Phoebe bit her lip, hesitant to knock on Cole's door. He had asked her not to come around for a few days, but she was worried about him and hadn't been able to get a hold of him any other way. She hadn't seen him since the night of their fight. He had come by to apologize, but had acted strangely and left almost as soon as he had arrived, claiming not to be feeling well.
She hadn't heard from him since and now, two days later, she was at his apartment.
Finally, she worked up the courage to knock.
"Phoebe," Cole said when he answered the door. He didn't look too good; he was unshaven and his hair was all mussed up. He seemed almost wary of her.
"Cole," Phoebe said. "Hi. Umm, how're you feeling?"
"I tried to call, but there seems to be something wrong with your phone."
Cole glanced backwards. "I forgot," he said, walking over to his telephone. "I unplugged it. I guess that's why no one's phoned me in a few days." He plugged the cord back into the wall.
"Why'd you unplug it?"
"Long story," he said, but didn't elaborate. Normally, Phoebe would have pressed, but normally Cole would have explained without prompting. Phoebe decided it would be a better idea to drop the matter.
"Are you feeling better?" Phoebe asked lamely, only remembering afterwards that she had already asked him that.
"Yes," Cole said, seemingly oblivious to the fact they had already had that conversation.
Phoebe felt they would soon settle into an awkward silence, something that had never occurred between them before, if she didn't do something to prevent it.
"Are you still mad at me?" she blurted out. " 'cuz I'm sorry I doubted you. I didn't really think there was anything going on between you and your friend, I was just upset because - because I realized although we've been going out for almost a month, I know next to nothing about your past."
"No, I'm not mad," Cole said. His voice, however, suggested that was not quite the truth. He wasn't looking at her, either, which was a bad sign.
"Cole - " Phoebe took a uncertain step towards him. "Cole." At the pleading not in her voice, Cole looked up. "Cole," Phoebe finally got out, "please don't distance yourself from me. We had a fight. So what? Everyone fights. Let's no let that get between what we have."
"Phoebe," Cole murmured, a despairing look in his eyes. Unable to stop himself, he took another step closer to her and lost himself in her kiss. "We shouldn't," he finally said.
"Why not?" Phoebe asked. "It's not like we haven't done it before."
"We shouldn't," Cole repeated, but he made no move to stop. Soon all protests were forgotten.
He just kept digging the hole. He should've broken things off with Phoebe when she came over. He had meant to, but when he saw her, he just couldn't go through with it. To make matters worse, he had someone ended up sleeping with her again.
Hell, Cole thought on his way to work the next morning, she was a witch. He was a demon. It should be obvious what he should do. Yet somehow, it wasn't.
He banged his head against the wall of the elevator, which was luckily empty. It looked like he wasn't going to get any work done again. His problem with Phoebe was going to harass him all day.
There shouldn't even be a problem. Phoebe was one of the Charmed Ones. He was Belthazor. The solution should be obvious.
Then why wasn't it?
"Have you and Cole made up, then?" Prue asked, coming into the kitchen.
"Mphm?" Phoebe's words were muffled because she had just taken a bit out of an apple.
"You didn't come home last night," Prue pointed out. "That's usually a good sign."
Phoebe finished chewing and swallowed. "Sort of."
"Well," Phoebe tried to explain, but she couldn't find the words to fit her feelings, "we aren't fighting. He's not mad at me for not trusting him and I'm not mad at him for not telling me about his friend."
Prue could sense that wasn't all. "But?" she asked.
Phoebe smiled wryly. "There's always a but, isn't there. But I felt he was distant and I don't know why." She frowned, suddenly thinking of something. "You don't suppose he saw anything, do you?"
"You're gonna have to give me some more info," Prue said, shaking her head blankly. "Saw anything when?"
"When he came over the other day. You know, when we vanquished Eva. Piper froze him, but what if he saw something?"
"I don't know," Phoebe said, sounding defeated. "Something, anything." She sighed. "Maybe I just want an explanation for why he's acting so strangely."
"Maybe he just needs some space," Prue suggested.
"Maybe I should tell him I'm a witch," Phoebe mused.
"What?" Prue screeched.
Phoebe went on the defensive. "What?" she asked, trying to sound innocent.
"Are you serious?" her sister demanded.
"Maybe," the youngest Halliwell answered.
"You've only known him for a month," Prue said.
