Author: Wicked R
Disclaimers: characters and the universe belongs to the WB.
Summary/Set: early Season 7. Leo seems to be more stable, but he still spends
a lot of time in unknown locations. The sisters wonder where and why.
Pairing: L/Piper, C/Phoebe.
"That was easy," Phoebe sighed, referring to the vanquishing of Clisthert, a demon that played changing day to night and night to day while confusing the heck out of people and security cameras, robbing banks and allowing for the free operation of vampires, "now that the power of three is no longer required, can I go back to my column?" Just a few days back at her old job at the Bay Mirror, she was fanatical about writing articles that equalled, if not exceeded the high standards imposed by Lesley. She ran up the stairs into her room, leaving her two sisters in the hall.
"Straightforward, just like in the old days," Piper agreed with her, "when we don't have the distraction of kids hanging off the chandeliers," she complained. Although she loved being a mother and taking care of Wyatt and Christopher, it proved to be very probing with the supernatural activity around that sometimes also required her full attention the same time as the kids did.
"Well, at least Leo seems to be more relaxed nowadays, if you know what I mean," Paige tried to lighten her sister up, "he give me a pep talk and everything this morning. He acted almost normal. No staring away, no vanishing at unexpected times."
"Hmm, yeah, strange. Last night he played with the kids and then he wanted us to have uhm, you know what. For the first time since he killed the first elder. And he volunteered to take care of the kids today. But it's still disturbing I don't know where he spends most of his time at. I know it was always like that, but back then he was a white lighter and nothing more. Speaking of…where is he now? Can you sense him? I need to put the kids to bed."
Paige closed her eyes only for a second before she concluded, "underworld," she shrugged apologetically, knowing how much her sister disliked Leo taking the children down under on his demon hunts or whatever he was doing down there so often nowadays.
"Take me," Piper asked Paige crossly, ready for another dispute with her husband.
The sisters materialised in what appeared to be one of the smaller caves below, strangely lit more so by a white light source, rather than the usual red. They could immediately see Leo sitting in the lotus position on a fur rug, reacting alarmed at the arrival of his ex charges and standing up to meet them.
Piper looked around for her sons and spotted them at the other side of the cave. Chris was giggling, amazed by watching Wyatt juggling with half a dozen small ping pong ball size fire balls, while sending another with the movement of her eyes towards a row of toy cars and toppling them over. Baby Chris giggled again.
"Well done, Wyatt. Are you ready to control another one at the same time?" A familiar voice asked and the tall, dark haired, wide shouldered man that stood with his back to them conjured up and handed another little fire ball to Wyatt.
"Wyatt! Come here! Right now!" The worried mother of the two kids called, running towards them and picking up Christopher's seat on her way to Wyatt. She didn't waste time with looking for explanations from Leo. Whatever it was, Wyatt was not to play with fireballs.
Acknowledging her presence and reaction, the man that played with Wyatt extended his hands in the direction of the mini fireballs, made a gesture similar to a clap and the fireballs went out. Then he turned to face Piper, his greenish blue eyes making contact with hers. This was the moment when Piper realised she was facing her ex brother in law, the allegedly vanquished Cole Turner. He was simply dressed in a black denim outfit, his shirt half customarily unbuttoned to compensate for the heat and humidity that characterised the Underworld.
Piper stood in front of Christopher's seat in protection and cradled Wyatt up into her arms, even if Leo's calm spoke of no danger. She certainly didn't trust Phoebe's ex, and lately she had problems trusting her own husband. She never doubted he was still good, but she was seriously questioning Leo's mental state.
The boy protested being taken away from the game he was playing, "'ole is fun," and he struggled against his mother to be allowed down. Wyatt had only mastered a dozen words so far and Piper couldn't believe the word Cole was one of them. How could he learn that?
"You come here a lot?" Piper addressed her question towards Leo, or Wyatt even, or whoever was willing to answer.
"Cole helped me the last few month," Leo stepped closer for the explanations, before Piper could blow either of them up driven by her anger. Although his wife couldn't really kill or even hurt him or Cole, blowing up was always blindingly painful and to be avoided at all costs, "he helped me understand the world, helped me concentrate and take care of the kids…" Leo knew he struck a sore point as soon as he uttered the word kids and he was immediately punished by the very thing he was trying to avoid, being blown up.
"I thought we vanquished you. Especially me," Paige addressed Cole while Leo was busy with re materialising.
"Yes, in an alternate reality I created," Cole answered her question, "as I explained it to Leo, I am an Avatar, though I wouldn't be proud of calling myself that nowadays. Avatars exist outside time and space, but can choose to live in one or another interval. You vanquished Balthazar in a dimension that he was never stripped of his powers. All right, I don't exist in that dimension, but that has no effect on this one."
"Why didn't you pester us some more than?" Piper put her thoughts into words, "did you finally give up on Phoebe?"
"I wouldn't say it that way. Let just say I couldn't take her rejection anymore. All this rubbish about good against evil, evil against good, prejudices. Then finally the Avatars showed me that there was something above that fight. Such power that doesn't trouble itself with trivial matters such as good and evil."
"Objection, if I may," Paige protested making reference to Cole's lawyer past, "we met some Avatars lately. In our conception, they were very much vile."
"That is what I was referring to when I was saying I wasn't proud of who I am," Cole sighed, briefly wondering if he ever was in his complicated existence, "due to the shrinking of the Universe, Avatars have lost some of their omnipotence and were forced to recruit some people that weren't ready to manage such power and misused it. That is why it would be so important for us if Leo joined us. It's s my assignment to get him ready. I couldn't refuse, if the collective mind finds me the most suitable, the most logical action will follow. Believe me, I didn't want this assignment. I'd like to think of Leo as a friend, but we all know what complications my presence could cause. That is why we thought keeping our alliance secret was the best option."
"Whatever," Piper took the position of the head of the family again, "everybody home, will discuss it there," she urged Paige to orb them out taking position with the kids. Leo had no choice but to follow, sharing only one fleeting look with Cole. He didn't have to explain, all was understood.
Landing in the sitting room, Paige expressed the most pressing question on her mind, "Cole is back. How are we going to tell Phoebe?"