"You alright?" A voice spoke up from beside her and Phoebe turned to see the image of Piper's current choice of glamour.
Phoebe only hesitated for a second. "Yeah…yeah, I'm fine."
Phoebe stood hesitantly outside the door. She'd planned this out carefully, making sure this was where he was and that she would see through whatever magic he was using.
She could have just left him alone. It had been two and a half years since but he was in San Francisco. She had to be sure…she had to.
After a few minutes, she finally got up the nerve to knock on the door. He answered after only a minute and, despite the fact that she'd been expecting it, she froze at the sight of him. It had been so long.
He was, of course, as handsome as ever.
"Can I help you?" He asked in that same smooth, deep voice that she had both loved and hated at different points in her life.
Phoebe fidgeted with her purse for a moment and chewed her lip before finally giving up. "Yeah." Without waiting any longer she ducked under his arm and walked into his apartment, turning. She didn't wait for his protest at her invasion, instead she muttered a silent spell and the glamour she had on her faded, at least in Cole's eyes.
Cole stared, shock evident in those blue eyes. "Phoebe…you're alive."
"Yeah…I guess you heard the news, huh?"
He simply nodded and closed the door. "How did you find out?"
"You were at the manor…for the memorial. I…bumped into you, had a premonition."
He nodded again and crossed his arms. "So, should I be expecting your sisters to come bursting in here as well with a vanquishing potion?"
"No…I didn't come here for that," she admitted.
"Then why are you here?" He seemed to have gotten over the shock of seeing her and she saw the flash of anger in his eyes.
"I came to…I needed to know…" She shook her head. "How did you survive?"
"You mean, how did I survive you killing me…again?" He asked with more than a hint of anger in his voice. "I didn't. Anything else?"
"Phoebe, just go. If you're worried about me coming after you again, don't. If you're worried I'm still crazy, I'm not. I lost those powers when I died last time. I've been back for a while now and I haven't contacted you once. I'm doing what you asked me to do when I came back from the wasteland. So leave."
"It's not that simple. After everything that's happened…why are you still in the city, Cole?"
Cole's glare strengthened at the suspicion in her voice. "Not everything in my life is about you anymore, Phoebe. I made a promise that I intend to keep."
"A promise to whom?"
"Sorry, honey." Cole shook his head. "You don't get to know that. We're out of each other's lives. That was your decision."
"So you blame me? You-"
"I'm not blaming you for anything," Cole interrupted her in frustration. "I know what I did. It doesn't change the fact that we haven't been together for a while. You don't get to come here and demand answers about my life anymore."
Phoebe looked away. "You're right." She hesitated a moment. "I've been moving on. It's not fair badgering you for doing the same."
"Can I expect one of your sisters rushing in here with a vanquishing potion?"
Phoebe let out a breath and shook her head. "No. I won't tell them."
Cole raised an eyebrow. "You're going to lie to your sisters?"
"Not lie. I just won't let them know that you're not really dead."
"Why?" He needed to know. He needed to know he and Harry would be safe in the city.
"Because I saw you. The premonition I got…it was very…enlightening. I believe you. I did before I came here."
Cole frowned at her. "Then why come here?"
"I don't know." Phoebe sighed. "I just-" She cut herself off, chewed her lip a moment. "I'm glad you're doing alright."
Cole stopped her with a hand on her arm and leaned in close. "Thank you," he said quietly.
A smile twitched her lips. "Yeah." She was gone, out the door a second later.
Phoebe leaned against the door when she made it back to the manor, a sigh escaping her lips. Being around him had always affected her. It still affected her, even with the steps she had taken to move on. She supposed he always would.
She wasn't unhappy he was alive. She was feeling pretty much the opposite of that. The fact that he was out there, that he was doing alright…she was grateful for that. Most of the anger and hatred that had tainted the love she'd felt for him had faded since he'd died for the second time.
She was glad he wasn't dead and she hoped that he had a good life.
Cole sighed when he sat down on the couch, rubbing a hand across his forehead. She still had an effect on him. He supposed she always would. He was happy she was alive. The feeling that had invaded his chest when he'd thought her and her sisters were dead was one that he did not like.
He supposed he would always love her too but he couldn't, wouldn't, go down that road again. She had promised to leave him alone. That had to be enough.
"Can we go there?" Harry's excited voice rang out and he tugged on Cole's hand.
Cole smiled and lifted the boy up into his arms, stopping at the the lion enclosure. It seemed he had found something that the kid liked. Harry seemed to have forgotten, at least for the moment, his usual shyness in favor of wonder at the animals at the Zoo.
Cole's encounter with Phoebe was pushed to the back of his mind by the happiness on Harry's face. He was grateful he had found something that did put that look on the boys face.
Panic. It was frantic and made his heart beat too fast and he asked every stranger he saw as he made his way through the crowds gathered at the exhibits. Next time, he would definitely be bringing Harry on a day it wasn't so crowded.
He'd lost Harry somewhere in between the tigers and the bobcats. He found Harry leaning across the railing and placing one small hand against the glass that separated him from a large boa constrictor. Cole scooped the boy up as soon as he made it over to him.
The relief he felt was almost strong enough to buckle his knees. "What do you think you were doing?" His voice came out harsh, harsher than he'd intended and Harry flinched at the tone.
"I'm sorry," he mumbled, refusing to meet Cole's eyes.
Cole sighed at the look of fear painted plainly on the kids face. He had the urge to go find Harry's aunt and uncle again but suppressed it. Instead, he put a finger under the kid's chin and lifted his head.
"Hey, I'm not going to hurt you, alright? Have I ever hurt you?"
Harry shook his head, eyes wide.
"But you can't go running off like that," he said firmly.
Harry nodded and wrapped his arms around Cole's neck. "I'm sorry, Daddy."
And Cole had never been too sentimental but he couldn't help it when Harry looked at him like that and called him that.
"Alright. How about we head out? Tomorrow you can tell all your friends at school about the animals."
At the words, some of Harry's excitement came back. "I talked to the snake!"
"Oh, you did, did you?" Cole asked in amusement.
Harry nodded and then frowned a little. "He's sad cause he can't go home."
"He is? Where's his home?"
Harry rambled on about the conversation he'd had with the snake as they made their way out and Cole's smile only widened at the kid's imagination. At least that was one thing his aunt and uncle hadn't been able to stamp out of him.