A/N: This chapter has a whole lot of information crammed in, with an ending that leaves the desire of wanting more. No worries -- it will come -- eventually. Please bekind andreview afterwards.
Chapter 15: Telling
Cole looked at the figure snuggled under his arm with utter happiness, exhilaration, and more than a little surprise. His mind reeled from Phoebe's initiative, from her kiss—and from everything else that happened afterwards. In the very recesses of his mind, the tiny part that was not involved in what they were—doing at the time—he was sure that he would regret his actions afterward. Most likely Phoebe would push him away immediately after the deed was over and run away—or at least go over to the far end of the bed. Inside, she had uttered small noises of contentment and snuggled up to him before drifting off in the glow of aftersex.
Even now Cole was scared—scared that she would wake up and realize her mistake. That she would utter the name of her husband in her sleep. That what they had shared was just an itch she needed to scratch, once and for all—that it was just a passing thing, that it meant nothing to her, that—
Phoebe stirred and moved against him. Cole froze and stared down at her, his hand tangled in her hair. She smiled a lazy smile as her eyes fluttered open. "So...how're you feeling about last night?" she said teasingly. Cole smiled back at her, remembering the same words he had said to her the first time they shared a bed. "Well, actually," Phoebe said, frowning, "it's more like this afternoon. But whatever."
Cole chuckled. "What do you think?"
Phoebe frowned again. "Hey, you said that last time. No fair."
"Fine," Cole said, drawing Phoebe even closer to him. "This afternoon—" he paused, grinning, then took a deep breath. "Was magical, was wonderful. Was perfect. In more ways than one. You?"
Phoebe looked up and smiled softly. "Would it surprise you if I said that I agreed?"
"Well…" Cole cleared his throat uncomfortably. "A bit. I mean, the last time I saw you, you were in the process of vanquishing me."
"Not me," Phoebe protested. "An alternate universe version of me that you treated like garbage. Besides," her voice softened, "I never tried to get you killed. That was more—Paige's forte. "
"Yeah, well," Cole mumbled, "it was my dear wife who did me in at the end." Phoebe stiffened. Cole cursed himself for mentioning anything related to matrimony.
Phoebe let out a long-drawn breath. "Oh, shit," she said. "I just cheated on my husband, didn't I?"
Cole let out a sigh similar to hers. "Yes, you did," he replied. It was the truth. He tensed as he waited for Phoebe to break his heart.
"Oh, damn," she said. She averted his gaze and slowly slid out of his reach and rolled away, her back facing him. Cole felt a sharp pain in his chest.
"What?" he asked, knowing the answer but needing to ask anyways. I'm just a sadistic bastard, he thought bitterly.
"Nothing," she said shortly. "You just probably think I'm some sort of whoring slut now, that's all."
Cole stared at her back. "No, not at all."
"Yes I am," Phoebe answered bitterly. "I'm a whoring slut who doesn't even regret what she's done."
Cole was about to retort when he caught the last part of her sentence. "You…you don't regret it?"
"Hardly," Phoebe scoffed. "Which probably makes me look even more of a bitch to you."
Cole's heart nearly stopped beating, torn between soaring hope and quiet cautiousness that refused to believe in miracles. "Phoebe," he finally said, "I would never think of you in that way, simply because it isn't true." He felt her listening and plowed on, slowly moving forward as he talked. "You may be mind-blowingly sexy, but you're so sweet and demure."
"But I still cheated," she dissented. "I've never cheated. Ever."
"It isn't cheating if you aren't together," Cole said softly. "And from what I understand, you are only together by name." He hesitated just before he wrapped his arms around her waist. His comment would either make or break their tentative link.
She tensed slightly as she thought over his words before relaxing into his hold. "You're right," she agreed. They silently stayed in their spooned embrace before Phoebe finally spoke. "Is blowingly even a word?"
"Well—no," Cole admitted. "But I'll make it a word just for you."
"Oooh, every girl's dream," Phoebe laughed as she turned around to face him. "You know the way to my heart, Mr. Turner," she whispered as she swung one leg over him, her face close to his. Cole moaned happily and shifted them both so that she was fully straddling him.
"I try my best," he breathed, eyes closed as she leaned forward and caught his lips in a languid kiss. He moaned again along with her as it got deeper and more energetic. He slipped his hands from her hair and onto her smooth, naked back as she nibbled at his neck. It could not get much better than—
"I see you guys are enjoying yourselves," a dry voice remarked a little way from the bed. Cole froze and Phoebe squeaked, collapsing onto him. Cole glared at the intruder with murderous eyes as his hands sought for the covers. As soon as he found them, he dragged them up so that they covered Phoebe up to her neck.
"Kyle…" Phoebe managed out, her face red, "how, uh, how did you get in?"
"How do you think I got in, Phoebe?" Kyle answered. "It's a little handy-dandy trick that Whitelighters, such as myself, enjoy. Orbing, ever heard of it?"
"Kyle," Phoebe hissed, her face flushing even more as she motioned toward Cole, whom she had rolled off of.
"Please," he replied, rolling his eyes. "You have to give me some credit, don't you? I realized he was magical right when I met him. It also kind of explains how you're now in San Francisco when you were in a whole other city hours ago."
