinner alone.

So Cole did what he hadn't planned on doing and phoned Phoebe. The only reason he did it was so he didn't have to put up with the attentions of Mrs. Maier.

Right. It had nothing to do with the fact he hadn't been able to get Phoebe out of his head all morning.

~*~ 

Cole dropped Phoebe off early that morning on his way in to work. Prue wasn't around, so Phoebe assumed her older sister was already at her photo shoot. Phoebe wondered if Prue knew she had spent the night with Cole or if she had thought her sister was still sleeping. It didn't really matter either way, there was just less to explain if Prue didn't know.

Phoebe showered and changed then sat down in the living room. She had some reading to finish up for her class that afternoon.

Sometime later, the telephone rang, startling Phoebe. "Hello?" she answered after about the third ring.

"Is that Phoebe?" the person on the other end asked.

"Yeah," Phoebe said, wondering who she was talking to. She couldn't recognize the voice.

"It's Cole," he said, answering the unasked question.

"Cole!" Phoebe said, cheering up. She hadn't expected to hear from him again so soon.

"Hi. Listen, it's short notice, I know, but I was wondering if you were free Saturday night?"

"I think so," Phoebe said. "Why?"

"There's this dinner I'm supposed to go to for work and I was wondering if you'd like to come with me."

"Sounds great. I think I'm free. Hold on a sec." Phoebe put the phone down and went to find her date book. "You still there?" she asked when she came back.

"Of course."

"I'm free Saturday."

"Great," Cole said. He sounded delighted. "I'll pick you up at seven then? And wear something nice; it's a black-tie event."

"Okay, I'll see you then."

They exchanged goodbyes and Phoebe hung up the phone. She was thrilled; she had a date for Saturday night.

~*~ 

Saturday night rolled around and at seven o'clock, Phoebe found herself rushing around, trying to get ready on time.

"Phoebe, are those my earrings?" Prue demanded.

Phoebe's hands unconsciously went up to her ears. "Yes," she said guiltily. "Sorry?"

Prue just sighed. Downstairs, the doorbell rang, sending Phoebe into a panic attack. "He's here! He's here! I'm not ready."

"Relax," Prue said. "Piper and I will keep him company while you finish getting ready."

"Thanks," Phoebe said, and Prue went downstairs.

Piper and Leo had returned a few days earlier from their 'trip.' It wasn't a moment too soon, either, for the Power of Three was needed once again when Prue and Phoebe had stumbled across Emilio the murderer and his demon Guardian.

Downstairs, Piper had already opened the door. "Is Phoebe ready?" Phoebe could hear Cole's voice filtering up the stairs.

"Not yet," Prue answered.

"So you must be Cole Turner," Piper said. Phoebe cringed. She recognized that tone of voice. It looked like Cole was in for an interrogation. She had better hurry.

"And you must be Piper," Cole returned. "The owner of P3."

"That's me," Piper confirmed. "So you met Phoebe at the club."

"Yeah. It was really sweet, you know, naming the club after you and your sisters."

"What?" Piper asked in a strangled voice. Phoebe knew she was thinking about the Power of Three.

"Prue, Piper and Phoebe," Prue quickly jumped in before Piper could say anything wrong.

"Oh. Of course."

Meanwhile Phoebe had finished getting ready, so she hurried downstairs before her sisters could make Cole any more suspicious. As she descended the stairs, she decided to pretend she hadn't been eavesdropping.

"Cole," she said. "Sorry to keep you waiting."

"It's okay," Cole assured her. "I'm not in a rush." He paused, then added, "You look great.

Phoebe beamed at the compliment. She had spent a long time getting ready and appreciated the recognition. She was wearing a long, black sleeveless dress that Prue assured her was perfect for a black-tie dinner. Her hair was up in a French twist and her only jewellery was Prue's earrings and a simple, silver necklace. "Thanks," she said.

"Are you ready to go then?" Cole asked.

"Just let me grab my purse." She went into the kitchen, her sisters following her.

"I don't like him," Prue announced.

"Since when?" Phoebe asked. "You liked him well enough at P3."

"Well, that was before - " she cut herself off.

"Before what, Prue? Before I slept with him?" The look on Prue's face was enough to confirm Phoebe's suspicion.

"Pheebs, sweetie," Piper, forever the middle child, interjected. "We're just worried about you. Maybe you shouldn't take things so quickly."

"We're going out for dinner, Piper, not moving in together. Now, if you'll excuse me," she pushed her way past her sisters, "I have a dinner to go to."

Cole was waiting rather uncomfortably in the front entrance and Phoebe hoped he hadn't heard the conversation she had with her sisters. If he had, he wasn't saying anything. "Let's go," she said.

~*~ 

They were late, of course. Considering the dinner officially began at seven, it was hard not to be.

Phoebe had freaked out when she found that out, much to Cole's amusement. It took awhile, but he finally convinced her that nobody showed up on time to those types of things.

"There aren't very many people here," Phoebe commented when the entered the banquet room, which was less than half-filled with people.

"I told you," Cole said, "everyone's fashionably late to these things. Most people will show up soon; dinner's served at eight."

"Why do they even bother making it start at seven, then, if dinner isn't served till eight? It's no wonder no one shows up."

"Because if they started it at eight, no one would should up till nine," Cole answered logically.

Phoebe scowled. "I think it's silly."

