It was an angry sorcerer who appeared before the Crozats. Judging from his expression, Edward realized that the attack on the youngest McNeill had failed. "What happened?" the warlock asked.

Growling, Dako/Morris wrapped one hand around Cousin Louis' throat. "I'll tell you what happened! That witch used his psychic abilities and summoned help before I could kill him! I found myself surrounded by three other witches, a whitelighter, some woman I don't even know and a man, who just might be a demon." He gave Louis' throat a slight squeeze. Edward's cousin gurgled. "And do you want to know what else I had discovered? One of the witches is not only pregnant, but just as powerful as myself. So was the man with the demonic powers. Something you had failed to tell me." Dako squeezed Louis' throat tighter, causing the latter's face to turn red.

A panic-stricken Henry blurted out, "We don't know anything about a demon! As for the witch . . . well, we knew she was carrying a powerful baby, but we didn't realize it would be as powerful as you."

Dark eyes narrowed dangerously. The sorcerer released Louis, who promptly fell upon the floor, coughing. "You had extensive details on the other Halliwell witches and the McNeill witches," Dako replied in a crisp tone, "and you expect me to believe that you knew nothing about the extent of the pregnant witch's powers or the demon? Do you take me for a fool?"

Feeling the extent of the sorcerer's dark power, Edward immediately bowed. "No, your eminence. We sim . . . our source had failed to provide this information to us."

"Then I suggest that you make your source understand the repercussions of his failure to inform you." Dako paused. "Now, I want to know everything about these people. Their secrets and the extent of their powers. Including the demon."

Edward, Henry, Rudolf and Suzanne responded as one, "Yes, your eminence."

Dako stared at the trio. "One question - is there a way to steal this demon's powers? He struck me as being very powerful."

An uneasy Edward glanced at his fellow warlocks. "If this demon was with the Charmed Ones and the McNeills, he must be Belthazor. I understand that he is very powerful. Even more powerful than he was, as the Source. Together with his powers and yours, we could possibly kill the pregnant witch."

The bokor stared at the warlock for a long, terrifying moment. Then he declared, "I will kill the witch. I take the demon's powers, and together with mine, I will kill her. Am I clear?"

His emotions in turmoil, Edward struggled to keep them in check. He had no intention of helping Dako take Belthazor's new powers. But it did seem prudent to keep his intentions to himself. And healthier. In the end, Edward merely nodded in agreement and murmured, "Yes, your eminence."

"Start preparing a potion or spell that will steal this Belthazor's powers." The sorcerer glared at the warlocks. "You have the knowledge to create this, I hope."

Edward turned to Suzanne, who kept her mouth shut. Good. "I'm sure that we'll be able to, your eminence. It's just a matter of time."

"We don't have much time," the bokor snapped. "Once the potion or spell is completed, inform me." Dako glanced down at Louis, who was struggling to stand up. "Meanwhile, I will be in my room, meditating. I . . . this mortal. He is still making it impossible for me to completely control him. And have this one," he pointed at the unfortunate Louis, "deliver my breakfast at sunrise, precisely." With a frown on his face, the sorcerer disappeared.

Edward heaved a large sigh and turned to Suzanne. "Belthazor. What happened to him, tonight?"

Suzanne responded with a glare. "Don't blame me! He stood me up, thanks to 'His Eminence'!"

"All right! No more procrastinating! Make an appointment to see Belthazor, tomorrow. Get him to meet you at the office," Edward snapped. "We have to get our hands on his powers, as soon as possible!"

* * * *

Cole sat in one of the plush chairs inside the McNeills' long drawing rooms. His eyes followed Olivia, who was engaged in a telephone call with a colleague from the U.S. Customs Office. He had returned to the family's residence, after dropping off Cecile at Olivia's apartment.

"Yeah Martin, it has been a long time. Like three weeks," Olivia was saying. "I guess you heard about Ben Mallard." She paused. "Yeah, well your boss wasn't exactly thrilled to see me. What can I say? It was San Francisco PD who stumbled across his body." Another pause. "What do I want, this time? Marty, why do you always assume I'm after something?" Olivia threw back her head and laughed.

It was a rich, throaty laugh that seemed filled with warmth and promise. For a brief moment, Cole felt as if someone had punched him in the gut. He wandered what this Marty could have said to generate such a response from Olivia. Something personal? Intimate? Deep down, Cole knew he had nothing to worry about, but speculating the reason behind Olivia's laugh seemed a hell of a lot more preferable than brooding over what was really bothering him.

"Harry's fine. Gwen and Bruce are upstairs with him, right now." The statement came from Jack McNeill, who loomed above Cole. "I guess dodging that sorcerer's attack must have took a lot out of him."

His eyes still fixed upon Olivia's smiling countenance, Cole nodded. "I'm not surprised. This Dako seemed very powerful. Harry's lucky to be alive."

Mr. McNeill sat down on the sofa, near Cole's chair. "I understand that Paige was also lucky. First-degree burns." He shook his head in disbelief. "Whew!"

Cole's gaze wrenched away from Olivia. Mention of Paige's name brought back memories of Piper and Phoebe's reaction to his encounter with Dako. He recalled the anger and contempt in their eyes. "Yeah, lucky," he murmured.

Silence followed, broken only by the sound of Olivia's voice. She said, "All right, Marty. You got me. I do need a favor. Is there a way for me to get a copy of the S.S. Enigma's manifest? It had arrived in San Francisco, the day before yesterday. I also need its manifest before it had departed from Singapore." She paused. "I don't know. Maybe two weeks ago." Then, "How soon can I . . .?" Another pause. "That soon?"

"Cole?" The older man's voice drew Cole's attention away from Olivia. "Is there something wrong?" He nodded at Olivia. "She and Marty are old friends. He used to work for San Francisco PD. They tend to flirt sometimes, but it's nothing serious. He's married."

Nodding, Cole merely replied, "Oh." Once the mystery behind Olivia's relationship with this Marty vanished, Cole's real reasons behind his blue mood came back in full force.

Still staring at the half-demon, Mr. McNeill continued, "But that's not the problem, is it?"

Cole assumed an innocent expression. "What problem?"

Blue-gray eyes bored into the half-demon's. The latter squirmed uncomfortably. "Oh God! Okay Cole, what the hell is really bothering you?" the middle-aged witch gently insisted.

Heaving a large sigh, Cole explained what had occurred inside Harry's office, about an hour ago. How Piper managed to deflect one of Dako's attacks and how he did the same, but with different results. "I deflected his electrokinesis right back to him, hitting him in the chest."

"I know," Mr. McNeill calmly replied. "Olivia told me what happened."

Cole continued, "Did she also tell you how Phoebe and Piper had reacted?" He sighed again, as his mind relived that moment, over and over. "Piper . . . well, both she and Phoebe pointed out that I had used unnecessary force to stop Dar . . . uh, Dako. And that I could have killed Darryl." He shook his head. "You should have seen the look on Phoebe's face. I never realized until now that I have lost my chances with her. Things will never go back to what it used to be."

To Cole's surprise, Mr. McNeill shrugged. "So what? Why should you care about what they think about you? You're not part of their family, anymore." He paused. "Unless you plan to change that situation, sometime in the future."

Cole shook his head. "That's just it. I don't see it happening. It's just . . . I'm tired. I'm tired of taking the blame for all that happened, earlier this year. And I'm tired of their self-righteous crap over everything that I do."

"Then to hell with them." Cole stared at Olivia's father. "Look Cole, I know what you're going through. I've been through the same, myself. Believe me." Mr. McNeill paused. His eyes assumed a distant air, as if remembering things past. "Her name was Pamela. Pamela Davidoff. I met her during my first year in college. At first, she seemed like the world to me. I thought that she liked me for myself, Jack McNeill." A wry smile touched his lips. "I've never exactly been a . . . promising child, if you know what I mean. Most of the McNeill family consider me morally ambiguous and have always disapproved of me. And maybe they're right about me. Being the perfect citizen or the perfect witch was never my forte. Hell, I went through three whitelighters before I was twenty-five."

The revelation took Cole by surprise. Ever since he had recalled Jack McNeill from his past, he knew that Olivia's dad was capable of great ruthlessness and intelligence. Yet, he never realized that the witch had such a troubled past.

The other man continued, "My parents, on the other hand, had treated me differently. And thank God, because if they hadn't, my life would have been hell."

"What about this Pamela?" Cole asked.

"Well, like I said, I had met her during my first year in college. The McNeills were well-known. Still are. And Pamela's family didn't like the idea of us dating, regardless of how much money my family had." Mr. McNeill added, "The Davidoffs were also witches, by the way. I had met her at a Wicca club. But not many of them had a psychic power, like the McNeills or the Morgans. As for Pamela, I thought she was different from her family, until I found out differently." Blue-gray eyes became clouded. "Pamela . . . she found out that I had helped a demon. This was back in early '67. The demon name was Marbas . . ." Cole nearly twitched when the other man mentioned the familiar name. ". . . and I helped him after discovering that another demon was using him as a diversion, in order to steal this pendant. I didn't bother to vanquish Marbas, since it was obvious that he was being framed. Well, Pamela and her family found out, they hit the roof. She dropped me like a hot potato, making it clear that she regarded me no more than a borderline warlock."

Cole murmured sympathetically, "I'm sorry. Did you . . . did you try to win her back?"

Mr. McNeill sighed. "Unfortunately, yes. But Pamela wouldn't have anything to do with me. And I became bitter. I would have stayed that way if hadn't met Gwen. Who, by the way, also found out what happened between Marbas and me. But as far as Gwen was concerned, I did right. Marbas was the innocent in that incident, regardless in whether he was a demon or not. She's a true Wiccan, by the way. I can't say the same about a few of my in-laws."

"And you never saw Pamela again?"

After another shrug, Mr. McNeill continued, "Yeah, I did. Not long after I had met Gwen, she decided that she wanted me back. But in the end, I realized that it was too late for us and I had fallen in love with Gwen, by that time. Don't get me wrong. I had some happy times with Pam, but she never seemed willing to accept me for myself. And to be honest, I've never regretted marrying Gwen. Not in a long shot," he added with a small smile. Then Mr. McNeill gave Cole a stern look. "As for Phoebe, I don't know if she'll ever change, but it's obvious that unless you're willing to become the man she wants, she'll never accept you. Not really. And quite frankly, I think it's time you stop worrying about what she and her family thinks about you, and live your own life."

Olivia hung up the telephone, distracting her father and friend from their discussion. She flopped down on the sofa, next to Mr. McNeill. "Why is it that every time I talk to Marty, I end up finding myself in the middle of a bargaining session?"

"Maybe poor Marty has finally realized that he's given you one too many favors over the years," Mr. McNeill replied with a smirk.

"Thanks a lot, Dad!" Olivia seared her father with a white-hot glare.

The older man's eyes grew wide with innocence. Cole looked away, as he repressed a smile. The former continued, "So, what was it that you asked Marty for? A manifest?"

"Yeah, one for the S.S. Enigma. I have this suspicion that Dako had somehow arrived on that ship, thanks to the Crozats. Don't ask me why, but I find it odd that our troubles with both them and Dako had occurred during the same week."

Cole sat up. "You're saying that the Crozats might be responsible for this bokor? I guess it's possible, if they knew someone connected with Vodoun. Especially if the Crozats probably considered us too powerful to deal with, themselves."

"The problem is," Olivia added, "that the Crozats might have bitten off more than they can chew. If they have a spell to vanquish Dako . . ."

A short, mirthless laugh escaped from Cole's mouth. "If they have, it won't do them any good. They're missing one important factor."


