Warning: There's some language in this part.

Malicious Intent

Part III of SHIMMER: An AU

Cole had just dropped Phoebe off at home. They had been dating for a month and a half and usually would spend the night together, but he had to be in court early the next day and Phoebe had a morning class so they both agreed to call it an early night. It turned out to be a very fortunate thing indeed for Cole.

He flipped on the light in his bedroom and started to get undressed before stopping suddenly. There was a body on his bed. A naked body. A very feminine naked body that most definitely did not belong to his girlfriend.

"Surprise, Belthazor," Eva said, sitting up. "What took you so long?"

"Eva," Cole said, too shocked to do anything else. "What are you doing here?"

"Waiting for you," she said. She ambled over to him and, wrapping her arms around his neck, gave him a long, passionate kiss. Her naked body was pressed against his.

Finally Cole's gained hold of his senses again. He pushed Eva away from him and she stumbled back, looking astonished. The astonishment quickly turned into anger. "What was that for?" she demanded.

Cole didn't answer. Instead, he asked again, "What are you doing here?"

"I came to see you," Eva pouted. "And this is the welcome I get?"

"We haven't seen each other in years, Eva," Cole reminded her. "You just up and left without a word? How did you think I'd react?" He looked at her, then added in disgust, "Put some clothes on."

Eva obliged. "So we haven't spoken in a little while," she said.

"I haven't seen you since World War II," corrected Cole.

Eva looked puzzled. "Which one was that again?" she asked.

"The one with the Nazis," Cole told her.

"Right," she nodded. "And Kaiser."

"No. Hitler."

Eva brightened. "Now I remember. That was fun."

Cole just sighed. "How'd you find me?"

"It wasn't that hard," Eva told him. "I mean, if you're hiding out, change your name. I just looked for a Cole Turner in the phone book, and voila, here I am."

"I'm not hiding, I'm just avoiding."

Eva waved away the distinction. "Hiding, avoiding, whatever. It's the same thing."

"Besides," Cole said, ignoring her. "I'm just avoiding demons and it's amazing how many of them have no idea I go by anything other than Belthazor. No one's been able to find me so far, so I was a bit surprised that you were able to find me." He looked at her, realizing something. "You still haven't told me why you're here."

"Right." Eva had finally finished dressing. "I need a place to stay."

"You need a place to stay," Cole repeated dumbly.

"Yep," Eva nodded vigorously.

"Why do you need a place to stay?" Cole asked.

"Because I need to hang around in the mortal realm for a little while and you're the only demon I know who lives in San Francisco. The only demon I'm friends with," she amended.

Cole snorted. If she considered their relationship amiable, he heated to see how she got along with the others. "You still haven't explained why you need to be in San Francisco."

"Haven't I?" Eva beamed. "You're looking at the latest Triad-appointed missionary."

Cole didn't bother to correct her usage of "missionary" and focused on her message instead. "You're working for them?" he asked, suddenly hostile.

Eva, realizing her mistake, quickly said, "They have no idea I'm here. No one does. Me being here has nothing to do with them other than I need some help."

"Do you actually think I'm going to help you with a mission from the Triad?" Cole asked.

"It's not like that," Eva protested. "I'm after the Charmed Ones."

Cole looked at her. "Have you completely lost your mind? You actually expect me to help you, not only on a Triad mission, but a suicide mission at that?"

"It's not a suicide mission."

"Eva, even I have heard about the Charmed Ones, and I've been out of the loop since before they became active."

"Then why don't you help." Eva grabbed his arm. "Think of the glory. Think of the reward. Think of what it will be like, to be the one who finally got rid of the Charmed Ones."

Cole snatched his arm away from her. "Have you seen their track record? They've defeated every opponent, demon or warlock, they've been up against. I don't like those odds."

"You're a coward, Belthazor, that's what you are," Eva accused. "Hiding like a pathetic little mortal, too timid to do anything."

Cole didn't allow the words to incite him into action, like Eva probably hoped they would. "I simply choose my battles, Eva," he said calmly.

"You're a coward," Eva repeated sullenly, upset that Cole hadn't changed his mind.

"I'm pragmatist," Cole corrected. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get up early tomorrow, so I'm going to bed."

