Everybody has their own version of Cole's final episode. Some are romantic, some are tragic, some are just way out there. Here's mine.
It was a sunny day in San Francisco, California. Not the type of day anyone would expect something sinister would happen. But most of the population of "anyone" hadn't met the other population of the city—demons.
"The time is now." Vasyl cast a superior glance over his group. "We've worked for years. It culminates today."
"What, pray tell," Mikhail began, "is 'it'?"
"Do you never listen?"
"You've been talking in euphenisms for months," said Takis.
"Maybe if you would pay attention a bit more you'd have caught on sooner."
Giovanna hissed at all three of them. "We can't afford to get off-task again. The last time that happened we almost fell apart."
"It fell apart when Belthazor killed the Triad," Yakov snarled.
"Belthazor! Thank you!" shouted Vasyl. "At least one of us has been focusing on the correct things!"
The four looked at him blankly.
"Fine," he spat. "I'll spell it out for you."
("Thank you," muttered Takis.)
"Belthazor has the Charmed Ones wrapped up in his insanity. He's unknowingly given us the perfect opening to destroy them. They won't be thinking of any other demons than the one that's cavorting right under their noses. That's why today, we attack."
"You could have told us sooner," Mikhail said.
"And risk having you blab to half the Underworld?"
"You should have told us," said Giovanna. "Just because you're our leader doesn't mean you have supreme control."
"Watch your tongue." Vasyl took her chin in his hands. "If we hadn't stolen you away from the vampires, you'd be dead by now."
She yanked away from him. "Forgive me."
"I'm having second thoughts on that request."
"When do we begin?" asked Yakov.
"A bit eager?"
"We've waited far too long. I swear, if we don't do anything, I'm going out to kill the witches myself."
"Well, you won't have to do that." Vasyl smiled. "Today is the day."
"Thank God," said Mikhail.
"Wrong direction," Takis commented.
"When do we move in?" Giovanna asked.
Vasyl's smile grew into a chilling leer. "Today."
Phoebe Halliwell sighed and rolled her shoulders back. Her advice wasn't flowing as freely as it usually did. Maybe it was the nice weather that was directly outside her dining room window, beckoning her to spend some time with Mother Nature instead of Depressed in S.F., Crazy For Him, and Me Versus Mom.
She picked up her laptop. Working in the garden would be both refreshing and calming. From the conversation in the living room, Leo and Piper were in their umpteenth fight about where Prudence Melinda Halliwell would be born. The last thing she heard before she left was Leo's soothing voice saying, "Well, actually, dolphins aren't fish, they're mammals."
Jacques Cousteau had better beware the pregnant lady's wrath, she silently mused as she took a seat on a lawn chair and settled back. She closed her eyes and focused on the light breeze…the sun dancing across her face…the light chirping of the birds…the fact that it was Cole's birthday.
She opened her eyes. "Does Hallmark have a card for 'Happy birthday to my evil ex-husband who's supposed to be dead'?" she asked the lightly chirping birds.
The peace she wanted couldn't be regained. A stupid part of her almost felt bad for not remembering that Cole was another year older. The more rational part of her pushed that emotion aside with a curt Get over it.
Phoebe sighed. "If I can't rest, I might as well work."
She was halfway through the response to Homesick At Home, a lonely-sounding teenager who had spent a year in Holland as an exchange student and sorely missed it, when a she heard a shout from inside the Manor. Annoyed with having to deal with more demons (Cole was enough), she ran inside.
It took a few seconds for Phoebe to register what was going on. Four men in suits and a woman in a tight black dress were seated calmly on the couch.
"Who the hell are you?" Piper demanded.
"That's not important," the woman said.
"Oh yeah? Well, I like to know who people are that just randomly appear in my living room."
"We are the Advisors," said a raven-haired man. "My name is Vasyl. These are Takis, Mikhail, Yakov, and Giovanna."
"I've never heard of you."
"And now you have."
"Piper," Leo said warningly, "these aren't-"
"Why are you here?" Paige asked.
"For you," Mikhail answered simply.
At his words, all hell broke loose.
"My problems are none of your concern. All that should matter to you is that I've decided to become one of you. Join your kind," Cole Turner told the gray-haired man that had not thirty seconds ago landed in his penthouse.
