A Walk Down Memory Lane

Late that night, Phoebe awoke to a strange noise. She was used to most sounds (orbing, freezing, exploding, smashing furniture, various demons howling), but this was...different. Almost like Prue's astral projection.

But that was impossible. Prue had died over a year ago.

Phoebe sat up in bed, only to be greeted by the one person she thought she'd never see again.

"Prue?" she asked.

"Glad to see you still recognize me," the dark-haired woman said.

"You're here. And...and you're not a ghost." Phoebe paused. "Am I dreaming?"

Prue sat down on the bed. "You're not dreaming. And They" (she cast her glance upward) "sent me down here to you. Flesh and blood, I may add."

"If I touch you, promise me you won't disappear."

Prue laughed. "I promise. C'mere."

Phoebe hugged her. "I don't believe it. How long can you stay?"

"Only until sunrise."

"Let me go get Piper and Paige. Oh, you've got to meet Paige."

"No." Prue put her hand on Phoebe's arm. "I'm supposed to talk to you. Only you."

"But...why? What's so secretive?"

"I need to talk to you about Cole."

Phoebe put her hands on her hips and glared at the ceiling. "For once, couldn't you stay out of my business?" she called.

Prue stood up and extended her hand. "Come on, Phoebs. Let's take a walk down memory lane."

"What?"

"Give me your hand."

Phoebe did and immediately felt the sensation of flying. It was similar to orbing, but more disembodied. She felt as if she was split into a thousand partgicles, each one moving at it's own rate.

After what seemed like an eternity, she was back together.

"Wow." Phoebe gasped for breath. "Am I all here? We didn't lose any of my vital organs?"

"Sorry about that," said Prue. "It gets easier. Anyway, we're here, and that's the important thing."

"Where is 'here'?" asked Phoebe, surveying the place she'd arrived in. It was completely dark, except for herself and Prue.

"Call it a supernatural movie theater," Prue answered. "Now. You ready?"

"For what?"

"Just wait." Prue pointed, and a blank screen appeared. An image slowly came into focus.

"A picture of me and Cole? Prue-"

"Do you remember when this was taken?" asked Prue.

"Last year. But Prue, I don't-"

"And how were you feeling that day?"

"How am I supposed to remember?"

"Try."

Phoebe sighed. "Happy. Loved. Although, if I would have known what I know now, I would have run away screaming and never looked back."

The photo changed into a clip of Phoebe and Cole dancing at P3's Halloween party.

"Uh-huh. And this was, oh, two hours after he tried to keep us from ever being born?" Phoebe asked, crossing her arms.

"But it was also the first time he ever saw you as a powerful part of the Charmed Ones. You made him realize had to step up his game. You attracted him."

The image changed.

Cole had just left the Manor, and Prue was standing in the doorway. "I havent' felt anything like that since Andy was alive."

"Anything like what?" Phoebe asked.

"Spinning into infinity. You know, that headlong spiral that steals your breath and stops your heart," answered Prue.

"Prue, what the hell are you talking about?"

"Falling in love."

"Falling in love? Prue, I just got dumped. I'm trying to experience a breakup here." Phoebe paused. "Who's falling in love?"

"Cole."

"Okay, you're so off-track."

"Oh. Oh. Right. I felt that too. Your heart just jumped and I felt it. You're falling in love too."

"He was in love with me, I was in love with him. Blah blah blah, ancient history," Phoebe said dryly.

Yet another clip: Phoebe, at Cole's apartment.

Cole opened the door. "Phoebe, what're you doing here?"

"I, um...I came to tell you something. Actually..."

She kissed him.

"I was always much better at show than tell."

There was more passionate kissing.

"You have no idea what you're getting yourself into," Cole warned her.

"Neither do you."

"Prue, this is before he turned me evil!"

"Phoebe! It wasn't him who did that. It was the Source." Prue shook her head as the image on the screen changed once again. More kissing, this time after the infamous blowout between the sisters.

"A knife." Phoebe drew in her breath. "He tried to kill me more times than I realized."

"I can't," said the Cole, lowering the knife. "I can't."

Phoebe watched as their conversation of the past unfolded.

"He loved you," Prue said. "And he still does."

"You didn't...Prue, you didn't have to feel the hell he put me through. You didn't have everything you knew and trusted be a facade put on by evil. You didn't have the love of your life stolen from..." She stopped at the expression on Prue's face. "I'm sorry."

"It's in the past. And besides, I'm got Andy with me now. Right now, we need to concentrate on you and Cole."

"I'd rather not."

"Too bad." Prue nodded at the screen. "Next."

The clip was of Cole facing and killing the Triad. At his scream, Phoebe winced. "Does this thing have a volume control?"

"Nope."