"Fine," Eva said angrily. She began to take off her clothes.

"What are you doing?" Cole demanded.

"I'm getting ready for bed," she answered. "Remember? You have to get up early."

"You're not sleeping in here with me," Cole said.

"Why not?" Eva demanded. "It's been fifty years. Surely you're not still upset about me walking out on you."

"Don't be so conceited," Cole said. "This has nothing to do with you."

"Then why don't - " she broke off. "You're fucking some mortal, aren't you? How sad is that? Some pathetic mortal has suckered you - you - into a relationship. How . . . monogamous."

Cole rolled his eyes. "It doesn't matter. The point is we're not sleeping together.

"Fine then," Eva said. She took off the rest of her clothes and got under the covers.

"My room, Eva," Cole said. "My room, my house, my bed. You sleep on the couch." He threw one of his old t-shirts at her so she wouldnít have to sleep in the nude.

OF course, it wasn't as easy as that. Eva argued all the way. She was very comfortable in Cole's bed, thank you very much, and she didn't want to leave. In the end, Cole had to carry her out of the room, kicking and screaming all the way, and lock the bedroom door behind him.

He woke up the next morning when the telephone rang. He jumped out of bed and raced for the phone when he realized Eva would probably answer it just to spite him. Considering the only person who ever called him was Phoebe, Cole didn't think having Eva answer was a good idea.

He reached the phone an instant before Eva did. "Hello?" he said, trying to fend off the female demon.

"Cole?" Phoebe's voice sounded muffled, probably because Eva had managed to temporarily knock the phone out of his hand.

"Yeah. Look, can I call you back in a bit? I'm kinda busy right now." He hung up before Phoebe could answer.

"Was that your slut on the phone?" Eva asked icily.

While she was distracted, Cole twitched a finger, unplugging the phone from the jack. He knew Eva wouldn't think to check the connection. He didn't answer Eva, but rather went to shower and get dressed. When he was ready to go, he gave Eva some last minute instructions. "Don't answer the phone," he warned. "Don't answer the door. I'm going to be gone all day and I don't want to come back and find out my life has been ruined."

"I'm not sitting around your apartment all day doing nothing!"

"You have a job to do," Cole reminded her. "Then do it! Unless you came to your senses last night and decided the best thing you could do was figure out a way out of the mess you've gotten yourself into."

"Well, I didn't," Eva said.

"Fine then," said Cole. "I'd wish you luck, but it's not going to do you any good. Eva slammed the door after him.

As soon as he was on the elevator, he took out his cell phone and called Phoebe. "Hey. It's Cole," he said when she answer. "Look, I'm sorry about earlier."

"It's okay," Phoebe accepted the apology. "What happened, anyway?"

Cole hesitated, not sure what he should tell Phoebe. "An old friend is staying with me and . . . "

"You didn't want to wake him up," Phoebe finished for him. It was what Cole was going to say, but it was easier to let Phoebe think that than explain.

"Yeah," Cole laughed nervously. "So if you wouldn't mind avoiding my place for a couple days, my friend's kind of . . . different. Honestly, I have no idea how I was talked into letting him stay with me."

"Okay," Phoebe said. "Look, my class is starting. I have to go."

"See you later sweetie."

"Bye."

~*~ 

"What do you do," Phoebe asked Prue suddenly in the car, "when your boyfriend doesn't want you meeting his friends? I mean, what are you supposed to think? Is he embarrassed by you? Is he not serious about the relationship? What am I supposed to think?" Prue had just picked Phoebe up from school and they were on their way home.

Prue was taken aback by Phoebe's rant. "Is this a rhetorical question or are you having problems with Cole?"

Phoebe sighed. "I called him this morning. He couldn't get off the phone fast enough. Turns out, an old friend is staying with him and I'm not supposed to phone or go over for a few days."

"He said that?" exclaimed Prue.

"In so many words, yes."

Prue looked at her little sister sympathetically. "Don't worry, hon, I'm sure there's a reason."

"Yeah," Phoebe said glumly. "He's horribly embarrassed by me and doesn't want his friends to know he could ebb dating a girl like me."

"Phoebe! How could you say that? You're a wonderful person. How could any one ever be embarrassed by you?"