He nodded. "A correct decision."
"Now, to be clear, I'll have all of your powers at my disposal? Nothing excluded, no fine print? Nothing but complete power."
The Avatar opened his mouth as if to say something, then paused. "Well. This is most disturbing." He shut his eyes.
"What is it?" Cole asked. It figured that the Avatars would pick now to have a crisis.
"There's been a dramatic shift in the balance between good and evil. It seems as if good has dramatically lost its' footing."
Yeah, yeah, yeah, Cole thought impatiently. Some demon killed a witch or stole an amulet or generally was naughty, and you have to go pick up the pieces.
"The Charmed circle has been broken." The Avatar opened his eyes. "Completely."
"Completely?" Cole repeated. "What do you mean?"
"Two of the sisters have been killed."
Cole's heart stopped. It was an odd sensation—the fear of knowing something was out of his control. "Which…which sisters?"
"We don't know that information yet," the Avatar said. "We should hurry this along. Your power will add to the Collective and help us to deal with this situation."
Cole knew that he should have stayed. But knowing that Phoebe had a good chance of being dead was more pressing than adding to the Collective. He shot the Avatar a glare. "That's what I'm going to do."
He faded himself to outside the Halliwell Manor. Police cars and ambulances swarmed around the pink Victorian and Cole felt a rustle of fear. He knew that Phoebe's odds of surviving a demon attack weren't great. Sure, she had the power of levitation and great self-defense skills, but in the face of energy balls, that wasn't enough. Piper could freeze-slash-explode and Paige could orb. All defensive powers that put them on equal footing with demons.
"I'm an A.D.A.," Cole said to a detective outside of the house. "What happened here?"
"Looks like a mob hit," she said. "Stab wounds, furniture overturned, the whole nine yards. I don't know how she survived it."
Cole's throat closed. "Who?"
The detective shrugged. "I just got here. Nobody's told me any names."
"Useless police force," said Cole. He went in the open door to see exactly what the detective had described. There were any variation of law enforcement you could hope to find, including a few D.A.s from the law firm he worked at when he first started in the city a million years ago.
"Kapilla," he said to one that he recognized. "What's going on?"
Before Cole got an answer, he registered the sound of sobbing. He looked in to the living room. Among the policemen and detectives, there was Phoebe. She was hunched over on a chair, her head in her hands. Her grief permeated the entire room.
"Phoebe," said Cole weakly. "You're alive."
She looked up. "Why are you here?" she asked in a tone that Cole had never heard before, not even after Prue died.
"I heard what happened."
"Laughing about it with your buddies?"
"Phoebe, I didn't do this. I didn't even know about it. You have to believe me."
"What am I supposed to believe?" Phoebe let out a wail. "I can't go through this again, Cole, I can't. We barely made it through losing Prue and now I have to bury both Piper and Paige. This wasn't supposed to happen."
"Where's Leo?" asked Cole.
"I don't know," she choked. "He's gone. Some neighbor called the police and he left right before they got here."
Without thinking, Cole pulled Phoebe into his arms. She didn't draw away like she normally would have, but nothing about this day was normal. Instead, she pressed her face into his gray suit jacket. "Make it go away," she whispered. "Make it all go away."
"If I could…" Cole trailed off, a thought striking him.
Maybe he could.
"Come with me," he said.
"Where?" asked Phoebe.
"You have to trust me." Cole extended his hand. "Come on."
"I…I don't know if they'll let me leave."
"It doesn't matter. Let's go."
Unsure, Phoebe stood up. "If anything happens to me, I'll make you wish that you were where my sisters are."
He pulled her into the kitchen, one of the only rooms not crawling with people. In one swift fade, he took them from the Manor to the penthouse. When they arrived, the Avatar was still there.
"You can manipulate reality?" Cole asked him. "Rewind time?"
"Yes, but only in extreme cases," the Avatar said cautiously. "It drains the Collective immensely."
"Make me one of you."
Phoebe grabbed his shoulder. "More powers? You're nuts. How will that help?"
"Didn't you hear what I just said, Phoebe?" Cole asked. "If I'm an Avatar, I can reverse time. I can take us back to this morning so you can save your sisters."
"You'd do that? Just to get Paige and Piper back?"
