Cole looked at her as she slept. She was beautiful. She was his Phoebe.

The woman twisted in her sleep, her dark hair fanning over her face. In the dark of midnight, the truth was coated in shadow. Maybe it hadn't happened, he wished absently. Maybe they were still together and he'd just dreamed the past year.

A wish, his brain echoed back to him. It's a wish. Futile.

He moved away from her bed slowly and turned to face the mirror on her dresser. He remembered that mirror. It had reflected his reunion with Phoebe when he'd shimmered back during his encounter with the Brotherhood of the Thorn.

It had reflected acceptance.

Cole glanced down at the items littering the dresser. Items of clothing were strewn across the top, each with a rip or a tear.

"Demonic repair," he remembered her saying one night as she attempted to stitch up a gap in her favorite red top. "Those guys don't leave the number of a good tailor before they burst into flame."

The Phoebe of the present rolled over on her side and mumbled something incoherent. She flung her arm across the empty left side of her bed, reaching for an invisible partner.

Cole's stomach clenched. He picked up a white blouse and clutched it. He felt a sharp prick in his palm. Phoebe was notorious for forgetting her needles.

Instead of letting go, he squeezed it tighter. It drew him out of his haze. For the first time in over four months, there was pain. He didn't know if it was psychosomatic or actual.

Either way, it was there.

I hurt myself today to see if I still feel.

I focus on the pain, the only thing that's real.

The needle tears a hole, the old familiar sting.

Cole closed his eyes. He wanted to forget. He wanted to leave, but he couldn't. Something was keeping him there.

The something murmured again.

Try to kill it all,

But I remember everything.

Cole glanced at his beloved witch. "Who are you?" he whispered to himself in the nothingness.

Phoebe had thought she'd known who he was. She had insisted that he was good, in spite of genetics and upbringing and inner nature. Her naïve belief that their love was strong enough to overcome the obstacles was what kept him holding on for the entirety of their relationship. And now that he truly believed that, she didn't.

What have I become?

My sweetest friend.

Everyone I know goes away in the end.

Anything, he thought, desperation creeping into his thoughts. I'd give anything to…to…

And you could have it all.

My empire of dirt.

Guilt joined the desperation.

I will let you down.

I will make you hurt.

God, how things had changed. Once upon at time they had been happy. She had broken down his wall without meaning to. Just by being herself, she'd given him happiness. Now, after the fairy tale had disintegrated before their eyes, the wall was building up again. Arrogance replaced humility, callousness replaced sensitivity, and evil slowly replaced good.

And none of it felt right.

I wear this crown of thorns upon my liar's chair.

Full of broken thoughts I cannot repair.

She was moving on. Slowly, painfully, and one step at a time. At first, he thought that she was fighting her feelings like she had numerous times before.

But today. Today, when she'd looked at him in the basement. "You just don't get it, Cole, do you?" she'd asked incredulously. "I thought you were dead and I felt nothing. No pain, no love. Nothing. I'm free. And when we do vanquish you, and we will…I'll never look back."

Beneath the stains of time, the feelings disappear.

You are someone else.

I am still right here.

Cole's eyes filled with tears as he stepped over to Phoebe. "I did this to you," he murmured. "You aren't you anymore, dammit!" He ended with a fierce whisper.

What have I become?

My sweetest friend.

Everyone I know goes away in the end.

"Why can't we go back?" he went on. "Rewind time and fix it?"

And you could have it all.

My empire of dirt.

A resignation fell over the conflicted man.

"It wouldn't work," he said weakly. "We don't work here. I don't work here."

I will let you down.

"Why?" he demanded.

I will make you hurt.

There was one final thing he could do that could possibly save both witch and demon. He had to fix this. And, with the Avatars, he could. With their power, he could erase everything that had happened. He and Phoebe would have another chance at happiness.

If I could start again

A million miles away.

I would keep myself.

With a final glance, Cole Turner left the Halliwell Manor.

I would find a way.


A/N: I have recently re-discovered the amazing song "Hurt" by Johnny Cash (I've listened to it at least twenty times today and cried for over fifteen of those listening sessions) and realized how it could fit Cole and Phoebe in the days leading up to "Centennial Charmed."

And this is a first for me--the piece you have just read is my first attempt ever at a songfic! So be gentle with your words of wisdom, which I greatly appreciate.

Thanks for reading!

Oh, and while I've got your attention, go look up the video for this song (the Johnny Cash version). It is fantastic.

(Yes, I know Nine Inch Nails did this originally. Those YouTubers get defensive about singers, don't they?)