Author notes: like so many Charmed fans, I was shocked to see that they did indeed strip Cole of his demon half and left him powerless. At the time of writing this story, Belthazor and Cole's fates were still very much uncertain. Thankfully, in fanfic, I can do what I want.
On a lighter note, with this story I've also established myself as the absolute worst spell-writer in this realm or any other.
REUNITED HE STANDS
A kick against her ankle, followed by a poke that bruised her ribs pulled Phoebe from a deep, dreamless sleep. "Umph," she grunted as another jab landed in her side, mere inches from the bruised ribs. She opened her eyes and sat up. Beside her Cole was thrashing on the bed, sheets wrapped around his powerful body, arms and legs beating the air as he attempted to free himself from the nightmare that had him in its grip.
"Cole," Phoebe said, ducking a flailing hand and grabbing his wrist, "Cole, honey, wake up. It's just a dream." Concern sharpened her voice. She worried about her lover. This was the third night in a row that she needed to pull him from a nightmare that he was powerless to escape by himself. She shook him again. "Wake up, baby."
Cole flew up from the bed, his eyes wide. Phoebe grabbed on to the side of the mattress to keep from being thrown off the bed by an arm mowing through the air. Cole's forehead glistened in the soft light of the moon and his eyes flicked about the room as if in search of danger before they finally settled on Phoebe's face. His features relaxed when he recognized her but his eyes remained guarded. Phoebe felt another stab of concern.
"What happened?" he asked, his voice hoarse.
"You had a bad dream," Phoebe told him. She reached out to touch his face. "Do you want to talk about it?"
He pulled back from her hand with an impatient shake of the head. "No."
Phoebe couldn't stop the look of hurt that flashed over her face at his curt dismissal. He caught it and his expression softened.
"I'm sorry. I can't talk about it," he said. "I don't remember."
She studied his face. She didn't believe him for one second. He was such a terrible liar, at least with her. She always knew. Yet, she decided to let it go and gave a slight nod.
Cole rolled off the bed and grabbed for his robe. "I'm going downstairs," he said. "Get myself some water. Maybe read for a bit. Hopefully then I can sleep. No need to wait up for me."
Before she could reply, he strode from the room, his shoulders stiff and tense and his head down in defeat. Phoebe contemplated for a few minutes before she decided to follow him.
"Cole?" she called when she arrived downstairs. She found him in the front room where he stood staring out the window into the quiet, dark night. "We need to talk."
Without turning around, he shook his head. "I don't want to talk."
"I don't care what you *want*, Cole," Phoebe said while taking a seat on a nearby chair. "It's what you *need*. I can't help you if you don't talk to me. What's eating you? Ever since Emma stripped your powers, you have been morose, moody. Do you regret what happened?"
"No!" Cole whirled around, his eyes flashing. "Yes. I don't know." He sounded helpless and forlorn and Phoebe extended her arm to take his hand. She pulled him closer.
"Phoebe, I don't know who I am anymore. For a hundred years, Belthazor was half of me. And I never realized how much I relied on those powers until I lost them. I can't help you fight evil anymore. I can't even take you picnicking in France."
"Sure you can," Phoebe said, reaching up and stroking his face. "We just have to get there the old-fashioned way, is all."
Cole pulled away from her touch again. "You miss the point!" he said angrily. "I'm not who I used to be. And I don't know where I go from here."
"Cole-" Phoebe paused and shook her head. "Let's go back to bed," she said quietly. "We'll figure this out in the morning, when we are rested and can think clearly." Experience had taught her that problems always looked less daunting in the bright light of day than they did at four-thirty in the morning.
"There's nothing to figure out," Cole said bitterly. "I'm but half the man I used to be."
He didn't need to say the rest out loud; Phoebe knew what those words were. 'And not the man you want to marry.' It was another thing that stood between them. He had not accepted her explanation that she wasn't ready, that she needed to work out her issues first. Of course, the discussion had gotten muddied with the death of Belthazor and Cole's guilt over killing the witch Andrew, Emma's fiancé.
With obvious reluctance, he allowed her to take his hand and drag him back up the stairs and to bed. A few minutes later they lay side by side on their backs, staring up at the ceiling. Just as Phoebe was about to drift into sleep, Cole spoke, his voice so soft that at first she thought she imagined it.
"He's alive. Belthazor is alive."
* * *
"So, what you're saying," Paige said, "is that this demon isn't gone, that he's still out there, killing." It was early the next morning and the smell of coffee was strong in the air as the Charmed Ones held a war council at the breakfast table.
"Yes," Cole said. He stared at his plate and used his fork to push the pieces of egg around.
"We still have some vanquishing potion," Piper said. "All we need to do is find him and 'poof': problem solved."
Cole's head whipped up. "No!" he said. "You can't!" Phoebe turned to stare at him, the silent question in her eyes. Her sisters and Leo mimicked her stare. "Don't you see?" Cole continued. "He's lost and alone. Like me. And he doesn't even understand what has happened."
"You're not alone," Phoebe murmured and placed her hand on his wrist. Cole gave her a quick half-smile.
"You make it sound like you're sorry for him," Leo said.