Even though those weren't the ones Cole was most concerned about getting back, he nodded affirmatively.
"All right," Phoebe said. "Do it." She bit her lip. "But…you have to know that this doesn't change anything between us, Cole. Just because you're the knight in shining armor doesn't mean we get a happily ever after."
"As long as somebody does." Cole turned to the Avatar. "Ready to begin?"
"Kneel," he ordered.
Phoebe sat down nervously on the arm of the couch. She didn't know anything about the Avatars—whether they were good or evil, the unforeseen catches that would become very foreseen when Cole became one, and even if what was being proposed would work.
A beam of light emitted from the Avatar's hand as he began to chant in a language that sounded like Latin. It reminded Phoebe eerily of the Source's coronation ceremony and she shook off a shiver. This was different. This had to work.
And if it didn't…
The Avatar lowered his hands. "How do you feel?"
"Alive." Cole stood. "You won't regret this."
"I certainly hope not," the Avatar said almost regretfully. "I must warn you—"
"Every second you spend warning me pulls us farther into the future, away from the event that we want to go back to. And the farther we are away from this morning, the more power our trip will use."
The Avatar looked at Cole quizzically. "'We'?"
"Phoebe and me."
"Only you will be journeying to the past," he said. "Mortals are exempt from the process. She won't remember any of this."
"Then how will he?" asked Phoebe.
"Avatars exist outside of time and space. Now that Cole has joined us, he does also."
This made illogical sense to Phoebe. It was strange, she thought. She'd had to have fought over one hundred evil beings. Those one hundred had opened up doors and trains of thought that she'd never even realized were possible before.
"Okay. Let's go," Phoebe said. "Time's a-wasting."
"One question," said Cole. "The demons that did this…do you know who they were?"
"They said that they were the Advisors," Phoebe answered. "There were five of them. One woman and four men. Their names were Vasyl…Giovanna…Mikhail…I can't remember the rest."
"Takis and Yakov," finished Cole. "I've dealt with them before. You're lucky that you got out."
Phoebe pushed her hair back. "You're really sure this will work?"
"Are you dismissing our powers?" the Avatar questioned indignantly.
"Are you familiar with the phrase 'too good to be true'?"
"It will," said Cole. "Trust me." He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Take me to when Paige and Piper were alive, he commanded the powers inside him. Take me there so I can warn them.
All at once there was a feeling of being pulled backwards. Cole watched in astonishment as everything that had happened rewound. Within ten seconds, he was standing in the penthouse, utterly alone. His watch read 10:03—approximately fifteen minutes before the morning's events unfolded.
Cole faded to the Manor's dining room. "Phoebe," he said.
She looked up from her laptop in annoyance. "Cole. Whatare you doing here? The Nexus is in the basement, remember?"
"Very funny," said Cole. "Get your sisters. You've got a vanquishing potion to make."
"For you? Yeah, Paige is on that."
"I've seen the future, Phoebe. It's nothing to joke about."
"What do you mean?"
"I just came from a reality where both Paige and Piper were dead. You three have got to work fast if you don't want that to be your reality too."
"I don't trust you."
Cole felt frustration growing in the pit of his stomach. "Look up the Advisors in the Book of Shadows. They killed your sisters in the future."
"I think I'll do that." Phoebe stood up and jogged up the stairs, Cole behind her. The living-room-dwelling Piper looked after them in shock.
"Hey! Phoebs! What's he doing here?"
"Long story," Cole shouted.
Paige leaped up from the couch and ran after them.
"Stay away from the Book," warned Phoebe as she opened the door to the attic. "It'll probably shoot you from here to Russia."
"Russia. The names were Russian-sounding," said Cole.
"Whose names?" Paige asked.
Phoebe opened the thick book. "I'm getting there. Let's see…Banshee…Woogy…To Summon A Lost Love…Xankou, whoever the heck that is…the Triad…Here we go. The Advisors."
Cole leaned over her shoulder to read what the Halliwell ancestors had to say.
The Advisors is a group of five demons that are directly under the Triad (cf. previous page), serving as their council. The Triad has turned to them in every major magical situation since they were instated in 1326 by the Source of All Evil after rumors of a demonic uprising. The members are various different breeds of demon, from Vampire to Chameleon. However, since the Source stripped them of their unique powers and left them with only the most basic, they can be vanquished with a potion similar to the one used to kill members of The Brotherhood (cf. next page for information and ingredients).
