Chapter 9: The Demon who Came in From the Cold
May 12, 2001 – Saturday
It was nearing midnight as Faith stood before the Book of Shadows flipping through it. She had to find a spell, any spell that would fix her. Something that would, with her grandmother's reveal of her future two months before, would make her fit to be a mother.
"Hmm this might work," Faith said. As she read the spell, she knew she would have to reword it to cleanse what she wanted it to cleanse. She found a notepad and pen and began rewording the spell. "I call to thee, pure Witches fire. Through vortex flow the heavenly mire. Cleanse brackish innocence of debris. From dark to light, sweep history..."
"I hope it works," Faith sighed as she headed downstairs and to bed.
May 13, 2001 – Sunday
The next morning Faith was finishing eating her breakfast. "Thanks for breakfast, Auntie Piper," she said in a childish voice.
"You're welcome, Faith," Piper said as she looked from her niece to Prue and Phoebe and back to her niece. Was something wrong with her niece?
"Mommy," Faith said turned to Prue. "I'm going to take a jog then go see Gramps with Buffy."
Prue glanced at her sisters and back to Faith. "Are you ok, Faith?" she asked worriedly.
"Fine, mommy," Faith said as she stood up and moved around the kitchen table to her mother. She wrapped her arms around Prue. "I love you, mommy." She turned and skipped out of the kitchen.
"Am I imagining things?" Phoebe wondered as she watched Faith leave. "Or did we just see Faith skipping out the door?"
"No, you're not imagining things," Piper admitted. "You guys don't think she cast a spell on herself, do you? She's acting like you two did when…"
"We saved Thistle," Prue said. "We better check the book."
They hurried up the stairs and into the attic. Prue reached the book first and frowned. It was open to the 'Aura Cleanse' page. "Okay, how does an aura cleanse help her?"
"Because it wasn't an aura cleanse she cast," Phoebe said as she picked up a notepad from the table. "She worded it." She moved to the podium and looked at the original spell. "She changed one word, aura to innocence."
"So, she is trying to cleanse her innocence?" Piper said looking between her sisters. "The question is why." She turned her attention to her eldest. "Prue, I think you should call dad and give him the heads up."
"Good idea," Prue agreed. "One of you should call for Buffy."
"Let's wait till you talk to dad," Phoebe suggested. "If their already there…"
"Your right, Pheebs," Prue said agreeing with what her baby sister was thinking. If Buffy and Faith were already at Victor's calling for Buffy would be redundant.
"Hey, dad," came Prue's voice from the phone. "Has Faith and Buffy arrived yet?"
Victor glanced at his granddaughter and her girlfriend. "They just showed up. Why?"
"Faith cast a spell on herself, dad, that we believe backfired on her," Prue answered. "Can you or Buffy bring her home so we can reverse the spell?"
"Gramps," Faith said.
"Hang on, Prue," Victor said as he gave his granddaughter his attention. "Yes, Faith?"
"Sorry to interrupt," Faith said in her childish voice. "But I've got to go potty."
Buffy glanced at Victor. He mouthed, 'Prue says she cast a spell.'
Buffy nodded in understanding. "Come on, Faith. I'll take you, okay?"
"Okay," Faith said happily. "Tank you, Buffy."
Buffy walked Faith into the bathroom and then rejoined Victor, who had hung up the phone. "What spell is under? She's acting like a kid."
"Prue said she cast a spell on herself that she reworded. It backfired on her reverting her to a childish state," Victor answered. "We need to get her home so that they can reverse the spell."
"Faith, let's get you home," Buffy said when Faith came out of the bathroom.
"Ok," Faith agreed.
"Mom and Gramps," Faith said after Prue, Piper and Phoebe had reversed her spell. "I'm sorry that I tried to restore something that was taken from me a long time ago…my innocence…my purity."
Buffy's eyes went wide. "Your stories weren't completely exaggerated, were they?"
"No, Buffy," Faith answered with a sigh of regret.
Prue glanced at Buffy for a moment and then realized what Buffy had. She looked back at her daughter her eyes going wide. "Oh, no, honey. You were raped?"
"Yes," Faith answered deeply ashamed. "It was on my ninth birthday. She allowed a demon to rape me. And because of that I've always felt I was unworthy and dirty. Another reason I cast the spell is because I'm terrified of being a mommy, because of what that woman did to me. She gave me a baby doll and told me to take care of it somehow I remember how you took care of me and I tried to be a good mommy to Kiko."
"You gave the doll your teddy bear's name," Prue said in surprise.
Faith nodded. "Yes, and the woman wanted me to beat the doll. But of course, I wouldn't do it."
"Faith," Buffy said as she placed her hand on Faith's back and began rubbing it in small circles. "It was just a doll."
Faith shook her head as she looked her girlfriend in the eyes. "No, Buffy. The doll felt so real like it had a voice of its own in my head like we were one."
Cole frowned as he turned and looked at Prue. "That woman risked death," he told the eldest Halliwell.
"Why?" Prue wondered.
"The spell she may have performed on Faith, on the Source's heir, was punishable by death."
"What spell?" Buffy wondered.
"It's called a soul bond," Cole explained. "The woman took a piece of Faith's soul and placed it within the doll. It created a bond between Faith and the doll, the kind of bond you have with Faith, Prue."
