Chapter 9: Exit Strategy Part 1
One moment Phoebe was alone, lying on the ground, asleep. The next moment Buffy had blinked in with Faith, who had been sent by her mother to check on Phoebe. "Aunt Phoebe?" Faith said. "Aunt Phoebe, are you in here?" It was at that moment she saw Phoebe lying next to a crypt. "Hey, Aunt Phoebe, wake up."
Phoebe slowly opened her eyes at the gently shaking that Faith was giving her. "Cole?" she said.
"No, Aunt Phoebe, it's me, Faith, Buffy brought me," Faith answered. "Mom's worried. Come on, let's go home."
"No, I have to wait here for Cole," objected Phoebe.
"Aunt Phoebe," said Faith. "Cole will know where to find you. You need to get something to eat, and a good night's sleep."
Phoebe sighed as Buffy and Faith helped her to her feet. "I don't understand. He was supposed to go back under so that they wouldn't be suspicious of him, but it's been over a week."
"I hate to say this," Buffy sighed with a quick glance at her girlfriend. "He probably just hasn't found a safe way out yet, that's all," she said trying to sooth the woman.
"But what if he can't?" Phoebe wondered as she looked at the Slayers. "What if the brotherhood found him out?"
"If they did. You give me the word," Buffy offered. "I'll blink all over the planet and the underworld looking for him so he can come home."
"As much as I appreciate the offer, Buffy," said Phoebe. "Both your girlfriend and possibly you mother would kill me if I asked you to do that."
"I know," Buffy said with a sigh. "But what kind of girlfriend would I be, if I didn't try and help out one of my girlfriend's aunts in her time of need."
"She's right, Aunt Phoebe," Faith said as she smiled at her aunt. "Besides I would probably be blinking with her."
Phoebe nodded as she looked at her niece and let out a resigned sigh. "I hope he's okay."
"I do to," Buffy and Faith agreed and they blinked out.
Cole lay on a large rock as Raynor and Tarkin stood beside him.
Raynor held is hand above Cole's head, reading his thoughts. "Seems our brother's suspicions are well founded," he told Tarkin.
"Why?" Tarkin asked. "What do you see?"
"Sickness," answered Raynor. "The kind that only comes from being under the world of light for too long. It's contaminated him."
"That's impossible, Raynor," said Tarkin. "A demon as great as Belthazor."
"It's not his demon half that's been infected, it's his human half," Raynor explained. "He's in love."
"The witch," Tarkin said.
"Not just any witch, one of the Charmed Ones. But she's not only loved him, she's turned him against us, sent him here to destroy us."
Tarkin nodded. "Well, then we must destroy him."
"You still have so much to learn, Tarkin," Raynor explained. "You don't just kill a demon like Belthazor."
"But he betrayed us," he reminded Raynor.
Raynor nodded. "And in so doing, he's acquired the knowledge of how to kill the Charmed Ones and the Slayers. Something no other demon's been able to accomplish. That with his power makes a very precious commodity for us, one worthy of saving."
"But how can...?" Tarkin wondered.
"How can we save him?" Raynor asked as he looked at his fellow demon. "Simple. We remove the only thing that's re-awakened his human half. His only foot hold to good. The witch's love for him."
Piper sat at the kitchen table with Leo going over the detail that Leo didn't have a passport. While the original intent was for Piper and Leo to go to Paris alone for their honeymoon. Buffy had asked if she and Faith could come. When Piper had asked why Buffy had said she wanted to propose to Faith under the Eiffel Tower. Piper had agreed with two concessions. One that Buffy make sure it was alright with her mother that Buffy go with her, Leo and Faith to Paris. And two that Buffy formally ask Prue for Faith's hand in marriage.
Buffy had gotten one set of approvals out of the way when she had told Joyce what she planned to do. Joyce was hesitant of course but she could see in Buffy's eyes that what her daughter and Faith now had was real. It didn't hurt that Buffy told Joyce about her visit from Patty. So all that was left was asking Prue.