"I am," Cole admitted. He went back to staring at his untouched food. "I know how he feels. He's half the person he used to be. It's like-" He scanned the kitchen, searching for a comparison. His eyes settled on Piper. "When you cook, you use smell and taste as well as sight, right? Imagine someone took those senses away from you. That's what it's like for him. For me."
"He's still a demon!" Paige protested. "Shouldn't that be reason enough to vanquish him?"
Cole nodded, once. "Yes. But I need him," he said. "I need his powers."
"Cole!" Phoebe said, her tone expressing her disapproval. She was shocked to find he actually wanted Belthazor back in their lives. "This is what we wanted, isn't it? What we discussed?"
"Well, yes, it is" he acknowledged. "And I'm grateful that it got the Source off my back. But we -I- never had a choice. And we were wrong! Stripping me of my powers is not the solution." Cole turned to face her. "Please understand. I'm powerless, literally. I can't live like this, Phoebe. Hiding behind your skirts. Relying on you and your sisters. At least when I was a demon, I could survive on my own. I need Belthazor."
Phoebe studied his face, scanning the features she knew so well that she could draw them in her sleep. His strong jaw that could clench in anger, his eyes that could be so cold yet so gentle. And as she looked into the blue depths, she did understand. Life at the Halliwell house was anything but safe. And Cole had no magic to protect him from the evils that kept calling. He depended on the Charmed Ones to keep him safe. Something that would not sit easy with any man, let alone the man who was once the mighty Belthazor.
"Okay," Phoebe said and Cole let out a sigh of gratitude.
"Phoebe!" Piper and Paige protested in union.
"Cole's got a point," Phoebe said. "At the very least, stripping those powers should have been his choice. And if Belthazor is still around-"
"We have to find him," Leo finished. "Without Cole to control him, he's an even more merciless killer. Phoebe, we need a spell to reunite Cole-" He hesitated. "Cole's two halves."
"And where would we find the demon?" Paige asked. Her reluctant tone and choice of words suggested she wasn't happy with the outcome of the discussion. Phoebe looked at Cole, confident he would provide the answer.
"He's alone, confused," Cole said softly. He met Phoebe's eyes. "He doesn't understand what's been done to him. But he will remember who did it."
"Emma," Phoebe breathed. "He'll go after Emma."
* * *
The Jeep slowed to a halt in front of a wooden single-story house in a quiet suburb of the city. Neat flowerbeds marked a short path, which led up three steps onto the front porch. The door was ajar. "Are you sure this is the place?" Phoebe asked Paige. They were sitting in the back seat. Piper sat in the front seat beside Cole, and held a folded map of San Francisco in her lap.
"Yeah," Paige said. "This is the address I found for her in the phonebook."
As if to confirm her words, a three-legged stool flew through the window and fragmented into splinters on the veranda.
"Looks like you had it right," Cole remarked dryly. His face was expressionless but Phoebe could see the frightened anticipation beneath the nonchalant exterior.
"Let's go!" Piper said and jumped from the car. The others followed and they ran up the steps. Something crashed to the floor on their left and a woman screamed.
"This way!" Phoebe yelled and took the lead. The scene that greeted her when she entered the room stopped her dead in her tracks. Emma lay on her back against an upturned sofa and Belthazor, bigger than ever, towered over her, an energy ball hovering above his hand. He turned around as she entered and for a long moment looked intently at her. Then he flung the energy ball in her direction.
"Watch out!" Cole shouted and pushed her. Phoebe landed behind a fallen side table. She looked up to see Belthazor stare at Cole, his head slightly cocked and a curious expression on his dreadful features. Cole's face was a mixture of abhorrence and longing, an odd combination if she ever saw one.
Then the moment passed and another energy ball sprang up in Belthazor's hands.
"Ooh!" Piper cried and threw up her hands. The room froze.
"The spell! The spell!" Phoebe waved Paige closer. Paige pulled a small scrap of paper from her jeans and unfolded it with trembling fingers.
"Quickly," Piper urged. "Belthazor won't stay frozen for long."
Their heads bent closely together as the Charmed Ones read the spell Phoebe wrote.
"Spirits of air, water and fire,
hear our plea,
these witches three,
beg of thee,
to restore what was prior."
Two loud screams echoed through the room until the walls shook. One low and guttural, the other higher and more human. When she was later asked to describe what exactly happened next, Phoebe could never find the words. But somehow, Cole and Belthazor pulled together, and then, in a flash of light so bright Phoebe had to avert her eyes, Belthazor disappeared. Cole slumped to the floor and Phoebe was at his side in a flash. "Cole? Cole, honey?" His eyes fluttered open and tried to focus on her face. He moaned.
"How are you feeling?"
"Uhm," Cole murmured. He shook his head and sat up with a painful flinch. "I-don't know." He glanced down at his hands and raised them to touch his face. "I-I feel whole. Complete." He grinned and hugged Phoebe. "I feel like myself again."
Disclaimer: this story based on the Spelling Television/WB Television Network series 'Charmed'. All characters belong to their original owners. The story is meant for entertainment purposes only and no copyright infringement was intended.