"Because of that, I doubt my ability to raise a baby," Faith admitted. "Also, she showed me a vision of me as an adult with my daughter saying she hated me. So how can I be a good mommy if I am terrified to be a mommy myself?"
"You still want our future, right, Faith?" Buffy questioned.
Faith looked at her girlfriend lovingly. "Of course, I do, Buffy. But I am so scared of hurting our baby like I was hurt growing up with that woman."
Buffy smiled as she turned Faith fully around and planted a passionate kiss on the brunette Slayer's lips. "We have time, Faith. We'll take it one step at a time. Let's start with getting you used to dating me, first. Then we'll move to the engagement and marriage and eventually to our daughter. And I believe when you are ready to finally have a baby you will be begging me to do so. Because that's how much your life will have turned around."
Later that afternoon Faith, Phoebe, Buffy, Prue, Piper and Leo stood around the bar discussing what movie they were going to see. "I don't think we're going to be able to pull this off," Phoebe said. It had been Prue's idea to have some family time with Faith to help her daughter to realize what Buffy had said that very morning.
"We have to," Leo said.
"We've been in tighter jams than this before," Prue said.
"But we're running out of time, I don't think we're going to make it," Phoebe said.
"Phoebe, we can do this, okay?" Prue said. "I mean, if we just get a quick bite to eat at Red's, we can still make the 5:30 'Faithless' at the Avalon."
"The foreign film?" Leo said. "I thought we were going to go see a thriller."
"No, Leo, I want to stop thinking about Cole and his demon dodging, not be reminded of it," Phoebe said.
"Piper?" Leo said as he looked at his wife.
"Leo, it is three votes for Faithless," Phoebe said.
"Well, a thriller would be okay," Piper said.
"Okay, wait a second, the vote's three against three?" Prue asked.
"Yes, mom," Faith said. "I too want to see a thriller. Maybe that sequel that just came out, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer?"
"And I think the foreign film would be a better choice," Buffy said. "After what had happened two days ago, I really want to take a break from thrillers."
Leo happened to be looking in the right direction and saw Cole had just walked through the front door and was coming down the stairs. He looked at Phoebe. "Something tells me you're not going to want to see either movie now."
Phoebe followed Leo's gaze and smiled as she rushed over to Cole. "Hey."
"Hey," Cole replied as Phoebe hugged him.
"I was so worried."
"I know, I'm sorry," Cole said. "I couldn't come back until it was safe."
"Is it safe now?" Phoebe wondered.
"I think so. For the moment," Cole said as Phoebe kissed them before joining the others.
"Hey, welcome back," Prue said.
Cole smiled. "Thanks. Glad to be back."
"Love to chat but we're late for a movie," Piper said.
"Want to go?" Leo asked. "We could use the tie breaker."
"Actually, I was hoping Phoebe and I could catch up, alone," Cole said.
"Works for me. Chao!" Phoebe said as she and Cole left.
"Look at Phoebe and Cole trying to be a normal couple," Piper said.
"You know what that means," Leo said.
Prue looked at Buffy the lone remnant of the foreign films beside herself. Which meant Piper, Leo and Faith outnumbered them. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, we're going to go see the thriller. As if we don't have enough scary bad guys in our real life."
"Yeah," Buffy said with a sigh.
Streets of San Francisco
Phoebe and Cole walked down the street hand in hand. "I'm just saying it's complicated," Cole told Phoebe. "But it doesn't have to be, not with magic on our side. I've been thinking, isn't there some kind of spell or something in the Book of Shadows, you could strip my powers?"
"Wait, you want to give up your powers?" Phoebe asked in surprise.
"If I don't have them, I can't be tempted to use them, I could just stay good..." Cole said.
Phoebe pulled him in close to her. "You would do that for me?" she asked as he kissed her.
"Prepare for the brotherhood," a homeless man yelled, as Cole broke the kiss and turned to look him.
"Cole, what is it?" Phoebe wondered as she followed his gaze.
"The thorn is coming. Stop the brotherhood," the homeless man continued.
"Do you know him?" Phoebe wondered.
"No, but if he doesn't watch what he's saying..." Cole started just as a demon appeared behind the homeless man. The demon pulled the homeless man into the alley.
"Phoebe, don't," Cole called after his girlfriend as she rushed toward the alley.
Phoebe didn't listen as she ran into the alley. She instantly saw she was too late as the homeless man fell to the ground, dead. "No," she cried.
The demon threw an energy ball at her and she dove out of the way. He moved closer and she kicked him in the stomach. An athame appeared in his hand which she grabbed and thrust into his chest. A second later he exploded as he was vanquished.
Cole came around the corner as Phoebe turned to look at him. "Where were you? What happened to you?" she asked.
"You just vanquished my brother," Cole told her as Phoebe looked at him in surprise.
"You know, Cole," Phoebe said as she and Cole walked into the conservatory. "There's plenty working against us. I just thought at least I could count on you being honest with me."
"I am," Cole said.
"Okay, so you just forgot you had a brother?" she asked.
"He's not that kind of brother," Cole admitted.
"How many kinds of brothers are there?"
Cole sighed. "It's complicated."