"Hey, Prue," Buffy said as she walked into the living room.
"Buffy," Prue said as she smiled at the blonde. "You're here early today."
"Technically never left," Buffy answered.
Prue knew of course that Buffy had spent the night, especially with the sounds coming out of her daughter's bedroom. "I know. I was just being polite. So what can I do for you?"
"I wanted to do this all formal like," Buffy admitted. "I want to ask Faith to marry me. And I would like your permission to do so."
Prue looked at Buffy for a long moment. "Aren't you rushing this?" she asked.
"Maybe," Buffy reluctantly agreed. "But if that stupid test the Watcher's Council forced me to take taught me anything. Life is short. And Slayers live can be even shorter. I don't want to die with regrets. Of course, I don't want to die period. Had enough of that. So I want to get married and build a life with Faith during the time we have together."
Prue looked into Buffy's eyes and saw the sincerity of Buffy's words. She also saw the love that Buffy held for Faith. A love that was pure. "You have my blessing," she said. "So how were you going to do it?"
"I asked Piper if Faith and I could go with her and Leo to Paris. She agreed with two concessions, both of which have now been filled. I intend to propose under the Eiffel Tower," Buffy said.
Prue smiled. "Perfect.
0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0
Piper poured books and papers from a box onto the table. The only hiccup to Piper's plan was that Leo officially didn't have a passport since he was officially dead and Piper had wanted to go there to Paris like every other newly married couple. Which was the reason for the books and papers. Piper was intent on trying to find a way for Leo fly on a plane.
"Okay," said Piper as Leo walked in holding a French/English dictionary.
"Oś est l' tour Eiffel," said Leo. "That is, where is the Eiffel Tower?"
"Sadly, if we don't get you a passport I will have to live vicariously through my niece," said Piper.
"Honey, we don't need a passport to honeymoon in Paris," Leo said. "With a blink of an orb or a portal, all four of us can be sipping champagne at the Champs Sel Seasay."
Piper giggled. "Yes, as romantic as you make that sound, I think I along with Buffy and Faith would rather fly Air France, than Air Leo or Air Buffy," she said. "Just like every other normal newlywed."
"Air Buffy?" Leo said confused.
"I think she is talking about what I asked her," Buffy said as she walked into the kitchen. She hitched her thumb toward the other room to indicate Prue. "I asked, she said yes. Both of your conditions are met."
"Conditions?" Leo said.
"Buffy wants to propose to Faith in France," Piper explained as she looked at her husband. "I told her she had to ask for Prue's blessing to be able to ask Faith. And to talk to her mother to make sure she could go with us. And apparently both conditions are now met."
"Which means all that's really left is getting you a passport," said Piper as she rummaged around the stuff on the table "if I could just find... voila!" She smiled as she found Leo's birth certificate. "Birth certificate." She held it up.
"Where did you get that?" Leo asked.
"From Dan's old file, the one he put together when he was suspicious of you," admitted Piper. "You remember him, don't ya?"
"Let's see, perfect hair, cleft chin, tried to steal you away from me?" asked Leo.
"Wow, really?" said Buffy. "You must have been a real heartbreaker, Piper."
Leo snatched the birth certificate from Piper. "This isn't going to work; I was born in 1924."
"No, you weren't," said Piper as she snatched it back. She handed the birth certificate to Buffy. "Can your friend Willow do it?"
"Willow hacked into the FBI," Buffy said with a smile. "Give her a couple hours and all you have to do is go to the social security office and pick up a brand spanking new birth certificate."
"This is completely illegal," said Leo.
"Technically everything about your relationship to Piper is illegal, Leo," Buffy said as she looked at the Whitelighter. "After all, marrying a guy who is dead is illegal. Also technically speaking you are pretending to be a person who doesn't exist." She looked at Piper. "Faith said he's supposed to be his own grandson."
"My idea," Piper admitted.
Buffy nodded as she looked back at Leo. "The only reason Piper or you haven't ended up in jail already is because of your cop friend. He isn't going to be able to cover your butts forever. You need papers, Leo, before someone becomes suspicious. And the only way to do that is to get them forged."
