Cole had stuck around for a few days, hoping against hope for the impossible. But Phoebe had not come around. Finally he had smartened up. Obviously, even if he wasn't, she was smart enough to understand that a relationship between a witch and a demon just would not work.
He was leaving. Eva had been right; he was sick of the mortal world. Now he was even prepared to go back on his knees, groveling, if that was what it took. Anything to leave the mortal world and all its reminders of her.
The last person he expected to see at his front door when he came home from work was Prue Halliwell. Cole instantly went on guard.
"What are you doing here," he asked warily.
Prue didn't look thrilled to be there, but she hadn't attacked him yet. Still, Cole wasn't going to relax any time soon.
"What? No hello?" Prue asked. Cole didn't say anything. He stared at Prue, waiting for her to tell him what she was there for. "I haven't seen you around much lately."
He doubted she missed him. Prue had never been Cole's greatest fan. "And you came all this way to tell me that? Get to the point, Prue."
"No," Prue snapped. "I'm here to knock some sense into your head."
"Does Phoebe know you're here?" Cole asked, trying to hide how desperate he was to know the answer. He seemed to succeed, too, because Prue answered normally.
"No, she doesn't."
Was it possible Phoebe hadn't told her sisters about him? It might actually be true. From what he knew of Prue, she would never converse with a demon such as him as casually as she was right then. "Then why are you here?" Cole asked.
"I've watched you and my sister for this last month. She cares about you, a lot, and I know you care about her, too. Now, I don't know what happened between you two the other day - Phoebe refuses to tell me - but I do know that Phoebe has been miserable ever since. I don't like seeing my baby sister suffer. So I want you to swallow your pride and go apologize for whatever it was that happened."
Part of Cole noted that it was typical of Prue to automatically assume it was his fault, but most of him was too busy marveling over the fact Phoebe hadn't told anyone he was a demon to care about anything else. After a pause, he finally said, "I don't think Phoebe wants to see me."
"I don't know what she said," Prue said, "but you were fighting. She was angry. I'm sure she didn't mean everything she said."
Privately, Cole doubted that. He was positive Phoebe had meant every word she had said and her flight from him. Aloud, he told Prue, "It's not that simple. If Phoebe wants to see me, she knows where to find me."
"Don’t be so stubborn!" Prue cried, frustrated. Cole was sure that if she were any younger or less restrained, she would have stomped her foot as well.
He ignored her outburst and went into his apartment, closing the door firmly behind him, effectively ending their conversation. He looked around the room and decided he could hold off packing, for a little while, anyway. Perhaps there was hope after all.
Phoebe was upstairs in the attic, flipping through the Book of Shadows for what was probably the hundredth time in the last few days. She wondered which one of those demons was Cole, if he was even in the Book at all.
"Is something wrong?"
Phoebe jumped. "Don't orb in like that, Leo," she scolded him. "You startled me."
"Sorry," Leo apologized. He peered down at the Book, which was open to an entry about a particularly scary demon mercenary. He looked up again at Phoebe, concerned. "Did something happen?"
Phoebe shook her head and closed the Book. "No, I was just studying the Book."
"You've been doing that a lot lately," Leo noted.
"Well, I've had a lot of time on my hands lately."
"You still haven't made up with Cole, then."
Phoebe sent him a withering look. "Please," she said. "I get enough of that from my sisters. I don't need you to get on my case about Cole, too."
Leo actually looked relieved, rather than upset, at the admonishment. Phoebe had the feeling Piper had put him up to it. "They're just worried," he said gently. "We all know how you feel about Cole. We care about you, all of us. It's hard for us to watch you be in pain."
"Can we not talk about this?" Phoebe begged.
"Okay," Leo agreed. "What would you rather talk about?'
She looked down at the Book again. "Are all demons evil?" she asked suddenly.
Leo frowned. "What makes you ask that?"
"No reason," Phoebe said, trying to act casual. "Well, I was watching Buffy and Angel the other day. Not all the demons on it are evil. I was . . . I wanted to know whether that's true, or if it's something they made up for the show."
"They made it up," Leo told her. "In real life, all demons are evil."
"Oh." A few strands of hair fell across her face, but Phoebe didn't feel like moving them out of the way.
Footsteps could be heard coming up the stairs. Phoebe and Leo looked over and saw Piper come in. "There you are," she said. "Hi." She smiled widely at Leo. He grinned back.
Phoebe really wasn't in the mood to watch her sister flirt with her fiancé. "Were you looking for me, Piper?" she asked.
"No, but I think Prue is," Piper said. She continued to grin at the whitelighter, so Phoebe left.
"Piper said you were looking for me," she said when she spotted Prue, on her way down the stairs.
"No," Prue said, "I was just wondering where you were."
"Oh." Phoebe started to go back up the stairs, but Prue stopped her.
"Wait!" she called out. "Now that you're here . . . "
Phoebe turned around and waited.
"I went to see Cole today," Prue started.
Phoebe choked. "What?" she demanded, feeling the blood drain from her face. "When?"