"You know, I hate that word," Phoebe said as Buffy, Faith Prue, Piper and Leo appeared in a swirl of fiery flames.
"Alright, we were just about to find out who the real killer is and the pager goes off, so this better be a really good emergency," Piper said.
"Well, I'm the real killer," Phoebe informed her sister. "I just vanquished Cole's brother."
Prue smiled as she glanced at her daughter. "Whoa, this is so much better than the movie."
"Your right, mom," Faith agreed.
"I didn't want him to see me," Cole told Phoebe.
"And we lost an innocent because of it," Phoebe countered. "Some poor street prophet. He was ranting about the brotherhood."
"Brotherhood?" Leo asked suddenly worried. "Of the Thorn?"
Cole nodded. "Yeah. I was a member... am a member."
"What does that mean?" Piper asked looking at her husband. "What does he mean?"
"Good question," Buffy agreed looking at the demon. Since she had flamed in with Prue, Piper, Faith and Leo. She hadn't let go of Faith's hand. Her fingers were interwoven with Faith's.
Leo sighed as he looked at Cole. "You should have told us."
"I've done a lot in the last hundred years, it's going to take a while to catch you up," Cole admitted.
"Okay, so who are they?" Prue asked as she looked from Leo to Cole and back.
"They're a lead gang, they answer directly to the Source," Leo explained. "He selects the members himself. Then they take a blood oath, lifelong pledge of loyalty."
"Oh, that kind of brother," Phoebe realized.
"All that matters now is that they're surfacing," Cole said. "They must have something big in the works."
"So why kill this crazy preacher guy?" Faith wondered.
"Because not all of them are crazy, or human," Cole explained. "Some of them are magical seers who can pre-see actual events. But they're loud, dirty, so people ignore them. If you call Inspector Morris, I bet he'll tell you other prophets have been killed too."
"For what?" Buffy asked. "Just by talking about this gang?"
"The brotherhood can't risk anyone figuring out what they're up to," Cole told the Slayer.
"Okay, so what are they up to?" Prue asked.
Cole shrugged. "I have no idea. I'm not exactly a member of good standing anymore," he reminded them.
"The Prophet that I was trying to save was talking about Lockserom." Phoebe said.
"The Internet provider? What, the demons want their own website now?" Piper asked.
"I doubt it," Buffy said. "Has to be more to it than that. They always have far bigger plans. Or do I have to remind you about the Mayor?"
Prue, Piper, Phoebe looked at one another and nodded. They had not been there to help Buffy and Faith fight the Mayor of Sunnydale when he tried to ascend, to become a pure demon, an Old One. But they had been kept briefed on the entire situation just in case.
"Buffy's right," Prue said. "Alright, Phoebe, Buffy, you two check the net, Piper and Faith, you two got the Book of Shadows."
"Save it," Cole said as everyone looked at him. "You can't stop the brotherhood with a little research and your kick, freeze, magical move. Even with two Witch-Slayers. No offence intended."
"Some taken," Piper and Buffy said clearly offended.
"No, he's right," Leo said informed his charges. "They're way beyond anything all of you've dealt with before."
"Mayor, big demon snake," Buffy reminded Leo.
"He wasn't fully a demon and hadn't even received his full powers that would have come when he finished the ascension. You vanquished him before that could happen," Leo explained to the blonde Slayer. "If he had finished the ascension he would have been at the very least on level with the Source if not an Old One. But since you stopped his ascension before that point, he was approaching upper level but not quite there yet."
"We can't just let them go," Phoebe said. "Just like Buffy and Faith couldn't just let the Mayor of Sunnydale become a demon. There's got to be a way to find out what they're planning."
"There is one way. For me to go back," Cole suggested.
Phoebe didn't like what Cole was suggesting. "Cole."
"If you want to know what they're up to we have no choice," Cole said.
Phoebe sighed. "Okay, but you'll be exposing yourself to the Source. They'll kill you."
"Maybe not," Cole countered. "They've probably already surfaced, set up camp in this world. I won't have to go under completely."
"Aunt Phoebe," Faith said with a sigh. She would offer to do this herself, after all because of Mrs. Lehane she was the Source's heir. But she knew her mother and Buffy would be against it immediately. So she decided the best course of action would be to side with Cole. "What Cole is suggesting is just like what I did with the Mayor. Mom objected, remember?" Phoebe nodded. "But she knew that I had to help Buffy by going undercover. The same goes for Cole, yes there is a risk just as there was a risk with me. Why do you think Leo was always listening for my call?"
"But Cole won't have Leo to bail him out," Phoebe said. She turned and left the room as Cole followed her.
"I'm worried, and not just about Cole but also Phoebe," Piper said. "I mean, sending him back under is like sending an alcoholic to a kegger. It's just setting him up to fall."
"Is that what you thought about me going undercover, Aunt Piper?" Faith asked, "After all the reason we were reunited was because of what happened in Sunnydale. Or do I need you to remind you that I killed a man."
Piper sighed as she looked at her niece. "To put it bluntly, yes, Faith," she said. "I understood why you did it of course. You had to help the woman you love. But I worried you would fall too. Especially when we know what that Lehane woman did to you by selling her soul to the Source. You're his heir. That's inside you waiting for when he's ready for you to ascend."