More images followed. Phoebe, going to Cole's apartment and finding him on his bed, bleeding. Their conversation. Leo, coming with Phoebe to heal Cole. The sparks. The realization that Cole was a demon. Cole, morphing into Belthazor and shimmering Phoebe to the cemetary. Belthazor, morphing back into Cole and telling Phoebe that he loved her. Krell attacking. Cole and Phoebe in the mausoleum. Cole, killing Krell.

"Now do you believe me?"

Phoebe covered her face with her hands as her on-screen self vanquished Cole's coat.

"He was evil then," said Prue.

"Yeah, well, I got sick of having to deal with an evil boyfriend around the third time it happened!" Phoebe snapped. "Next image."

"So now I'm supposed to trust a demon?" Victor Halliwell asked.

"You know, as much as I hate to say this, Cole loves Phoebe. He took a huge risk to come here and try and prove himself to her and he will do whatever it takes to save her life," Leo said.

"He's right," said Phoebe.

"How can you be so sure?" Victor asked.

"Because he loves me as much as I love him."

"Ugh," said the Phoebe. "I can't believe I said that. It sounds like a cheesy soap opera line."

Prue shook her head. "No it doesn't."

Another clip, of Phoebe, vanquishing the demon that had glamoured into Cole. Phoebe and the true Cole embraced, and the watching Phoebe shut her eyes. "Why do I have to watch this? I know what happened in the past. It's my future I'm concerned with."

The next scene was Cole, after he'd killed the witch in the Halliwell's attic.

"See? Evil!" Phoebe proclaimed.

"I thought he was under a spell," said Prue.

Next...Cole and Phoebe the Banshee fighting in the Mausoleum.

"Damn it, Phoebe," said Belthazor as he turned into Cole, "I love you."

Phoebe the Banshee howled, and her true self reappeared. "Stay away from me," she said, backing away.

"Phoebe-"

"Just stay away."

"Phoebe-"

"I don't want to hear it, Cole."

"Yeah, you do. You're not the only one hurting here. We both are. That's why we were drawn into this mess. I tried to deny it too. I tried everything to break my feelings for you, even magic, but nothing works.

"It doesn't change anything."

"No. It doesn't. It doesn't change the fact that I killed a witch. Even if I was tricked into doing it."

"What do you mean?" Phoebe asked.

"Forget it. It doesn't matter."

"Yeah, well, maybe it matters to me!"

"Raynor cast a spell. He made me do it against my will."

"Why would he do that?"

"Because he wanted to kill me," said Cole. "And he knew the only way to do that was to destroy the one thing that was keeping me good. He knew my killing a witch would destroy your faith in me. And he was right."

"I don't know what to say."

Cole stroked Phoebe's face. "There's nothing to say. Like you said, it doesn't change the fact that I did it, or that we'll always love each other. I guess that's the pain we'll both have to live with."

He shimmered out.

"All the pain you had then...do you feel that same pain now?" asked Prue.

"I don't feel anything anymore for him anymore," Phoebe answered.

A clip of Piper and Phoebe at P3 came into view.

"I think I made a mistake giving up on Cole," said Phoebe. "I now know why he did what he did."

"Phoebe-" Piper began, but Phoebe cut her off.

"He loves me, which means that there's still good in him. I can bring him back. I know it."

There was a pause, and then Prue said, "And now, we go to the Paige era."

"Honey," Cole said, "what are you doing?"

"Uh, cleaning," Phoebe replied.

"But you don't clean. You hate cleaning."

"I know. But it's better than falling apart, right?"

Phoebe clenched her fists. "Prue, why are you making me remember this?"

"You need to. Phoebe, you may think you hate Cole."

"No. No, no, no. There's no 'may think' in there. I hate him. Plain and simple."

"Really?" Prue squinted at the screen. "Fast forward."

It did, zipping through several images of Cole and Phoebe. The scene it stopped at was of the two in an alleyway.

Cole had just fired an energy ball at a Scavenger Demon, and he and Phoebe were thrown backwards.

"We have to stop meeting like this," said Phoebe.

"Marry me."

"What?"

Another image appeared, replacing that one.

"I love you, Cole, and nothing can change that."

"Well, something did." Phoebe put her head in her hands.

The muse fiasco was shown next, with Phoebe kissing (who else?) Cole.

"He was your passion," Prue said.

"Was! Past tense!"

"Miss Phoebe Halliwell, I come to you as a man--nothing more, nothing less--to ask, will you be my wife?" said Cole.

"Hmmm...yeah. I will. Again." Phoebe answered.

Cole taking in the Hollow was next.

"Phoebs, he did that because he wanted to do what was right. He wanted to vanquish the Source," Prue pointed out. She looked over to Phoebe, who had her head in her hands.

"I don't want to see what's coming next. Once was enough."

Prue nodded at the screen, and it disappeared. "This is what I needed to show you."

