To know Phoebe is to...

Part 1:Better to have loved and lost

Chapter 1

It was summer solstice evening on a beach in Ireland, far away on the west coast ;an isolated lonely beach with clean white sand and steep cliffs towered over by rugged brilliantly green hills, just a small cove far away from the world where the mist was rolled in as it done for thousands of years. In a corner of the beach perched on a rock, a man dressed in dark clothing sat watching the waves crash; watching feeling mist surround him with an eerie dampness. And he audibly sighed. Time, distance, change, technology and still the beaches and the weather, and the course of nature remained constant.

He remembered oh so many, many years ago, Phoebe mimicking with glee the demon known as the Seer, a demon only he would remember now "I have no sway over the weather."

He smiled to himself Phoebe, good or evil had gift for bitchery that always made him smile. So long ago. How many time since then had he sat on beaches alone, because being alone on a beach was one way he could find her. She came to him on beaches. Once he had sat on beaches and watched waves to protect himself from pain. And now he did it to remember love. So many, many years on, and in all the loneliness of years without her, the memory of that brief time with her was enough to sustain him.

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Phoebe Halliwell sat at her desk and gave up all pretence of trying to work. One of Phoebe's problems, one of her many, she noted, was that she could never find inspiration to write unless there was a deadline hanging over her. Unfortunately she had nearly 5 days before the next one and she remained uninspired.

And as she was uninspired to work, and all things magic seemed very quiet, and Piper was so focused on her baby and Paige happily absorbing herself in studying witchcraft and herbs, Phoebe had nothing to do and no one to think about but herself and where her life was and thinking about that made her think of Cole. He was an itch that would not go away. The more she told herself to not think about him, the more he was in her thoughts.

It was a year to the day when Phoebe had turned away and left Cole alone in the wasteland. It had been a very hard year since then. During the first six long, horrible months Phoebe and her sisters had very nearly descended into evil themselves, as they followed their quest to destroy Cole. Nearly descended to evil because they had lost the way of their calling as protectors of the innocent, and had taken a role as judge and jury and executioner by making themselves the arbitrators of who was innocent and who wasn't.

Phoebe still could not think of the narrow escape they had had without shaking. If Paige had not somehow hung onto her sense of what was evil, despite he sisters scathing comments; if she had not been able to make Phoebe question her motive just enough to get a vision of the evil, evil future that awaited the Charmed Ones; if Cole had not been able to somehow drag himself from the brink of evil and the depths of madness But then she told herself, if , if means nothing. Those things did not happen so it was no use worrying about what might have been. But those thoughts frightened her all the same.

In some ways the next six months had been gentler and easier. Phoebe and her sisters had concentrated, in fact actively sought to find and protect innocents. Piper's daughter had been born and all the joy of her arrival had in some ways made the pain of the previous months fade. Fortunately as far as Phoebe was concerned, three month old Melinda seemed to be following the path of a normal baby and was showing no signs of controlling any magic that she had shown in the womb. Apparently, the baby had only been able to tap into her mother's control of the power, so the family could take great joy in the presence of a normal baby in the household. And if Phoebe had a little pang when she held Piper's baby, she could swallow it with a sincere regret but no longer bitterness or blame on Cole.

In the year since she had left Cole in the wasteland and then divorced him when he returned, she had dated a little. There was Miles but she preferred not to think of Miles except, as a warning that she must be on guard about her motives in dealing with other people. There had been a colleague from work who she had dated and slept with for a few weeks and the relationship had left her feeling unfulfilled and not quite clean, fearful she was using him. There had been one more, a man she picked up almost for casual sex, a man she met at P3 who came on with a strong line about how beautiful she was when she badly needed to be told she was beautiful, after Cole had walked away from her the last time. And that was worse, because it was a line, and he stayed a week and found some one else. And then Phoebe had found, bad as it was to be alone with herself, it was better than being alone with some one else.

So she had decided after Melinda was born it was better to be a Charmed One and an aunt than battle her way through the dating game. When she had been twenty, dating, seeking out partners, scoring had been exciting, made her feel she was some one special, someone desirable when male after male had wanted her.