Cole nodded. "Right. Only a Vodoun houngan or mamba can vanquish Dako. Whoever sent Dako to the Crozats, probably forgotten to mention that one little matter. Or did he?"

* * * *

Piper poured the contents of the pot into a small glass jar. "That's it," she declared. "The potion is ready. All we have to do now is find Darryl."

"And what happens after that?" Phoebe asked. She regarded her sister with anxious eyes. "This potion is only good for freeing Darryl's body from Whatshisname. How do we vanquish it?"

A sigh left Piper's mouth. "I don't know, Phoebe. The Power of Three?"

"What Power of Three? Paige is in the hospital. And we can't get Leo to heal her without drawing suspicions from the doctors." Phoebe paused, as she carefully contemplated her next words. "Maybe . . . maybe Olivia was right about Cecile being the only one who can vanquish this spirit. I mean, think about it. Even though her premonitions were being blocked, Cecile managed to detect that something wrong would happen to Darryl. The only premonition I had was one with him at a crime scene. And even when I had been with Paige all morning, I didn't get one premonition of her being attacked. Yet, Cecile managed to get one, even if she didn't see the attacker."

Irritation flitted across Piper's face. "C'mon Pheebs. Do you really believe that Cecile is the only one of us capable of defeating Dako, just because she's into Voodoo? If I recall, all of us helped An-Ling defeat Yen-lo inside the Zen Limbo. And you and Paige helped Ava vanquished Orrin when he had the Evil Eye. Using both a Gypsy spell and Wicca magic, I might add." She plugged the small bottle with a cork. "If Cecile can find some Voodoo spell, I have no problem with using it. But I still think we'll have just as much chance with success with this." Piper held up the bottle with a flourish.

"And what about vanquishing that sorcerer?" Phoebe asked.

Piper cocked her head. "Maybe we can't use the Power of Three, but with the Power of Two and the baby . . ." she patted her slightly protruding belly, "we should do just fine."

"Yeah. Along with Olivia, Cecile and maybe even Bruce or Mrs. McNeill. Right?" Phoebe added.

Piper's mouth formed moue. "Yeah," she replied unenthusiastically. "Right."



A/N: Warning. This is a short . . . short chapter. Merely a set up for the final action.


The telephone on Cole's breakfast table rang. He reached over to answer. "Hello?" he greeted. "Cole Turner speaking."

"Good morning, Mr. Turner. It's me, Suzanne Maxwell. What happened to you, last night?"

Cole paused momentarily, contemplating on what answer to give his . . . 'client'. For a woman who had been stood up last night, she seemed unusually chipper. Even if she had called him by his surname. Cole finally said, "Sorry to cancel our engagement like that. I had emergency. Actually, my neighbor did. I hope you're not angry at me for canceling last night's dinner."

Brittle laughter filled Cole's ears. That could either mean that Suzanne was truly angry about last night. Or she had some kind of plan in store for him. Cole suspected the latter. "Of course not," she cried. "Actually, I wanted to reschedule our meeting for this morning. Around nine?"

"Nine?" Cole recalled that he had an early meeting with one of the senior partners around eight-thirty. "How about nine-thirty?"

Suzanne paused. "Well, I guess. I'm . . . leaving for L.A., today. A friend of mine has invited me to join her for the weekend and my plane will leave around noon. I suppose I can spare you another thirty minutes to discuss a piece of property I had discovered."

Cole hesitated. He wondered what the warlock had in mind. Seduction? Attempted murder? Hopefully, he would ready for any surprise she might have. He had managed to surprise Philip Crozat with the strength of his powers. Cole decided that he would be ready for anything that Suzanne Crozat might inflict upon him. He answered, "I'll be there, around nine-thirty. At your home, right?"

"Actually, I'll be leaving for the airport from my office on Columbus Street. You can meet me there. The Vendrum Company at the Hopkins Building on Columbus. Fifth floor." She added in a sing-song voice, "I'll be waiting for you. Bye!" Suzanne hung up.

Cole placed the receiver on the telephone. And stared at it thoughtfully.

* * * *

A haggard-looking Louis Crozat strolled inside the dining room of the two-story townhouse being rented by the Crozats. The others, Suzanne included, glanced up from their breakfast to greet the newcomer. "Well, how is our guest, this morning?" Edward asked.

Louis sat down in one of the empty chairs around the table and sighed. "Eating. And after he eats, more meditation. He seems determined to gain complete control of the mortal's body, before he goes after the witches."

"Oh God!" Suzanne exclaimed with a roll of her eyes.

Edward ignored her and asked Louis, "What about Belthazor? Has Dako mentioned him, this morning?"

"No. He seemed more interested in his plans to rule other warlocks and sorcerers. Maybe even the Underworld." Louis made a face. "He even suggested there might be a place for all of us in his kingdom."

Henry grunted. "How benevolent of him!"


He let out a huff. "I'm getting tired of this, Edward! And I'm getting tired of him. We all are! Let's just get . . ." He glanced uneasily at the doorway. ". . .get rid of Belthazor, take his powers and kill the witches, ourselves."

"And what about Piper Halliwell?" Edward replied with a sneer. "How do we deal with her baby without Dako's help?" To Suzanne's obvious discomfort, Edward's eyes slid toward her. "If there's a chance we can't get Dako to help us, we'll have to resort to our second plan in regard to the Halliwell witch."

A voice from the doorway boomed, "What about the witch?" All eyes stared at the bokor, standing in the doorway. "I assume you were referring to the pregnant witch."

Edward nervously cleared his throat. "Yes, your eminence. We, uh . . . Suzanne has discovered a spell to steal the witch's baby from her womb. This spell was once used by a powerful demon with psychic abilities, last spring. Against the witch's younger sister. The other sister, Phoebe, was carrying the Source's child, at the time."

"The Source? I've heard of him," Dako replied haughtily. "A talented demon, but obviously not as powerful as some have deemed him to be."

Henry retorted, "The Source was the ruler of the Underworld."

"Maybe of your Underworld, but certainly not of mine." Dako rolled his eyes. "And yet three of these witches were able to kill him . . . three times?"

Edward frowned. "How did you . . .?"

"I told him," Louis said, looking guilty. Edward glared at him.

Dako continued, "You can used this spell on the pregnant witch. I will kill the others and steal this . . . Belthazor's powers, before killing him. You can have the witch's child. Compensation for helping me acquire power, again."

Suzanne repressed a retort. Then she glanced at the clock on the wall. Eight forty-five. Her appointment with Belthazor was in another forty-five minutes. In an effort not to raise the sorcerer's suspicions, she slowly stood up. And sighed. "It's almost nine. That herbal shop should be opened, soon. I have some shopping to do."


Coolly, Suzanne stared at him. "Yes. Shopping. For the potion to steal Belthazor's powers. Is there a problem?"

"No. As long as you're back in time to go after Belthazor and the witches. I will be waiting at the witches' home around midday. After we kill the witches, we'll go after the red-haired witch and her family. And then, I will take Belthazor's powers and kill him. Meanwhile, I will meditate some more." He left the room.

Suzanne sneered. "Thrilling! A great spirit who can't even . . ." She paused under Edward's warning stare. "Never mind. I'll meet you all at the Halliwells' home . . . around noon." An impatient sigh escaped her mouth, as she stomped out of the room.

* * * *

Cecile stood inside Olivia's kitchen, as she put the finishing touches on a potion she hoped would free Darryl Morris from Dako's spirit. After tossing a pinch of dried amber into the saucepan, she muttered an incantation. A second later, a ball of smoke exploded above the saucepan, taking Cecile by surprise. Step one had been completed.

After a quick search through the kitchen cabinets, Cecile found a small bottle for the potion. She poured the saucepan's contents into the bottle. Just as she finished closing the bottle with a cork, the telephone rang. Cecile picked up the receiver and greeted, "Hello?"

"Cecile? Hey cherie!" a familiar deep voice boomed.

Relief flooded throughout Cecile's body, when she recognized her boyfriend's voice. "Andre? Is that you?"

"Yeah. I got the spell that you wanted. A friend of mine had just e-mailed it to me, a few minutes ago. You remember Thierry Devereaux, don't you? From St. Croix? Well, when I told him about your encounter with . . ."

Cecile kept her patience in check. She loved Andre, but sometimes she wondered if the man was in love with his own voice. "Andre! Honey? The spell, please! I'm in a hurry."

"Oh. Yeah."

Cecile listened patiently, as Andre recited a spell that had not been used in nearly 250 years. She did not bother to write it down, for she possessed an eidetic memory. When the houngan finished, Cecile replied, "Got it! Thanks honey. And tell your friend, Mister . . ."

The vision struck Cecile like a bolt of lightning. She saw Cole Turner inside an expensive office with a dark-haired, beautiful woman. Cecile saw Cole drink something and drop to the floor, disoriented. Then four men entered the office, and with the woman, formed a circle around the half-demon. They chanted some incantation that left Cole powerless. Then Cecile saw one of them kill Olivia's neighbor with a fireball. The vision continued with a shadowy figure (whom Cecile figured must be Dako) killing the McNeills, Phoebe Halliwell, Leo Wyatt and Paige Matthews. Cecile also saw Piper Halliwell killed by the warlocks and the shadow figure, and her own death at the hands of the same warlock she had spotted two days ago. The vision ended as abruptly as it had begun. Cecile dropped to the floor, gasping for air.

"Cecile?" Andre's voice could be heard from the telephone receiver she had dropped. "Cecile! Are you there?"

Slowly, the Vodoun priestess rose to her feet. She took a deep breath and picked up the receiver. "Andre, I . . . I have to go. There's an emergency. I'll call you back, later."

"Cecile! Dammit wo . . ." Unfortunately, Andre Morrell's voice went unheeded by Cecile, as she disconnected the line.




"It's been over twenty-fours hours, now!" Sheila Morris cried over the telephone. "Where the hell is he? Where's Darryl?"

Olivia winced from the noise in her ear. She glanced around the precinct office. Thankfully, no one had overheard. She took a deep breath. "She . . . Sheila, honey. I don't know. We're still looking for him."

"Still looking?" Sheila's voice practically screeched. "That's the same answer I got from Phoebe!" She paused. "I think it's time to bring the police in. Maybe they can find . . ."

Olivia switched the cell phone to her other ear. She glanced at Bruce, who seemed engrossed with a magazine. Her brother had dropped by for a visit on his day off. "Sheila," she said in a low voice, "I don't think that's a good idea. Trust me on this. We have . . . a pretty good idea on where we can find Darryl."

"You do?"

"Yes, Sheila. I swear. By this evening, Darryl should be home. Safe with his family." Olivia glanced at the skeptical expression on Bruce's face and shrugged. "Yes honey, I'm serious. Okay. Good-bye." She disconnected her cell phone and tossed it on her desk. "God, I'm screwed! Darryl's screwed!"

Bruce began, "Then why did you . . .?"

"I know what I said! I literally promised Sheila the moon." Olivia sighed. "It was the only way to keep her from calling McPherson, and that's the last thing Darryl need."

Bruce calmly asked, "Do you have any idea where we can find Darryl?"

"We?" Olivia stared at her brother.

"Yeah, I know I wasn't around when Harry was attacked. But Mom, Barbara and I were in Palos Alto. You know, at the opening of Baron Todd's new restaurant."

Olivia frowned. "You and Mo . . . What were you doing there? Mom hates Todd!"

With a sigh, Bruce explained, "That isn't exactly a family secret. But we both received invitations. And Mom wanted to see how his new restaurant turned out." He snorted. "Just the usual New Age California cuisine."

