A/N: Well first of all, I love you all for reviewing and sorry about that evil cliffhanger, there was no way I could have possibly mashed up chapters 11 and 12 into a single one, the plot wouldn't allow me to. But hey, I hope the wait was worthwhile. Also, whether or not Cole dreamed the night at his appartment will be announced in a couple of chapters. Again, I did give you a hint in that chapter but everyone missed it. ;) Again, I'm more than thankful for each review and without further ado, here we go... ;)
Chapter 12 - Good night indeed
Piper gently placed a cold piece of woolen cloth over Phoebe's wound and felt her forehead, more as precaution than an actual feeling she could be burning up. As expected, her sister's temperature was perfectly normal. She glanced at the grandfather's clock and Paige caught that glance.
"It's been like, twenty hours." She stated the obvious. "He should have been back long time ago. Or at least Phoebe should have woken up."
"Well, Cole was right when he said he could take care of himself, especially now that he's invincible. Nothing could have happened to him. We just need to wait a little longer." Leo said and tried to pull a reassuring smile.
"Honey, you've been saying that every two hours since he left." Piper sighed. "I am not impatient and I don't have any problems with waiting but I'm afraid Phoebe may not have much time."
"Well, Cole said it works like a bomb. Things will get worse when those demons or warlocks or whoever they were want them to." Paige said and looked at her sister and her brother-in-law carefully, trying to figure out what they were thinking.
"What if he was wrong?" Piper asked quietly.
"The thing is - he probably wasn't. Cole has been dealing with demonic weapons for over a century. I think we should trust his call." Leo said, trying his best to remain calm in spite of the atmosphere. It was awkward, yet they all knew that they were all wondering the same - what had gone wrong?
"They're not coming, Agiel." Yekahel said impatiently from the corner of the room where he was lurking, wary and awaiting any sign of movement.
"They will come." Agiel patiently replied and switched to a move comfortable position.
"How can you possibly be so sure?" Yekahel looked at his partner across the room, who seemed as though he was used to crouching in corners for over twenty hours.
"I've told you millions of times. I've studied these witches for years. Every single piece of information that was ever revealed in the underworld, I am familiar with. I've learned from both successes and failures of those who have failed before us." Agiel said. "Besides, I told you that even if I do misjudge the witches, every single piece of my plan has a plan B. You should know that, seeing how you screwed up the original plan A, which was to use the first arrow to shoot the witch and chase her sister away. That would have saved us quite a bit of time and effort." he took a deep breath. "You've lost your right to complain."
"Again, my apologies. But what is your plan B now? What if I turn out to be right and the witches decide against coming to get the third one?" Yekahel asked, persistently demonstrating his impatience. He was the demon of action, not long-running plans.
"In four hours, the poison injected into the witch's system will weaken. I made sure it only weakens enough to wake her up and nothing else. She will still be as good as in coma. But imagine what she will do when she finds out that her precious demon has been missing for twenty four hours?" Agiel let out a throaty laughter, basking in the brilliance of his plan. "She will insist on looking for him and will be too weak to go on her own. And so her sisters are gonna be persuaded into going and she will stay with the Whitelighter."
Yekahel finally understood where the entire plan was going. And he liked it. He smirked.
"One more of these..." Agiel continued while sharpening his arrow. "And the whitelighter will be put to sleep as well, well out of our way."
"This is brilliant." Yekahel commented, both to himself and his partner.
"Do always remember this, Yekahel: If you can't beat them, join them. It is what Belthazor used too and he was the closest to killing them in history. Now, if you can't join them, due to the opposite sides you work for, don't try to kill them since you can't beat them. Just... put them to sleep. Works on everyone - the invincible and the long-since-deceased." Agiel laughed.
"With the Whitelighter out of the way, we kidnap the witch and take her to our second base where you can finally..."
"Strip her powers, yes." Agiel finished. "It doesn't require any hollows or endangering us all. All it takes is patience. Lots of patience and careful planning."
"It will work." Yekahel said.
"I know." Agiel replied without taking the smirk off his face.
"Wh... Piper!" Paige shook her sister who had fallen asleep in the armchair next to the sofa Phoebe was on in the living room. "She's moving." she said excitedly.
Phoebe slowly stirred and opened her eyes. She blinked a couple of times to get used to the light which was turned on in the living room, due to the fact that it was still night outside. "What...?" she could barely speak. Her unconsciousness was holding its grip on her, pulling her back into it. She started feeling sharp pain all the way from her stomach to her back.
"Phoebe!" Piper let out a sigh of relief. "We were worried sick! Leo, quick!"