"So? I don't like lying to him. I don't like lying."
"You've known him for a month," repeated Prue.
"I don't care," Phoebe said stubbornly.
"Phoebe, you can't tell him," Prue ordered.
"It's my life," Phoebe retorted.
"It's our secret," Prue responded, crossing her arms over her chest.
Phoebe looked away. "I don't want to lose him, Prue," she said. She was surprised to hear her voice crack.
"You won't, sweetie," Prue said, trying to comfort her. "It might not even be about you being a witch. It might be something else completely."
"It might," Phoebe said doubtfully. She couldn't think of anything else it could possibly be, though. "I just don't like keeping something this big from the guy I love."
Prue stared at her younger sister, making Phoebe uneasy. She raised a hand self-consciously to her cheek. What? Do I have something on my face?"
"You love him?"
Phoebe hadn't realized she had said the l-word. "Yeah," she said slowly, amazed by the revelation. "I think I do."
"I didn't realize you guys were that serious," Prue said.
"We are," replied Phoebe. "I think he might even be 'the one.'"
"Wow. I'm happy for you," Prue said. She looked stunned.
"Mr. Turner. Mr. Turner. Mr. Turner." The voice was persistent, edged with humour that was quickly turning into exasperation. Cole finally clued in and discovered someone was trying to get his attention.
"Huh?" he said, looking up. Heather, his secretary, was standing in the doorway, a couple of folders in her hand. "Heather," he said. "What're you doing here? I mean, can I help you?"
"No, sir," Heather said. "I just came to drop off these files for the Brunnetti case." She tapped the folders in her hand. On her face was a scarcely concealed smirk, once that could only ever be found on females, be they mortal, witch or demon. Cole had the feeling she knew exactly what he had been so preoccupied with and tried to keep from going red.
"Thanks, Heather," he said, reaching for them.
"You're welcome, sir," she said, leaving.
Cole opened the files and tried to read their contents, but just couldn't concentrate. Legal work was too complicated for him to focus on that day. A small voice in the back of his mind reminded him that anything that wasn't Phoebe Halliwell couldn't be focussed on that day.
He needed a drink. Unfortunately, consuming alcohol at eleven o'clock in the morning was frowned upon at the office. This rarely bothered Cole, but there was the odd occasion when he really wished mortals weren't so prudish about alcohol, times like right then.
He settled on getting coffee. Maybe caffeine would help.
"Cole, there you are." It was his fellow A.D.A., Lizzy Connolly. "I was wondering if you'd like to go out to lunch with me. There's something I want your opinion on."
"Sure," Cole said. Anything to get his mind off of Phoebe would be a good thing. "You up for an early lunch? Wanna go now?"
Lizzy looked surprised, but she agreed. "Sure. I have no appointments till two."
They went to a small café a few blocks away from the office. After ordering, Lizzy explained the case she was currently working on and asked for his opinion.
Unfortunately, Lizzy's case wasn't so great a distraction as Cole had hoped it would be. He found his mind predictably wandering back several times to Phoebe while Lizzy talked.
"I'm sorry," he said, rubbing his forehead. "Could you repeat that?"
Lizzy didn't. Instead she stared at him and chewed her lip thoughtfully. "How're things going with you and Phoebe?" she asked.
"What?" Cole asked, who couldn't figure out where that had come from. He briefly wondered if, perhaps, she was psychic and had picked up his thoughts, but dismissed the thought almost immediately. He would have realized long ago if she were psychic.
Of course, he hadn't realized Phoebe and her sisters were witches, nor that Leo was a whitelighter, and he had been around them almost constantly for a month.
"I've never seen you so distracted before. Something big's obviously on your mind."
"And you automatically thought it was Phoebe?"
"You're going out with her, and," she frowned, "Phoebe's about the only person I know in your private life. Look, Cole, I know we aren't close, but if you want to talk to me about anything . . ." she offered.
"I'm fine, thanks," Cole said coldly, feeling a little uncomfortable, but trying to hide it. He didn't much like discussing his feelings.
"So everything's okay with you and Phoebe."
"No. Yes," he added quickly. The first answer had been a slip of the tongue. He didn't want anything interfering with his personal life.
"Are you guys fighting?" Lizzy asked, obviously not believing his correction.
"Not really. No."
"What happened? What was the fight about?"