"Grilled fish and salads made from weeds? They seemed to be the only dishes that Todd is capable of preparing."

Shaking his head, Bruce smiled. "You really are a bitch, you know that?" Bruce returned his attention to the magazine in his hand. Several minutes passed, while Olivia stared at her computer. Without bothering to glance up, Bruce added, "If you keep staring at that thing any longer, you'll go . . ."

Olivia's cell phone rang. She snatched it from her desk and snapped it open. "Hello?" she answered breathlessly.

"Livy? It's Marty Jancek. I just called to let you know that I've got the information that you wanted. Got a pen and paper ready?"

Olivia scrambled for the needed items. Then she instructed Marty to proceed. The Customs agent revealed that the S.S. Enigma's Singapore manifest included a package addressed to the VENDRUM Company, in San Francisco. At the Hopkins Building on Columbus, Fifth floor, Room 508. The information did not surprise Olivia one bit. "However, when I checked the Enigma's manifest after it had arrived in Frisco," Marty continued, "the VENDRUM package was missing."

The VENDRUM Company. Olivia mouthed the words silently. She had checked the MALEHEX Corporation's list of assets for any other San Francisco company, other than the Tower Bay Import/Export Company and found no sign of the company on the list. How did the remaining Crozats get their hands on this VENDRUM Company? "Who had forwarded the package to San Francisco?" she asked.

The Customs agent paused. "Uh, someone named William Dagbani. I gather he's not a native of Singapore or Malaysia."

"Hmmm, no kidding. Thanks Marty."

"No problem," Marty warmly replied. "Say, about next Friday night . . ."

Olivia interrupted, "Marty? Do me a favor. Glance at the third finger on your right hand. Now, do you really want to finish that question?"

Marty paused, before he broke into a soft laughter. "Catch you later, Livy." The agent hung up.

Olivia disconnected her cell phone and smiled at Bruce. "Well, looks like we might find Darryl, after all. I have a pretty good idea on where he might be. And the Crozats."

"So where is he?" Bruce asked.

"At the VENDRUM Company." Olivia paused. "Well, maybe. It's at the Hopkins Building. Fifth floor. It's funny. That company isn't on the list of Crozats assets I had received, last month."

Bruce suggested that it might be a new company. "Or maybe this bokor has nothing to do with the Crozats."

Olivia shook her head. "No. A Crozat warlock goes out of his way to kill Ben Mallard. Who may have intercepted a package from a guy named William Dagbani? The guy sounds like he came from somewhere in West Africa. The coincidence is too much." After another pause, she added, "I hope that Cecile is finished with that potion. I wonder if Andre has called back about that spell."

Bruce added, "I wonder what happened to Cole. Has he been in touch with that Maxwell woman, yet?"

"I don't know. I haven't been able to get in touch with him, all morning." Once more, Olivia's cell phone rang. She answered, "Hello?"

Cecile's voice exploded in her ears. "Livy! It's me, Cecile! I just had another vision and we're all in trouble! Especially Cole! Where can I meet you?"

Anxiety gripped Olivia. "Huh? What the hell are you talking about? Are you still at the apartment?"

"Dammit Olivia! Haven't you heard a word I said? Cole is about to find himself in deep shit! And so will the rest of us! I saw five people steal his powers and kill him, inside some office! We've got to find him! Look, I've finished the potion and I've got the vanquishing spell from Andre."

"Yeah. Okay! Did you say an office? Then I have a pretty good idea on where he might be." Olivia took a deep breath and instructed her friend to meet her and Bruce at a certain address in downtown San Francisco.

* * * *

Cole glanced around the VENDRUM Company's posh office and nearly whistled aloud. Not bad, he thought to himself. Not even his private office looked this well-decorated . . . or expensive. Cole wondered how much profit the Crozats had accumulated over the years.

"Do you like it?" Suzanne Maxwell suddenly appeared by his side. For a woman holding an impromptu meeting, she looked dressed to kill. Or seduce. She wore a white tailored suit with a slit along the long skirt, and a jacket with no blouse underneath, but plenty of cleavage. She added sweetly, "The office, I mean."

Nodding, Cole replied, "Yes, it's uh, very . . . very nice. Are all of these antiquities yours?" He walked over to the far wall and fingered a long scimitar that hung from it.

"That came with the office when I rented it," Suzanne hastily replied. "Along with the name on the door."

"Really?" Cole gave her a brief, intense stare.

The young widow shifted uneasily on her feet. Then she indicated at the liquor cabinet with a sweep of her hand. "Uh, would you like a drink?"

"Thanks. Something non-alcoholic, I think. Club soda. No ice." Suzanne smiled and headed for the cabinet. Actually, she swayed. Cole watched her move with admiring eyes. Too bad she was a Crozat warlock. He would not have minded a one-night stand with her. Or maybe even an hour. However, there was a certain matter to discuss, first. "By the way, you said that the name on the door came with this office."

Suzanne removed a bottle of club soda from the liquor cabinet. "Yes?" She reached for a glass and poured liquid in it.

Cole continued, "Well, it's strange that you would say that. I had someone investigate your background." The warlock paused momentarily. "One, your name is Suzanne, all right. Suzanne Crozat. You were born in Seattle, Washington on September 4, 1970, not Portland. Two, your married name is Maxwell. You had married a wealthy investor by the name of Anton Maxwell, but two years ago, not seven. He died of . . . mysterious circumstances, last August, not two years ago." Cole strode toward her. "And one of his assets happened to be the VENDRUM Company, located here in San Francisco. The one asset you didn't bother to liquidate before you left Vancouver." He paused right behind her and demanded in a low voice, "What do you want with me?"

The warlock whirled around and handed Cole his club soda. "I don't know what you . . ."

Slamming his glass on the cabinet, Cole roughly grabbed her arm. "Don't toy with me. When someone does, I get easily riled. I know you're a warlock with the Crozat coven. What . . . do . . . you . . . want . . . with . . . me?"

Fear flickered briefly in Suzanne's dark eyes. Then she nervously handed Cole his club soda. "Okay. I am a warlock with the Crozat coven. But it's not what you think."

"Oh really?" Cole took a sip of his drink.

Suzanne took a deep breath and continued. "Look, my cousins and I know what happened to the rest of our coven, last month. They tried to acquire enough power to take over the Underworld, and they failed. Well, my cousins and I intend to succeed." She glanced into his eyes. "With your help. If you're willing."

Cole swallowed half the contents of his glass. A sneer curled his lips. "What do you take me for? An idiot? So far, your coven has killed two men and unleased a 250 year-old Vodoun spirit, who seems bent upon killing the McNeills and the Charmed Ones. People I care . . ." A dizzy spell gripped him, making him feel disoriented. His eyes grew heavy. "What the . . . what the hell?"

An acid smile tugged the corners of Suzanne's lips. "How's your drink?"

"What the hell have you done to me?" Cole cried. He dropped his glass on the floor, and grabbed Suzanne's forearms. "What . . .?"

Suzanne replied innocently, "I have no idea what you're talking about. And would you please let go of my arms? You're hurting me."

Cole struggled to speak his next words. "I . . . you know damn . . ." Suzanne's face began to blur. Another wave of dizziness left him reeling.

"You don't look so well, . . . Belthazor." Suzanne took a step closer. At least it seemed so to Cole's groggy mind. He could barely make out the sinister smile on her face, as he sank to his knees. "I believe I know a few people who can help you."

At that moment, four men emerged from the far office. Despite his groggy state, Cole recognized two of them - Edward and Henry Crozat. "You . . ." he began. But the word came out as a slur and Cole found himself unable to speak any further.

"And it's nice to see you again, Belthazor," Edward Crozat greeted cheerfully. "How long has it been? Five years? Six?"

An impatient Henry Crozat cried, "Enough of the small talk! Let's get this over with! Now!"

Edward nodded. "All right. Ready?" The four men and Suzanne formed a circle around the kneeling Cole. The warlocks began to chant and the half-demon felt his strength, slipping away. Despair overwhelmed him. For there was no one to save him.

* * * *

Olivia and Bruce met Cecile outside the Hopkins Building, before all three rushed inside. "Suzanne Crozat, thanks to her late husband, owns a company located on the fifth floor," Olivia commented to her friend. "It's called VENDRUM. Would you believe it? It's one of the companies I was investigating in conjecture with the Alvarez murder."

The trio entered the elevator. Olivia bridled with impatience, as the elevator creaked its way up to the fifth floor. "I wonder how Cole managed to discover the whereabouts of the Crozat?" Bruce asked.

"Suzanne Maxwell," Olivia muttered darkly. "Or should I say Suzanne Crozat? He tried to call me this morning, but I was in another meeting with Captain McPherson. Who was still bugging me about Darryl. I tried returning Cole's call, but he didn't answer. Dammit!" The elevator finally reached the fifth floor and the three people stepped out.

Cecile added, "I hope we're in time. From what I saw, these warlocks were using both a potion and a spell to steal his powers."

"Oh great!" Olivia groaned.

The two witches and the priestess finally came upon a door marked VENDRUM COMPANY. Olivia grasped the doorknob to open the door. It refused to budge. "Dammit!" she cried in frustration. Then using her telekinesis, she forced the door open.

The trio rushed inside and a terrifying sight greeted their eyes. Five warlocks - four men and a woman, surrounded a kneeling Cole, chanting a spell. Olivia recognized the woman. Suzanne Maxwell. She cried out, "Cole!". The warlocks halted in mid-chant and stared at the newcomers. Fortunately, Bruce reacted first. Using his power of aero kinesis, he scattered the warlocks away from Cole, with a gust of wind.

A tall warlock in his mid-thirties scrambled to his feet. A dagger appeared in his hand. He threw it at Cecile, who stood closer. The Vodoun priestess quickly ducked and withdrew a small bottle of liquid from her jacket. She tossed it at the warlock, who dematerialized into a ball of flames and smoke.

Another warlock became the second to respond to the newcomers' threat. He stood up, stared at the visitors with dismay. The young man - the same warlock whom Cecile had spotted near Pablo Alvarez's body - disappeared. He reappeared behind Bruce, with a knife in hand. Before he could stab the witch, the latter viciously elbowed in the side and flipped him onto the floor. Then Bruce immobilized the young warlock with a kick to the jaw.

Meanwhile, another Crozat, one who reminded Olivia of the late Philip Crozat, sent a fireball toward Bruce. Olivia deflected the attack with her power and the fireball engulfed the warlock.

"Edward!" cried the fourth warlock. Stock and middle-aged, he glared at Olivia with hatred. Fortunately, Bruce reacted first and with his aero kinesis, attacked. The warlock screamed in horror, as he became trapped within a tunnel of strong wind. Until his body disintegrated into nothing.

There remained one last Crozat - Suzanne. She regarded Bruce's attack upon the stocky warlock with horror, before she dashed to one of the desks. Olivia used her telekinesis to throw her against the wall. Unfortunately, it seemed that Suzanne possessed the power of deflection. The telekinesis boomeranged from Suzanne and sent Olivia sprawling to the floor.

"Your powers don't work on me, bitch!" Suzanne spat out. A Glock pistol appeared in her hand. She pointed it at Olivia and fired twice. Still sprawled on the floor, the latter immediately reacted by using her telekinesis to send the bullets right into the warlock's chest. The dark-haired woman's eyes flew open momentarily, before she dropped to the floor. Dead.