Since then she had learnt that being special was when one man wanted you, cared about you, fought for you, risked everything to be with you. Cole was a hard act to follow. These days that thought was always ended with a nagging fear that it was an impossible act to follow. In her job she met many attractive men and quite a number tried their luck, she never could accept and she had some weeks previously come to the conclusion why? A 6'2 ex demon, tall dark and good-looking, whose blue eyes had sparkled with love for her. Damn him.

As Phoebe passed the anniversary of each horror date after Cole became the source; their mockery of a wedding, moving out of the manor, the crowning as his queen, the vanquish and the loss of her baby thinking of Cole made her think more of the good times and the good times had been good. They had been friends, lovers, soul mates. They had laughed together, shared romance, and silly games and tender moments. She had had fun with Cole. No need to put up barriers, no need to fear he would find out about the magic, no need to pretend she was a better or worse person than she was, he wanted her. Damn him.

She had started to wonder where they would be if, she had not let evil take her over to try and destroy Cole's fragile hold on good when he returned from the wasteland. What would have happened if she had given in and let him prove himself, court her again as he had wanted to do? Perhaps they would be together, and she would be having sex with some one who did not want to use her, just wanted to love her and make her happy and who was damnably good as a lover. Phoebe sighed recognising that half her problem was that she just plan horny.

Sometime after the last horror anniversary, when the baby had gone, the thought also crossed Phoebe's mind that if Cole really was good now, there was no reason for them not to be together, well the only reason that she could think of, was that he did not want to be with her.Phoebe was beginning to face the inevitable truth that she had once told Cole. She would always love him. The realisation should have come to he as a huge revelation. But it came as an accepted fact of her life, It was a nagging ache, a bitter core and a secret pleasure she hugged to herself.

She dare not even mention it to her sisters; it was a private dark guilty secret. She loved Cole. Always had, always would. And the fear was there of course; because of the price her family had paid for the love she had for that demon. They had stood by her and supported her and suffered because of her and for her.

There was no logical reason for them to hate Cole. They had all, at times been overcome by evil possession and only been stopped by some very good luck and powerful magic. Perhaps hate was to strong a word but Phoebe's family had accepted Cole as their family and been prepared to love him for her sake, and whether he had meant to or not he had betrayed that love. They accepted that Cole was good. In fact all of them, Phoebe, her sisters and Leo could acknowledge the courage and honour he had shown and the sheer guts it took for him to follow the path they had asked him to take.

But it still came down to the fact of Cole, his existence; his presence was a reminder of their own failure, of a year of facing hard and bitter facts. She could well understand her sister's panic at the thought of Cole being part of their lives again, even if they knew on one level he was good. She shared the fear they would feel. But in the weeks following those last anniversaries, it occurred to Phoebe that the last year had also been a year of rebirth and validation. Maybe Cole could be the symbol of that too. Maybe if she and Cole were together again, it could help heal her family. Or cause a rift that would never heal.

Phoebe fantasised a little about what it would have been like, if she and Cole had found away to be together. Fanaticising about possibilities, she thought of the advice Phoebe would give to Pheobe if she wrote and asked

I have decided to get back with my ex. When we broke up it was very bitter and my family really can't forgive him for the way he behaved. How do I get them to accept him again and get on with him again?

She would reply

Your family and your ex have to learn to live with each other, to accept that they are not perfect. They need to meet and learn to find again the things they all had in common.

"That would be good" she thought. "I could ask Cole to dinner, for a truce so that everybody can learn to get on with each other again. I could get Piper to make him a lemon pie"

Then Phoebe giggled. Piper would probably say yes very sweetly and put pepper in it. Phoebe thought of them all sitting around the dining room table, Leo glum and disapproving, Paige snarking and sulking and Piper and Cole bitching, snarling, sarcastic, and pushing it up to the full fifteen rounds.

"Not a good idea" Phoebe thought.

Then she thought perhaps what she would write was:

Perhaps you should make sure your ex agrees with your decision before you start planning how to mend fences with your family.

If she fantasised, if she ever did work thing out with Cole, it maybe better to tell the family about it later. Tell them all, Piper, Paige, Leo and Cole, they were going to make nice for her sake or she would make all their lives hell. Or maybe not.

Or maybe she ought to let them fight it out and pretend she did not know what was happening. Or maybe not.