Cole was sick of the questions. He didn't need some mortal trying to psychoanalyze his actions. "It doesn't matter. Look," he said, standing up. "There's something I was supposed to do back at the office that I completely forgot about. I'll see you later." He threw some money down on the table.
Leaving women in a restaurant before the food had even arrived seemed to becoming a habit for him, Cole reflected as he pushed pen the restaurant door. That was the second time in less than a week.
He started back for the office, but halfway there, stopped and said, "Screw this. I'm getting that drink." He didn't even care that he was talking to himself in the middle of a busy street.
He took the afternoon off of work and tried his best to go and get completely wasted. Maybe then a solution would come to him.
"Who could possibly be at the door at," Phoebe glanced at the clock, "midnight?" Both her sisters were fast asleep, but she had been watching a movie on t.v. and was still awake.
The knocking came again. Because she didn't want it to wake up Prue or Piper unnecessarily, Phoebe hurried to see who it was.
"Cole," she cried out and flung open the front door. "What're you doing here?"
"'m here to see you," Cole said.
Phoebe peered at him. "You're drunk!" she accused.
"Hey, you're right, I am," Cole said, unfocussed. Although he was standing still, he suddenly lost his balance and stumbled.
"Upsey-daisy," Phoebe said, catching him. Supporting Cole, she led him into the living room and set him down on the couch. "Why are you here?"
"I needed to talk to you," he said.
"It's late, Cole, can't it wait?"
"No," he insisted, shaking his head vehemently. "'s 'mortan'."
Phoebe could barely decipher his slurred speech but made out that he had something important to say to her. "How 'bout you lie down and go to sleep," she suggested, swinging his feet around so he was lying down on the couch. "And we can talk in the morning." When he wasn't drunk, she added to herself.
"No," Cole protested weakly. "No. I haft to - I haft to tell ya somethin'."
"It can wait, Cole," Phoebe said softly but firmly. She brought a blanket over and covered him up. "Now go to sleep."
Cole's eyes flicked shut. He was too tired and too drunk to protest any further.
"Good-night, Cole," Phoebe whispered, tiptoeing out of the room.
As she turned off the light, she heard him say, "Luv ya," before falling fast asleep and starting to snore lightly. Phoebe stared.
Cole awake in the Halliwell Manor, which wasn't unusual, but downstairs on the couch, which was. He also had a pounding headache and the events of the previous evening were fuzzy.
He groaned and sat up, clutching his forehead.
"How're you feeling" Phoebe asked kindly, coming to perch beside him on the couch arm.
"Awful," he answered honestly.
"Here, these'll help." Phoebe offered him a glass of water and a couple of painkillers, which Cole gladly downed. He didn't often get hangovers because his demon metabolism had a higher tolerance for alcohol, but when he did, they were killers.
"Thanks," said Cole. He squinted up at her. "So did I make a complete ass out of myself?"
"No," Phoebe answered, smiling at him. "You pretty much came in and fell asleep."
"I'm sorry." He really wished the painkillers would kick in soon.
"Do you often get wasted on a Thursday night?" Phoebe asked.
"I rarely get drunk," Cole stated.
"Was yesterday a special occasion then?" Cole couldn't quite identify the tone of Phoebe's voice. Was she mad? Upset? Curious? Confused? Cole's head was too cloudy to figure it out.
"Sort of," Cole told her, staring out the window.
"You said you had something to tell me."
"What?" He looked at her. Her face was expressionless.
"Last night, you said we needed to talk, there was something you had to tell me."
"Did I?" he asked, trying to keep his voice even. What exactly had he said to her? He couldn't remember. It couldn't be much - she was talking to him, not trying to vanquish him, after all.
"You did," Phoebe affirmed.
"I don't remember," he said.
They were both silent for a bit before Cole awkwardly suggested he should get going.
"Okay," Phoebe said, looking down at the ground. "I'll see you, then."
Feeling confused and not sure why, Cole left.
He had phoned when he knew she was in class so he could leave a message to cancel their date. They had made reservations for dinner at a new French restaurant before the entire mess had started.
Cole waited patiently for the machine to beep. "Hi Phoebe, it's Cole. Uh, sorry, but I'm going to have to cancel our plans tonight. Something came up. I'll talk to you later."
As he hung up, he reflected it would be much easier just to break up with her. Really, he didn't know why he hadn't. But somehow, every time Cole had made up his mind to do so, something stopped him. He just couldn't go through with it.