Olivia and Bruce rushed over to help Cole to his feet. Cecile's voice from behind cried, "Look out!" Brother and sister whirled around. They saw a knife appear in the battered young warlock's hand - the same warlock whom Bruce had knocked unconscious. The oldest McNeill grabbed a knife from a nearby desk and very neatly, sent it flying into the warlock chest, killing the latter.

Cecile let out a sigh of relief and rushed over to help Olivia and Bruce deal with the groggy half-demon. "Cole?" Olivia said sounding concerned. "Cole, can you hear me? It's Olivia! Are you all right?"

"I'm . . . help . . . me . . . sto . . ."

"Cole! C'mon Cole! Snap out of it!" Olivia shook the half-demon. When he failed to respond, she cried out, "Dammit!" Then she grabbed Cole's head and pressed her lips against his. The kiss failed to snap her friend out of his lethargy. Desperate, Olivia kissed Cole for the second time. Only harder. After a few seconds, he finally responded by placing his hands on Olivia's waist and returning the kiss wholeheartedly. A rush of heat spread all over her body. Groggy or not, Olivia had to admit that the half-demon was an above-average kisser. More than above-average.

"Livy?" he murmured, after their lips had parted. "Olivia, was that . . .?"

Elated, Olivia gave Cole one last shake. "Yes Cole, it's me. Olivia. Wake up!"

"I'm . . . I'm awake . . . I'm . . . would you please stop shaking me?" The last sentence came out without any hesitation.

Cecile eyed Cole with curiosity. "Amazing! He seems to have recovered, despite being drugged."

"Self-healing power," Cole gasped, as he struggled to his feet. "But the drug isn't completely gone. I still feel a little bit groggy." He opened his eyes wide and stared at the dead body near one of the desks. "Suzanne," he muttered. "What happened?"

Olivia replied, "I killed her. Deflected two bullets she had shot at me."

"Two bad," Cole shot back, under his breath. His eyes fell upon the other corpse. "Say, uh, isn't that the warlock . . .?"

Nodding, Olivia replied, "That's him."

"He's the one who killed Pablo Alvarez," Cecile added.

Cole shook his head. Blinked several times. "Where's Dako? And where's Bruce?"

"I'm here." The eldest McNeill sibling had disappeared into one of the inner offices. He returned, carrying something that looked like a crude vase. Or urn. And a file in a brown accordion folder. "As for Dako, I don't know where he's at. But I'll bet top money that he had arrived in this." He held up the vase.

Cecile's eyes narrowed. "That looks like a Benin urn. How did the Crozats get their hands on it?"

Before anyone could answer, the door burst open. A uniformed guard appeared in the doorway, brandishing a revolver at the four occupants. "This is security!" he barked. "Everyone hold it!"

Bruce murmured, "Looks like Dako might be the least of our problems."


*AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm sure that many of you were surprised that I had Suzanne Crozat killed off with two bullets. Personally, I don't buy CHARMED's theory that warlocks are immortal and are incapable of receiving a mortal's death. I have checked the definition of a warlock. The only difference between one and a witch is that a warlock practices dark magic for selfish and perverse reasons and a witch practices magic to help others . . . and occasionally, oneself. I just could not fathom that because a warlock has chosen evil, he or she is also immortal.



The sorcerer took a deep breath and opened his eyes. He leaned forward and blew out the candles that made up part of his makeshift altar. After several hours of meditation, he now felt complete. In full control. The mortal, he surmised, should no longer prove to be a problem, when he attacks the witches again.

After another deep breath, Dako rose to his feet. He walked over to the window of his bedroom, and peered outside. It was almost midday. Time for him to go after the witches. He hesitated, recalling his encounter with the demon the warlocks called, Belthazor. Dako had encountered demons before - even killed a few. But he had never gone up against one as powerful as this Belthazor.

And there was another matter to consider. Namely the witch with the powerful baby. Unlike the situation with Belthazor, Dako had already formed a plan to deal with the witch. Namely, steal the child from the witch's womb. He had done it before. Using a spell, Dako had managed to transform the embryo from a powerful priestess to his own mistress. Unfortunately the latter, who became frightened by the idea of helping him raise the child, betrayed him by running off. Dako had eventually caught up with his mistress and took care of her - permanently. But he never learned the whereabouts of the child, until 'he' appeared thirty years later to kill him.

In the case of this Halliwell witch, Dako had no intention of transferring her child to another womb - including the one that belonged to that sharp-tongued warlock. Instead, he planned to simply wrench the baby from the witch's belly. Without another womb to nourish it, the child should simply die. A cruel smile curled the bokor's lips.

Feeling alert and sure of himself, Dako headed downstairs to meet with the warlocks. Only he could not find one sign of them. The house seemed to be empty. Where could they be?

A deep suspicion began to form in the bokor's mind. That the Crozats had known about Belthazor for quite some time. Perhaps they had even intended to steal the demon's powers for themselves. Anger surged through Dako. If those warlocks had so much as decided to . . . He paused. If what he now believed to be true, Dako realized that he might not be able to exact revenge upon the warlocks. He had no seen them in several hours and there was the possibility that they might already have Belthazor's powers. It would be best, he decided, to simply bide his time, work with the warlocks, until he could find a way to steal the demon's powers and kill them all. Meanwhile, he had a few witches to kill.

* * * *

"Officer, put your gun down," Olivia coolly ordered the security guard. She then flashed the badge that hung around her neck. "I'm a police officer. Inspector McNeill. San Francisco Police. I need you to call for back-up."

Bruce McNeill saw the bewilderment that flashed in the guard's eyes. "I don't understand," he cried. "You're the police? But that's . . . that's Mrs. Maxwell over there. And Mr. Crozat."

Olivia sighed. "Yes, I know. Both of them tried to kill that man over there." She pointed at a groggy Cole. "Mrs. Maxwell's attorney. He had stumbled across a smuggling ring operating from this company." The guard failed to lower his gun, much to Bruce's consternation. Olivia added in a sharp tone, "Look Mr. Whatever Your Name Is, do you really want to explain why you're holding a police officer at gunpoint?"

Finally, the security guard lowered his weapon. Much to Bruce's relief. Olivia strode toward him and began to explain what happened. Bruce turned to Cole and Cecile. "Boy, we really need to get this file out of here." He indicated the thick, brown accordion file in his hands. "Especially if the cops are on their way here."

"Leave it to me," Cole murmured in a tired voice. With a little effort, he waved one hand over the file and it disappeared. "Your father should have it, by now."

Cecile added in a low voice, "What about the urn?"

Before Bruce or Cole could respond, the guard's eyes spotted the object in question. "Is that one of the pieces you were talking about, Inspector?"

Olivia whirled around and eyed the urn with dismay. "Uh, yeah. I believe it might be the latest piece that was smuggled."

"And what about Mr. Turner?" The guard pointed at the still haggard Cole. "He don't look so hot. What happened to him?"

Olivia quickly replied, "He was drugged."

"Maybe I can help. I've been trained . . ."

Cole barked, interrupting the guard, "I'm fine! I just need . . . I need some rest. That's all." Bruce knew that would not happen. At least not right now. They still needed to track down Dako. And face him.

"Oh." The guard turned to Olivia. "Then is there something . . .?"

"I need you to call the police. And wait outside for their arrival," Olivia replied. She paused. "Have you called them yet?"

According to the guard, he had summoned the police right after hearing gunshots. Sure enough, the sound of police sirens wailed in the background. Bruce wondered how they would get out of this. Olivia said to the guard, "Don't you think you better go outside, Mr. uh . . .?"

"Vasquez. Yeah, I guess I better go." And the guard sprinted out of the office.

Bruce and the others heaved large sighs of relief. Olivia said to them, "Okay, we don't have much time. This is how it will go down. Cole has been suspicious about Suzanne's smuggling operation and decided to confront her about it. She and Junior, over here" she pointed at the dead male warlock, "tried to kill him. But we had arrived in time to stop them. Suzanne and I struggled for control of her gun. Bruce, you admit that you and young Crozat got into a fight, while he was trying to stab you."

"In other words, we were struggling for the knife," Bruce interjected.

Olivia nodded. "That's right. I'll also explain that I have been investigating VENDRUM in connection to Pablo Alvarez and Ben Mallard's murders."

"Pablo who?" Bruce asked with a frown.

"Bruce!" His younger sister regarded him with a glare. "Just tell them what I told you and play along." Olivia rushed over to the female warlock's body. "Oh and Bruce, you better put Whatshisname's prints on that knife you killed him with. I only hope we can get out of here, fast and warn the Halliwells that Dako is still on the loose."

While Olivia momentarily gripped the dead woman's Glock pistol, Bruce followed his sister's instructions. Just as brother and sister had finished their tasks, the office door burst open. In marched the security guard, with two uniformed cops in his wake. One of the cops stepped forward, his eyes taking in the sight before him. "Jesus! What the hell happened here?"

* * * *

"Thanks for the information," Phoebe said for the last time and disconnected the living room telephone. She turned to her sister and brother-in-law, who sat on the living room sofa. "That was the hospital. Looks like Paige will be released, tomorrow morning."

Piper heaved a relieved sigh. "Thank God. I guess it could have been a lot worse, for her. A lot worse."

"I guess that Darryl . . . I mean, Dako likes to play with his victims before killing them. He did the same with Harry McNeill." Phoebe paused, before she added, "I wonder why he didn't kill the Murillos, when they walked in?"

Leo added, "Just be happy that they didn't. Hopefully, this all should end pretty soon. Olivia told me that Cecile's boyfriend might be able to find the spell that will vanquish this Dako."

"I'd rather use a Power of Three spell, thank you very much," Piper murmured dryly.

Phoebe reminded her sister that with Paige in the hospital, they did not have the Power of Three. And their last encounter with Dako had proven that even the baby or Cole were not more powerful than the sorcerer.

"Well, maybe we should consider using both the baby's power and Cole's," Leo said. "Together."

The two sisters stared at Leo, as if he had lost his mind. Especially Phoebe. "Work with Cole? Are you serious?"

"Phoebe, you saw how he managed to knock Dako's spirit out of Darryl. With all of us working together, we might . . ."

However, Phoebe would have none of it. "Cole could have killed Darryl, Leo! In fact, he didn't even consider Darryl, when he deflected Dako's powers."

A frustrated sigh escaped from Leo's mouth. However, he did not say anything. It was Piper who finally spoke up. "I hate to say this, Pheebs, but Leo might be right. I didn't care what he nearly did to Darryl, either. But we might need Cole, after all. This . . . Dako is very dangerous. And very powerful. Plus, we still have the Crozats to worry about."

Tension filled the Halliwell living room. Phoebe realized that both Leo and Piper were right. But the idea of working with Cole, again . . . There were moments when she feared she would never be free of him. Somehow, he always managed to remain in her life . . . despite her efforts to move on. Phoebe even suspected that her ex-husband of using Olivia McNeill to make her jealous. Deep down, she feared that he might be succeeding.

Phoebe sighed. She hated it when any of her sisters were right. "I guess you have a point," she said. "I'll call his office and see if he can come by, later." As she began to dial the number to Cole's office, a familiar figure materialized in the middle of the living room. It was Dako . . . in Darryl's body. "Oh my God!" Phoebe exclaimed.

"I don't think 'He' can save you," the sorcerer crowed. He shot a bolt of lightning at Phoebe. Who immediately levitated above the line of fire.

Leo cried, "Piper, the potion!" He tackled the sorcerer to the floor. Leo's actions gave Piper the opportunity to race to the kitchen for the power-stripping potion. Unfortunately for Leo, he was not able to maintain the advantage. Dako let out an enraged growl and flung the whitelighter off of him and to the other side of the living room. Leo slumped back, unconscious.