"Why didn't you mention that to me?" Prue asked as she looked at her middle sister.
"Because you had Leo watching and listening," Piper said. "It helped ease the worry. Plus, I knew that if something really happened Buffy would have flamed here in a heartbeat and got our help. The thing here is Cole doesn't have that. Leo can't watch over him and listen for his call, it's forbidden, remember? If he falls, we could be in trouble. I hope that Phoebe can talk him out of it for his sake."
"Okay," Prue, Faith and Buffy said.
"Then we need another plan," Prue said. "Buffy, Faith call Rupert and see if he has heard anything about the Brotherhood in Sunnydale. Piper, Leo work on the Book of Shadows together and I will call Morris and see what he knows."
0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0
Cole watched as Phoebe was getting some ingredients together for a potion. "Phoebe, I have to go," he told her.
"The hell you can," Phoebe objected.
Cole sighed. "Phoebe."
"Remember that power stripping potion you asked me for, like an hour ago, and everything was still wonderful?" Phoebe asked. "Well, I have an idea, I just need some time." She added the ingredients to the mortar and pestle before she began to stir.
"Phoebe, I have to go. And I'll need my powers while I'm gone," Cole said.
"Why?" Phoebe questioned. "What are you going to do?"
"Just blend in. That's it. I won't do anything evil," Cole answered.
"Well, let me make sure you can't," Phoebe said as she continued to stir the ingredients quickly.
Cole stopped her and put the mortar and pestle down. "I'll be smart, and careful. I'll check in with you every two hours."
"How? They'll track your shimmer," Phoebe said.
"Not if we meet in the mausoleum. That's the second safest place I know," Cole answered.
"What's the safest?" Phoebe wondered.
"With you," Cole answered as Phoebe sighed. "I thought you'd be proud of me."
"Of what? Being suicidal?" Phoebe wondered.
"I am coming back," Cole informed her. "I always have."
"Yeah, how can you be so sure that you're going to come back this time?" Phoebe questioned. "Cole, you've been hiding from them for months. And I don't understand, there's a price on your head and now all of a sudden, you're willing to expose yourself? For what?"
"For good, Phoebe. You taught me not to walk away and let evil win, to fight the good fight. That's all I want to do," Cole informed her.
"They'll kill you, Cole," Phoebe sighed.
"I have a plan, don't worry. This is the right thing to do, Penelope. You know that, we both do. Mausoleum, two hours, okay?" Cole said.
"Okay, I love you," Phoebe reluctantly agreed.
"I love, you too," Cole said, kissing her hand before shimmering out.
"Just please come back to me," Phoebe said, with a soft voice.
0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0
A little over four hours later Prue, Piper, Leo, Faith and Buffy…who had informed her mom that she wasn't coming home that evening…waited to hear from Phoebe who was waiting at the mausoleum for Cole who had gone undercover despite Phoebe trying to persuade him not to.
"Poor Phoebe, she must be going out of her mind," Piper said.
"It's only been four hours," Prue said.
"Four and a half," Faith corrected.
"Way past the time he said he would check in with her," Piper said. "Leo, Buffy, maybe one of you should go to the mausoleum and see if she's heard from him."
"Well, she said that she would call if she had," Prue said.
"Besides, I think Buffy and I should stay here till we figure out what the brotherhood's plan is," Leo added.
"Oh, and now you're voting with her," Piper said with a sigh.
"Maybe we can check into this Lockserom," Buffy suggested. "After all the prophet guy, that's what he said, right?"
Prue nodded as she laid the newspaper down that she had been looking at. On the front page was an article detailing merger talks that Lockserom was part of.
"Merger talks between Lockserom and meta satellite faltered over the weekend," Leo read the headline.
"Wait a minute, so Cole is risking his life to preserve stock portfolios?" Piper asked.
"No, it has to be much bigger than that," Faith said.
"Faith's right," Prue agreed. "According to this, if the merger goes through, the world's affirmation flow will wind up in the hands of one company."
"Well, that sounds evil by itself," Piper said.
"Except for one of the CEO's, Frank Pirelli, is apparently getting cold feet about it," Leo said as he looked at the article.
"Yeah, what do you want to bet the brotherhood wants this merger to go through so they can take over the company?" Prue wondered.
"Which means they're going to have to somehow force Pirelli to vote for it," Leo said.
"Yeah, or kill him," Prue suggested. "It sure would be nice to be able to compare notes with Cole."
"Well, we could if someone would go to the mausoleum," Piper said.
"I'll go," Buffy said as she stood up. Faith immediately stood up also and grabbed her hand. "Are you sure, baby?"
"Yes," Faith answered.
Buffy nodded as she and Faith disappeared in a swirl of fiery flames.
In the Mausoleum Phoebe was still waiting for Cole Buffy and Faith appeared in a swirl of fiery flames.
"Aunt Phoebe, anything?" Faith asked.
"I'm sure it's not as easy to break away from there as he thought," Phoebe said. Buffy was sure that Phoebe was trying to reassure herself that everything was alright. "He'll show."
"It's okay to be scared," Buffy said.
"No, I'm not scared," Phoebe said as she looked at her niece and Buffy. "Concerned maybe, a little. We shouldn't have let him go."