"He's the A.D.A., Prue. He's so successful. Then look at me. I'm unemployed, still live at home with my sisters. I haven't even got a college degree. Is it any wonder he's embarrassed?"

"Don't say that about yourself," Prue said as she pulled into the driveway. "You're a student, you don't have time for a job. You've gone back to college, and that's gotta be tough. You live at home so we can keep the manor in our family. Plus, you're one of the most powerful and successful witches around. Only an idiot would be ashamed by you, and if Cole doesn't appreciate what you have, well then maybe he doesn't deserve you."

Prue's speech helped Phoebe's self-esteem a lot. "Thanks, Prue," she said, feeling much better. "That means . . . " she trailed off as she caught sight of Piper.

"Oh my God," Prue said, also spotting the middle Halliwell. "Piper! What happened?"

"A demon," Piper said, lifting the ice pack from her rapidly turning black eye.

"Are you okay?" Phoebe asked.

"Other than my eye and my shoulder, yes," Piper answered.

"What happened?"

It turned out Piper had come home to find a demon in the attic, trying to steal the Book of Shadows. She had knocked Piper against the wall and fled before the witch could freeze her.

"When?" Prue demanded.

"Just a few minutes before you guys got here. You didn't happened to see a humanish she-demon leave the house?" Piper asked rhetorically, not really expecting an answer.

Prue and Phoebe exchanged a look, then in unison cried, "Leo!"

The whitelighter orbed in a few seconds later. "Yes? What is - What happened?"

"Demon," Pipe said dryly.

"Here, let me." Leo went over to his girlfriend and, placing his hand delicately on her eye, healed her. Then he repeated the process with her shoulder. Piper, as a thank you, kissed him.

"So what happened?" Leo asked again when that was done. Piper was forced to repeat the story. "Did you recognize her?" he asked when Piper had finished.

"No," Piper shook her head.

"Why don't you go check the Book of Shadows while I go check with them." He jerked his head up, indicating the Elders.

"Good idea," Prue said and the sisters headed up to the attic while Leo orbed away.

~*~ 

"Where have you been?" Cole demanded when Eva returned to his apartment.

"Out," she said shortly. "Doing my job like you suggested."

"And?" Cole asked, curious to the outcome of the fight between his ex and the Charmed Ones. He found it hard to believe she had killed them and they obviously hadn't vanquished her.

"And nothing," Eva said, going to sit on the couch.

"Something obviously happened," Cole said, joining her.

"Well it didn't, okay?" snapped Eva.

Cole was quiet, knowing she would eventually give in and tell him everything. Eva quickly became uncomfortable with the silence, but was determined not to make things easy for Cole.

"You're too damned curious for your own good, you know?" she said.

"Information is power."

"Power is power," Eva countered. "Strength is power. Information is useless."

Cole wasn't sure whether Eva actually meant that or if she was just annoyed with him. It used to be she recognized and admired Cole's modus operandi. Most demons confused his cautiousness with cowardice. They couldn't see how he gathered information so he could find weaknesses and exploit them. "Information is power," he repeated.

"Do you know what I think Belthazor?" Eva asked. "I think you're sick of living like a mortal. I think you miss being a demon. That's why you keep on asking me what's happening, despite claiming you refuse to help. You miss the demon life and you want to go back."

Cole looked away. He was uneasy about how close Eva was to the truth. He wasn't used to people reading him so well. "I'm not sick of the mortal world, and I'm not helping you." Abruptly, he got up and locked himself in his room, hating the face that Eva had won that round.

The truth was, if she had come a month or so earlier, Cole wouldn't have hesitated to help her. But he was curbing his urges for Phoebe's sake. He really enjoyed being with her and didn't want to cut their time together any shorter than it was already going to be.

He didn't like to think about how attached he was getting to Phoebe so instead he busied himself with paperwork for one of his cases. Or at least he tried to. Just when he finally got absorbed into the intricacies of the legal system, there was a noise outside that forced him out of the sanctuary of his room. It sounded suspiciously like someone was trying to ransack his apartment.

He peeked out of his room. "What are you doing?" he asked Eva wearily. She was tearing through all his drawers and cupboards, not even trying to be subtle about it.