"Well, look who's left," Dako declared. His eyes now rested upon Phoebe. Fear formed a large lump in her throat, as he raised his hand to strike. At that moment, Cole, the McNeills and Cecile appeared in the room.

* * * *

Still slightly groggy from the potion that Suzanne Crozat had given him, Cole looked upon the scene inside the Halliwell living room with dismay. Piper was nowhere to be seen. Leo lay sprawled upon the floor, unconscious. And Dako seemed primed to attack a defenseless Phoebe.

Dako sent a bolt of lightning toward Cole's ex-wife. Olivia reacted first. She deflected the sorcerer's attack, using her telekinesis. Although she had managed to succeed in saving Phoebe, she was not strong enough to prevent herself from being injured. The lightning bolt touched Olivia's arm and she fell back on the floor, cradling her arm and crying in pain. Cecile rushed toward her.

Then Dako used his own telekinesis and sent everyone, including Cole, flying across the room. Cole finally snapped out of his stupor and did the same to Dako. The latter hit the side of the staircase with a sickening thud. After a moment's pause, Dako quickly rose to his feet and stared at Cole with gleaming hatred. He raised his hand to attack.

So did Bruce, who used his aero kinesis against the sorcerer. The witch's power had no effect. Dako merely deflected Bruce's power, sending the latter hard against the wall.

Piper rushed into the living room, carrying a small vial. A power-stripping potion, Cole surmised, as he struggled to stand up. She tossed the vial at Dako. Everyone waited breathlessly for it to take effect. Nothing happened. Dako's mouth curled with derision, as he focused his attention upon the oldest Halliwell. He extended his arm toward her direction and began to chant. Piper cried out in pain, as she gripped her slightly rounded belly.

"Piper!" Phoebe cried in anguish. "What is he . . .? He's harming the baby!"

Using his telekinesis, Cole flung the bokor away from Piper. She fell to her knees with a sigh. Then a small vase came from nowhere and struck Piper on the side of her head, leaving her on the floor, unconscious.

Cole barely heard Phoebe's cries. However, he did see Cecile reach inside her purse for something . . . and react with dismay. "What's . . . wrong?" he demanded.

"My potion!" the priestess cried. "I must have left it at the apartment!"

Back on his feet, Dako smiled dangerously. "You must be a mamba. Forgot something?" A massive energy ball began to form in his open palm. He stared pointedly at Cecile, Phoebe and a prone Olivia.

Mustering every ounce of strength that he possessed, Cole struggled to fight the drug in his system. Then he dematerialized. And re-materialized directly in front of the three women. Dako threw the energy ball in their direction. Cole grunted, as he used his telekinesis to redirect the ball right back at the bokor.

The energy ball struck Dako squarely in the chest with great force. He let out a cry, as his body slammed against the side of the staircase. Seconds later, the bokor's spirit burst out of Darryl Morris' body. "A vanquishing spell would be nice, right about now!" Cole shouted at Cecile.

The Vodoun priestess glared at Dako and began to chant, using the Benin dialect:

"In Legba's name, I open the gate;

In Nana-Buluku's name, I summon the twins;

In Liza's name will your spirit be judged;

And in Mawu's name I send you to darkness and

Back to Ghede, where you belong!"

A bright light filled the room, along with a strong wind. Then a vortex materialized before Dako's spirit. While Cecile repeated her chant, he cried out loud. His non-corporeal form finally shot through the center of the vortex, and it closed in an explosion of light. Cole, Phoebe and Cecile reeled backward.

Cole struggled to his feet with great difficulty. He glanced around the room. "Someone better wake up Leo," he commented. "This place is beginning to resemble a battlefield." The drug from the Crozats' potion finally overwhelmed Cole. And everything went black.




Blue eyes fluttered open and Olivia sighed with relief. She sat on the edge of Cole's bed and gave him a warm smile. "You're finally awake," she declared, keeping her tumultuous emotions in check. "How do you feel?"

"Fine," Cole croaked. "How long I have been out?"

After a brief hesitation, Olivia answered, "A little over eight hours. It's almost eight-thirty. The potion that Suzanne Maxwell had given you must have been very potent."

Cole sighed. "No kidding." He struggled to sit up. "Wha . . . what happened after Cecile had vanquished Dako?"

Olivia helped Cole sit up. "Oh, Phoebe got Leo to heal Darryl, Bruce, Piper and myself. And Leo helped us get you home. He and Bruce undressed you and put you in bed. Poor Leo, he was . . . well, a little uneasy about orbing a half-demon."

"He'd done it before. When I was the Source." Cole sighed. "What about the police? Did they buy your story?"

With a shrug of her shoulders, Olivia replied, "Well, Captain McPherson did. By the way, you'll have to go by the precinct tomorrow, to file a statement." She paused momentarily. "But before you do, we have a little . . . file manipulation to take care of."

"Like what?"

Olivia continued, "Well, I went by your office to inform them about your encounter with Suzanne. And I learned that Mr. Jackman was the one who had recommended you to her. He recalled first meeting her at a party, only he doesn't remember exactly when. Probably after the Tower Bay warehouse incident, which was a little over a month ago." Olivia noticed that Cole seemed to be wavering. "Are you okay?"

He took a deep breath. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine. Listen, about that . . . I've got this idea, regarding Suzanne."

"Are you about to bring up that police report you had filed back in late October?" Olivia's question drew a frown from Cole. "I came across it, some time ago. About how someone had slipped a drug in your drink, at a party. I've always wondered how you managed to keep your job, after nearly strangling your secretary."

Cole rubbed one hand over his bewhiskered chin. "Well, it was either that or tell Jackman, Carter and Kline that the Demon of Fear was manipulating my mind at the time."

"And they believed you?"

Wariness crept into Cole's eyes. "They did after the police confirmed my story."

"So, are you telling me that the police actually found traces of a hallucinogenic drug in your bloodstream?" Olivia gave Cole a shrewd look.

Cole returned her stare. "I'm sure you have a pretty good idea how I had convinced the police." He glanced away and sighed. "All right. So I had used the old Jedi mind trick on the cops, and on my bosses. And I had also conjured up evidence to back my story. I had lost my job, thanks to Barbas' tricks. So, I had to do the same to get my job back." His eyes returned to Olivia. Wary. "Disappointed?"

Was she? Olivia could honestly say no. Hell, she would have done the same, faced with a similar situation. And if she could look past Cole's actions in the death of that slimeball Ed Miller, she should have no problem with this. "Do I look disappointed?" she shot back, with a smile.

Cole responded with a warm smile of his own.

Olivia added, "Besides, Mrs. Maxwell should fit perfectly with your story. Murderous widow tries to kill attorney after he rejects her. And confronts her with criminal action."

"How did you know about . . .?"

"When I was at your office, your secretary gave me that private detective's report. I was surprised to find out that Maxwell was her real married name. And that she was married to a murdered man named Anton Maxwell." Olivia paused. "Did you know that he wasn't the first? That Suzanne was married, twice before, and 'widowed'? She had built up quite a fortune in the past five years or so. Also, our young warlock was identified by the police as one Rudolf Crozat. According to the Vancouver police, he was last seen with Anton Maxwell, before the latter's death. And dear Suzanne disappeared from Canada, six days later . . . after dissolving most of her husband's assets."

Cole murmured, "More profits for the MALEHEX Corporation. What about the urn Bruce had found? What happened to it?"

"The police has the urn," a third voice added. Cecile entered the room, carrying a steaming mug. "Or maybe Customs have it by now. Olivia told us that many of the artifacts found in that office may have been smuggled into the country, illegally." She walked over to Cole and handed him the mug. "Boy, you really looked wasted. This should help. It's tea. Help you cleanse the last of that potion out of you." Cole sniffed at the hot liquid. "Don't worry. It won't kill you."

Dark brows cocked upward. "Are you sure?" Cole took a sip of the tea. "Hmmm, not bad. Actually, it's pretty good."

"Naturally," Cecile retorted good-naturedly.

Olivia added, "After you finish your tea, you should get some more rest. I think battling Dako and nearly getting your powers stolen may have taken a lot out of you."

"I'm fine."

"Uh, huh. You're lucky that you're still alive," Olivia shot back.

Cole gave her a curious look. "Do I detect a rebuke coming?" He drained the rest of his tea and handed the mug back to Cecile.

Hands on hips, Olivia faced the half-demon squarely. "That's right. I'm a little pissed at you."

"For what?"

"For not bothering to tell me that you had a meeting with Suzanne Maxwell. If Cecile hadn't received a premonition, you would have been dead. And probably the rest of us, as well."

Cole rolled his eyes and sighed. "Look, I thought I could handle her."

"Cole, did you ever stop to wonder why she was so interested in you? Hell, it's been preying on my mind all week! And all powerful or not, you're not invulnerable. Barbas had proven that when he managed to manipulate your mind, over a month ago. And even Paige managed to come up with a potion to strip your powers. She didn't even need the Power of Three!"

Cecile added, "She's right. That was pretty stupid." She left the room.

"Thanks a lot," Cole grumbled. Then to Olivia's satisfaction, he expressed regret. "Okay, I'm sorry. It was pretty stupid of me. First of all, I couldn't reach you." He paused, his eyes focusing on his sheet-covered lap. "And I had forgot to call you, again. I'm sorry."

Olivia allowed a small smile on her lips. "Apology accepted. Just don't do it again," she said, softly.

As Cole stood up, the sheet slid off his lower torso. He glanced down, realizing that he wore underwear and nothing else. Olivia struggled to contain her amusement, as he jumped back on the bed and covered himself with the sheet. He glanced at her and frowned. "What's so funny?"

"Nothing. I just realized that you have answered the age-old question of boxers or briefs. Considering how tight those things are, you might as well be al fresco."

Cole's face turned red. But his embarrassment did not last long. "Well, I've also discovered something," he said.


A wicked grin curved his lips. "That you give new meaning to the phrase 'French kiss'. All I can say, Livy, is that the man who marries you is going to be one lucky bastard." His grin now became downright lecherous.

Embarrassment washed over Olivia, followed by a wave of heat. She picked up a pillow lying on the floor and threw it at Cole's face. Then she fixed him with a fierce glare. "Get some sleep, Turner."

* * * *

The black SUV pulled into the Halliwell driveway and stopped. Paige, who sat in the back seat, let out a sigh. "Boy, am I glad to be home. I hate hospital food."

The two older Halliwells exchanged brief smiles and climbed out of the vehicle. Phoebe opened the back seat's door and helped Paige climb out. "Watch your step, honey. We don't want you to trip and get hurt, again."

"That's all I need, another trip to the hospital. At least I can't blame some Voodoo witch doctor."

The words immediately tumbled out of Phoebe's mouth. "Vodoun sorcerer. A bokor. Not witch doctor." Paige stared at her. "At least that's what Cecile keeps telling us."

Paige opened her mouth to speak, but closed it immediately when two figures approached the sisters. Their next door neighbors, the Murillos. "Miss Halliwell, I see that you're back," Mrs. Murillo greeted.

"Matthews," the youngest sister grumbled.

Oblivious, Mrs. Murillo continued, "I'm relieved that you're okay. Both Antonio and me. Right, querido?"

The elderly man nodded and mumbled, "Good to see that you're okay."

"Did the police ever catch the man who attacked your sister?" Mrs. Murillo asked Piper and Phoebe.

Piper shook her head. "I'm afraid not. But I don't think he'll come back."