"So it's like demonic checks and balances?" said Phoebe. "I didn't know that you guys had such a smooth-running government down there."
Paige shut the book. "It says we need a piece of the target's flesh. And since we don't have any of the five members here to fillet, the potion idea's a no-go."
"Not necessarily," Phoebe pointed out. "When Prue was still alive, we dealt with The Brotherhood and we vanquished a lot of them with a potion made with Belthazor flesh. It's kinda like the words too, two, and to—they all look different but they sound the same. Or in this case, die the same."
"So we can vanquish the Advisors with Belthazor flesh?"
"If my train of thought's going the right way, yes."
Paige grabbed a knife from the table. "Cole," she said, "where do you wanna lose some skin?"
He held out his arm. "I'm doing this for you guys, you know."
"Yeah." Paige cut off a good-sized strip of skin. "We need pigs' feet."
"There might be some in the freezer," said Phoebe. "Go and look."
Paige left suspiciously. When she'd gone, Phoebe crossed her arms. "Are you telling the truth?" she asked Cole. "Because this smells like one of your twisted ideas to get me back."
"Not everything that I do has the ulterior motive of winning you back," said Cole. "This is about keeping the scales of good and evil balanced."
"Now that's a new phrase to hear from you." Phoebe motioned for him to follow her down the stairs.
Downstairs in the kitchen, Paige had filled Piper in on the situation and Piper, needless to say, was not happy.
"He filled the house with demons last week," Piper said. "Not to mention he kidnapped Phoebe and killed an innocent woman. And we're trusting him on this hunch?"
"It's not a hunch," corrected Cole from the doorway. "It's cold, hard truth."
"I wish you could prove it."
"He doesn't have to," Phoebe said. "It'll prove itself sooner or later."
"I'd have to say sooner," said Cole. "By my calculations, you've got just over five minutes before visitors arrive."
"We've got the pigs' feet." Paige dropped one into the bubbling pot of purple liquid. "So far, so good. How many vials do we need?"
"At least ten," Phoebe suggested.
"We don't have that bad aim."
"Yes, but energy balls have a very large surface area," said Piper. "Stand back." She dropped Cole's flesh in the pot and ducked.
"Wait a minute," said Paige after the small explosion. "Cole isn't Belthazor anymore. How do we know that this will work?"
"We hope that whatever genetics he had are still there somehow," Phoebe answered.
"Didn't your mother ever tell you that it's rude to talk about someone in the third person when they're in the same room as you?" asked Cole.
"It's also rude to fade in without calling first," said Piper, syringing the liquid into the small bottles.
"And about the potion," Cole went on, "don't worry. I'm sure that my DNA will knock them out of the land of the living forever, if not longer than that."
"What makes you so cocky?"
"Just another hunch."
Piper handed three vials to Phoebe. "Will you be sticking around for this or are you going to go do whatever it is you do in your spare time?" she asked Cole.
"I'll be here."
"I'm comforted," said Paige. She took the vials Piper handed her. A curious expression crossed her face. "Would one of these work on…" She pointed to Cole.
"I doubt it," he said.
"Can I try?"
"We have more imminent issues," Phoebe said.
As if to punctuate her point, there was a tap on the kitchen doorframe. The three sisters and Cole turned around to see the much-expected Advisors.
"Hello," said Vasyl.
"We've been expecting you," said Piper.
His glance flitted from the stove to the vials in her hand. "I see you have. Then we'll make this quick."
"I don't think so."
At Phoebe's words, all hell broke loose.
But this time, it wasn't directed towards the Halliwells—it was directed towards the five demons. Before any energy balls could be thrown, all of the dark-clothed demons were gone with blasts of fire and screams. While it felt like it took forever, the clock had only ticked about a minute by.
"That," Paige said finally, "went well."
"Agreed," said Piper. "We owe Cole now, though."
"Speaking of…" Phoebe looked around. "Where is Cole?"
"Did he leave?" Piper asked.
"We would have noticed."