"Don't mortals keep photographs?" she asked.

"Yes, most do," Cole answered, trying to puzzle out where this was going. Sometimes the way Eva's mind worked confused even him.

"Then where are yours of your whore?"

"What?"

"The mortal you're fucking. I want to know what she looks like. Is she pretty?"

So she was back to that again. "I don't have any photos of her," Cole said, ignoring the rest.

"Is she that ugly?" Eva wanted to know. "So ugly you can't even have pictures of her? Then why are you sleeping with her?"

Cole rubbed his head, trying to fight off a headache. Eva defined obsessive. When she got a notion, it was next to impossible to distract her from it. "I don't keep pictures of her because of people like you. I donít particularly want you to know what she looks like or who she is."

"Why not?"

Cole shook his head, wondering how she could even ask a question as inane as that. "I rather like her in one piece, and I doubt she'd be that way after you gotten through with her."

"I resent that," Eva protested.

Cole was taken aback. "Why?" he asked, genuinely curious.

Eva shrugged, grinning. "I don't know. Oh well, I'm off." She waltzed out the door before Cole realized what was happening. He groaned, not wanting to contemplate what she could be up to now.

He turned back to his paperwork, but didn't get very far before he was distracted again. Less than twenty minutes after Eva left, there was a knock at the door. He went to answer it, hoping it wasn't Phoebe because there was no telling when Eva would be back.

It wasn't. It was Lizzy Connolly. "What are you doing here?" he asked, puzzled. He didn't even know Lizzy knew where he lived.

"What do you think?" she asked sexily. Then, wrapping his arms around his neck, she started to kiss him.

Cole drew back, alarmed. "What are - " Then he understood. "Eva," he said darkly. "Nice try. But I work with Lizzy, I don't sleep with her."

Lizzy faded into the blond seductress. "Damn," she complained. "She was the only woman I saw you with all day who looked half decent."

"Did you spend your entire day spying on me?" asked Cole in disgust.

"Of course not," Eva answered in a tone that suggested it was stupid for him to even think such a thing. "I stopped when you left work."

"Did you not have anything better to do?" Cole asked. "Like, oh I don't know, maybe do your job? Or have you forgotten about the Charmed Ones already."

"I have not," Eva objected. "I went after their book after you finished work."

"And?"

"And nothing. I told you before. The middle one came home and I left."

"That's it?" Cole asked, frowning slightly. "You just left?"

She glared at him. "Don't ask me why, but for some reason, you're idiotic advice stuck in my head."

"And that advice would be . . . " Cole cocked his head to the side, waiting for her to continue.

"The whole thing about having a plan before going up against the Charmed Ones."

"Well it's nice to see you aren't totally without sense. What's your plan then?"

"I don't know," Eva admitted. "I was kinda hoping you could come up with one for me."

Cole turned away from her. "I told you, Eva, I'm not getting involved with this. I will not do the Triad's dirty work anymore."

"And I told you," Eva retorted, "that I don't believe that crap. You miss the challenge of going up against a witch. Admit it. It was fun. The power, it's addicting. You can't just walk away from it and pretend you're mortal." She had been getting closer and closer to him until there was almost no space between them.

Cole shoved her away. Not too harshly, just enough to make her stumble back. "I said," he told her with a dangerous edge in her voice, "I'm not helping you. And don't follow me if you know what's good for you." He stalked off, needing desperately to go talk to Phoebe.

~*~ 

"That's her," Piper said, tapping the page impatiently.

Prue took the Book of Shadows from her sister and read aloud:

"Evathroxenia." She stumbled over the name then complained," Can't these demons ever have pronounceable names?" She went back to the entry. "A demon of illusion. She has the ability to make things that aren't really there appear." She looked up and commented, "Well, I thought that was obvious from the 'illusion' part."

"Does it say anything about vanquishing her?" Phoebe asked.

Prue looked down again. "No. It just says something about illusion demons not liking reality all too much."

"Maybe Leo will have something," Piper said.

"Speak of the angel . . . " Phoebe said as Leo orbed in. "Well?"

"It was a demon," Leo confirmed.

"We know," Prue said, holding up the Book of Shadows. "We found her in here."