It was at the moment Prue walked into the kitchen. "Morning. What's up?"
"Well, probably three to five years in jail, if we're lucky," Leo said as Prue looked at them confused.
"Piper needs to get Leo a birth certificate so that he can get a passport," Buffy explained. "Willow is good at hacking, in fact not too long ago she actually hacked into the FBI. She could do it piece of cake. Well now I need to go see Willow." And with that she blinked out.
"So," said Piper. "Do you know where Faith went last night?"
"At my request Faith and Buffy were looking for Phoebe," said Prue. "Three guesses where she was."
"Hmm, the mausoleum?" guessed Piper.
Prue nodded. "Apparently, it's become like her second home."
"Still no word from Cole?" asked Leo.
Prue sighed and shook her head. "No," she said. And you know what. You would think he could take three lousy seconds just to shimmer and let all of us know that he's okay."
"Maybe he can't, maybe he's afraid he'll get caught," Leo suggested.
Piper sighed. "Maybe he already was."
"Just follow my lead," Raynor said as he and Tarkin walked over to Cole. He waved his hand and Cole woke from his magically induced slumber.
"Raynor," Cole said as he sat up.
"Good to see you're still with us, Belthazor," said Raynor.
Raynor smiled. "I tried to kill you. Accidentally, of course. I didn't recognize you in your human form, my mistake."
"Not many are strong enough to survive an energy bolt, Belthazor," said Tarkin. "You're lucky."
"Forgive me," Raynor said as he held out his hand. Hesitantly Cole shook it.
"How could I not?" Cole asked. "After all, you taught me everything I know."
"Well, not everything," Raynor admitted.
"How long was I out?" Cole wondered.
"Long enough for us to investigate reports that you crossed over to the other side," explained Raynor.
Cole walked over to the water cooler. "Rumors, not reports."
"Don't worry, we don't blame you for the failed hit last week," said Tarkin. "Even if you were seduced by one of the witches that thwarted our plan."
Cole wiped some water on his neck. "I already explained to you that I was over her."
"Yeah, but you didn't explain that she was one of the Charmed Ones," said Tarkin.
"It doesn't matter that you're straight, Belthazor, as long as you're back," said Raynor. "To that end, I have an assignment for you. Something that only your powers can achieve. I need you to get me a magical amulet, one that's hanging from the neck of a witch. Problem?"
Cole looked at Raynor for a moment. He wondered if Raynor wanted him to get Buffy's necklace. "Just that it's a little bit risky, don't you think?" he asked. "Sending me after a witch with the Charmed Ones and their nieces on my trail?"
"Tarkin will provide backup," explained Raynor. "That way if they show up you can catch them by surprise. That should take care of all our problems now, shouldn't it?"
"Where do I get the amulet?" Cole asked as Raynor waved his hand in front of Cole's face. "This shouldn't take long." He shimmered out.
"Think he'll actually get the amulet?" Tarkin asked.
"Yes, but not before he tells his beloved witch what he's about to do," said Raynor. "Then that should plant the first seed of suspicion in her heart."
Phoebe sat sitting in front of the mirror putting on her makeup, Faith stood in the doorway watching her.
"That's one thing I never really was interested in," Faith admitted. "Other girls have the Cinderella fantasy but me I had the fight till you die thing. Of course, it probably didn't help that the Lehanes…"
Phoebe smiled as she looked in the mirror at Faith and then stood up. "Come here," she said as she motioned toward the chair in front of her vanity.
Faith looked at the chair for a moment and then hesitantly moved from the doorway across Phoebe's room and sat down in the chair.
"Now," Phoebe said. "Let me show you watch you've been missing, sweetie." She smiled at her niece and then pick up the foundation and begin applying it.
Thirty minutes later Phoebe was finishing up. She had Faith close her eyes till she was finished. "Okay, open them," she said.