Paige leaned against the counter. "Why are we worrying about him? He'll be back soon enough."
"No," said Phoebe. "This is too weird."
"Yeah," Piper added. "At the very least he would have stayed around to gloat."
The sister witches looked around the kitchen. When Paige scanned the floor, she drew in her breath.
"How many Advisors were there?"
"Five," said Phoebe.
Paige counted the scorched circles. One, two, three, four, five…
"He's gone," she said.
"What?" Piper and Phoebe asked.
"Cole is gone," Paige repeated. "We got him and we weren't even trying."
"Too easy," said Phoebe.
"Count the potions we have left." Paige gestured to the counter. "Four. And since there's no broken glass anywhere—"
"—we know everything we threw it its' target," Piper concluded.
"I thought he said that he was immune," persisted Phoebe. "It's kinda hard to be wrong about that."
"There's a first time for everything," said Paige.
She shook her head. "I don't buy it. I want to, but I can't."
But yet, Phoebe did buy it. Over the years, she let the memories of Cole fade into her past as something unexplainable and a bit disturbing. Everytime she looked at another man, she saw Cole. She saw how he'd wormed his way into her life, almost destroyed her relationship with her sisters numerous times, and lied to her more times than she could count.
But most of all, she saw the love that she'd unconditionally received. And as a reward for that, Cole died on a perfectly ordinary day without ceremony or direct reason.
Life wasn't fair.
I guess I should explain what happened on that January day. It was one of my great acts of cunning, although I'm sure the Halliwells would disagree with me.
About the time I faded into the Halliwell Manor to warn Phoebe what was going to happen to her sisters, I realized something. She deserved a life with at least one facet of it not controlled by demons. So that's when I decided to do what I had to.
When the potions started flying, I grabbed one from the counter. The part of me that got vanquished wasn't my body—it was my coat. Phoebe actually gave me the idea from that night in the mausoleum so long ago. Except this time, it wasn't an act to save me. It was one to save her.
Before the fire that dwindled to smoking embers, I faded out. The Halliwells were too busy finishing off Giovanna, who'd never been too much for going down without a fight. No one noticed my exit. That was just the way I wanted it.
I never went back to California. That state and I had done our time. Instead I went to Alaska, New York, Florida, even Wyoming for awhile. When the United States got old, I went overseas to England, Ireland, France, India, New Zealand, and Australia.
I returned to the U.S. almost thirty years after I'd left the Halliwells. It was a rainy October day in Salt Lake City and I was in the restaurant on the top floor of the ZCMI Shopping Center. I was halfway through my coffee when I heard a strikingly familiar voice.
"No. No, Melinda, I'm not telling you how to run your life. I'm just suggesting that a little hesitation would be in order before you marry a complete stranger, okay?"
I swiveled around in my chair. A brunette woman was sitting at a table, talking into a cell phone. She looked up, smiled at me, and covered the mouthpiece of her phone. "Cousins," she said. "Can't live with 'em."
"Isn't there more to that sentiment?" I asked.
"Not in this case." She uncovered the mouthpiece. "What? Well, you ask Aunt Piper how she feels about that. I seriously doubt that she'll want you to be married to some guy named Fang…Yeah. I'll talk to you later." She hung up. "Sorry about that."
"No problem," I said.
She raised her cup in a toast. "I'm Psyche."
"My mom was an interesting person."
"Your mom," I repeated. "Piper?"
"Oh geez." She covered her face with her hands. "Did the entire restaurant hear my conversation?"
"Only this half."
"Oh. Well, that's not so bad." Psyche laughed. "Piper's my aunt."
"And do you have another aunt named Paige?"
"Yeah. Why, do you know my family?"
"I think I might have. In another life."
Psyche came over to my table and sat down across from me. "How well did you know us?"
"Well enough to know that yours are not average family problems." I lowered my voice. "And just a word of advice, I'd check to make sure that this guy Fang isn't a demon."
"He's not," said Psyche. "He's everything but."
I looked at this girl, Phoebe's daughter. Now that I saw her closer, I realized that she was the spitting image of her mother—that is, if her mother had ever streaked her hair red.
"Who are you?" she asked,
That was the eternal question. I could say who I was and have her go back to Phoebe and let the can of worms get opened yet again. Or I could lie.
