This has some of Piper comparing Cole with Angel and her reasoning why Cole isn't as brooding and depressed...
"So, what do you think?" Chris asked, crouched down behind a dumpster and looking over at Cole.
"Well, we are outnumbered and they are upper level demons." Cole didn't sound too concerned about this, however. In fact, there was a vague sort of amusement in his eyes. Chris wasn't surprised. Cole was usually the one instilling fear in his opponents, not the other way around. The man always did like a good fight...
"Are you sure we're outnumbered?" Chris asked, a smile spreading across his face. "You sure it's not the other way around?" Cole grinned back at him and nodded.
"Ready?" A fireball formed in his hand and Chris copied the action. Oh, yeah. The demons definitely had no chance.
Piper sighed when she noticed the open book of shadows after walking into the attic. She wasn't surprised and wondered where her fiancé and son were this time. It seemed like to her that she saw less of Cole than she did before they got together.
After his near breakdown she had witnessed two weeks before, he had started going out with Chris on nearly every demon hunt. He seemed just as obsessed with finding out the truth as Chris was.
He refused to give her the details of what Chris had told her. He avoided the questions and changed the subject. He insisted that it didn't matter because he was going to make sure it didn't happen again.
She closed the book after taking a glance on which demon it was open to. Cole hadn't touched it, she knew that. He never touched the book. He never tried. Piper knew it was one of those very well hidden insecurities that Cole had.
He assured her, just as he had Phoebe when they had been together, that he simply didn't want to risk getting electrocuted again even though the book didn't do that, Prue's trap had and he had been evil at time, undercover and still trying to kill them.
Phoebe had taken it at face value, even been amused by this simple fear from one of the most powerful demons in existence. Piper knew it was something else.
She had been with Cole long enough to realize that there was a reason why Cole never showed any outward remorse for the crimes he had committed as Belthazor and the Source.
In the months after Leo had left her, before she had become friends with Cole, she had had a lot of time on her hands and spent a lot of it in the manor. She'd been embarrassed to admit to Cole that she had gotten hooked on a TV show about vampires.
She liked that show, Angel, about a vampire with a soul that was trying to atone for all the crimes he had committed before he had gotten the soul. She had unable to help but to compare this character to Cole and wondered how Cole kept from sinking into a depressed, brooding mood that the character on the show did.
After spending time with Cole, it wasn't hard to figure out, though. The difference was that Cole wasn't looking for atonement. Just after Cole had lost Belthazor, she remembered Phoebe confiding in her a part of the conversation she'd had with Cole just before the fight had begun. The part where he had said that the good he did would never come close to balancing out the bad.
Paige had thought it was because Cole just didn't care, Phoebe had thought that it was because Cole believed her when she said that he wasn't the same guy who had killed all those people. Piper knew that it was neither of those things.
Cole truly believed that he would end up back in the wasteland, or worse, when he died. He didn't dwell on his past because he believed that he would pay for it when he died. That he would pay for eternity.
She also knew that he could touch the book if he wanted. The book was tied to her and her sisters. It warded off threats against them, people that they perceived as threats. Even Paige no longer thought of Cole as a threat.
Cole could fearlessly start a fight with the most powerful demon in the underworld but he refused to touch the book because if it didn't let him that meant that she didn't completely trust him.
These insecurities were very well hidden. It had taken her some time to figure Cole out. She knew that Chris had told Cole what he had come back here to stop and she knew that it was bad. Whatever Chris had told him had made it worse, made it so that she was actually able to see it. That's what scared her more than anything. Whatever Chris had told him had pushed Cole to a near breaking point and brought out guilt and pain in him for everyone to see that he usually hid so well.
Whatever happened in the future, Cole was feeling guilty about it. It wasn't the same as his guilt for the pain he had caused as Belthazor or the Source. No, this was something that he was dwelling on.
She could think of only one thing that could force that guilt out in the open like that, force it out enough that not only she could see it but her sisters could too. It had something to do with his family. With her and most likely the twins.
The only time that she had ever seen Cole dwell on his crimes in the past was when they hurt Phoebe. It had to be very bad if it could shake him up this much.