Faith opened her eyes and they went wide at what she saw. She was beautiful. Then she spotted something in the mirror behind Phoebe. "Aunt Phoebe."
Phoebe looked up at the mirror and her eyes went wide as she saw Cole in the reflection. "Promise me when I turn around, you'll still be there," she said, before she quickly turned around. When she saw he was really there she rushed over to him and kissed him passionately.
"I've missed you so much" Cole said.
"I've missed you so much too," Phoebe said.
"So, have I, Cole," Faith admitted as he looked at her and smiled.
"You look beautiful, Faith," Cole said complimenting the Slayer. He looked back at Phoebe. "They've given me an assignment." He gripped Phoebe close not willing to let her go just yet. "One that if I turn down…"
Phoebe clutched at him as she stared lovingly into his eyes. "What kind of assignment?" She could see conflicting emotions in the depths of his eyes.
Cole sighed. "I can't tell you," he snorted out. He knew she was not going to like that answer one bit.
"Wh—" Phoebe can't even start her sentence let alone finish it, why can't Cole tell her?
Cole took Phoebe's hand and guided her to the foot of her bed and they sat side by side. "They've asked me to steal an amulet from a witch," he explained.
"A witch?" Faith said as a frown creased her face.
"Don't worry, I won't hurt her," Cole tried to reassure both Faith and Phoebe but his small laugh at the end of his statement doesn't help matters much.
"Well, that's good news Cole. You can't do this," Phoebe said. Neither she or Faith can hardly believe he's even considering seeing this assignment through.
"You think I want to, damn it," Cole said as he stood back up and walked across the room. "I just have to buy some time so I can figure a way out. In the meantime, I have to at least pretend like I'm evil."
"That's a hard thing to walk away from," Faith said with a glance at Phoebe.
Phoebe looked at her niece in understanding. Out of her sisters and herself. Faith knew what it meant to be evil, to kill with no remorse. She knew her niece now regretted the life she had accidentally taken. Faith had broken the pull of evil because she had learned that the Lehanes had never been her biological parents. She looked back at Cole. "Faith's right," she told him. "If you turn into Belthazor, then you will be evil. And it will be hard to come back from it."
"What makes you both think I'll have to?" Cole asked looking at Phoebe and Faith.
"An amulet protects. It takes someone with great strength to overcome that. Why do you think they choose you?" Phoebe asked as she got off the bed.
"To set me up perhaps. Raynor may be on to me," Cole said realizing the potential truth. He moved back to the bed and stared across the room at nothing.
"Who the hell is Raynor?" Faith asked.
"He's the head of the brotherhood. And my old mentor. He was the power to read thoughts, and if he's read mine..." Cole explained as he sat back down on the bed.
Phoebe knelt down beside him and stared up into his eyes. "Prue, Faith, and I will come with you, and watch your back," she said as she stroked his face.
Cole cut her off as he slid her hand away from his face, he had been afraid she would volunteer to come along. "No, no, no, you can't. That could be exactly what Raynor's expecting you to do. He could be setting me up to get to you. I have to do this alone," he told her.
"Cole, I—" Phoebe started, before he pulled her up on the bed and put his arms around her.
"Trust me, okay? I know what I am doing. Just concentrate on finishing the potion. If it works, Belthazor will disappear and Raynor won't be able to track me. Then, we can be together," Cole said as he pulled Phoebe in and kissed her. He then shimmered out.
"I'll call, Buffy," Faith said knowing her aunt well enough now to know that Phoebe intended to do everything she could to save Cole.
"Thanks, Faith," Phoebe said as she smiled at Faith.
0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0
The second Cole shimmered from Phoebe's room Phoebe and Faith ran downstairs; they had to help Cole. "Prue? Prue?" she frantically called for her sister.
Faith turned and walked over to the phone sitting on the table by the stairs and dialed her girlfriend's number.
Hearing Phoebe's cries for her Prue ran quickly from the kitchen ready and willing to do anything. "Hey what's wrong?" Briefly Prue took in both her sister and her daughter's attire. Neither of them was dressed. Though she did notice that Faith was wearing makeup. She wondered if she had her sister to thank for that.