"Just now," Prue admitted.
"Why would you do that?"
"Because you're my little sister and I don't like seeing you suffer."
"That gives you no right," Phoebe said, becoming angry. "My relationship with Cole is between me and Cole. It has nothing to do with you, or Piper, or Leo, so why don't you all just stay out of it. You don't even like Cole!"
"I doesn't matter how I feel about Cole, I'm not the one going out with him," Prue replied. "You're my little sister - I want you to be happy. If Cole makes you happy, well, then, I want you to be with him. Don't throw everything away because of some stupid fight."
"You don't know what you're talking about," Phoebe said, frustrated.
"Only because you won't tell me - won't tell anyone," retorted Prue. "What could possibly have happened that was so bad?"
Phoebe was silent. For some reason, she just couldn't bring herself to tell her sisters that Cole was a demon. Finally she asked in a small voice, "What did he say?"
Prue sighed. "He said he didn't think you would want to see him, but if you did, you knew where to find him."
"That's it," Prue confirmed.
Phoebe started up the stairs once more.
"Wait!" Prue called again. "Aren't you going to see him?"
"Take it from me. I saw him. What ever it was he did, he's sorry about it, even if he won't apologize. Go see him. Make up."
"He has nothing to apologize for," Phoebe said sadly. This time, Prue let Phoebe reach her room without comment.
He had collected surprisingly few personal items over the years, Cole discovered as he packed up all his belongings. Just some clothes, a few books and a couple of CDs. He didn't even have any pictures.
He half-regretted having nothing of hers to remember her by, in a way, he was almost relieved. It wasn't as if he was going to forget her; try as he might, Cole doubted he would ever be able to get her completely out of his head. Part of him wished for just a photograph, but the other part realized if any other demon discovered a picture of her, they would both be in some serious trouble.
All in all, it took precious little time to pack up all of his stuff belongings. He was just finishing up when the telephone, one of the only things he had yet to pack left in the apartment, rang.
After a moment's hesitation, Cole answered it. "Hello?" he said, picking up the receiver.
The other end was silent long enough for Cole to wonder whether the phone really had rung or whether he had just imagined it. Finally, the person said, "Cole?"
There was no mistaking the voice. It was Phoebe. Cole felt his mouth go dry. He licked his lips. "Phoebe."
She hesitated. "I need to - Can I talk to you?"
"You are," he reminded her.
"Face to face."
"You know where I am." There was a beat, then Cole asked, "Will you come?"
"I'm coming. Will you be there?"
"If you come alone." There could only be one reason for Phoebe to come with her sisters and Cole didn't feel up to battling with witches right then.
Phoebe hesitated before promising, "It'll just be me." She hung up the phone.
An agonizing eternity passed before Cole heard the knock at his door. He opened it and stared silently at Phoebe. She looked a little pale and there were faint circles underneath her eyes. She didn't say anything and neither did he.
Finally, realizing how silly it was for them to be standing in the hall like that, Cole moved out of the doorway, tacitly inviting her in. She entered, but slowly.
It was Phoebe, in the end, who broke the silence. "You're leaving," she said after looking around the apartment and seeing all the boxes.
"There's no point in staying here, is there?" He directed the last part of the question towards Phoebe, challenging her to come up with an excuse to keep him there. He was so desperate, it was pathetic.
"Where will you go?"
"Does it matter?" he asked, looking directly into her eyes.
Phoebe bit her lip and looked down, but said nothing. They lapsed into another silence.
"Why are you here, Phoebe?" Cole asked at last.
"I don't know." She looked so lost that all Cole wanted to do was sweep her into his arms and hold her forever.
He stayed still.
"You didn't tell your sisters."
Phoebe looked up at him again. "Should I have?" She looked beseechingly into his eyes.
It was too quiet in the room. Nothing could be heard except their breathing. "It's really up to you, isn't it." It wasn't a question.
There was a pause before Phoebe asked, "There's not an easy answer for this one, is there?" Her eyes were too bright and Cole had to turn his head because he couldn't look at them.
"There's no such thing as easy answers," he said roughly. "Anyone who tells you different is lying."
"So what do we do now?"
"You go home. I finish packing and leave. We never see each other again," Cole said heartlessly.
"And if I don't want to?"
Cole risked losing his nerve by looking back at her. Phoebe's eyes were still glittering, but she didn't look like she was in danger of losing her composure anytime soon. Her chin was up and she stood tall as she regarded Cole.
"It doesn't matter," he said before he lost his courage. "We're breaking up. That's the only option."
"Bull," Phoebe said angrily. "That's an easy answer. Like you said, there are no easy answers, especially not for this."
"I guess I was lying, then," Cole spat. Damn her. She would have to call him on that. Couldn't she see how hard this was for him? Why did she have to make it even harder?
"I guess you were, then," Phoebe replied, locking eyes with him.
Cole lost the battle of wills. "Damn it, Phoebe," he said, looking away. "I'm a demon. You're a witch. Do the math."