Leo rushed over to Phoebe's side, kneeled next to the sofa and held his hands above her wound. He closed his eyes, concentrating on the healing process. After a couple of seconds, confused, he pulled back. "I can't heal her. The poison is still thwarting my attempts." he said.
"I don't understand. I thought Cole said she'd be okay." Paige said quietly but Phoebe caught every word.
"Where is he?" She whispered weakly, making pauses between words and drawing sharp breaths.
"Oh uh, he... went to find whoever did this to you and reverse it." Piper said and smiled at her sister, trying not to cause any panic.
"Where is he... now?" Phoebe whispered again.
"He should have been back awhile ago." Piper said and watched her sister close her eyes painfully. "But you have nothing to worry about, he's invincible, he can handle his own affaires."
"This wasn't... his affair." Phoebe muttered silently. "It was mine. I need you..." she ran out of oxygen and took a deep breath to get it back. "I want you to go get him." Piper and Paige exchanged looks. "Please." Phoebe added.
"But Pheebs, you'll be all alone here..." Paige tried to protest.
"I'll be with Leo." Phoebe corrected her weakly. "He can orb. Go. Please."
"Pheebs..." Piper looked at her weak sister and opened her mouth but couldn't find the right words.
"You know... I love him." Phoebe whispered. "I couldn't live with this."
Piper nodded and grabbed Paige's hand. "Let's go."
Phoebe and Leo watched them orb out. They exchanged worried looks. "Uh, can I get you anything to make you feel any better until they come back?" Leo asked quickly, purposely emphasizing the world until, trying to remain an optimist in the family.
Phoebe just shook her head. There was nothing that could make her feel better except seeing her family back together. They were falling deeper into someone's trap with each second that flew by and she was becoming more and more aware of it. Nothing was making sense to her. And all they could do is sit back... and wait to see familiar orbs fill the room.
Or completely unfamiliar shimmers... Phoebe's eyes widened at the sight of two demons shimmering a couple of feet away from Leo. "Leo!" she called out and hoped he'd turn around in time. She was almost positive they were no darklighters but since one of them was ready to fire a small arrow at Leo from a dark wooden crossbow, she wouldn't take any chances.
Leo could only have thanked his instincts that he orbed away in time before the arrow pierced through his neck. For a split second, he was alarmed, thinking it was darklighters in the living room but upon orbing back, he realized those were completely unfamiliar demons.
"Get the whitelighter!" the taller demon yelled and the other one ran towards Leo who orbed out again and orbed behind the tall demon bending over Phoebe. He grabbed a lamp standing by the couch and swung as hard as he could. As he was hoping, the demon collapsed onto the ground. Leo rushed to check up on Phoebe and suddenly felt sharp pain on his neck. And then everything faded to black...
Phoebe's eyes widened at the sight of two demons, one wounded and barely walking and another one completely fine, approaching her, while she was too weak to do a thing but just lay there and watch them reach her, grab her by the arm and shimmer out...
"The Source was wrong, you know..." Agiel was talking to Phoebe who was on the verge of fainting under the influence of poison still running through her veins. "He considered your power worthless. For as passive or not-so-useful as your powers were, they were far from worthless. They are one third of the greatest power in the world. Therefore, they are gonna have to be stripped for the greater good... Or well..." he laughed. "Greater evil." He turned to his partner. "Get everything ready, Yekahel." Agiel ordered and walked off to the other part of the room. He opened a notebook which seemed to have been left forgotten at one of the tables and took a small piece of paper from the envelope glued to the cover of the notebook. He took a deep breath and watched his partner light the candles all around Phoebe, who had visibly given in to the poison effects again and fell back to sleep.
"Finally, it's happening." he whispered, demonstrating all the satisfaction he was feeling at that moment. He approached Phoebe after all the candles were lit and place one of his hands on her wound while using another one to hold the piece of paper he had taken previously and read the inscription...
"Addo mihi totus veneficus."
Both demons watched as the big bright orb flew out of Phoebe's chest and straight into the demon's, knocking him back to the ground. He quickly got back to his feet and laughed with triumph. "Now this is what I call feeling the power!" he smirked and took a look at Phoebe. "One down... two to go."
"Are we going to kill her, Agiel? We could now, she is powerless." Yekahel stated the obvious.
"No, we shall not get ahead of ourselves." Agiel said slowly. "Killing her would risk her sisters coming after us, blinded by rage, and that is the situation when I cannot predict the outcome. We just let her walk away."
"What about the demon?" Yekahel asked.
"I've tried stripping his powers. Unfortunately, they are shielding themselves from... harmful influence somehow. Leaving the sisters confused and alarmed, yet not enraged, is crucial to this plan so my guess is that we are going to have to let the demon go as well. He shouldn't be too big of a problem, really..." Agiel smirked. "We all know how emotions tend to cloud one's better judgment. This demon..." he pointed at Cole, unconscious in the cage. "...has got more than enough to go down each time we need him out of the way."