"Summers Residence," came Joyce's voice over the phone.
"Hey, Mrs. Summers," Faith said as she glanced toward her mother and aunt. "Is Buffy home?"
"One second, Faith, I'll get her."
"Cole's in trouble, I need your help," Phoebe said. She knew that no matter Prue's feelings for Cole she'd help if she asked and she's asking now.
"Hey, Faith," came Buffy's voice over the phone. "I've only been gone a couple hours. Missing me already?"
"Uh, okay, anything," Prue said.
"We need to scry for a witch, fast," Phoebe told her older sister.
"Hey, Buffy, can I get you to blink back here. Cole surfaced and he's in trouble," Faith explained.
"Of course, Faith. I can be there in twenty minutes. I need to run one errand first and then I can blink there straightaway," Buffy said.
"Alright" Prue agreed as she looked at her sister.
"Thanks, Buffy," Faith said as she hung up the phone. "Buffy will be here in about twenty minutes. She needed to run an errand real quick first." She turned and follow her mother and her aunt back up the stairs.
It only takes seconds for Cole to shimmer to the quaint little shop. Standing in the middle of the store stocking items on shelves was the witch he was looking for.
Scared the witch searched around the shop checking for any open doors, when she didn't see one she then turned her gaze on Cole. "Who are you? How did you get in here?" Her voice shook.
Cole strolled slowly closer to the scared girl. "Just do exactly as I say and you won't be hurt. Take off the amulet and put it down." He hoped the witch would listen to him.
The witch clutched the amulet tightly in her hand. No way would she give up the amulet. It was given to her and no one would take it away from her. "I've been sworn to protect it," she protested.
"And I've been ordered to steal it," Cole told her as she backed away from him. "Don't fight me. I beg you." He leaned forward; reaching for the amulet after the witch shook her head. As his hand got closer a blue light shot from it throwing him into a bunch of boxes.
Sweat formed on his forehead as he rose from the crushed pile of boxes. "Maybe I can't." With ease he shifted into his demon half Belthazor. "But I can." He snarled past his sharp teeth.
Again, he walked over to the witch; the bright blue light that had only just thrown him back created a huge shield around her. Now as Belthazor he can pass the force field; it took everything he had to keep his hand going through the shield. He grabbed the amulet and the shield disappeared like it was never there. Instinct kicked in and Belthazor grabbed her by the neck, in seconds he realized what he was doing and let her go.
"Tell no one about the amulet. Not even your Whitelighter." Amulet in hand he shimmered out.
Buffy blinked in outside of the passport agency to find Piper and Leo waiting. "Here you are," she said as she handed Leo a birth certificate. Will magically changed the year to 1974. I hope that will be alright. Anyways she hacked into the social security database so that their records match this."
"Thanks, Buffy," Piper said as she hugged the blonde Slayer. "And tell Willow thank you as well."
"That will have to wait," Buffy said with a sigh. "Faith called me when I was in Sunnydale. Cole surfaced. Seems he may be in trouble."
0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0
Two hours later Piper and Leo were waiting in line to get Leo's passport. "Whitelighter," Leo said filling out the form. "Is that my occupation or should I just put guardian angel?"
An elderly lady waiting in the line in front of them turned around and looked at them as if to say are you two crazies?
"Hi, how you doing?" Piper said as she smiled at the elderly lady who turned back around. She looked at her husband. "What's the matter with you?"
"We shouldn't be here, Piper, this is wrong," Leo reminded her.
Piper sighed. "Wanting a normal life is not wrong, okay? In fact, it couldn't be anymore right. For crying out loud, stop being so good all the time," she said as the elderly lady turned and looked at them again. "Ha, newlyweds, first fight. Eyes front."
"Piper..." Leo sighed as the elderly lady turned back around.