"Apparently, she's been sent by the Triad to kill you."

Piper scowled. "This Triad is really starting to get on my nerves. I really can't stand it when people try to kill us."

The doorbell rang and Phoebe volunteered to answer it, happy to get away from Piper before she started a full-fledged rant.

"Cole," she said in surprise when she opened the door. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm not interrupting anything, am I?" he asked apprehensively. "I know I didn't call."

"No, that's okay." Phoebe opened the door wider and said, "Come in."

"Actually, if you don't mind, I was hoping we could go out. Grab something to eat, or something."

"Sure," Phoebe said, grabbing her coat. She started to leave, but then remembered her sisters were probably waiting for her up in the attic. "Wait a sec. I'm just going to run up and tell me sisters."

Cole nodded, but he seemed troubled. Phoebe wondered what was bothering him and hoped it was nothing serious.

Prue and Piper were a bit worried about Phoebe leaving, but as they couldn't do anything about Evathroxenia yet, they didn't protest. While she was gone they decided they would come up with a spell to vanish the illusion demon. Cole took Phoebe to a nearby diner, not the best food, but good every once in awhile.

"So what's the matter?" Phoebe asked after a waitress had come by to take their order.

"What?" Cole seemed startled. "Nothing. Nothing's the matter."

Phoebe was confused. "But - you - you asked me to come here. I assumed you wanted to talk," she settled on.

"Oh yeah." It was strange, but it seemed as if Cole had actually forgotten that.

"Is everything okay, Cole," Phoebe asked, starting to get concerned.

"Yeah," Cole answered. "Well, no."

"What's wrong?" Phoebe asked again.

"I don't know. I don't know how to say this."

Apprehension washed over her. "Are you breaking up with me?"

"What?" Cole's shock was genuine. "Of course not." He paused, then added, "Are you breaking up with me?"

"No," Phoebe protested.

"Good. No, that's not what this is about."

"It's just," Phoebe felt the need to explain why wondered about them breaking up, "I don't know, you didn't know what to say, and breaking up with someone is always awkward, and I was afraid, well, I thought, what with you not wanting me to meet your friends or anything, that maybe I was more serious about this relationship than you were and you were getting sick of me and - and I'm babbling so I'm going to shut up now."

Cole was frowning. "What?"

Phoebe tittered. "You want me to repeat all that?"

"No, no," Cole was quick to say. "But what's this about friends?"

"Oh, umm," Phoebe looked down at the table. "It's just, this morning when you called, you said you didn't want me coming around until your friend's gone and I was, well, upset. I mean, it kinda says something when your boyfriend doesn't want you meeting his friends."

"Is that what's bothering you?" Cole asked. "Trust me, that has nothing to do with you. It's not that I don't want you meeting my friends, I just don't want you and Eva in the same room together. Mostly because she's psychotic. She's not even a friend. More of a . . . acquaintance whom I get along with only to the point where we don't want to kill each other. Well, at least not always," he amended.

Phoebe coughed. "I'm sorry, she?"

"Yeah," Cole said slowly.

"This friend who's staying at your house is a she?"

Cole looked a little guilty. "Didn't I mention that?"

"No." Phoebe formed the word carefully. "You did not."

"Are you sure?" Cole asked. "I'm sure I did."

"No, I'm quite sure. I would've remembered if you said 'she.' "

"Oh. I could've sworn . . . " He looked puzzled. "Phoebe? My friend Eva, who's female, is staying at my house for a bit."

Phoebe wasn't about to let him off that easily. "You just happened to neglect to mention you were inviting a female friend of yours to stay at your place? And now you donít want me to even meet her?"

"No," Cole corrected. "I neglected to mention the friend who suddenly showed up at my apartment last night, who I haven't seen or spoken to in years, may I have, was female."

"Is she your ex?" Phoebe asked accusingly.

"No," replied Cole. "I can honestly say that she was never my girlfriend. We may have gone out once or twice, but things didn't work out. And, as I said, I haven't seen or heard from her in years. I didn't even know she knew where I was."

"Can I meet her?" asked Phoebe.

Cole hesitated. "I don't think that's a good idea," he finally said.

"Why not?" Phoebe challenged.