Truth was best.
"I'm Cole," I said. "Cole Turner."
I waited for the terror to fill her eyes—the horror—thoughts for the eventual vanquishing potion that would put me away for good. Instead I got nothing but a smile and a handshake.
"Pleased to meet you."
"How is your mom?" I asked cautiously.
Her face clouded over. "My mom is nonexistent."
"What do you mean?"
"She died six months ago."
That wasn't what I'd been expecting. I'd been bracing myself to hear Mom's fine, she and Dad just celebrated their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary last week or She's all right. Just a little sad since Dad passed away a few years back. Hearing that Phoebe was gone hit me like a ton of bricks. She'd always been alive for me, in the very back of my mind.
Stranger still, I thought that I would have this knowledge of when she died. I'd thought it would be like a lightning bolt..the sadness for the love of my life and my soulmate. There had been nothing six months ago.
But then I remembered.
"Did she die on the ninth of May?" I asked.
Psyche nodded. "Yeah."
There had been something. In the early morning of May ninth, I'd been soundly sleeping when I heard a voice.
I'd sat up and looked around. Seeing nothing and—more to the point—no one, I dismissed it as part of a strange dream. Now, with this placed in front of me, I knew that it had been Phoebe. I'd gotten her message loud and clear.
I stood up. "You were very lucky to have your mother for as long as you did. Thank you."
I watched the handsome man walk away. He had a brisk, in-control stride that earned appreciative gazes from the restaurant's other female patrons. Bad Mormons, I wanted to scold. Isn't lust a sin?
Then it hit.
"Cole," I said. "Cole. Oh my God, that was Cole!"
Cole Turner had been a family legend for as long as I could remember. My aunts and Mom never talked about him, but Wyatt and Chris certainly did. They'd somehow learned the story from Uncle Leo and passed it on to their cousins. My other sisters dismissed it without much ado. Mom being married to anyone before Dad was too disturbing for them to think about, especially since it had been to a demon. Cupids were much more romantic. But whenever something had gone wrong at the Halliwell Manor, there was only one person to blame.
"Cole made me spill my juice."
"Cole must have broken the computer."
"I don't know who made Melinda disappear. Ask Cole."
Aunt Piper never found this funny. I remember that once she launched into a long rant about respect for the past and how making up evil imaginary friends was not only a lie, it was also very frightening to the people who had dealt with Cole before. I think part of her worry was that since Cole had come back eight times in the past (at least according to the stories I'd heard, which I assumed were exaggerated a bit), he could and would again.
I couldn't let him go.
"Cole!" I hollered. I unhooked my feet from the bars of the chair and ran after him. "Wait a minute. Please. One minute. Maybe two."
He turned around. "Yes?"
"She missed you," I said. And until I said it, I didn't know it was true. And moreover, I didn't know I knew it was true. But it was. Mom had been happy with Dad, sure. There was just always something missing…a spark…a flame…"Danger," I said aloud. "Mom needed danger to make something work. Dad wasn't dangerous. Dad was a Cupid, for crying out loud. She wanted something more."
Cole's face seemed to change. It got…hopeful. "Did she ever say that to you?"
"No. But Cole, she didn't have to. I felt it."
"Why are you telling me this?" he asked.
"So you would know that she didn't just toss you out of her life. She loved you. She kept you alive in her heart."
"I wish she would have told me this prehumously."
A thought grew in my mind. "Maybe she can tell you posthumously."
"What are you getting at?"
I froze the restaurant, then opened the door to the ladies' room. "Nobody's ever in here. I don't know why."
Cole looked around. "How long does your freeze last?"
"Until I unfreeze. I really feel bad for Aunt Piper sometimes. She was about my age when she got her powers. I cannot imagine mastering them now." I set my purse down and drew out a packet of salt, a candle, and a box of matches. "Number One Rule in the Halliwell household is be prepared." I tossed the salt to Cole. "Make a circle, will you?"
He obeyed. "We're summoning her?" he asked incredulously.
"I've never really summoned spirits by myself. There was that time with JFK, but that didn't really work so well. And then the Cary Grant incident…" I shuddered, remembering Wiccan practices gone awry. "But anyway." I lit the candle and flicked off the bathrooms lights. "Here we go."