"But if Miss Halliwell saw her attacker, surely he will come back to make sure that she doesn't . . ."

Phoebe cut in. "He won't be back. According to the police, he was last seen in . . . I mean, down south in Oxnard."

"Oh." The elderly woman nodded. "You know, for a moment I thought that thief or whatever he was, looked a lot like your friend. The police inspector."

Time to nip this suspicion in the bud, Paige decided. "It wasn't him," she said abruptly. "The guy who attacked me only looked like Darryl. But it wasn't him."

The Murillos smiled with relief. "That's good to hear," Mrs. Murillo said. "Well, we better get going. It's time for Antonio's lunch. Good day." The elderly pair started back toward their house.

Paige shook her head in disbelief. "How on earth did you two ever deal with that woman as a neighbor and be witches at the same time?"

"We usually tried to ignore her," Piper caustically replied. "It's not easy when living next door to a real live Gladys Kravitz."

Phoebe grabbed Paige's arm and escorted her inside the house. "I wouldn't be too hard on Mrs. Murillo. She and her husband did save your life, Paige."

"That's what I don't understand," Paige shot back. "Why didn't Whatshisname simply kill the Murillos?"

Piper closed the front door behind her. "I don't know, honey. Maybe some part of Darryl managed to stop Dako from killing them."

"Like . . ." Paige stopped herself. During the last two days, she had time to reflect about Elise and Jack McNeills' comments about Cole. That perhaps her former brother-in-law may have been the victim of the Source. She remembered her close calls with death, last spring - during Phoebe and Cole's wedding, her encounter with the power brokers and her brief period as a vampire. Each time, it had been Cole (as the Source) who ended up saving her. If Darryl, while under possession by that sorcerer, had managed to save the Murillos, why couldn't Cole do the same?

Snapping out of her reverie, Paige realized that both Phoebe and Piper were staring at her. "Like who?" her middle sister asked.

Paige thought quickly. "Like you," she said to Phoebe. "When you were . . . you know, Queen of the Underworld. A part of you was still trying to save an innocent."

A faraway look clouded Phoebe's eyes. Paige wished she had not opened her big mouth in the first place. "Phoebe, I'm sorry. I didn't mean . . ."

"No, it's okay," Phoebe replied, giving Paige a dim smile. "I understand what you were trying to say. That a small part of Darryl had fought to save you and the Murillos. Like a small part of me tried to save Greg Conroy."

Or a small part of Cole may have tried to save all of us on numerous occasions. Paige kept the thought to herself. She knew that Phoebe and Piper were not ready to deal with that possibility. She also realized that one day they would all have to face it.

"By the way," Piper said, breaking the somber mood, "I received a call from Mrs. McNeill. Gwen McNeill. She invited us to another one of the family's Sunday brunches, tomorrow. I told her we would think about it."

Paige immediately spoke up. "I want to go." Her sisters stared at her. "I want to see Olivia's friend. Ask her a few questions about this Voodoo, or whatever you call it."

"Thinking of converting?"

Paige gave her sister a teasing smile. "Maybe." To her delight, both sisters responded with shock. Nice to know that life was back to normal, again.

* * * *

"I want to thank you, Mr. Turner, for coming down here, today," Captain McPherson said. The burly police captain sat behind his desk, opposite Cole and Olivia. "Inspector McNeill tells me that you've gone through a traumatic experience."

Cole merely shrugged his shoulders and replied, "Not too traumatic. Suz . . . uh, Mrs. Maxwell only managed to drug me. That's all." Can't talk about his experiences with Dako. "I'm only glad that Olivia had showed up before Mrs. Maxwell's boyfriend could kill me."

"He was her cousin, not boyfriend," Olivia explained. Cole gave her a quick glance. Their little script for today's trip to the police precinct seemed to be progressing well. Cole and his neighbor had spent the early morning, visiting the police offices of both Vancouver and Seattle, making adjustments to Suzanne Crozat's record. He had been surprised to learn that the late warlock had already accumulated quite a criminal record during her 32 years on Earth. Drug use, theft and assault.

Captain McPherson grunted. "Nonetheless, you had a very narrow escape. The next time you have any suspicions about a client or a potential client, Mr. Turner, we would appreciate it if you inform us. Or your employers." He gave Cole a pointed stare.

The half-demon squirmed with discomfort. Which became annoyance, when he saw the amused smile on Olivia's lips. God, he is never going to live yesterday, down!

"I'm sure that Mr. Turner will be more cooperative in the future, Captain. Right Cole?" Olivia looked at him with innocent eyes. She smiled.

Cole responded with a lukewarm smile. "Yeah."

Olivia added, "By the way, I had spoken with one of your senior partners. A Mr. Jackman." Cole perked up. Time to resume their script. "It seems that he was the one who recommended you to Mrs. Maxwell. At a party, over a month ago. The very one at which you claimed you had been drugged."

Knowing what was expected of him, Cole sat up. "Really?" he said with false interest. "You mean to say that she . . .?"

"There is a good chance, Cole. In fact, I'm only surprised that she didn't approach you sooner." Olivia paused dramatically. "She had a history of drug use."

Still in his role of outraged citizen, Cole continued, "But why would she do that to me? Slip a drug in my drink?"

Olivia shook her head. "I have no idea. Personally, I think she was a disturbed woman. Maybe she had some kind of fixation on you. At least you proved to be a threat." She turned to Captain McPherson. "You know, I'm beginning to wonder if Mrs. Maxwell and this Mr. Crozat were responsible for the disappearance of the staff at the Tower Bay warehouse. It was owned by the Crozat family."

To Cole's relief, a knowing smile touched the captain's lips. "Yes, I've considered that possibility. I understand that Mrs. Maxwell and Mr. Crozat were the last remaining members of MALEHEX's board of directors. Looks like a case of theft and murder. I wouldn't be surprised if they had been plotting to get their hands on the company for themselves."

Cole added, "But the MALEHEX Corporation had been liquidated. It's in the report I had received on Mrs. Maxwell."

"Yes, we know," McPherson replied. "The Department has decided to consider that case close."

Olivia protested, "But that doesn't explain how the entire staff had dis . . ."

"The case is closed, Inspector." McPherson gave Olivia a hard stare. Cole managed not to smile. Then the captain closed the open file on his desk. "By the way, how is Morris? Is he still sick?"

Nodding, Olivia replied, "He's getting better. His wife thinks he should be back at work on Monday morning."

* * * *

"I should be back to work on Monday," Darryl was saying to the Halliwells. "Fortunately, my captain thinks I'm sick, so I shouldn't be in trouble." Just several minutes ago, the three sisters had dropped by to pay Darryl a visit. Leo was busy elsewhere, attending to 'heavenly' duties.

Piper smiled at him. "That's good. I'm glad that you're okay, Darryl."

"How about you?" Darryl asked. "I understand that Dako, or whatever his name is, tried to take your ba . . ."

A frown darkened Piper's countenance. "Fortunately, he failed." Her smile returned. "And the baby's fine."

"Yeah, thanks to Cole." The moment Darryl had mentioned the half-demon's name, the three sisters stiffened. He silently bit his tongue. "Uh, sorry about that. I didn't mean . . ."

Phoebe added, "Well, I guess we can't deny that he did save the baby."

"Oh. Yeah." Darryl found himself wishing that this visit would end. Of all the stupid things to do - open his mouth and mention Cole Turner. It felt bad enough remembering what he - or Dako had done to Paige. Since her arrival, the youngest Halliwell had barely said a word to him. He wondered if . . .

Sheila burst into the Morrises' recreation room. "Hey honey! You have three new visitors. Do you mind?"

Darryl sighed. "Yeah, sure. Show them in."

Piper added, "We better go. This house is getting crowded already . . ."

"No, no! Stay." Darryl signaled to his wife. "Send them in."

Sheila disappeared. Seconds later, three people entered the bedroom. "Hey Darryl!" Olivia greeted gaily. She spotted the Halliwells and her gaiety dampened. "Ladies. I didn't realize you were here." Cecile Dubois and Cole, whom Darryl had never expected to see inside his house, tramped into the room. "So," Olivia plopped down on the sofa, next to Darryl, "how are you feeling?"

Darryl grunted. "Okay. Despite being possessed by some Voodoo spirit for nearly two days."

"Vodoun," Cecile corrected. "Don't forget."

To his dismay, Darryl saw Piper roll her eyes. He suppressed a sigh. "Whatever. I'm just glad to be free of it." He paused. "Exactly what was it?"

Cecile replied, "The spirit of an 18th century bokor named Dako."

"Bokor. That's like an evil sorcerer, right? One who practices black magic?"

Paige spoke up. "I think that's what Phoebe said."

From the corner of his eye, Darryl spotted the other two Halliwells stiffened with discomfort. Phoebe shot a wary glance at Cole, who seemed bent upon ignoring his ex-wife.

Olivia said, "I'm surprised that you knew, Darryl. Been doing some research?" She pointed at the computer laptop on the table, next to Darryl.

Darryl's face grew hot with embarrassment. "I was just . . . I mean . . ." He saw the smirk on Cole's face and growled, "Never mind!"

"No, it's great!" Cecile declared. "It's great that you're showing interest in Vodoun. After all, it's part of your heritage."

Memories of his church-going parents popped into Darryl's mind. "I don't know if my parents would agree." His eyes rested upon a large black pot that Cecile held. "What's that?" he asked.

"Jambalaya," Cecile answered. "My mama's recipe. A little gift for you. I better give this to your wife." She faced the Halliwells. "Would any of you like to sample a bite? If Darryl doesn't mind."

Paige opened her mouth to speak, but Piper beat her to the punch. "Thanks, but we were about to leave," she said with a polite smile. "Maybe another time." She waved at Darryl. "See you later, Darryl. I hope you get better."


Before the Halliwells left, Olivia cried out, "I understand that my mom invited you over for brunch. Will you be there?"

"Yeah!" Paige shot back before her sisters could answer. "See you!" She left the room, followed by Piper and Phoebe. The latter shot an impassive Cole another glance, before leaving the room.

Olivia said to Darryl, "Well, at least you'll have a chance to sample Cecile's jambalaya. It's great. Mom tried to get the recipe."

"But I wouldn't give it to her," Cecile added. "Family recipe. I'll be in the kitchen." She left.

Darryl shifted the conversation back to Dako. "By the way, what happened to those warlocks? Phoebe told me . . ." Darryl noticed the uncomfortable expression that flitted across Cole's face. "She told me that you had killed them."

Cole replied, "It was Olivia, Bruce and Cecile. They saved me from getting my powers stolen. And killed."


Olivia added, "They were the ones responsible for Dako possessing you. It seems someone in Singapore named William Dagbani had sent them an urn with Dako's spirit inside. I've asked the Singapore police about him. Apparently, he's left the country."

"Great," Darryl replied. "At least he doesn't have Dako."

Cole said, "There's a good chance this Dagbani is a bokor. Which means he probably knows how to summon Dako from the Underworld. He's done it once. He can do it again."

Olivia started toward the door. "Time for some jambalaya." She left the room.

Darryl turned to Cole. "Mind if I ask you a question?" he said.

Regarding the other man with a wary eye, Cole asked, "What is it?"

"Olivia told me that you were possessed during the time you were the Source," Darryl continued. "Is it true?"

Cole gave Darryl a long, cool look. "You believe her?"

Darryl shrugged. "As long as I've known her, Olivia has always been pretty sharp. She could spot a lie or that something wrong better than anyone I've ever known. Including Prue."