"I told you before, she's psychotic. And I - I mean, she's borderline psychotic. She never was very stable."

"And she's staying at your apartment?"

"Until she finally gets the hint that I don't want her there, yes," Cole said.

"And how long will that be? Roughly," Phoebe asked.

Cole shrugged. "A day or two, hopefully. Her business shouldn't take that long." He paused before adding, "You're upset, aren't you."

Phoebe's tempered flared. "Of course I am. What did you expect? You have a girl you used to go out with staying with you and you didn't tell me."

"It's not as if she's been living with me - she just showed up last night. And I'm sorry if I was too preoccupied with other things to inform you right away. I guess I didn't think it was that big a deal." Cole was angry, very angry. Phoebe hated it when he got angry because he started to scare her. He never threatened her, or made her afraid for her safety, he just got an edge to his voice and a spark in his eye that made him seem dangerous.

He continued. "I don't know, I guess I thought you trusted me a bit more than that. I would've trusted you. But obviously I was wrong." He violently shoved himself away from the table. "I'm outta here."

"Cole, wait," Phoebe called after him desperately. He didn't listen.

The waitress came by with their food, but Phoebe was in no mood for eating. She threw a twenty dollar bill down on the table and fled the restaurant, hopelessly trying to hold back the tears that were threatening to fall.

~*~ 

"That was quick," Prue said, coming down the stairs with Piper. "We thought you'd be gone longer. We found a spell." She waved the paper that was in her hand. She stopped, getting a good look at her sister. "Phoebe, what happened?"

"Nothing." Phoebe wiped the tears from her eyes, determined not to let her personal life interfere with her magical one. "Cole and I got into a fight. It doesn't matter. You found a spell?"

"Yeah," Prue answered. Then she asked, "Are you sure?"

"I'm fine," Phoebe insisted. "Let's focus on the demon."

"If you're sure," Piper said, not sounding that convinced.

"I'm fine guys. Now let's see this spell."

Her sisters came down the stairs and they all whirled around, shocked, when a voice behind them asked, "A spell? Ooo. Can I see?"

"That's her," Piper said, pointing wildly at the woman who was lazily leaning against the doorway leading into the kitchen. "That's the demon I saw earlier."

"Well, what are you waiting for," Phoebe said, panicking. "Freeze her."

"Oh yeah." Piper flushed at the reminder. She brought her hands up to freeze the room.

The blond demon laughed.

"She didn't freeze. She was supposed to freeze. Why didn't she freeze?" Piper babbled.

"I don't know," Phoebe said.

"Well, maybe this'll work," Prue said, flinging her hand towards the demon, trying use her telekinesis. Her power didn't work either. "What's going on?"

The demon laughed again. It was not a malicious laugh, like was often the case with demons and warlocks, but a genuine laugh, caused by delight. "You guys really haven't figured it out? I thought you were supposed to be big shots."

"Figured what out, Evathroxenia." Phoebe attempted to sound bold and hoped the hint of fear wasn't as obvious to anyone else as it was to her.

"You've heard of me." Again, she sounded genuinely delighted. "But please, call me Eva. I can't stand my full name."

"Why aren't you affected by our powers?" Piper demanded.

Eva laughed again. Phoebe was getting really sick of her laughter. "Haven't you figured it out? I'm an illusion demon. I'm not really here. Or here. Or here." As she spoke, a double popped up behind the girls, then a third clone and a fourth, until the Halliwells were surrounded by Eva lookalikes. "Well, that's a lie," they all said in unison. "One of me is actually me. But you don't know which one." It was really creepy to see a dozen of the same person, all moving at the same time, doing the same thing. It was akin to being in a Hall of Mirrors at a carnival.

"This is not good," Prue said, speaking what was on all their minds. The three sisters were now back to back, trying not to give Eva open area to attack.

"You said you had a spell," Phoebe said.

"I do!" Prue said. "It says - it says - "

"What does it say?" Phoebe demanded. The Evas were closing in on the Charmed Ones.

The Evas started to hum The Eensy Weensy Spider. "It's the words to The Eensy Weensy Spider," Prue said, despairingly.

"Well? What did you expect?" Eva asked. "I am an illusion demon, after all. I would hardly be worth your while if I couldn't even accomplish a simple distortment of reality."