"Hey," Phoebe walked into the kitchen and grinned at her sister, "you want to go out later? Since it's been so slow around here..." Piper scoffed.
"Yeah, it's been real slow around here. You want to know why that is?" She dropped a pan into the soapy water before grabbing a rag to wipe the counter down.
"Piper...I know you're worried but Cole and Chris can take care of themselves." Piper shook her head and sent her sister a glare.
"Physically, yes they can. I doubt there's a demon out there who could take them out together. You're right about that." She walked out of the room, straightening things as she went.
"So, you're worried about what you think Chris told Cole?" Piper nodded, waving her hands as she marched up the stairs.
"It's been two weeks since they talked. They've spent more time in the underworld than here. Chris still won't talk to me and Cole refuses to tell me what has him so freaked out."
"Yeah, you've noticed that too, huh?" Phoebe said with a slight frown when they reached the attic. Piper turned to her.
"You have?" Phoebe nodded.
"There's not a lot of things that could shake Cole like that. I know he is, too. He's always been good at hiding it but its there if you look." Piper stared at her sister for a moment, reminded that Phoebe knew Cole just as well as her and felt a little guilty about her earlier thoughts about her sister.
"But you have seen him shaken like that?" Piper asked. She walked over to the book. It wasn't open this time but that didn't mean anything. Cole was at work. At least he was supposed to be.
"Sure," Phoebe sat down on the couch, "I know he doesn't like to talk about his past but when he's faced with it...I remember how much that thing with Emma shook him up and then there was Raynor and the Brotherhood..." Piper frowned, staring at her sister. "What?" She shook her head.
"Nothing. It's just; sometimes I forget how long you and Cole were together." Phoebe smiled a moment.
"I know. Pretty weird when you think about it, right?" Her smile morphed into a frown after a moment. "You know, I only saw it for a second. When we talked, after Emma tried to kill him, I only saw it in his eyes for a second..." Piper nodded.
"He hides it well. He doesn't even think about it, ever." Phoebe rolled her eyes.
"I know that. I spent a lot of time with him just after he switched sides. I used to wonder what he did in the two months between the fake vanquish and when he came back here."
"Yeah, well, I doubt he was moping. Cole doesn't really mope." Phoebe's smile returned and she stood up.
"They'll be alright. Whatever happens in the future, we'll stop it."
"That won't erase the memories, Phoebe. For Chris or Cole. Whatever happens in the future, Cole's blaming himself. I can tell that. It's just another thing to add on to the list. I know it can't be his fault, whatever it is but he thinks it is. It isn't enough that he has a hundred years of working for the Source and then all those months when he was possessed by the Source..."
"They you'll make him see it isn't his fault," Phoebe declared. Piper shook her head.
"I wish it were that easy."
"Hey." Piper looked up at the quiet voice.
"Chris," surprised, Piper closed her book. She had been about to start setting up the club and was alone there. "Hi." He fidgeted a little nervously before sitting on one of the stools across from her. He didn't look her in the eyes.
"So, I know you have to work but I...think I need to talk to you." Piper nodded, a feeling of relief coming to her. Chris usually avoided her.
"Sure. I've got time. You can talk to me any time."
"Well, it's just...I'm sort of worried." Piper frowned at him. It was more than obvious that he didn't want to be here.
"Worried?" Chris nodded and finally looked up.
"About D...Cole." Piper's frown deepened. She didn't comment on the slip but her heart sped up a little.
"What's going on? Is he okay? He isn't hurt, is he?" Chris shook his head.
"No! No, it's not that." She relaxed a little. Chris was fidgeting again and she fought the urge to ask him outright why he couldn't even be in the same room with her.
"Then what...?" What's so wrong that you would risk a conversation with me?
"It's just that he's not acting like himself. I know it's my fault, I know that's he's feeling guilty. I tried talking to him but he doesn't believe me and I thought maybe you could do something. You always could before..."
"Chris, what's going on? What is it that you don't want to tell me? Did I do something? I mean in the future, is this my fault?" Chris stood abruptly, meeting her eyes.
"No! You didn't do anything. This isn't your fault!" Piper was taken aback slightly.