"We didn't," Buffy said. "He chose to."
Phoebe sighed. "I know, and for what? To prove to me that he's good? He doesn't have to prove anything to me."
"I should have gone with him," Faith said.
"What?" Phoebe and Buffy said in surprise.
"Thanks to that woman, I'm the Source's heir, remember," Faith reminded them. "I would have been fine."
"And Prue would have killed me and Phoebe if either of us agreed with your plan," Buffy said. "Shoot she was set to kill me when I convinced her to let you go undercover with the Mayor. And that was less risky than this."
"Buffy is right, Faith," Phoebe agreed. "Prue would have been against it. Besides we have yet to actually identify your powers. You know I wonder if the Lehanes bound them."
"Possibly," Faith admitted as Cole finally shimmered in.
"Cole," Phoebe cried as she ran over to and wrapped her arms around him. "Are you okay? Did they buy your story?"
"For now, but I got to get back," Cole said. "They're suspicious enough as it is."
"Well, then maybe you shouldn't go back," Phoebe suggested.
"Would it help if I went with you?" Faith questioned. "You're the one that said upper level demons wouldn't risk the Source's wrath by attacking me."
"The offer is appreciated, Faith," Cole said. "But its not worth the risk. Right now, you're not on the Source's radar and that is thanks to the Lehanes deaths. But that could change if he discovers you are with the Charmed Ones." He turned to Phoebe. "I want to stop them, Phoebe. Look, I don't have much time. All I know is they're after someone who's going to be at Pier and Pescadero at 8am. But I don't know who."
"We might," Buffy said. "Frank Pirelli runs Lockserom but he doesn't want a big merger to happen."
"The brotherhood does," Cole said. "Makes sense, explains why they've taken over an investment banking firm."
"How does it explain that?" Phoebe wondered.
"The best way for evil to get a foot hole in the human world is to take over their businesses. Work from the inside out."
"You just learn that, did you?" Phoebe asked.
Cole shook his head. "No. It's how I became a DA. They took over a business and then used the money from it to put me through law school."
"So, we need to safe guard Pirelli," Buffy said. At least till the merger vote at 11:00."
"Then brotherhood loses," Faith added.
"Yes, but if you intervene, they might think I had something to do with it," Cole interjected. "You could blow my cover."
"We can't let them kill Pirelli," Buffy said.
"But you can let them kill me?" Cole asked.
"No, no, Cole, look at me. We're going to find a way to protect you. You'd better get back," Phoebe said.
Cole reached up and touched Phoebe's face. "Alright. I'm looking forward to seeing you in your cap and gown," he said as he took the bottle of water Phoebe was holding. "Mind if I borrow this?" He then shimmered out.
May 14, 2001 – Monday
Streets of San Francisco
Tarkin walked up to Cole, where he stood at the corner of Pier and Pescadero. "Nervous?" he asked.
"Hmm?" Cole asked distractedly. "Me? No, I was just thinking."
"Been a while since you've seen this kind of action hasn't it?" Tarkin asked. "It'll come back to you. It's in our blood."
"Yeah. I know."
Tarkin smiled. "Just execute the plan, Belthazor. No confusion, no consequences. It's no more complicated than that, okay?"
0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0
Down the street out of sight of the demons Prue, Piper, Phoebe, Buffy and Faith were heading for the corner.
"Wouldn't it be nice to save the world at a descent hour?" Piper asked.
"Try doing what Faith and I do on a nightly basis," Buffy said.
"Buffy is right," Faith said. "After all vampires only come out at night."
"Okay, we have to focus here because if we don't pull this off just right, Cole is screwed," Phoebe said.
"Well, as long as we wait until the last second, Cole should be fine," Prue said. "Let's just hope that killing Pirelli isn't all they want."
"Well, if it wasn't, he would've said something, right?" Piper asked looking at Phoebe, Faith and Buffy. "I mean, unless you think he's holding something back."
Phoebe sighed. "You know, this is amazing. First Prue can't sacrifice Cole fast enough, and now you can't wait to sell him out as a traitor."
"Aunt Phoebe," Faith said. "No one wants that." Buffy coughed causing her to look at her girlfriend with understanding. "Not all demons are like what happened with Angel."
"The vampire with a soul?" Prue asked as Faith and Buffy nodded. "What happened?"
"I slept with him on my seventeenth birthday," Buffy said. "Triggered a clause in his curse. He lost his soul. If not for Willow he would not have gotten it back."
0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0
Down the street Vornac and another demon stood next to a car. Vornac looked at his watch. "Go," he said as the demon got in the car. It was then that Klea appeared beside Vornac. "Well?"
"I haven't been able to prove Belthazor's story one way of another," Klea said.
"That's alright. We're about to find out if he's telling the truth or not," Vornac said. He and Klea turned and walked over to Cole and Tarkin just as a black limo drove out of a parking garage. The demon drove in front of the limo blocking its way. The limo slammed on the brakes to keep from hitting the demon's car.
The limo driver blared the car horn. "I've got it, Mr. Pirelli," he said as he got out and stormed over to the demon's car. "What the hell's the matter with you? Move your car now!"
"What are you waiting for?" Vornac said. "Kill. Or be killed."