Cole nodded. "If spirits have powers, I'm gonna be a dead man."
I searched my mind for the summoning spell. It went something like …cross now the great divide.
That was all I had.
There was another one I remembered—the one for summoning some demon named Belthazor. Mom had found me reading that page in the Book of Shadows one day when I was about eight. She ripped it out and burned it, saying that we didn't want to go looking for trouble.
"Magic forces black and white," I began, "reaching out through space and light. Be she far or be she near, bring us the demon—oops—bring us the woman Phoebe Halliwell here."
After a few moments of nothing (I think I confused the universe), white lights glittered in the circle and my mother appeared. Her smile lasted a grand total of two seconds.
"C-C-Cole?" she sputtered. "Psyche, what is he doing here?"
"I just met him today," I said.
"I'm sorry, Phoebe," said Cole. "I shouldn't have left like I did—"
"Damn right you shouldn't have!" Mom said. "Let me out of this circle. I've gotta kick some ass."
As I looked at her, I registered that this wasn't the Mom that I knew—this was Mom from when she and Cole had been together.
Or rather, not together.
"I loved you!" she shouted. "I loved you and you became the Source of All Evil. You took away what I wanted most in this life. I…how could you?"
"I didn't want to," he said. "I didn't."
"I thought I killed you. Do you know what it's like to spend thirty years thinking that it was you that turned the love of your life into a stain on your kitchen floor? Huh? Do you? Some mornings I'd wake up and want you back just so I could kill you."
"Thank you, Ms. Softie," I muttered.
"I thought I did what was right," said Cole. "I wanted to give you freedom."
"You didn't," Mom said. She looked at me. "I loved your father. You know that, right?"
I nodded. "I didn't bring you here to talk about him."
"Phoebe," Cole said, "please forgive me."
"Only if you'll forgive me. I've replayed what I said to you over and over. You deserved some of it." She smiled. "But not all of it."
Mom stepped out of the circle and became fully corporeal. She walked into the arms of the man that, in another world, could have been my father. They kissed—a passionate liplock that had been about thirty-one years in the making.
"I never stopped loving you," Mom said. "There were times when it was stretched pretty thin, but it was always there."
"And I've told you that I loved you enough for three lifetimes," said Cole.
"Isn't that about how long you've lived?"
"I stopped counting after I hit one hundred and thirty."
Mom extended her hand. "Come with me."
"To where you should be." She grinned. "Prue will kill you."
Cole cast a glance upwards. "That's not breaking any rules?"
"It's probably breaking all the rules. But you know what? Too bad. You deserve some kind of an afterlife. We can't have you tormenting everyone down here."
"Are you attempting to kidnap me, Ms. Halliwell?"
"You figured me out." Mom embraced me. "My sweetie. Thank you so much."
I shrugged. "You gave me life. It's the least I can do."
And she and Cole stepped back into the circle, linked hands, and disappeared.
This was, by far, the weirdest Halloween I'd ever experienced.
A/N: Oh my. This started being written at approximately 1:30 today and it is now 11:03:10. It was sparked by TNT's airing of "Centennial Charmed," and I realized that I couldn't go through that without writing an alternate version of it. I know this one is really really out there—like, let's change around the entire story, why don't we?—but I really REALLY like the way it turned out. It was going to end with the death of Cole, except in a very heroic fashion, and then I realized, "No. He's going to be a sneak." Some lines are borrowed directly from that episode, but most are products of myself. The Advisors also are just weird characters that I devised to move the plot along, as characters so often do. Their names are based off of the common ones William (Vasyl), Peter (Takis), Michael (Mikhail), Jacob (Yakov), and Jane (Giovanna). I was searching through a baby name book and found some very useful lists.
Oh yes—I found out that two of my favorite people in the world are going to have a baby. So best wishes to them, and I'd like to dedicate this little fanfic to their blooming family and to finding love—whether it's now or in thirty years.
Time NOW: 11:10:50.
(Yes, I know it's a little ironic to say "God bless" after writing a thing about three witches and a lovely demon…but work with it.)
And now, at approximately 2:46 on the day after I typed this, I'm gonna post. Hope you enjoy!
Time NNOOWW: 11:12:24
…it's time to sleep.