"Leo, look, I love you, but I'm getting a migraine here, okay?" Piper said as she pinched the bridge of her nose. "Just, look, we're not hurting anyone, we're not breaking any commandments, okay? We just changed a lousy two to a lousy seven. So, let go before I blow." It was then that the line moved forward one person. "Okay, we're almost there."
"Uh-oh," Leo said as he heard a call from the Elders.
"What?" Piper said as she looked at her husband. Then she quickly realized what was bothering him. The Elders. "Oh no. No-no-no-no-no, no. You cannot leave right now, okay. Pretend you're, pretend you're out."
"I can't do that," he told his wife.
"Yes, you can. Come on," Piper said getting increasingly angrier.
"I've got to go," Leo said.
"Leo, you can't go right now, okay. We've been in this line for two and a half freaking hours!" Piper said as she pointed at the clock and it blew up. Everyone in the line ducked as she looked around. "Uh-oh."
Buffy, Prue, Faith and Phoebe arrive at the shop and find that the front door is locked. "Okay, Buffy," said Faith.
Buffy glanced around and then blinked to the other side of the door. She unlocked the door and let Prue, Faith and Phoebe in before closing the door behind them and relocking it.
Immediately the scent of smoke almost dissipated enters their nostrils. "Anything?" Phoebe asked.
Prue and Faith shook their heads. "No," they said. They glanced glances around the room noting the trampled boxes and broken knick-knacks.
"Do you think maybe we scryed for the wrong witch?" Phoebe asked, worry lacing her voice.
"No," Buffy answered as she noticed burnt curtains and a black scorch mark on the wall. "I mean no offense guys. I like having powers and being a witch and all. But it comes with recognizing the signs of upper level demonic activity that I never would have paid attention to in the past as just the Slayer. Ignorance is bliss."
"Believe me," said Prue as she looked at her daughter's girlfriend. "We feel you, Buffy. We were in the same place three years ago."
"Do you think she's dead?" Phoebe asked, her voice a little shaky. Of course, what else could the witch be if all that's left of her is a black piece of wall?
"Unfortunately, I don't know what else to think," Prue said reluctantly. She sighed upset that they didn't make it in time to save the witch. Why did the location come too late? Was she not concentrating hard enough…or was she too involved with Phoebe's problem? Mentally Prue shook her head.
"That doesn't make any sense. Cole said she wouldn't get hurt," Phoebe argued.
"Yeah, well, somebody sure fired an energy ball in here," Faith said reluctantly.
"Somebody like Cole, you mean? I thought you were on my side, Faith," Phoebe said as she glared at her niece.
"I am, Aunt Phoebe. I'm not saying it was Cole. All I'm saying is what I see, what we all see," Faith explained. "But if you believe Cole didn't do it then I believe you."
"Yeah, I don't think Cole did it," Prue agreed.
"Thank you," Phoebe said.
"Alright, but if he didn't do it, who did?" Buffy wondered.
"Well, Cole said that he thought he was being set up by his mentor. So maybe he is, maybe they're trying to frame him," Phoebe told her eldest sister and niece.
"Why?" Buffy asked.
"I don't know, but if it's true, that means his cover's blown and we got to get him out of there," Phoebe said.
"Yeah," Prue, Buffy and Faith agreed just as Leo orbed in.
"Leo," Faith stared at the Whitelighter in surprise.
"What are you doing here?" Phoebe put a hand on her hip waiting for his answer, if Leo was here then something had to have happened. Whether that be to Cole, the witch, or Piper she didn't know.
"Looking for the four of you," Leo admitted. "The Elders called me because a powerful amulet has been stolen."
Buffy nodded, closing her eyes to hide the pain of losing an innocent. "Yeah, we know," she said.
Leo narrowed his eyes not sure how they knew before he did unless Phoebe had a premonition. "You do?"
"Yes, and the witch that had it has been killed," Phoebe said motioning toward the scorch mark.
Sighing Leo cast a quick glance around the mangled shop. "It's supposed to protect her, that's why they gave it to her. Only the evilest of demons could have had the power to take it away."
