Mourning

The night of Cole's vanquish, Paige went to bed happy. She'd helped Phoebe to get rid of the most volatile evil they'd ever faced. He wasn't a threat anymore! Phoebe could finally move on with her life without having to look over her shoulder to make sure Cole wasn't watching her.

Piper went to bed confused. On one hand, she was glad that Cole wasn't a part of their lives anymore. But on the other, a very, very, very small part of her was mourning. Cole had been with the family through a lot: her wedding, Prue's death, the discovery of Paige, and the vanquish of the Source (the first time, anyway). He'd helped them with dozens of demon vanquishes and risked his life several times to get them information from the underworld. She wasn't mourning the Cole that they'd vanquished in the alternate universe; she was mourning the Cole that hadn't been corrupted by evil.

And Phoebe? Phoebe didn't go to bed. Instead, she went to the penthouse. She hated it there. It held too many tainted memories, too much sorrow, too much evil. But she knew that she had to go, to do what needed to be done.

It was quiet and cold inside. Had it only been a week ago that she'd been trapped there while her clone invaded the Manor? And Cole's first vanquish...that felt like a hundred years ago.

Phoebe pushed open the bedroom door. The bed was unmade, and she could almost see Cole sleeping there--snoring and murmuring unintelligible syllables. Inside the closet, suits, shirts, and ties hung neatly. Sweaters were stacked on the shelves. All of it looked like it hadn't been worn for the past few weeks.

She reached for a hanger and pulled out a gray jacket. After looking at it for a moment, she slipped it on and continued going through the closet. Under a pile of sweaters, she found a light blue turtleneck. She'd wanted to have physical things that would remind her of what she and Cole had once shared, and now she had them. The jacket had been his favorite, and the turtleneck...he'd worn it on the day he'd taken in the Hollow. Phoebe knew it was stupid to want her ex-husband's clothes, but right now, that didn't matter.

With the two items of clothing, Phoebe left the apartment and leaned against the elevator wall. For a second, she thought she felt Cole's presence, but dismissed it as a hidden longing to have him back with her, safe and protected.

"Cole," she said, "I don't know if you're here or not, but I hope--somehow--you can hear this. I know I've said it a thousand times, but I love you. I know that doesn't mean much to you now, but...wherever you are...remember that." She sighed. "It doesn't help, does it? You're stuck God-knows-where and I'm here in my cushy life. I should have let you go on with your life. It's my fault. I...I made you do what you did." She buried her face in the sweater. "Please forgive me."

The elevator hit the ground floor and Phoebe stepped out of it. A cold rush passed through her and she knew Cole had heard what she said.

A/N: This is another thing that got stuck in my mind and wouldn't get out until I sat down and made it into a story. It takes place on the night of "Centennial Charmed," after the sisters left the penthouse and went back to the Manor. Not really much of a plot to it, but I still like it. It could be considered...oh, I don't know. A tag?