A pause followed before Cole finally answered, "Yeah, it's true. I was possessed."

"So why didn't you tell Phoebe and the others, when you came back?"

Cole glanced away. "She didn't want to hear the truth. Or speak to me. And I was so obsessed in getting Phoebe back, I figured that if I accept responsibility, she would see that I was remorseful and could change. In a way, I was responsible. I had allowed the Seer to trick me into using the Hollow. Giving the Source the opportunity to possess me."

An uncomfortable silence followed. Darryl recalled that moment inside Cole's penthouse, when he had convinced the latter to let Phoebe go. And Cole seemed prepared to do just that when Paige stopped him.

"If that's all," Cole added, "I'll leave you to your resea. . ."

"I have another question," Darryl said, interrupting. "What was it like . . . being possessed?"

Cole sighed. "Frustrating. Scary. Like being trapped in a dark box. You can't do anything, while some bastard uses your body to commit all sorts of acts."

Darryl nodded. "Yeah, that's exactly how I felt. There were brief moments of freedom, though."

"When you prevented Dako from killing Paige and the Murillos?" Cole nodded. "Yeah, I've been there, myself."

The two men fell silent again. Then Darryl said, "Look, I uh, I want to apologize. For believing the worst about you. I didn't realize until now, how much hell you went through. I guess . . ."

"Once evil, always evil?"

"Yeah." Darryl paused momentarily. "As a cop, I guess I should have known better. A lot ex-cons tend to go back to their old ways, simply because everyone else judges them by their past. And never give them the chance to redeem themselves. I guess I forgot that."

Cole smiled. "Well, you're forgiven, if it makes you feel better."

Cecile popped her head into the doorway. "You two better get a move on, or else the 'Red-Headed Creature That Ate Frisco' is gonna to finish this jambalaya." Her head disappeared.

The two men exchanged smiles and followed the woman out of the room.


A/N: Damn! I should just finish it right here and now. But I've got one more thread to tie.



Three people sat in lawn chairs, as they watched the couple engage in a martial arts match on the McNeills' sprawling back lawn. Harry could not help but admire the couple's skills, especially those that belonged to one Cole Turner.

"Not bad," he murmured. "I had forgotten what a good fighter, Cole was."

Cecile tore her eyes away from the sparring couple and gazed upon the red-haired witch. "You forgot? You've seen him fight before?"

"Yeah. When we had rescued the Halliwells from the Crozats, last month." Harry saw Cole skillfully deflect a potentially lethal punch from Olivia. "Only, he didn't look this good."

Bruce commented, "You have to admit that Olivia seemed to be holding her own, pretty good."

Both Cole and Olivia continued their sparring session. The trio held their breaths, as Cole sent Olivia off her feet with a low kick. However, the latter quickly recovered with a gymnastic roll and landed back on her feet.

"By the way, Harry," Cecile continued, "how did you managed to send a telepathic message to all of us, when Dako attacked you? I mean I can send one without being in the same room with the other person, but to send a message to more than one person?"

Bruce said, "If you thought that was impressive, you should have been here, last month. Harry had picked up on Phoebe Halliwell's premonition from across town."

"Really?" Cecile's dark eyes gazed curiously at the youngest McNeill. "Now that's impressive."

Feeling embarrassed and pleased at the same time, a wave of heat washed over Harry's face. "It only happened once," he replied. "I had been meditating at the time."

Everyone returned his or her attention to Cole and Olivia. "You know, if I didn't know better," Cecile continued, "I'd swear that I was watching some kind of sexual foreplay."

"Maybe you're right," Bruce added. "I think that Livy is attracted to him."

Cecile shot back, "I'd say that in Cole's case, the feeling is mutual. I had sensed something between them when I first met him."

Harry frowned. "Sensed? What did you feel?"

"Something." A cryptic smile curved Cecile's lips.

But Harry refused to let the matter drop. "C'mon Cecile. What did you sense? Did you see their future?"

"Well, let's just say there is a very good chance they might have a future together." Cecile paused dramatically. "If they let it happen."

Their eyes returned to the couple. Both Olivia and Cole were engaged in a series of punches and defensive blocks. Then Olivia grabbed Cole's wrist and in a sudden move, threw him over her shoulder. The victory only lasted for a second or two. Cole managed to grab her wrist and jerk Olivia downward, forcing her to land right on top of his body. For several seconds, the couple stared into each other's eyes, breathing heavily. And then they broke into laughter.

"Jesus," Harry muttered. "Why don't they just get a room?"

Cecile added, "Tell me about it."

Bruce responded with a slight cough. Then, "Leo! Ladies! I see you finally made it!"

Harry tore his eyes away from the couple in front of him and saw his whitelighter and the Halliwells standing beside Bruce's chair. Staring at Olivia and Cole with horror and shock.

Olivia caught sight of the newcomers and quickly rolled off Cole. Who scrambled to his feet and helped Olivia stand up. Both smiled at the new visitors. "Hey Leo!" Olivia greeted happily. "Glad that you could make it."

* * * *

After a quick shower and a change into fresh clothes, Cole returned outside to the McNeill's back lawn. There, he found the family's Sunday brunch in full swing. He saw that Darryl Morris had arrived. Darryl's wife could not make it, due to family obligations in Oakland, but their two sons could. Cole spotted them playing with Harry McNeill. Everyone else, except for Olivia, were either sampling the food or sitting down in lawn chairs. Cole noticed one empty chair near Jack McNeill and moved toward it.

"Hey," he greeted. "Mind if I join you?"

Mr. McNeill glanced up and smiled at Cole. "Don't mind at all." Cole sat down. The former continued, "But I must warn you, I'm expecting someone . . ."

A figure appeared before the pair. It was Piper Halliwell, holding a plate of food. She rolled her eyes and muttered, "Great. I guess I better see how Leo is doing." And she walked away.

Cole sighed. And to think he had been enjoying this day.

"Sorry about that," Jack McNeill said with an apologetic smile. "I should have warned you that I was speaking to Piper."

Another sigh left Cole's mouth. "That's okay. Maybe I'm getting used to being regarded as a pariah or monster by a Halliwell. But I am getting tired of it."

Gray-blue eyes stared at him shrewdly. "You still want their forgiveness, don't you? Their acceptance?"

Cole opened his mouth. "I . . . I don't know. Maybe. It's not easy trying to get over the fact that one's ex-wife and her family regard you as evil. Then again, maybe I should have asked Paige to take away my powers, again. After I had killed Barbas."

Mr. McNeill shook his head. "You weren't meant to be mortal, Cole. It's not what you are. And I don't think being mortal would make you happy."

"Yeah, but I would still be with Phoebe, if I had remained . . ."

The middle-aged man's gaze became intense. "Listen to me! The last two times you became mortal, disaster followed. First with the Source, and later with Barbas. I wouldn't tempt fate for a third time."

Cole paused and reflected on the other man's words. "I guess you're right," he finally admitted. "Too bad Phoebe doesn't understand."

"I don't think she wants to understand. In fact, I don't think she has ever understood you. From what I've seen of your memories, she seemed incapable of accepting your true self." Mr. McNeill paused. "I wonder if she had ever really loved the real you."

Those last words struck Cole like a thunderbolt. Mr. McNeill had outwardly stated one of his major fears in regard to his relationship with Phoebe. Except for those few months following Prue's death - when Paige was still a novice witch - Phoebe had always seemed willing to accept him - with conditions. Those conditions - not using his powers, and becoming mortal - had brought out a deep resentment that Cole kept hidden from Phoebe, due to his desperation to maintain her love.

"As for Piper," Mr. McNeill continued, "I don't think she has ever liked you. Or ever will. This is something you might have to simply accept. Can you?"

Cole stared at him. "Do you only mean Piper? Or the entire family?"

"All of them."

A long pause followed, before Cole finally answered, "Ask me again in a few months." He smiled.

* * * *

"So, it wasn't the warlocks who had summoned this Dako?" Paige asked Cecile. The Vodoun priestess and Darryl Morris sat in lawn chairs, several feet away from the refreshment table.

Cecile shook her head. "No. I doubt they had the ability to summon him. Olivia, Bruce and I found out that Dako's spirit had arrived, trapped in an urn. And that urn came from someone named William Dagbani, who's probably a bokor. You know, it's interesting. When did Dako took possession of your body? When you were asleep?"

Darryl nodded. "Yeah. Why?"

"Well, practioners of Vodoun believe that a person's soul has two parts - the gros bon ange or the big guardian angel and the ti bon ange, the little guardian angel. The ti bon ange usually leaves a person's body when he or she is asleep, making it easy for a spirit to possess the body," Cecile continued. "It's interesting that Crozats knew when to allow Dako to take possession. This Dagbani person must have told them."

"Did he give them a spell to vanquish that bastard? I thought Bruce found one inside the Crozats' office." Darryl added. He forked off a piece of quiche.

"He did, but it probably wouldn't have worked. They weren't Vodoun." Cecile paused. "Unless they have some West African ancestry."

Paige nodded. "Phoebe told me about that. I wonder if the Crozats knew."

Cecile shrugged. "Apparently not. It makes me wonder if this Mr. Dagbani knew the Crozats would fail to vanquish Dako. Hell, I wonder what he was really up to. It's too bad he left Singapore before the cops could question him."

This sobering thought left the trio silent for a moment. Then Paige said to Darryl, "Uh, by the way. I'm sorry for giving you the third degree, yesterday. The last time I saw you, I nearly died. I guess I forgot that it wasn't really you."

"It's okay," Darryl replied with a smile. "I'm just glad that Cecile and Cole finally freed me from that bastard."

A frown crept into Paige's countenance, at the mention of her ex brother-in-law's name. "Piper and Phoebe told me that Cole had hit you pretty hard, when he drove Dako out of your body."

"He had no choice. Your sisters' potion didn't work."

Cecile added, "And I forgot to bring my potion. I have to admit. It was pretty smart of Cole to use Dako's power against him. He told me that something similar happened to him, when he was possessed by some demon named Andras."

Paige shook her head. "Yeah, but . . ."

"Honey, why are you dragging this out? Cole did what he had to do to save us all. Especially Darryl." Cecile gave Paige a hard stare. "Besides, didn't you once help him, when the others had refused?"

Memories of the Charmed Ones' last encounter with Barbas rushed back into Paige's head and she shuddered. She had seriously believed that Cole needed help. And she had been right. Yet, never did she imagine that his powers would prove to be so . . . powerful. Invincible. Even against the Power of Three. That little discovery had made Paige even more leery of her former brother-in-law. Matters only became confusing, as she began to question what really happened between Cole and the Source.

She sighed. "Okay, so I did. He needed help at the time. Still . . ."

"Still what?" Cecile's eyes remained fixed on Paige's face. "Whatever problems you have with Cole, you really need to get over them. Seems to me that he's trying to start a new life. If you don't want to be a part of it, fine. But there's no need to make it difficult for him - even behind his back."

Paige found herself growing uncomfortable . . . and embarrassed under the other woman's steady gaze. Darryl focused his attention on the food spread out on the table. "I . . ."

"Hey!" Bruce McNeill's voice carried across the lawn. "Are you three going to just stand there all day?" The three people finished filling their plates and joined the group that had begun to form around Cole and Mr. McNeill.

* * * *

Feeling refreshed in clean clothes, Olivia joined the others on the lawn. She glanced around and noticed that everyone seemed scattered about. Darryl, Cecile and Barbara had gathered in one small group. Harry and Paige, the youngest Halliwell, were preoccupied with Darryl's two sons. Phoebe sat nearby, observing them with great amusement. The others - her parents, Bruce, Cole, Piper and Leo had formed a large group near the garden. Olivia headed toward them. "Hey guys! What's the topic for today?"

