Chapter One: Heat wave.
Palermo, Sicily. Not exactly where he had expected to find himself at six thirty AM, on a Tuesday morning. But here he was. Uncomfortable in a crumpled up business suit. Still groggy from the exhausting flight. Reflecting on the insane events of the past few days.
Leo Wyatt sighed. It had all happened so fast. Just thinking that brought a smile to his face, because it wasn't strictly true. This case had taken up the last two months of his life. He'd lost sleep over it. Missed meals. Family events. Was flying over to Italy on just a few hours notice really that bigger stretch?
Maybe not, but it was defiantly overwhelming. And so damn hot. Humid was the word there was no breeze. No relief. To be honest Leo was the type of person who hard time dealing with typical San Franciscan summers. This was something else. He was fully expecting to pass out from heat exhaustion any second, and suddenly wished that he'd had the presence of mind to change out of his thick business suit before getting on the plane. But he hadn't. He'd only been thinking about the case. Like always. That's what made him such a good lawyer. Of course, now he was a dangerously overheated lawyer, but a good one all the same.
"I am in the wrong profession." He muttered to himself, taking a good look around.
It was beautiful here. Pure blue skies. Sandy buildings. Exotic plants. It was just a shame that he wasn't the type to appreciate it. He had never understood the fascination. Right now, he'd much rather be admiring the beauty of his nice comfy bed.
He squinted at the crumpled up piece of paper in his hand. Checked the hastily scribbled address. It was the same as on the door in front of him. Great. He'd found the right house. That was a start.
He knocked on the door, and waited. It was several minutes before it angrily creaked open.
The girl behind it glared at him.
"Che cosa l'inferno voi desidera? La relativa metà oltre sei di mattina nell'interesse dei dii!"
That was the first time Leo realized that he couldn't actually speak Italian.
"I-I'm sorry." He stuttered. "Do you speak English?"
He studies her face for any sign that she understood what he was saying.
She looked pissed. One eyebrow raised. Bare arms crossed as if she was actually cold in the incredible heat. Her long, slept on dark hair fell down her slender back. Over her tanned shoulders.
"I'm looking for Piper Halliwell." He said deliberately slowly, trying not to notice the skimpy lilac one piece she was wearing.
"I'm a lawyer." He explained. "You know, l-a-w-y-e-r? Attorney? Solicitor? Erm…Law helping… guy."
She looked at him blankly. Said nothing.
"Look, I-I don't speak Italian." He continued. "Do you speak any English?"
Again she said nothing.
Leo was almost relieved when a door inside was heaved open, and heavy footsteps sounded on the stairs. An older woman, bed headed and bleary eyed, appeared in the doorway.
She scowled and demanded,
"Che cosa sta accendendo?"
Leo sighed. Why hadn't he anticipated this happening?
"Do you speak English?" he asked tiredly.
To his surprise the woman nodded.
"Who are you?" she asked in a thick Italian accent.
"L-Leo Wyatt. I'm Victor Luciano's lawyer."
"You'd better come in." she sighed.
"I'm looking for Piper Halliwell. Maybe you could translate to your, erm… granddaughter?"
"She speak fluent English. She is just… with you, playing."
The girl laughed. Leo wasn't sure whether it was at him or at her grandmothers English. Either way it lit up her face. Distracted him momentarily.
"Can you blame a girl?" She said in a perfect American accent. "It's half past six in the morning. Who does speak English at this hour?"
"Like I said, im sorry about that, but I really need to find Piper Halliwell."
"Fake concern. One-track mind. Yeah, your definitely a lawyer."
"Common misconceptions." Leo breathed lightly. "Now, at the risk of proving them right, are you Piper Halliwell?"
"If I admit it, will you stop saying it?"
"What am I supposed to call you?"
"Drop the 'Halliwell'. It makes for less of a mouthful."
"Okay Piper. I need to talk to you about your father."
"Just let me go and get dressed."
Part of him wanted to protest. Piper was a gorgeous girl, and the nightdress she was wearing highlighted her assets perfectly. To be honest, Leo was enjoying the view, but he couldn't exactly voice this. Plus there was the whole possibility of her sneaking out of the window and not coming back.
The older woman fixed him with a steely glare and muttered something under her breath, when his Leo's eyes stayed focussed on one of Pipers 'assets' for slightly too long.
"What do you want with her exactly?"
"I think that's something I should discuss with Piper first." He said carefully.
"You don't pull her into her fathers mess."
"I'm not trying to do anything of the sort, I assure you."
"She is still young. She doesn't deserve it. She no need lawyers in her house."
"I'm just doing my job." He said plainly.
"And you don't care who gets hurt."
"You don't even know me."
"No one like lawyers. Not here, not in America. I'm warning you. Let her be."
She was protective. That much was obvious. From what he had seen here, and from information he had accumulated in San Francisco, Leo had a pretty good picture of the family.