Cole moved onto the road as the demon got out of the car and moved out of the way.
"Hey, where are you going?" the limo driver asked. "Where are you going, damn it!"
Cole threw an energy ball at the limo just as Prue, Piper, Phoebe, Buffy and Faith came running around the corner. Piper froze the scene.
"Alright, Buffy, go, go, go!" Prue said as Buffy got into the limo and then disappeared with Pirelli in a swirl of fiery flames. As she, Faith, Piper and Phoebe left they headed past Cole.
"Maybe we should take Cole with us." Phoebe suggested.
"No, he has to look innocent after the fact," Prue said. "He's got to figure out a way to get out on his own. Come on." She, Piper and Faith continued on down the street.
Phoebe moved to Cole and slipped a note in his pocket before touching his face. Then she ran after her sisters and Faith around the corner. Piper peeked around the corner of a wall and unfroze everything. The energy ball hit the limo blowing it up as the driver dove to the ground.
Buffy walked into the living room. "He's in the basement. The sleeping potion worked."
"Name my potions, they solve everything," Phoebe smiled.
"Didn't have any problems?" Leo asked.
Piper shook her head. "No, Phoebe wanted to bring home a souvenir, but otherwise no."
"I wonder has the kidnapping made the morning news?" Prue wondered as she grabbed the remote and turned on the TV.
"What do we do now?" Faith wondered.
"Well, I don't know, that's up to Cole," Prue said. "He's got to let us know what the demon's next move..." it was then that they saw Frank Pirelli on the TV, "…is."
"It's no coincidence that just last night I changed my mind and decided to support this merger," Pirelli said. "Now someone's trying to kill me. That convinces me I've made the right choice. This merger will happen. Thank you."
"What was that about Cole telling us everything?" Piper questioned.
"If Cole had known about the switch, he would have told us," Phoebe countered.
"Are you sure?" Piper wondered giving her baby sister a look. "He's back with his brothers now, maybe he's switched too."
Phoebe sighed. "Come on, why all of a sudden are you off his band wagon? What's changed?"
"The plan blew up in our faces, that's what's changed," Piper explained.
"And Cole is responsible for that?" Phoebe asked.
"Phoebe, not knowing the switch is a pretty big detail to miss, don't you think?" Piper asked. "Aside from the whole he originally tried to kill us thing that's coming to mind right about now."
"Aunt Piper," Faith said. "Cole's done a lot of good just in the time I've known him. And remember Buffy and I were both against him in the beginning."
"We have to give him credit for that," Prue agreed.
"Thank you," Phoebe said as she looked at both her niece and eldest sister.
"Come on, Phoebe, you have to admit you're a little worried about him," Piper said.
"About his getting killed, yes, but not about his betraying us," Phoebe said.
"Okay, uh, we need to work on a plan, alright?" Prue said. "And we need to be smart because Cole is counting on it. So, the merger voting is at 11:00, that gives us two hours to figure out a way to get the demon imposter out of there."
"Anything we do could point Cole out as their leak," Phoebe said. "So, we have to let him know what we're up to. Let me tell him to get out of there."
"How are you going to get him to meet you?" Leo asked.
"I slipped him a note at the attack asking him to meet me at the mausoleum. Let me try," Phoebe explained.
"Okay, be careful and be fast," Prue said. "And if for whatever reason Cole doesn't meet you there, get back here right away, okay, so we can start working on plan B."
"I'll take you," Buffy said as she moved over to Phoebe.
"Thanks, Buffy," Phoebe said as she took the blonde Slayer's hand.
"Be safe." Prue told her sister and Buffy as the pair disappeared in a swirl of fiery flames.
"Well, since plan A's going so well, I'd love to hear about plan B," Piper said. "Assuming that you have one."
"I've part of it. In the freezer," Prue said as she headed for the kitchen.
"Freezer?" Piper asked as she, Leo and Faith followed Prue. "Wait, we're going to fight the brotherhood with–"
"No, with a vanquishing potion made from Belthazor flesh," Prue said as she took the flesh out of the freezer.
"Eww, you kept that this long?" Piper asked. "That's disgusting!"
"Mom," Faith said. "How do you know that will work on the other demons?"
"Well, Leo, you said that they were connected by a blood oath, their blood," Prue said as she picked up the flesh with a fork. "So, the potion that vanquishes one, should work on the others."
"Hmm, how lucky that we had the key ingredient in our freezer," Piper said.
"Yeah," Prue agreed. "I guess in the back of my head, I sort of thought that we might need it again someday."
Buffy sat on top of a crypt as Phoebe paced back and forth in front of her. "Phoebe, I understand how you feel. I felt that way for the last two months. But…"
"I.." Phoebe started with a sigh. She was about to agree with Buffy's unspoken request when Cole finally shimmered in. "Cole. Oh my god, I've been so..." she said in relief.
"No, don't," Cole said trying to warn Buffy and Phoebe that he was being watched without actually saying it. "It's too dangerous." He looked pointedly at Buffy trying as if trying to let her know that her know to trust her Slayer senses.
"What do you mean?" Phoebe wondered. "What's the matter?"
"Just trust me," Cole said. "Where's Pirelli?"