The banging on his door a couple of hours later came as a complete surprise to him. At first he tried to ignore it, but the banging persisted.
"Open up," Phoebe yelled from outside, still pounding the door. "Cole, I know you're in there. Let me in." It was obvious that she was determine to get inside and wasn't going to leave until she did.
Cole answered the door. "Phoebe," he said.
"Cole," Phoebe said angrily. She pushed her way into his apartment.
"I wasn't expecting you," Cole said, closing the door slowly.
"I got your message," Phoebe said.
"I guessed as much."
"What's up with you lately?" she blew up. "You're running hot and cold. One minute, you're avoiding me like the plague, the next you're sleeping with me. You show up at my house in the middle of the night, drunk, then you all but stand me up for our date. What's wrong with you? What's going on?"
"Have a seat," Cole said, avoiding her questions.
"No, I will not have a seat," Phoebe snapped. "I don't know what to expect from you anymore. I want answers, Cole. Why did you get drunk last night? In all the time I've known you, I've never even seen you buzzed, no matter how much you drink. How much did you drink to get that drunk?"
"A lot," Cole admitted reluctantly.
"Why?" Phoebe asked, perplexed.
"It seemed like a good idea at the time." It wasn't what Phoebe meant, and they both knew it.
"Does it have anything to do with why you're avoiding me?" Phoebe asked.
Cole looked away, but didn't say anything.
"Well?" Phoebe persisted. Still he said nothing. "I'm sick of this," she suddenly shouted. "Why all the secrets all of a sudden? Here you were, spouting off all that about trust the other day and now you won't open up to me. I want answers, Cole. I want to know what's bothering you. I think I deserve to know."
"What happened the other night?" Cole asked suddenly, looking her in the eyes.
Caught off guard, Phoebe asked, "What?"
"The other night," Cole explained, "you know, after our fight. When I went over to your house. What happened?"
Phoebe faltered. "What d'you mean?"
Phoebe bit her lip and looked unsure. Cole let the silence go on for a few seconds before saying, "I came to apologize. There was a woman there, in your living room. Then she wasn't. How, Phoebe?"
Phoebe looked torn, but still she did not explain. Cole suddenly felt very weary. IT had come to this. He leaned back onto the couch.
"Which one of you froze me? Was it you? Or was it one of your sisters?"
Phoebe's head shot up. He eyes were wide and looked wild. He mouth hung open slightly. "What are you talking about?" she stammered eventually.
He regarded her evenly. "You know what I'm talking about," he said. "Who froze me?"
Phoebe stared at him a little longer before turning away and whispering, "Piper."
"Makes sense," Cole nodded. "You and Prue were in the other room, weren't you."
"How?" It was barely audible.
Cole didn't understand the question. "How what?" he asked.
"How'd you know?" Phoebe asked, her voice getting stronger.
"It wasn't hard to figure out. I mean, only witches have the power to freeze. And if one of you was a witch, it only made sense that all of you were. That sort of thing usually runs in the family."
Phoebe was looking down, staring intensely at her hands. "I get premonitions," she said at last. "Piper can freeze things. Prue's power is TKing - telekinesis," she unnecessarily added. "We're the Charmed Ones."
Phoebe looked up. "You've heard of us?"
"Of course I have." Because he was masochistic, because he wanted his heart to break into a million pieces, he forced himself to look Phoebe in the face when he added, "All demons have."
Cole watched her and could tell, right down to the second, when Phoebe realized just exactly what he had said.
Sunday, March 11, 2001
Well, that took awhile, and I'm still not very happy with it. Probably sometime in the future it will go over a massive overhaul, but for now, I don't think I'm going to do any better with it and decided to send it out anyway. The next part should be out in a week or two and the conclusion shortly after that.
I forgot to thank the people who reviewed this last time, so here's the two part list. Julie, I'm sorry I've been keeping you in unfair suspense. And I'm doing it again. I'm not all together that nice, am I? Lizzy and Heather - Yep, I wrote you two in. I hope you're happy now! Trinity - First off, I love the name. *grin* Second, I'm glad you think I'm keeping in the spirit of the show. It means a lot. Likewise, Stella, I'm glad you think I've got Cole's essence down pretty well. I'm trying my best. Kathangel, hay_halliwell, Dannette, Ardroit, Stevie and Black Ice - I'm glad you're enjoying it.