"Probably," Cole agreed. "But it's what we do." He led her to their table. They were sitting in the middle, a little towards the back, with a few of Cole's co-workers. So far, the only ones there were Elizabeth Connolly, a fellow A.D.A, and her husband.

"Lizzy," Cole greeted, for although they weren't overly friendly, the two A.D.A.s were on first-name basis and Elizabeth preferred to be called "Lizzy."

"Cole," she nodded back. Then, noticing his date, she added in surprise, "Miss Halliwell."

Phoebe seemed to be just as surprised. "Ms. Connolly."

Looking between the two women, Cole asked, "You two know each other?"

"Miss Halliwell is a witness in one of my cases," Lizzy informed him.

"Really?"

"Prue and I saw Emilio attacking Darryl - Inspector Morris, a friend of ours," Phoebe explained.

"Sounds familiar," Cole said. "Did you mention that case to me?" he asked Lizzy.

She looked at him evenly. "That's the case you weaseled your way out of the other day."

Now he remembered. "Free Willy was the judge, wasn't he." He looked at Lizzy. "And I didn't weasel my way out of it. You lost the coin toss, fair and square." It was a complete lie, of course - he had manipulated the outcome so that the coin was heads.

Phoebe looked amused. "Do you always decide who gets the cases by flipping a coin?" she asked.

"No," Cole replied. "It's just the judge. His nickname's Free Willy because he's been known to let criminals go on the flimsiest excuses." What Cole didn't mention was that he was all but convinced Judge William Hamilton was a demon, which was the real reason why Cole tried to avoid him. He was pretty sure the judge didn't know about his own otherworldly persona, and planned on keeping it that way.

"He let the guy go because there was no murder weapon," Lizzy said. "He ignored the rest of the evidence, all the witnesses. It was disgusting."

"That's Free Willy for you," Cole said.

Other people were starting to arrive, distracting Lizzy. Cole excused himself and went to get drinks for Phoebe and him. The Maiers had just arrived. It was going to be a long night.

~*~ 

"So were you bored out of your mind?" Cole asked Phoebe when they were finally able to make their escape a little after midnight. Most people were still there, but many of them were beginning to get drunk and act foolishly. Plus, the DJ, whoever he was, deserved to be shot for his choice in music, as Cole had whispered to Phoebe while they had been dancing to one of the numerous crappy songs.

"No," Phoebe said. "I had fun."

Cole didn't look like he believed her. "Even I was bored, and at least I know these people."

"No, really," Phoebe insisted. "I was fine."

Cole took his eyes off the road to give her a skeptical look.

"Okay," she admitted. "So it was a bit boring."

"I knew it," Cole said gleefully. "I knew no living creature in their right minds could possibly enjoy listening to Maier go on and on about golf."

Phoebe rolled her eyes. "He could at least tell more than one story. I mean, there's only so many times we can listen to him talk about his 'perfect' game."

"You only heard it, what, four? five? times? Trust me, that's nothing. I've been listening to that story for years and it hasn't gotten better with age. Or," he allowed, "in his mind, the game's become a hell of a lot better than it was the first time I heard it." Phoebe laughed. "I promise not to subject you to another evening like this," Cole said. "Next time I take you out, we'll go some place fun."

"Next time?"

"There will be a next time, won't there?" Cole suddenly sounded insecure, an emotion that seemed very out of character for him.

"I hope so," Phoebe said, smiling shyly.

"Me too."

There was no easy way to ask this and Phoebe fumbled with her words. "Look, Cole, my sisters will probably still be out, and I was wondering . . . " Cole waited for her continue, which didn't make things easier for Phoebe. She wished he would say something and help her out. Finally she settled for the same line he had used a few nights earlier. "Do you want to come in for coffee?"

"Coffee sounds great," Cole said, glancing at her.

~ Interlude ~ 

Not very much happened that week. Two witches were very surprised when they went downstairs Sunday morning and found their youngest sister in the kitchen with an assistant district attorney, both of whom looked like they had just gotten out of bed.

On Monday, Assistant District Attorney Lizzy Connolly was attacked by the murderer she had failed to put away the previous week. She was saved only by the intervention of Phoebe Halliwell, who claimed she just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

The police found Emilio the next day, or rather they found his body. He had been stabbed in the chest with a small, sharp object, probably a knife of some sorts. There were no suspects, but then the police, unofficially speaking, of course, weren't all too concerned with the death of a murderer.

Judge William Hamilton also went missing that day. Again, there were no suspects or leads, although the judge's case was given more time than the murderer's. No one ever made the connection between his disappearance and Emilio's murder.

Cole and Phoebe went out a few more times that week. It was quickly becoming unusual for either of them to wake up alone in bed, much to the disapproval of Phoebe's sisters.

The End

Well, Heather, Lizzy, there you have it.  I wrote you in, just like I said I would.  Hope you like your parts.  To everyone else, the characters of Lizzy and Heather have nothing to do (at least not to my knowledge) with the real Lizzy and Heather.  Even last names were made up.  Thank you to Heidi, Piper Mary Cherry Milano and Lizzy for reviewing the last part.

Up next, an old flame of Cole's shows up.  It's already half written, so it shouldn't take too long to finish.  A week, tops.  I'd say even less, but I just started classes again, and don't have as much time to write.

~TD