"And Leo's a whitelighter," Phoebe retorted. "You don't see that stopping him and Piper, do you?"
"They're in love." He paused, preparing to lie. "I don't love you. I don't care about you."
"Then why are we having this conversation?" Phoebe challenged. "Why did you wait a week to decide to leave? Why'd you tell Prue that if I wanted to talk, you'd be waiting."
Cole couldn't think of a good lie fast enough. "It doesn't matter," he said.
"Yes it does," Phoebe said to the contrary. "It matters." Her voice faltered. The tears had welled up in her eyes and were threatening to spill over. Her face was scrunched up in pain. "It matters a lot." She bit her lip, trying to keep herself from crying.
Cole hated seeing her like that, in so much pain. Before he could stop himself, he had taken a step closer to her.
"Damn it Cole," Phoebe continued. "I love you. And I refuse to believe you feel nothing towards me."
Cole was stunned. He could restrain himself no longer. Enveloping Phoebe in his embrace, he pulled her close to him, where she nestled and started to sob into his chest.
"Shh," he said, rubbing her back, trying to soothe her.
"Cole," she hiccupped.
"Shh," he murmured again. "It's okay." He led her over to the couch and pulled her onto his lap. Phoebe eventually stilled. Her head was still resting on his shoulder and he was stroking her hair. "So, you really think a guy like me has a chance with a girl like you?" he asked, hoping his light tone would cheer her up.
It worked. He could feel her smile, even if he couldn't see her face. "I think a guy like you has a pretty good chance with a girl like me," she said.
"So we're really going to give this a try?" Cole asked, trying not to sound too amazed.
"Yeah, we are," Phoebe answered in her baby voice.
"Are we insane?"
Phoebe laughed, but it was short and it ended in a sniffle. It wasn't the usual, carefree laughter that Cole loved to hear. "We just might be," she told him.
Cole pulled her closer, resting his chin on top of her head. He didn't care how insane they might be. Somehow, holding Phoebe in his arms, as he was right then seemed right. It would take a lot of work, but he had the feeling that in the end, everything would work out for them.
As nice as it was in Cole's arms, Phoebe knew she couldn't stay there forever. Eventually, she very reluctantly sat up. Shifting her body so that she now faced Cole, she said, "So you're a demon, huh." Inwardly she winced. That wasn't the way she wanted to broach the topic.
Luckily, Cole didn't take it the wrong way. Smiling wryly, he nodded. "Uh huh. Well, sort of."
"Sort of?" Phoebe repeated. "Whadya mean, sort of?"
"My father was mortal, so technically, I'm only half demon," Cole explained.
"Do you favour your mom's side or your dad's?" She wasn't referring to looks.
Cole took a long time to answer. "I have powers," he said at last. "They're definitely from my mother. But I can suppress my demonic side."
"Then you're not evil," Phoebe said, reverting to her baby voice. Her head was down and she was drawing circles on his leg with her finger.
He tilted her chin up. "I don't think anyone could be evil if they were with you," he told her solemnly.
"Swear," he declared, seeming amused. He kissed the tip of her nose. Phoebe tried to hold back a giggle.
"So what can you do?" she asked.
"Your powers, what are they?"
"Well," Cole mused. "I can do a bit of telekinesis. I can shimmer, of course."
"Shimmer?" interrupted Phoebe.
"Yeah, shimmer," repeated Cole.
Phoebe shrugged her shoulders, mystified.
Cole leapt to his feet. Holding his hands out, he beckoned to her. "Come here," he said.
Phoebe cautiously got up, eyeing him nervously.
Cole laughed. "It won't hurt. Trust me." He grabbed her hands.
She did, so she allowed herself to be pulled towards him. Cole wrapped his arms around her and together they shimmered.
It was indescribable. Phoebe had never felt anything like it in her life. She now knew what Piper must experience every time she orbed with Leo. Melting into Cole, becoming one with him, it was almost better than sex. Almost.
An instant or an eternity later, Phoebe could never decide which, they appeared in Cole's bedroom. "Oh my," she gasped, breathless.
"Amazing, isn't it," said Cole.
"Amazing doesn't even begin to describe it," Phoebe said wondrously. "I love you, Cole Turner, do you know that?"
"I hope that. And do you know, Phoebe Halliwell, that I love you? With all my heart and soul, I love you."
"It's a good thing you shimmered us into the bedroom," Phoebe mentioned before she started to kiss him.
"Because," she said between kisses, "We're going to need that bed in about thirty seconds."
Her prediction came true.
Sunday, March 18, 2001
Special thanks goes to Ardroit, my beta, who did such a wonderful (and quick!) job. Thank you! Thanks also to Black Ice, Juniper, Kaiyote (was this fast enough for you?), Stella (sorry I wasn't able to write you in, will a brief cameo do in the next part?), hector dominguez, Monica Faour, Lizzy (hopefully Fido won't bite for trying to review this part!), Rayn, and Melinda Halliwell Wyatt for reviewing. You guys are the best. This wouldn't have been written without you!
Well, only one last part left. Is anyone else amazed?