Penelope 'Grams' Halliwell was protective of Piper because she was the only granddaughter of three still living in Italy. The other two, Prue and Phoebe, had moved to San Francisco a few years ago, and had flatly refused to talk to him. About the case. About their father. Leo couldn't really blame them. Victor was on trial for murder, and they had every right to want to stay as far away from that as possible., but Leo suspected that there was something else going on there. Something he hadn't quite got to the bottom of yet. But he would.
"You understand me?" Penelope muttered through gritted teeth.
"Sure." Leo agreed. Anything for an easy life…
"Grams, stop threatening our guest." Piper breezed, appearing in the doorway. Running a brush through her hair. She was wearing three quarter lengths, and a long grey top, loose enough to be comfortably, but tight enough to make her look amazing.
"Its stuffy in here. You wanna take a walk?"
Leo nodded, quite happy to be getting away from grams. He wasn't sure that he could take many more of her threats and glares professionally.
Grams thought she'd get one more in, as he practically ran out of the house behind Piper, and narrowed her eyes coldly at him.
"Have a nice –day." He said through greeted teeth, muttering the last part to a closed door, which was still reverberating from the force it was slammed with.
"What a nice woman."
"Really tactful Wyatt." Piper said, raising an eyebrow sarcastically. "Verbally abusing my grandmother is a great way to get me on side. Did they teach you that in law school?"
"Sorry." He muttered to her back, as she started. He followed her down an empty, but unfortunately unshaded, alley sandwiched between two houses.
"I blame the heat. It's really getting to me."
She found this funny. She didn't turn around, but he could hear the amusement in her voice.
"Its probably because your wearing your own body weight in polyester."
"Where are we going?" he asked, suddenly curious.
"What's the matter, don't you trust me?"
"I don't know you. But as your da is admittedly a major player in the mafia, I'm not really sure."
"We're going to a café, just down the road. Nice open space. Lots of witnesses."
She turned to look at him.
"You know you really shouldn't be so quick to judge people."
Leo would have said something clever. Something witty. But he had a weird sensation in his head that he was pretty sure was his overheated brain melting. It would come pouring out of his ears any second. So he said nothing, and they spent the rest of the five minute walk in silence.
'Posto del caffè' was a sweet little restaurant, which consisted of a bar, and a few tables outside. Low profile and traditional. Leo smiled. You would be very hard pushed to find a quaint little coffee shop open in San Francisco any time before nine o'clock. He knew from experience that the only way to get a caffeine fix before then was to make do with the overpriced lukewarm crap that spurted out of those overrated machines. And even then you had to kick the uncooperative thing in the right place to get it to work.
"Are you gonna sit down?" Piper asked, gazing up at him from one of the cute little metal tables she had found a seat at.
"Or did you come all the way to Italy to stand gawping into space?"
"I came to take someone back to San Francisco with me. And it wasn't your grandmother."
Piper didn't smile. She looked at him for a second and Leo saw a lost ness in her hazel eyes. Solemn. Resigned.
"Give me one good reason why I should."
"Because your father needs you."
"Is that right?"
"You're his alibi Piper. Without you, the case would be an open shut."
She kept her eyes focused on the table.
Leo sighed knowing that he was going to have to lay it on thick to get through to her.
"He's accused of murder in the first degree. If he's convicted, he'll spend the rest of his life sitting in a maximum security prison."
"He'll buy his way out of it."
"Not this time. He might be a millionaire Piper, but it only goes so far. It can't help him out of this one."
"Can I get you anything?" an old man asked as he sidled up to their table.
Piper smiled warmly at him.
"Hey, Mr Antonio."
Leo sighed. She wasn't listening to him.
"I don't think your grasping how important this is."
She glared at him.
"Piper he's accused of blowing a mans brains across a wall. The guy had practically no head left!"
"Yum!" She retorted. "Can I get a cappuccino please? I think the hot head here needs some water."
"Of course." The man smiled, as he wandered away.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" Piper snapped the second was out of earshot.
"I was just trying to get my point across."
"What times the flight?"
"I'm on it."
She smiled a teasing smile, and whispered deliberately slowly, seductively,
"All you had to do was ask."
Leo exhaled loudly and sank back in his chair.
"Well… thanks for dragging it out."
Mr Antonio reappeared with a deep, wide rimmed coffee mug, teetering precariously on an oversized saucer. He carefully put it on the table in front of Piper, and handed Leo a bottle of water. Cold refreshing water. Finally.
"Thanks." He said gratefully.
The old man muttered something to Piper in Italian, before ambling off again, still chuckling.
"What did he say?" Leo asked curiously, after taking several extremely needed gulps of water.
Piper took a long, slow sip of her coffee.
"He said that we would have Beautiful children."
Leo smiled softly. With her genes in them, he was definitely right.
God the next few weeks were going to be interesting…