"And why would a demon want that amulet so bad?" Faith asked.
"Because it's one half of an ancient charm. Whoever connects the two amulets together, more than doubles, it protects your power. With it they become invincible," Leo told them.
Now it made sense. "Oh, that certainly explains why the brotherhood wanted Cole to get it," Prue said.
"Cole?" Leo asked confused.
Quickly Phoebe shooed away his concern. "Forget it. Who's got the other half?" she asked.
"Another witch. The amulets were divided between two local covens for safe keeping, but the bearers have always been kept secret, guarded even from them," Leo said.
"Well, obviously that's why the brotherhood wants them both," Faith said with a sigh.
"Only to destroy them so good could never use them. The amulet won't protect anyone evil" Leo explained.
"Alright, we need to find that other witch before they do," Prue clapped her hands together once signaling its time to get the ball rolling.
Phoebe nodded. "Okay, well, you three go with Piper," she said. "So, I can work on Cole's potion."
"Yeah. Speaking of, where's Piper?" Prue asked looking at her brother-in-law.
"Uh, she's at the manor recovering from a little problem we had at the passport office," Leo reluctantly admitted.
"What problem?" Buffy asked hoping the problem didn't have anything to do with Willow's hacking.
"Uh, well, she sort of blew some of it up," Leo explained.
Cole and Tarkin were waiting for Raynor to show. Cole paced back and forth clutching the amulet close to him as Tarkin followed Cole's movements switching with his eyes.
"Nervous?" Tarkin wondered.
"Impatient. There's something you're not telling me brother." Cole said; not liking the way his brother was casting suspicious stares at him.
"Actually, I was about to ask you the same question, brother," Tarkin said as Raynor shimmered in with a smirk on his face.
"Sorry to keep you waiting, I had some business to attend to," Raynor said as he walked over to Cole. "Now, the amulet." With little reluctance Cole handed the amulet over to his former mentor. "Must feel good to be back in the game, it was such a beautiful death." He grinned widely with malice seeping from every dirty pore.
Confused Cole stared at Raynor oddly, like he'd lost his mind. "What do you mean?"
"The witch. How did you kill her?" Raynor asked, waiting to see if Belthazor would lie to him.
"I didn't. I'd never risk alerting the Charmed Ones just for the thrill of offing a low-level witch." If he had been evil it would have been a very smart plan, why alert the good team when you weren't ready to reveal your hand? Why is Raynor getting so bent out of shape over this?
Raynor raised his eyebrows he spoke, "Too bad, I would and did. Don't make me clean up after you again."
"You shouldn't have killed her Raynor." What will Phoebe think now that the witch is dead? Would she think he had something to do with it?
"You're right. You should have."
"You told me to just get the amulet, you didn't say kill the witch," Cole pointed out.
"Some things go without saying."
Tarkin spoke up from his place beside Raynor; he needed to prove his worth to Raynor that he's capable of getting something as important as the other half of the amulet. "You want me to get the second amulet?"
Unfortunately for Tarkin, Raynor had other plans. "No, I want Belthazor to retrieve it."
Cole shook his head negatively. "Let Tarkin. My strength isn't back yet. I could barely fight through the magic of the first amulet." He needed to get to the Manor and inform the sisters and Faith about everything that transpired.
"You can do it, I know you. You're the great Belthazor; you can do anything you want. You've seemed to forgotten that. Find the witch." He waved his hand over Belthazor's face giving him the information needed for the other amulet. "But this time show no mercy."
Sighing Cole shimmered from the cave. It looked he didn't have a choice about killing the next witch. If he didn't his cover was blown, if he did, the Charmed Ones, Faith and Buffy would come after him with a vengeance.
"You think he'll do it?" A part of Tarkin hoped Cole could and would go through with it. However, the other half hoped he failed and then Raynor would finally give him a chance to show him what he's really made of.
"You keep putting the bottle in front him, sooner or later he's going to take a drink."
"What if he doesn't?"
A bright glowing ball appeared in Raynor's hand. "Don't worry, I have insurance."