Then she was suddenly overcome by fear, that she could even consider them being together. He was dangerous, for her for her family. He did not mean to be but he was.

"Just fanaticising" she told herself, but it was a big admission to openly think she could possibly be with Cole again. Because although she did love Cole, without a doubt loved Cole, and a deep part of her soul missed him with a throbbing that was too painful to acknowledge, she resented it. She was angry with him because she did love him.

She had only seen him once and spoken to him once on the phone in six months. When pushed he had simply said, he loved her but needed to be away from her and he had stuck to that answer. Phoebe knew he was still working as a lawyer in San Francisco because in the last thee months he contacted her family fairly regularly. He sent Leo a box of cigars when Melinda was born to Piper's irritation. Apparently his desire to be good had not dulled his ability to be annoying, and then over the next few months, he had contacted Paige regularly, really just left a phone message on her cell, saying he was all right which Phoebe took as a code for he was still managing to be good.

She had seen him on the news when he defended an infamous murder case and got the guy off. Piper had wondered aloud if Cole was working for evil getting the man off. He contacted Paige not long after to say he was all right and she had had challenged why he did it. Cole had snapped at Paige, that lawyers did that, they defended people, guilty and innocent in court, Paige had snarled that getting guilty people off did not seem very good to her and Cole finally relented a little and said "Paige the guy was innocent".

Paige had asked "Are you sure? "

Cole had resorted to sarcasm. "Trust me " he had said.

So Phoebe knew he was still living in the same apartment, that he still worked for the same firm and that he apparently living like a mortal. She hoped, prayed that he was really all right, not just battling an eternal fight to be good. Because she did love him, really loved him and that meant she cared about him, cared about his well-being. She did not want him hurt or in pain. Well not unless she caused it and could control when, where and how it was inflicted on him.

Phoebe sitting in her office without a deadline to worry about rethought all the thoughts she had been recently thinking about Cole. She stared at the phone anon her desk and it almost seemed it whispered a message to her "Call him, call him, call him",

"Why not" she spoke out loud. As much as she resented it, she loved him, she was stuck with him being the love of her life. They were soul mates and besides which she wanted a really great fuck, badly.

She thought what is the worst he can do." Hang up on me."

Then she shuddered a little at the fantasy that she could just say "Hey Cole I want you and hell the past is over.'

Reality set in and she knew that hanging up in her was not the worst Cole could do. For a second she hesitated and then called his office number. It did not occur to her to question why she could still remember it.

A woman who Phoebe did not recognise answered "Cole Turner's office, Francesca Rinaldi speaking."

For a second Phoebe was a little daunted ' Then in as neutral a voice as she could she said "My name is Phoebe Halliwell, May I speak to Mr Turner"

The woman very efficiently and coolly said that she would check whether he was available and in about 2 seconds Phoebe's heart skipped a beat as Cole answered quite sharply Phoebe "What's wrong?"

"Nothing" she answered quickly "I just wanted to know how you are"

He sucked his breath in a little and said quite shortly "I'm good". The last time he had said that word to Phoebe he almost caressed it, it was a promise, a hope. This time it was short sharp and dismissive.

"I'm glad." Phoebe started to say.

Cole cut her short "I'm with a client Phoebe ' he said, "I'll call you back"

Phoebe stared at the phone in her hand, in fury. She really could not believe that Cole had cut her off. Even if it was not the worst thing he could do, it was…it was infuriating.

In a temper she dialled Cole's number again but the terribly efficient assistant who had obviously been warned by Cole answered the call. She told Phoebe that Mr Turner was with a client and he would call her back.

Phoebe slammed the phone down and glared at it, then stared at the wall for a few seconds taking deep gulping breaths. In a few minutes she was able to breath normally and as much to distract herself, as anything, picked up the next letter she had to answer. It was from some one called Restless who said she was a divorced woman, the marriage had been over a year and it was so bad she was not ready even to consider dating but she was desperate for sex. What should do?

These days Phoebe's sense of humour was far better developed because she had stopped making the whole world about her. But for a second she could not help herself. She typed into her computer "I suggest you don't ring your ex and ask him to scratch the itch. You'll feel like shit afterwards"

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