"Plan B, you guys," Piper said.

"And that is?" Phoebe asked.

"We figure out which one's real the old fashioned way." She kicked one of the advancing Evas, who immediately disappeared. Phoebe and Prue, clueing into the means of discovering which Eva was real, started to do the same.

After three or four of the Eva-clones had disappeared, the real one, who was obviously getting worried the Charmed Ones were going to find her soon, made herself known to them by tossing Piper against the wall. The middle Halliwell banged her head against the wall with an audible thunk and succumbed to unconsciousness.

"Piper!" Prue and Phoebe yelled out, almost as one.

Phoebe, however, didn't let herself get distracted by Piper's injury. With a spinning kick, she cried, "Hi-yah!" Eva went flying into the living room and all of her doubles vanishing.

"Not fair," Eva complained, picking herself off the ground. She waved her hand and disappeared.

"Where'd she go?" Phoebe asked, clutching Prue's arm.

"She disappeared," Prue answered, stating the obvious.

"I told you," a bodiless voice said, sounding almost exasperated, "I'm a demon of illusion. I can make you see things that aren't really there. Or, in this case, I'm not letting you see things that are actually there. Really, how dense are you? I thought we went through this already. And here I thought the Charmed Ones were supposed to be smart. I mean, how stupid are you?"

"If you're done," Prue interrupted, annoyed.

"Yeah."

Prue waved her hand in the general direction of the voice.

"You missed," Eva taunted in a singsong voice. "There's nothing you can do. You won't be able to break my concentration this time."

"Yeah, well you forgot one thing," Prue told her.

"What?"

Prue whipped out the piece of paper containing the spell and together she and Phoebe chanted:

"With the power of mind and the power of might,
Bring all that's unseen back into sight."

The blond demon reappeared suddenly in the middle of the room. She looked dumbfounded.

"Who's stupid now?" Phoebe couldn't resist saying.

Prue flung Eva against the wall.

"Forgot about the spell, didn't you?" Prue asked in mock sympathy.

Eva didn't answer. She struggled to get up. Glancing out the front window, she suddenly smiled.

"What're you so happy about?" Prue asked. "These dense witches are about to vanquish you."

"No you're not," Eva said, still smiling. "Because I'm not alone. Belthazor is coming and even the Charmed Ones are no match for him."

"Belthazor?" Phoebe queried.

"He's going to come and rescue me and kick your sorry asses."

Phoebe and Prue looked at each other in bewilderment, not sure what to make of her.

"Hello?" The front door opened and a voice called out. It was Cole. "Phoebe? Prue? Piper?" He came inside and looked into the living room and froze - literally. Piper was up.

"Well? What are you waiting for? Vanquish her," she ordered.

Eva had made her way to her feet, Prue and Phoebe discovered when they turned around again. Holding hands, they chanted:

"Banish illusion, that's what we'll do,
Bring forth reality, all that is true."

With a scream, Eva was consumed by flames.

Phoebe turned around again and regarded her frozen boyfriend. "What are we going to do about him?"

~*~ 

After Cole left Phoebe in the restaurant, he purposely headed for a bad part of town. He was itching to get into a good fight, relax some pent up energy. Of course, by the time a couple of punks decided to try their luck with the lawyer, Cole had settled down a great deal.

The three teens circled him. "Look," Cole said. "I don't want any trouble."

"Hear that?" one of them, probably the leader, said. "He don't want no trouble." The other two laughed, as if that was a witty remark. "We'll make you a deal. You give us your wallet and your watch, and we don't beat you up too bad."

Cole pretended to consider. "Nah. Doesn't seem all that fair for me."

"Looks like we got us a funny guy," the leader said. "We don't like funny guys."

"Your loss," Cole said. They advanced on him. "I'm taking this to mean we're not going to negotiate a better deal." The leader pulled out a switchblade. Cole shrugged. "Oh well. I'll give you fair warning. You go now and no one gets hurt."

"The only one who's getting hurt is you," the thug threatened. To the other guys, he said, "This one's mine. Rich boy here needs to learn a lesson."