Buffy blinked into the foyer of the Manor with Faith. A second later Leo orbed in with Prue and Phoebe.
"Alright," said Prue, "I'll start scrying."
"I don't think it'll work," Leo admitted. "The amulet wards off magic, all magic."
"That must be why we didn't find the first witch in time," Phoebe said with a sigh. "We didn't get a read on her until after the amulet was stolen."
"Okay, but what happens if we don't find her before..." argued Faith.
Suddenly there was a loud noise followed by a moan of anguish from Piper. They rushed to the kitchen. Standing by the island covered in watermelon guts was Piper, the expression of her face was a mix between 'gross' and 'why me'.
"Piper?" Phoebe questioned.
"Was it a demon sweetie?" Prue grabbed a towel and tried to help Piper wipe off the pieces and goo.
"No, it was watermelon," Piper answered.
Buffy blinks not sure what Piper had been trying to do. "Why did you slay a watermelon?"
"I didn't vanquish a watermelon. I threw it up in the air and I tried to freeze it and it exploded." Frustrated Piper threw her hands out and a potted plant exploded. She screamed and threw her hands out again this time causing the glass cupboards to shatter.
"This is the little problem I was telling you about," Leo said looking at Prue, Phoebe, Buffy and Faith.
"Okay, Aunt Piper, slowly put your hands down and no one will get hurt," Faith said as her aunt slowly, lowered her hands.
"Honey!" Piper sobbed looking at her husband.
"Sweetie, it's going to be okay, we're going to figure it out," Leo said as walked over to his wife.
"No-no-no!" Piper begged. "Don't come near me, I don't want anybody to get hurt."
"Okay, put these on," Prue said as she picked up a pair of oven mitts and put them on Piper. "Maybe this will help. Put these on and... Okay, now try the teapot. Try the teapot." Piper blew up the teapot.
"Uh, I think that is a resounding no on the oven mitts preventing that," admitted Buffy.
"Alright, just relax," Phoebe instructed, "okay, just calm down because I think your emotions are making this worse."
"I'm gonna go check with the Elders, and see if they know what happened to your powers," Leo suggested.
"Hurry!" Piper begged.
"Hey, and ask them how we're supposed to..." Prue said as Leo orbed out, "find the second witch."
From behind them Cole shimmered in. "I know where to find her," he said.
"Cole," said Faith. "Did you?"
Cole shook his head. "I didn't kill her. I swear."
Phoebe smiled as she rushed over to him. "It's okay, I know. We believe you. You don't look so good. Are you okay?" She touched his face and he pulled her hand away.
"I'm not sure," he admitted.
"Come on," Phoebe said as she led Cole out of the room.
"Mom, Aunt Piper, Buffy," Faith said with a sigh. "I'm worried about Aunt Phoebe," she said.
"I know," Prue sighed. "I am too. I'm afraid what will happen if Cole is forced to embrace his demonic side."
"You think Phoebe will be forced to choose between her family and him?" Buffy asked.
"Possibly," Prue said with a sigh.
0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0
"What about the potion? How close are you?" Cole asked.
"Uh, we're just missing one ingredient, billings root, whatever that is. But as soon as I find it, then I can finish it," she told him.
"Well, I don't have much time, I'm kind of hanging on by my fingertips as it is," he told her.
Phoebe looked at him with worry. "Well, you have to hold on a little longer. You can do it, Cole, I know you."
Cole sighed. "Raynor says he knows me too."
"Cole, look at me. Look at me," Phoebe begged as he turned and looked at her. "You have to keep fighting it. You have to keep fighting him, you cannot let him win."
"But fighting is how he does win," Cole explained. "Raynor's just waiting for me to slip so he can drag me back in the fold, I know that's what he's doing."
Phoebe moved closer to him and touched his face. "He can't have you. I won't let him," she told him.
"Then save me, Phoebe," Cole begged. "I've been ordered to kill the next witch. You have to get there first and stop me. Otherwise Raynor will win."