"At the manor, in the basement," Phoebe answered. She was puzzled on what Cole was doing.
Buffy's eyes were raking the mausoleum. She could tell that Cole was acting weird. But for what reason? She wondered if he thought he had been followed? That was sadly something she couldn't confirm since her Slayer senses were going off on him.
"So, you do have him?" Cole asked.
Phoebe nodded. "Yeah, of course."
"What's your plan?" Cole asked.
"Our plan is to vanquish the demon that took his place, before the merger vote," Phoebe explained. What Cole was saying was beginning to scare her. Why would he be acting this way, she wondered.
"No, you can't," Cole told them. "That will be a huge mistake."
"Why?" Buffy wondered.
"Cole, you're scaring me," Phoebe added.
"You should be scared," Cole said. "You have no idea who you're up against."
"Oh, don't I?" Phoebe asked. "Cole, what's happening to you? What aren't you telling me?"
"I'm telling you to stay out of this, alright?" Cole said. "Don't do anything. Just go back home, wait to hear from me. I mean it." He shimmered out.
"That was weird," Buffy said.
"So, I'm not the only one who thinks that," Phoebe said. "Could your Slayer senses pick up anything other than Cole? Maybe he was afraid he was being watched?"
"No," Buffy said. "All I could detect was him. We better get back to the Manor. Let Prue, Piper and Faith know what we learned" She hopped off the crypt and took Phoebe's hand. They disappeared in a swirl of fiery flames.
Buffy and Phoebe appeared in the middle of the living room to find that Prue, Piper and Faith were waiting for them.
"Hey, how did it go?" Prue asked.
"Neither of us are sure, actually," Phoebe answered.
"Did something happen?" Faith asked.
"The whole meeting was strange," Buffy answered.
"He was strange," Phoebe added. "Almost mean. But he doesn't want us to go after the demon, he wants us to wait here."
"That doesn't make sense," Faith said and then she sighed as she looked at her girlfriend.
"Unless he's turned," Buffy finished for Faith.
"No, I don't believe that," Phoebe objected. "There's got to be a good reason why Cole's doing what he's doing."
It was at that moment five demons shimmered in and one of them threw an energy ball at the girls. Prue utilizing her power deflected the energy ball back at the demon who threw it vanquishing him. The four remaining demons went for the girls. Buffy, Faith and Phoebe fought one each hand to hand and knocked them to the ground. Prue used her power on another and sent it crashing into the piano. As the demons stood up Piper froze them.
"How do they know where we live?" Phoebe asked.
"How do you think?" Piper said.
"Leo!" Prue called out as Leo ran in with four bottles of potion and handed one to her, Piper and Faith.
"What is that?" Phoebe asked as she glanced at the potions.
"Demon be-gone," Faith answered as she, Leo, Prue and Piper threw the potions and vanquished the demons.
"You're right, the potion worked," Leo said thankful that Prue's plan had worked.
"What potion?" Phoebe asked.
"Okay, that was way too easy. Oh my god, Pirelli, Pirelli," Prue said.
Buffy grabbed Faith's hand and they disappeared in a swirl of fiery flames. They reappeared in the basement where they found Cole and Tarkin with Pirelli.
"Cole?" Faith said confused on why he was doing this. He had been good she had seen it in the months since she had met her family.
Cole and Tarkin shimmer out with Pirelli just as Prue, Piper and Phoebe came down the stairs.
"Where is he?" Prue asked.
"Cole and another demon just shimmered out with him," Faith said.
"What do you think now?" Piper asked as she glanced at her baby sister.
0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0
Faith stood in the conservatory watching her youngest aunt stare out the window. After Cole and Tarkin had taken Pirelli, Phoebe had been filled in on everything that had happened while she and Buffy had been at the mausoleum.
"Alright, Faith, Phoebe, we need to get going," Prue said as she, Piper, Buffy and Leo joined Faith and Phoebe. "The merger vote is in less than three minutes."
"Why didn't you tell me you kept some of the potion to kill Cole with?" Phoebe asked as she turned and looked at her sisters.
"Well, it's a good thing she did, it came in pretty handy," Piper answered.
"Look, Phoebe, I'm sorry I didn't tell you, but the truth is until recently I didn't really trust Cole," Prue explained. "I mean, I sort of felt like I had to protect us just in case."
"Just in case what? He tried to kill us?" Phoebe asked.
Faith looked at her mother and her aunts and decided this was one argument it might be wise to stay out of.
"It wouldn't be the first time," Piper said as Phoebe looked back at the window. "Well, it wouldn't. Look, I know you love him, and we all know that he loves you, but sending demons to kidnap our innocent kind of speaks for itself."
Buffy sighed as she walked toward Phoebe. "You're right, we never should had let him go under."
Phoebe looked at Buffy and smiled in thanks. She turned and looked toward her sisters. "I still think this is all part of some plan of his, it has to be.
"Okay, but right now we need to stick to our plan, which is to vanquish the demon imposter," Prue said.
"Cole said not to, he said it was a huge mistake and I believe him," Phoebe said.
"Okay, but we don't," Piper said.
"Come on, you guys, we really have to get going," Leo said.
"Agreed," Faith and Buffy said. They both agreed the situation with Cole needed to be dealt with later. Right now, they needed to stop the demon impersonating Pirelli.