There were several comebacks Cole could have made, but he didn't particularly feel like playing a game of verbal one-upmanship. With a sinister grin, the leader lunged at Cole. The assistant district attorney neatly sidestepped him. The other two stood to the side, waiting impatiently for the signal that they were allowed to join in the fray.

"Now I know I kinda asked for this," Cole said, "but I was . . . not thinking straight. I am now, so let's say we call this off and I'll just leave."

The leader, who had gone sprawling into the wall after missing Cole the last time, had recovered. Having been made to look foolish, he was now angry. With a feral cry, he clutched the blade in his hand and tried to stab Cole. The half-demon easily caught his arm and forced the blade away.

"I'm going out with this girl," Cole continued, as if nothing were out of the ordinary, "and I'm trying not to be, well, evil right now. Now I'm not saying I'm not going to kill anyone anymore," he said, remembering Emilio and Judge Hamilton, "but I'm trying to cut down on needless slaughter." He knocked the blade out of the guys hand and kneed him in the stomach. "So," he finished, "this is your last chance."

The leader, clutching his stomach, had obviously had enough of trying to fight Cole one on one. He had become irrational, and even a bit scared, when the seemingly harmless man had been so easily able to protect himself. "Well? What are you waiting for, you cowards! Get that motherfucker!"

The other boys pulled out knives of their own. Cole shrugged. "Don't say I didn't warn you."

The two boys attack him. Holding his hands out, twin balls of energy shot out of his palms and engulfed them. He turned to regard their leader, who was staring at him in horror.

"I did warn them," Cole said. The remaining boy bolted. "That was fun," Cole remarked to no one in particular.

Eva had been partially right; he had missed the exhilaration that came with being a demon. But Phoebe . . .

Cole sighed. Phoebe. There was no denying it; he had fallen for her - bad. Somehow, she had wormed her way into his life and now he couldn't imagine it without her. Hell, he had killed for her. No, there was no denying it. He was in love with Phoebe Halliwell. And somehow it didn't seem nearly as alarming as he always thought it would.

He had to go apologize to her, make things up. Then he would go back to his apartment and kick Eva out once and for all. Hands stuck in his pocket, he started to whistle as he strolled down the street, heading for Phoebe's house. He felt much better now.

Cole had learned early on that there was no point in knocking at the Halliwell house. Half the time they were up in the attic and they never locked the door. Besides, he was around often enough that no one minded anymore when he let himself in.

"Hello?" he called out. "Phoebe? Prue? Piper?" He walked inside and stopped suddenly.

Eva, who looked just as shocked as he felt, locked eyes with him. The scary part was, she didn't seem shocked as in she didn't expect him back so soon, but rather shocked as in she had no idea she was in the house of Cole's girlfriend.

Cole blinked and she was gone. "What happened?" he asked automatically.

Phoebe exchanged a nervous glance with her sisters. "What do you mean?" she asked. Her voice was higher than usual.

"I - never mind."

"What are you doing here, Cole?" Prue asked.

"I cam to apologize to Phoebe," Cole said, distracted. He was still staring at the spot in the living room where he had seen Eva. He tore his gaze away and looked at Phoebe. "I'm not feeling well," he said. "I think I should get going."

Phoebe escorted him to the door. "Feel better," she said, kissing him on the cheek. Cole barely noticed.

"Yeah. Whatever." He staggered down the front path, not paying any attention to where he was going.

Evan had been after the Charmed Ones. Eva didn't know Cole had been going out with Phoebe. Someone had frozen him. Only witches could freeze him. Phoebe and her sisters were witches. Phoebe and her sisters were the Charmed Ones. He was going out with one of the Charmed Ones.

Cole Turner, Belthazor, was in love with a witch.

The End
Tuesday, February 20, 2001

Okay, that took a little (read a lot) longer than expected, for several reasons.  One, it kinda just took off and turned out to be a hell of a lot longer than I ever expected.  Altogether, it's bigger than the last three parts combined.  I expected it to be maybe a third of it.  But it wouldn't let me cut it down.  Two, I'm bad a fight scenes and I procrastinated.  I'm still not completely happy with them, but . . . Well, I thought I would make you wait any longer.  I have no idea when the next part will be out.
~Trinity Day

PS - Sorry about the spells.  I know they're pretty corny.