"Then what is it?" She asked after she recovered. She leaned forward. "Whatever it is, Cole's blaming himself, you're blaming yourself. Look," she leaned across the counter and risked putting her hand on his, "whatever it is, you can tell me." Chris stared at her for a moment before he took his hand away and stepped back.
"No, I can't. I'm sorry." Piper dropped her head down when he orbed out.
"Hey," Cole sat on their bed behind her later that night, wrapping his arms around her and resting his chin on her shoulder.
"Hey," She leaned back against him and started to put away the pictures she'd been looking through. He stopped her and glanced at them. Most of them were of the two of them. He leaned back after a moment, taking her with him so that they were both lying down, her resting against his chest and he put the pictures on the nightstand.
For a few minutes, they were both silent. Piper turned after a little while, resting her hand on his chest above his heart.
"What's wrong?" He asked. She hesitated for a moment.
"Chris came to talk to me." He frowned.
"That's...good." She shook her head at worried look in his eyes.
"He didn't tell me anything, just that he's worried." Cole's frown deepened.
"Worried about what?"
"About you," it should have been obvouis. Cole was the only person that Chris talked to anymore. Cole sighed, the frown not leaving.
"He shouldn't be." Piper raised an eyebrow.
"No? Should I be?"
"I'm fine." Piper rolled her eyes and sat up, staring down at him.
"Okay, you need to tell me what's going on," she couldn't help the anger and frustration.
"No." She put a hand on his chest when he sat up. "Cole, you tell me not to worry about whatever's supposed to happen. You tell me not to worry about you. And now you're sitting here, lying to me."
"I'm not lying-"
"You're not fine," she cut him off again with a glare; "even Chris doesn't seem to think you are. Look, I don't know what happens in the future but I do know that it whatever it is, it's not your fault or it won't be..."
"How do you know that?" Piper shrugged.
"Because Chris doesn't think it is. And because I know you." Cole was silent for a moment, unconvinced and she thought that he was thinking of all the wrong he had done before he'd met them and of the time he had spent as the Source. She had been prepared for that but was somehow unsurprised when he didn't bring it up.
"I can't tell you this," he said instead, "I promised Chris that I wouldn't. I've been...trying to get him to talk to you, but he refuses to talk about anything but the demons that he's hunting..."
"I asked Chris before...but is this my fault, Cole? What did I do? He refuses to even be in the same room as me. Why does he hate me so much?"
"He doesn't hate you, Piper." Cole reached out for her again. "He's afraid that you'll hate him." Piper frowned, startled.
"But I could never..."
"I know but he doesn't think so." She let Cole pull her to him again. She knew that he wasn't going to say anymore about whatever it was. Still, she didn't understand how Chris could think such a thing. What had happened to him?
"Hey!" Phoebe jumped out of bed when Piper passed her open door on her way up to the attic. "What are you doing?"
"Tracking my fiancé and son." Piper answered without turning. Phoebe frowned as Piper walked over to the book, which was open.
"How are you going to do that?"
"Cole's been making sure that I at least know which demons they're after. I think it's his idea of reassurance. He's been somehow steering Chris away from the more dangerous ones."
"How is he doing that?" Phoebe asked, stopping in front of her sister, who began flipping through the book. "I thought Chris was pretty obsessed..."
"He is. He also listens to Cole."
"That's good at least." Piper nodded but didn't say anything else. She had tried to talk to Chris since her talk with Cole but he was still avoiding her. She needed to know what happened to her son. She needed to know why he thought she would hate him.
Piper had flipped another page when it happened. She gasped when it hit her and closed her eyes. It lasted less than a minute but when she opened her eyes again, she was on the floor. Phoebe was kneeling in front of her worriedly.
"Piper? What just happened?" Piper stared at her sister with wide eyes.
"I think...I think I just had a premonition," she looked down at herself and placed a hand over her stomach. "Looks like somebody inherited your powers."
"Well, what did you see?" Phoebe asked, shocked and also sounding exited. Piper stared at her a moment more, letting the images sink in. Tears formed in her eyes.
"I think I saw why Chris doesn't want to talk to me."
Above their heads, neither sister noticed when a gust of wind from the open window turned the pages of the book from the one that Piper had last turned to.