"Sacramento isn't that far off," Phoebe tried feebly. When all Kyle did was smile, Phoebe tried another approach as she clung on both her covers and on Cole. "What do you know about him, then?" she asked with bravado. Cole's mind reeled. Was she actually protecting him?
Kyle shrugged. "Not much," he admitted. "Just that there's something quite not right about him."
"Excuse me," Cole said stonily, liking Kyle less and less. "I'm right here."
"Fine then." Kyle turned to Cole and looked him squarely in the eye. "There's something about you that I don't like. I'm not sure what it is, but as Phoebe knows over there, if I get my mind stuck on something, there's very little you can do to hold me back."
"Yeah," Phoebe shot back angrily, her arms clutching tighter onto the man next to her. "I know that all right. And I know that's what got you killed. Besides, he's just a demon."
Cole looked at Phoebe with utter horror. Was she giving him away, still? How could she not—she was handing him over to a Whitelighter on a silver platter!
Cole glanced over at Kyle, hoping that fear wasn't sketched too clearly across his face. Kyle, in response, shot his eyebrows up. "A good demon?"
"Yes," Phoebe replied adamantly. "A good demon."
Kyle gave Cole another steely gaze, then shrugged again. "If you say so, Phoebe. You know best. But if anything happens to you, you know who I'm going to blame. Paige would string me out by my guts."
"Talking about Paige," Phoebe chuckled weakly. "Seen her lately?"
"Not yet," Kyle sighed. "You know with the restrictions and all of that. With the added complications of the attack on Andrea and her clan, there isn't much time for me to go pop a visit."
Phoebe nodded, resting her head on Cole's chest. "Is there anything you want me to do about that? The demon, I mean."
Kyle shook his head. "Don't think so. It's a relatively weak demon, and Andrea's clan is relatively strong. Though they have the firepower, they don't get much practice to use it. All the demons in Northern California somehow end up in San Francisco, imagine that. Anyways, I'm off." With that prompt goodbye, Kyle disappeared in a swirl of lights.
"Phoebe," Cole said slowly, his mind still trying to wrap around the events that had just occurred. "What the hell was that?"
"That was me, saving you," Phoebe said conversationally. Cole continued to stare at her.
"Am I just mistaken, or did you just tell Kyle that I was a demon? How is that saving me?"
"Because Kyle is that rare breed of person who believes in the possibility of repentant demons, and an even rarer breed of person who actually trusts my judgment. And don't complain about me labeling you a demon—if we had gone into the whole human-with-demonic-powers thing he would've just gotten curious."
Cole was about to comment but she continued talking. "Besides, Kyle doesn't have anything personally against demons. It's his job to protect his charges from them, but he doesn't go into a murderous rage every time he sees one of them. That he reserves for the Avatars," she grinned.
Cole turned his head sharply to bore his eyes into Phoebe's. Avatars? What did she know about Avatars? Phoebe furrowed her brow slightly. "Cole, are you OK?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," Cole managed out. "Avatars?"
"Yeah, Avatars." Phoebe's frown deepened.
Cole nodded but his heart pounded as Phoebe slowly narrowed her eyes. He realized that her empathy was kicking into overdrive but the only thing that he could think of was Does she know I was an Avatar? Does she know I was an Avatar? He didn't know why he was panicking, but as Phoebe's face slowly drained of its warmth, he felt rooted to his spot. "Phoebe," he finally said in a low voice.
"You're an Avatar." Cole paled at the sound of her voice—so flat, so endlessly devoid of emotion. Either way, he couldn't deny anything; he knew she had felt it from him.
"I was," he affirmed slowly.
The silence that followed his admission was stifling. Cole stayed frozen, afraid to even twitch, wanting to brush her warm skin with his fingers but afraid of what would happen if he did. They stayed in their motionless state for what felt like hours for Cole, his mind racing with thoughts of what was possibly going on, before Phoebe jerked suddenly and sat up, the sheets wrapped around her.
"I want you to leave," she said in a noncommittal, even voice.
Cole's ears started to ring as he blinked blankly.
"Leave for ten minutes," Phoebe said in the same smoothly mechanical voice, "to let me gather my stuff and I'll go."
"But—" Cole was utterly flustered.
His head spun, unable to comprehend all the events and emotions that have been thrown at him in such a short amount of time, his confusion quickly turning to frustrated anger. Without saying a word, he wrenched himself off the bed, grabbed the bathrobe from the open closet, threw it on himself and with his back turned to Phoebe, shimmered away.
Ten minutes, he thought to himself angrily. I'll give that fickle heartbreaker exactly ten minutes before she gets the hell out of my life.
Five minutes later, however, he was severely regretting his decision to leave his hotel room at all. There were only so many places he could've gone in a bathrobe, and after receiving a sly glance from a man in the hotel spa room he was dawdling in, he decided he had enough. Who was Phoebe to order him out of his room, anyways?
Finding a deserted area, he shimmered back to his hotel room, ready to order Phoebe out of his room if she was still there.
He was not prepared to find her crouched on the floor, white sheet still wrapped around her, sobs racking her entire body.