"Why? To make me relive the hell of the past six months?"

"Answer me this." Prue took Phoebe's hands in hers. "Do you still love Cole, yes or no?"

"That's too complicated to answer with a yes or no."

"No it's not. Listen to your heart."

"My heart. Fat lot of good it's done for me so far."

"Concentrate. Close your eyes," said Prue.

Phoebe obeyed. She took a deep breath. Images of Cole floated in her head--Cole as Belthazor, Cole as the Source, Cole in the demonic wasteland, and Cole back in San Fransisco. He'd been so cocky when he'd first got back...but tonight, after Barbas had been dealt with (again), he'd lost his attitude.

"He didn't want to be evil," Phoebe whispered. "He was born with no choice. But...the Source."

"You've been possessed before," said Prue. "Remember the Woogy--how overpowering that was?"

Tears formed in Phoebe's eyes. "He could have told me. He could have fought the Source and warned me something was wrong."

"How can you be sure?"

Phoebe broke down in sobs. "He should have told me. He should have tried. I'll always love Cole, but..." She looked up at Prue. "The bottom line is, sometimes love isn't enough."

"Tell that to Leo and Piper." Prue put her arm around Phoebe. "Think of what they had to overcome to be together."

"But at least they were on the same side of things."

"Phoebe, Cole loved you enough to give up all of his powers before. What makes you think he wouldn't do it now?"

"Evil will always get him, Prue. He was human, and the Seer still found him. I can't deal with him turning evil again."

"It takes something of immense power to give a human supernatural powers--even if the human was a demon before. The Hollow is guarded again, and the Source is gone, as far as we can tell."

"Why are you doing this?" Phoebe asked. "You hated Cole."

"Let's just say the afterlife gave me a little whack on the head about some issues." Prue hugged Phoebe. "There's one more thing I want to show you."

"All right, but that's it. No more memories."

"Actually, it's not a memory," said Prue, nodding at the screen. "It's present-day."

The penthouse appeared on the screen. Cole was laying in bed, staring at the ceiling. "Phoebe," he murmured. "Why? I tried. I tried to be good."

Phoebe closed her eyes momentarily. "He looks so hurt."

"If I'd save the world, she'd still say I was evil! Damn it, Phoebe!" He threw the bedside lamp against the wall. "Do you think I want demonic powers again?"

"I don't want to see this," Phoebe told Prue.

Prue nodded at the screen once more, and it disappeared.

"The reason I came to you isn't to tell you to do anything about Cole one way or the other," Prue said to Phoebe. "I needed to show you your and Cole's history--the major points in it. You need focus. Look inside of him. If he wanted to kill you, he'd have done it by now." She smiled. "Follow your heart."

Phoebe sighed. "Thank you."

"For what?"

"For giving the advice columnist some very good advice."

Prue grinned. "You're welcome." She checked her watch. "I've got to get you home now."

"What? But we just got here."

Prue took Phoebe's hand and the disembodied feeling came back. It wasn't as bad this time though, and Phoebe didn't feel quite as off when she landed in her bedroom.

"Prue?" She asked, turning around.

Her older sister was gone.

There was a message, though, that had been spelled in gold dust on the floor.

Let your soul take you where you long to be.

Phoebe recognized the quote from The Music of the Night. She'd seen The Phantom of the Opera with Prue, Piper, Leo, and Cole right before the Brotherhood incident occurred. She'd bought the CD from the original London performance and it had become a kind of obsession for a few months. More than once Prue had turned on her car, only to have her eardrums blasted with the familiar overture.

Phoebe laid back down on her bed and watched the sun come up. Prue's visit had given her clarity on what her true feelings were.

She loved Cole. And when she got to the office, she was going to call him.

Or maybe, she decided, she'd just pay a visit to the penthouse. She was better in person anyway.

Phoebe rolled onto her stomach. She remembered a power-stripping potion in the Book of Shadows. It could be tweaked to get rid of the powers Coel had accumulated--she was sure of it.

"Thank you," Phoebe said

And, as if from a distant plane, Prue's voice whispered, "Anytime."

Finis

A/N: This started when I was in the car, waiting for my mother to get out of Wal-Mart, and it just took off. A sequel is being planned, so this isn't really a cliffhanger. (When said sequel will be up, heaven only knows.)

The episodes the clips are taken from are All Halliwell's Eve, Primrose Empath, Power Outage, Sleuthing With The Enemy, The Good, The Bad, and The Cursed, Look Who's Barking, Charmed Again, Black As Cole, Lost and Bound, and Charmed and Dangerous. (Note that most of those are somewhere in my favorite episodes list.)

And, for the traditional disclaimer, I don't own anything from Charmed...which is quite sad. All I want would be Cole...you can fight over the rest.