"That's five to one, Pheebs. You coming?" Prue asked.
Buffy appeared with Faith, Prue, Piper and Phoebe in a swirl of fiery flame in Pirelli's office. They could see someone sitting in the office chair that currently faced the windows.
"Vote's in, demon guy, you lose," Piper said as the chair swung around and they saw Cole.
"Piper, wait," Phoebe interjected. "Cole."
"Surprised," Cole said.
"What are you doing here?" Prue asked. "Where's the demon?"
"He sent me instead," Cole answered. "It might be a test. I think he's onto us."
"On to us?" Buffy asked. "You make it sound like we're working together."
"Aren't we?" Cole asked.
"Hmm, who you kidding?" Piper asked. "We should vanquish you on the spot. Where's Pirelli?"
"He's safe," Cole answered as he stood up.
"Cole, where is he?" Prue asked.
"Where else would he be?" Cole asked.
Phoebe smiled to herself. She had an idea that would explain Cole's weirdness. "The safest place you know. The mausoleum."
"Isn't that what we agreed to?" Cole asked.
"No, unfortunately, it isn't," Phoebe said as she threw the potion.
"Phoebe!" Prue said shocked that Phoebe was vanquishing Cole.
As the potion hit Cole he yelled as he suddenly morphed into Vornac before exploding as he was vanquished.
"But how did you know?" Buffy asked. "Did you know?"
"Ask yourself," Phoebe said. "What would Faith have said to you."
Faith smiled as she brought Buffy's hand to her lips. "The safest place I know is with you," she told her girlfriend.
"The same for Cole," Phoebe said. "He said so."
It was then that Cole shimmered in. They spun around to face him as they readied to throw a potion at him in case it was another trick.
"Easy, easy," Cole interjected holding his hands up. "I know I'm not very popular right now but let the condemned man have his last words. I had no choice but to play it this way. They were so suspicious of me I had to make everyone especially you believe I was evil. Or I was dead."
"Some of us still think you're evil," Piper said.
"Alright, so why did that demon impersonate you?" Prue asked.
"He didn't trust me," Cole said. "Wanted to find out whose side I was really on. I knew you wouldn't fall for it."
"What about Pirelli?" Piper asked.
"I had to make you think I'd actually betrayed you, to give you motivation to kill Vornac and me," Cole said as he turned and looked at Phoebe. "Forgive me."
"I never doubted you," Phoebe said as she walked over to Cole. "Well, maybe just a little." He leaned down and kissed her.
Cole looked at Buffy. "You'd better get to the mausoleum," he told the Slayer. "Get Pirelli back here before the merger."
"Can't you get Pirelli?" Piper wondered.
"No, I have to get back," Cole answered.
Phoebe shook her head. "You can't go back now," she told him.
"Just to cover my tracks," Cole explained. "I don't want those guys hunting me down." He kissed Phoebe. "I'll be out before your graduation party tonight, I promise." He shimmered out.
The Brotherhood's Offices
"You saw the witches kill Vornac?" Tarkin asked.
"No, I saw what was left," Cole said. "So, I went to kill Pirelli but he was gone. I can only assume the witches found him."
"This is a disaster," Tarkin said. "What are we going to tell Raynor? He wants a full accounting, you know."
"Tell him I warned Vornac not to go but he didn't listen. And now I have to go," Cole explained.
"Go? Where?" Tarkin asked.
"I still have to find proof for the Source to clear my name. I can't very well do that here, can I? See you soon, my brother," Cole answered.
"You can't go," Tarkin objected. "Raynor wants a full accounting from you."
"You can fill him in. You know just as much as I do," Cole said as he walked away from Tarkin.
Klea and Raynor appear behind Cole and Raynor threw an energy ball at Cole, who was knocked unconscious.
"You were right, Raynor," Tarkin said.
"Belthazor has much to explain. And much to answer for," Raynor said.
Phoebe's graduation party was in full swing as Faith stood watching her youngest aunt. She could tell Phoebe was worried for Cole.
"Why is every party I attend," Buffy said, "evil screws up?"
"Well not everyone," Faith reminded her girlfriend.
"Actually, Faith, I had to fight three Hell Hounds the night of prom," Buffy told her girlfriend.
Faith nodded as she kissed Buffy. "It was still a beautiful night though; you have to agree. Especially when I came through the doors."
Buffy thought about it and nodded. Faith showing up to be her date to the prom had been the best part of that night. She turned and followed Faith over to Phoebe, where they were joined by Piper, Prue and Leo.
"Hey. Look, whatever happens, he did the right thing," Prue said. "He helped get Pirelli back in time to cancel the merger, he helped us stop the brotherhood."
"He proved he was good," Buffy added.
"Yeah, but at what cost?" Phoebe asked.
"You can't really think of it like that," Prue suggested.
"Why not?" Phoebe asked. "Shouldn't I get to protect one part of my life and say this magic doesn't screw with; this I get to keep."
"Yes, you should," Faith and Buffy agreed.
"Yesterday Cole wanted to strip his powers, and I was graduating," Phoebe said. "Yesterday everything was perfect, and today it's all fallen apart. Where is he? What happened to him?"