"So we set them free now...?"
"And stage two of this plan begins." Agiel smirked.
"Okay, you can let go of me now..." Phoebe chuckled at Piper and Paige who were squeezing the breath out of her. "You should go and hug those demons for letting me go and for only putting Leo to a short-term sleep instead of poisoning him."
"And for letting you go..." Leo added with a warning note to his voice. "I don't think they have just decided to give up."
"Yeah, they were two moves ahead of us the entire time. And they had you and Cole so..." Piper stopped in mid sentence and watched Phoebe's eyes widen.
"Where's Cole?" she asked slowly.
"Well, you know, he might be back at the penthouse, I mean, he is invincible for a reason..." Paige quickly tried to calm her sister down.
"Without letting us know he is okay?" Phoebe asked and within seconds, she was already grabbing her jacket and Piper's car keys.
"Uhhh Phoebe, where are you going?" Piper sped after her sister.
"He was trying to save my life, Piper." Phoebe took a deep breath to regain composure. "I need to ensure he is okay."
"Well Leo can just orb you there and..."
Phoebe shook her head. "If Cole is there, he'll be there in ten minutes as well. Besides, you guys could use some time alone now and I'm pretty sure Paige is already at Richard's. Use it. We shouldn't be seeing demonic activity for a day or two."
Piper smiled. "Thank you. Be careful and if he's not there, come back home. We will work something out. Although for different reasons, I too want to see Cole safe."
"And what are my reasons?" Phoebe asked as she stepped out to the porch.
Piper smiled again. "Do I really need to answer that?"
The middle Halliwell sister slipped her a smile in return and Piper watched her get into the car and drive away. She sighed. She knew that if Phoebe weren't to find Cole in the penthouse, there was trouble ahead.
"What if he's not there?" her husband spoke up as if he'd read her mind.
"Well, then..." Piper stopped talking and raised her eyebrows in surprise when she saw a familiar blur right behind her husband. "Apparently, he isn't."
"I know that but what are we gonna do if he isn't?"
"Leo, he is not there because he is right here." Piper turned him around.
"Oh, Cole." Leo realized what his wife was talking about. "You're here."
"And where else am I supposed to be?" Cole squinted his eyes.
"Phoebe is on her way to the penthouse, we thought you might have gone straight there." Piper explained.
"Is she okay?" Cole asked with nothing but his eyes showing his concern.
"She is fine, they let her go." Leo confirmed.
"Let her go from where?" Cole was still confused.
"Okay, how about you orb to the penthouse and ask her yourself?" Piper raised her eyebrows, letting him know the conversation was over.
"Okay, if you will excuse me..." Cole cleared his throat and blurred out.
"Cole?" Phoebe called out as she entered the penthouse. She was just starting to acknowledge how lucky she was he never changed the lock in the elevator for the penthouse suite as most ex husbands would do.
"Phoebe." Cole drew a long, steady breath. He had never been as relieved to see her perfectly safe and sound.
Her eyes lit up and she had to detain herself from squeezing him the same way her sister squeezed her only a couple of minutes before. She walked over to him slowly. "I thought..."
"So did I." Cole cut in.
"Why did they let us go?" Phoebe almost whispered, searching the answer in his eyes.
"I don't know." he replied honestly.
"Cole, thank you for risking your life for me... again." she took another step and now the distance between them was almost unbearable.
"You know I would do it all over again in a heartbeat." he smiled at her.
"I thought I was gonna die." she confessed and he drew in a sharp breath, giving her the hint that he did not want to hear her repeat that or remind him of it. "And in those moments, the only think that went through my mind was... that I didn't wanna die without telling you how much I loved you."
Cole smiled at his ex wife calmly and gave no sign that his heart was racing and every part of him was beaming. That was all he ever wanted to hear.
"And I don't wanna leave now... without doing this." she tiptoed and placed a light, sweet and genuine kiss on his lips and stayed close to him long enough to give him time to process it all and give into the kiss. She felt his hands travel from her neck down her back and eventually, he had lifted her up and pressed her against the wall, deepening the kiss.
"You know..." Phoebe said through heavy breaths. "I think we shouldn't, uh..."
"You're right, I'm sorry." Cole put her down and let go of her although his mind, heart and body were aching for her. But he could wait. Now that he had had her confession, he could wait for eternity to have her in his arms again.
"You are forgiven." she smiled at him, placed another light kiss on his lips and walked back into the elevator. "Goodnight." she whispered.
"Indeed." he grinned at her and observed the elevator door close slowly.