A/N: I had a lot of requests to continue what I had started in Cole. So here it is, I hope it does as well as it's parent.
Disclaimer: I don't own Charmed.
It was good to be back in San Francisco, to tell the truth. I've got so many memories here. Some good, some bad.
But mostly good.
The little coffee shop near my old office is still open, and the red head behind the counter still remembers my blend. It's like I never left, for all that is the same.
But then there is all that is different. Six years have passed since I was here last.
Six years since I had that talk with Leo.
Six years since I went and mucked about with time.
Six years since I had even thought about her for more than a few moments.
Six years since I had been anything more than human.
The changes are showing, more than they had previously. There is a little grey mixed in my hair, a few more wrinkles around my eyes and mouth, a little soreness in my back in the morning if I sleep on it wrong. But I still have the same vigour, the same lust for life as I did as a child, before I knew what I was.
No, that's a different me, a different life. Put it behind you, that phase is over.
I look around, the sights and sounds are still the same, traffic backed up and the murmurkle of hundreds of intermixed conversations around me. The salt filled air blows in from the bay just as it had before.
"Aunt Phoebe, are you ok?"
I turn at the sound of the voice, and for a moment I had thought I had lost my mind.
She was standing there, mostly the same as the last time I saw her. Her hair was longer now, much like it was when I first met her, the dark cascades falling past her shoulders, tied back with a black ribbon. She had a little tow headed boy tugging on her arm, still asking if she was ok.
How could she? She had to be feeling what I was, like someone had punched her in the gut. Or worse, since she thought I was dead, and had for six years now.
Actually, I only wished that I felt like I had been punched in the gut. It felt like a hand had reached in and closed itself around my internal organs.
Reminded me of my first date, actually. I wonder if Rena is still around. That demoness knew how to party.
"Cole?" Her voice sounded like she was ready to faint.
I ran man hand across the back of my neck, feeling the sweat that had started to collect there. I gave a nervous tug at the collar of my shirt, even though the first two buttons were open. "Yeah, it's me."
"What are you doing here? Are you still trying to..."
"No, after that last...incident, I was thrown back here, stripped of my powers. I talked with," Leo? Her Whitelighter? Her brother-in-law? Someone that she would have trusted to give her this information?
"A friend, and he suggested that I go out and explore the world. I'm living in Los Angeles, as the DA."
"Still a lawyer, then."
"Some things never change."
"No, I suppose not," she said.
Something in her voice made me pause, and look at her. Her eyes weren't filled with the malice they had when they tried to vanquish me, or the fear from the times I appeared as Belthazor. There was shock, and something else behind it.
"Are you," she looked down at the boy, then back up. "Are you going to be in town long?"
"I came to attend a wedding of a coworker. I should be in town for a few days. Don't worry, I won't try anything. I've adjusted to the facts."
She smiled, the same smile I had etched into my memory that evening. "Good," she seemed to be recovering slightly from the initial shock. "This is Wyatt, Piper and Leo's son."
"So this is the little boy that caused such a fuss around the home." I tried to keep things neutral, like I had heard stories of his antics. It probably wouldn't have been the smartest thing to say that this was the thing that had kept me from blowing his mother to bits on occasion.
Phoebe smiled. "You could say that," she said. Apparently she picked up on my line of thought.
I glanced at my watch. "I hate to cut this short," I said. I really did. The first time in seven years that we had been face to face and hadn't tried to kill each other. My heart was pounding quickly and my knees felt a bit weak, but I wasn't falling into the despair that had claimed me so many times that first year after the divorce. It was a positive sign. "But I've got to get to the hotel and checked in before the rehearsal dinner."
"I understand," she said. That same smile. "Are you," she hesitated. Blushed.
Phoebe blushing? This was something I hadn't seen in a long time. It still looked cute on her, made her look like the twenty-something I had fallen in love with. The blush faded, the mature businesswoman coming back into play.
"Am I what, Phoebe?"
"Are you, seeing anyone?" She looked away, as though embarrassed to be prying into my personal life. But I caught that same glimmer of something behind her eyes.
"No, I'm not. I've had a few people try to set me up, but they never really work out. I'm always too busy with work and they really don't have a lot outside of their dreams of stardom. It's rather boring, actually, when you compare it to...before."
She smiled. She knew what I meant. A half-demon and a witch dating, battling my brethren and eventually becoming the King and Queen of the Underworld. Air-brained actress wanna-be's would surely be a bore after that.
"Are you, happy, where you are now?"
I thought for a moment. I had a good job that I did very well, I had friends, the weekly poker game, and a sort of peace in my heart that hadn't existed before.
"Are you?" I countered softly.
She thought for a moment as well. "Yes," she said after a moment. "All things considered."
I smiled. All things being demons leaping out at you trying to kill you and your sisters, and presumably her nephew as well. "Then I am. It was good to see you, Pheebs," I said, calling her the old teasing nickname. She smiled that dazzling smile again. I started to turn and walk towards the hotel.
"Phoebe," I said after a few steps.
"My invitation was for two, but I really don't have anyone to share it with. Maybe, if you're not doing anything later, if you want to, that is..."
Her smiled broadened. "I'd love to, Cole."
"I'll give you a call around," I glanced at my watch again. "Four? Give you directions and whatnot?"
"Four." There was the unspoken question of why I didn't just pick her up at the manor. And the unspoken answer. Piper and Paige trying to vanquish me. She nodded.
"It might be awkward," I said. "I mean, with everything that's happened in the past, and..."
She came up and pressed her fingers against my lips. Smiled. "Hush, before you start rambling." She kissed me lightly on the cheek. "See you around four." She led the boy off.
I stood there for a long time, just holding my cheek. The coffee in my hand started to cool, so I drank the remainder and threw the cup in a garbage bin.
I walked to the hotel with a big smile on my face.
And maybe this time, it would turn out right. No hassles, no evil.
Maybe second chances really do exist.
And maybe, this time, I won't have to try to be something I'm not.
I could just be me. The me she never knew, that I had just discovered.
I started singing a snippet of an old song, one I had learned as a boy in Austrailia.
It was in the city of London
In apprenticeship I was bound
And many's the gay old hour
I spent in that dear old town
One day as I was walking
Along my usual beat
A pretty little young maiden
Came tripping along the street
And her eyes they shone like diamonds
I thought her the pride of the land
The hair that hung down on her shoulder
Was tied with a black velvet band
I smiled. It was good to be back, after all.