"That urn I had found inside the VENDRUM office," Bruce replied. "And the file Cole had sent to Dad."

Olivia's father added, "Which I've read, by the way. Do you all realize that the Crozats had a detailed file on each of us? It had information on nearly everything we've done in our lives, whether normal or supernatural. All of us. Cole included."

The half-demon gave Jack McNeill a sharp look. "Even before I had met Phoebe and the others?"

"Well, I can only assume information like that came from the Underworld. However, they certainly had plenty of information on your life, since your return from the Wasteland."

A frowning Piper asked, "What about my baby? Was there any information on . . .?"

"That your baby is a powerful being?" Dad finished.

Everyone, including Olivia, stared at both Piper and Leo in shock. "Piper's baby is powerful?" Olivia asked.

Piper remained silent, while the whitelighter looked uneasy. "Well . . . yeah. There's a chance the baby might be as powerful as Cole."

A mixture of surprise and disbelief filled Cole's eyes. "How did that happen?" he asked. "Who else knows about the baby?"

Leo frowned. "What do you mean?"

Looking somewhat earnest, Bruce continued, "Someone knows a hell of a lot about us, Leo. All of us. And he or she is willing to give this information to powerful warlocks, like the Crozats. And since information about your baby was found in those files . . ."

"We know," Piper interjected sharply. "Phoebe, Paige, Leo and me."

Leo added, "And the Founders, of course. In fact, a certain number of them had foreseen the baby's powers before we knew about it."

"Anyone else?" Dad asked. "Like a demon or warlock?"

Piper stared at him. "Why is it so important that we find out? I'm sure there are plenty of demons and warlocks who know about the baby."

"Like who? I found a spell in the Crozats' file that enabled a fetus to be transferred from one womb to another," Dad continued. "Sound familiar?"

"I . . ." Piper glanced uneasily at Cole.

Leo spoke up. "Last spring . . ." He paused, before continuing. "Last spring, Phoebe was pregnant with Cole's . . . the Source's baby. The Seer used a similar spell on her."

Cole's blue eyes grew wide with shock. "Is that how she lost the baby? I thought you all were forced to vanquish it. Or that Phoebe had a miscarriage."

Piper's face turned pink with embarrassment. Olivia noticed that she shot a quick glance at her younger sister. "I guess that you and Phoebe haven't had a chance to talk since you came back from the Wasteland."

"And whose fault is that?" Cole angrily retorted.

Outrage replaced the embarrassment on Piper's face. "Hey! At least Phoebe had never decided to become the Source and turn you into some evil consort!"

"I didn't exactly volunteer for that particular job title!" Cole's angry voice attracted the attention of others, Olivia noticed. Including Phoebe's.

Gweneth McNeill's voice rang with authority. "Enough! This is not the time to be pointing fingers! Leo, who else knew about your baby?"

The whitelighter hesitated. "Well . . . uh, that warlock . . . Eames . . ."

"An alternate future Eames," Piper corrected. "And he's dead. Along with that darklighter who tried to kill Paige's dad, nearly three weeks ago."

Dad asked, "What about other whitelighters?" Leo responded with an uneasy nod.

"Wait a minute!" Piper demanded. "Are you trying to say that a whitelighter may have given that file on us to the Crozats? That's ridiculous!"

All of the McNeills stared at the oldest Halliwell. "Why?" Olivia demanded. "Four whitelighters have turned since you last killed the Source, last spring. And according to Dad's former whitelighter, the last one became a darklighter just several days ago. Even Mom found out from her old whitelighter. I guess Leo didn't bother to tell you." She shot a dark look at her whitelighter.

"Of course I didn't!" Leo retorted, looking very upset. "And you weren't supposed to even know about that. It's a whitelighter matter!"

Dad glared at him. "This whitelighter matter may have cost us a lot, Leo! I had warned you about this, last month! About the Underworld being in chaos and how it can upset the balance between good and evil. But apparently, you weren't listening!"

Piper stared at her husband with shocked eyes. "Leo, is this true? Is this what that last whitelighter meeting was about?"

Olivia saw the dumbfounded look on her whitelighter's face. She had never felt so sorry for Leo than she did at that moment. Poor bastard. Before anyone could speak, Cecile appeared, holding her cell phone. "Hey Cole!" she cried, unintentionally easing the tension within the group. "Guess who's calling right now? An old friend of yours! Andre!"

"Huh?" Looking bewildered, he stared at Cecile, as she thrust the phone into his hand. Then he excused himself and walked away.

Olivia's stomach rumbled, signaling to her that she needed food - right away. And with Cole now speaking to Andre and Piper giving Leo the evil eye, she saw no need to hang around. Olivia stood up and happily made her way to the table.

* * * *

From her spot on the lawn, Paige observed the large group that had gathered near the garden. She noticed the McNeills' concerned faces, the anger that seemed to crackle between Cole and Piper. And Leo's bewildered expression. Paige also watched Cole abandon the group, after Cecile Dubois handed him a cell phone. The latter walked away for a private conversation. Olivia McNeill also left the group and headed for the buffet table. And to Paige's dismay, she saw Phoebe follow the redheaded witch. Instinct told Paige that heads were about to butt between the two women in Cole's life. She stood up to follow Phoebe.

"Where are you going?" Harry demanded, distracted from his horseplay with Darryl's sons.

Paige shot him a nervous smile. "Uh, I'm feeling a bit hungry right now. I'll be back." She rushed away.

When she came upon the buffet tablet, Paige heard Phoebe's first words to Darryl's partner: ". . . if I talk with you for a moment?"

Olivia gave Phoebe a polite smile. "Sure. What is it?"

"Well, first I want to thank you for saving me. From Dako," Phoebe replied. Paige heaved a silent breath of relief.

Olivia shrugged. "You're welcome."

"And I want to repay the favor," Phoebe continued. "I think you should know something." Oh no! Dread welled within Paige's chest. She had a pretty good idea whom Phoebe wanted to discuss.

Sure enough, the first word that came out of Phoebe's mouth was . . . Cole. "What about him?" Olivia asked warily.

Phoebe took a deep breath. "I realize you believe that Cole is wonderful, or that you have nothing to fear from him. And maybe you don't at the moment. But one day . . . Look, what I'm trying to say is that knowing Cole, one day he'll betray you. Sooner or later. And you'll regret letting him get close to you."

A sheen of ice glazed over Olivia's green eyes. "Really? I guess I now know who sent Leo to give me that little speech about Cole, last Tuesday. And who sent Piper and Paige to talk to my dad and grandmother. So, what is this? You've finally decided to do the job, yourself?"

"Hey, look! There's no need to get hostile!" Phoebe retorted. "I'm only trying to warn you for your own good! I'm not the enemy, here!"

Paige closed her eyes. Wrong move, Phoebe.

But the red-haired witch did not regard Phoebe with hostility . . . as Paige had feared. Only pity. And contempt. "You really are a pathetic woman, you know that?" Olivia replied. "Let me do you a favor. Let's end this conversation right now, before one of us say something that the other will regret." She returned her attention to the food on the table.

"You're not doing your family any favors with this friendship with Cole," Phoebe insisted. "Or Leo. I still feel guilty for letting Cole into our lives. If I had stayed away from him, years ago . . ."

Olivia shot back, "You would have been dead, years ago. Or Prue would be alive and in prison for a murder she didn't commit. Or Piper would have become a fury. And Paige would have been dead, thanks to Shax. Or a servant of the Source, or a vampire. Or the Source would have killed all of you, over a year ago. Is that what you mean?" She glared at Phoebe.

Even Paige had to admit that Cole had done a lot for them. Then again, he had also put them through a lot of misery. Especially during his two-month stint as the Source. Which Phoebe so adroitly had pointed out.

"And none of you have ever done the same with each other?" Olivia replied. "When you became possessed by some evil? You know, Leo has done a lot of talking over the years and I have a pretty large list of deeds, already forming in my mind."

Phoebe cried out, "All of that happened against our will! Cole chose to become the Source!"

Now, Olivia's green eyes regarded Phoebe with sheer disgust. Paige nearly cringed at the other witch's expression. "Are you in the habit of using your brain? Because I'm beginning to think, otherwise."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Phoebe retorted.

"Only a person with a brain would have bothered to study the true nature of the Hollow. Or bothered to learn how Cole really became the Source. Tell me, did the Source become a Charmed One when he had absorbed Piper and Paige's powers?"

Phoebe frowned. "What are you getting at?"

Olivia heaved a frustrated sigh. "Do I have to spell it out for you? If the old Source didn't become a Charmed One after taking your sisters' powers, what makes you think Cole became the Source, after taking the latter's powers? Think about that . . . if you're capable."

Similar words had been spoken by Elise and Jack McNeill, and it struck Paige with the impact of an energy ball. Phoebe's own open-mouthed expression told the youngest Halliwell that her sister felt a similar impact.

"I . . ." Phoebe began, choking on that one word.

The contempt on Olivia's face deepened. "You what? You've finally starting to use your brain? It's a shame neither you or your sisters had considered doing that when you vanquished Cole, last May."

"We had no choice! He was about to kill us!"

"Really?" Olivia retorted. "Are the words, 'Don't make me kill you' a definite declaration of the intent to kill? Or was it just a warning to back off?"

Confusion whirled in Phoebe's eyes. "How did you . . .?"

"Didn't Leo tell you? Gran read Cole's memories, last month. And projected them to us. It's a shame you were never given the opportunity."

Dark brown eyes hardened, as Phoebe's face became pale. "I don't have to listen to this!" she hissed.

"Fine! Now please leave me alone, so I can get something to eat!"

Unfortunately, at least in Paige's opinion, Phoebe decided that she would end the showdown. "You know, whether or not Cole had decided to become the Source, his powers alone make him dangerous. And evil."

Rolling her eyes, Olivia heaved a sigh. "Oh God! Please spare me the 'evil powers' theory! That is such a load of crap! I can't believe this is coming from a woman whose hide he had saved, last month. Let me enlightened you on a few facts of life, Phoebe. There is no such thing as evil powers or good powers. There are just powers. It all depends upon how you use your powers." She gave Phoebe a hard look. "You know, sometimes I wonder if you ever really loved Cole."

"I did loved him!" Phoebe shot back.

Green eyes glimmered dangerously. "Really? First you had insisted upon Cole not using his powers, for fear that he might 'give in to evil'. Then you didn't even bother to accept his marriage proposal, until after he lost his powers."

"That wasn't about Cole being a half-demon!" Phoebe shot back. "It was . . . it was about me."

Olivia continued, "And your lack of understanding over his loss of powers - was that also about you? And when he finally regained new powers, you pushed him away. You wouldn't even bother to talk about what the both of you went through, last spring. You know, I'm beginning to think that what you loved was the idea of what you could turn Cole into and not his true self." A sneer formed on Olivia's face. "I guess your idea of love is playing it safe." The sneer disappeared, followed by a contemptuous look. "How sad. Now if you'll excuse me, I would like to enjoy the rest of this day." She walked away with her plate of food.

Phoebe stared at the other woman's retreating back, wearing a devastated expression on her face. Then her eyes focused upon Paige, standing behind. Shame reflected in her dark eyes and she quickly walked away.

Paige wanted to rush after her sister. Reassure Phoebe that Olivia's words did not mean anything. But she remained frozen in that same spot near the table, as the realization of the redhead's words overwhelmed her.