Warning: Sappy, sappy, irredeemably sappy chapter. Sorry, guys. I'm afraid I'm sappy myself.
When Leo wakes up and looks at the clock on the night table, he's surprised to see that it's past 9:00 am. He sits up on the bed and rubs his eyes, still drowsy. Then the memories of last night come back to him, and he immediately gets up and starts to get dressed. Even tough he's not sure of whether it was real or just a dream, Leo can't wait to go downstairs and make sure everyone's okay.
After hurriedly shaving and brushing his teeth, he walks down the stairs and his heart jumps as he sees Phoebe, Paige and Cole talking in the living room. They become silent and look at him as they hear his footsteps.
"Good morning." says Leo. "Where's Piper?"
"Good morning, sleepy head." says Phoebe, with a smile. "I had never seen you get up so late. Piper has already left: she had to open the club to the guys who are changing the floor."
"I see." says Leo, slightly disappointed. "Well, then I guess I'll meet her there."
"She is probably on her way back home by now, Leo," says Phoebe, glancing at her watch, "she said she'd be home around ten."
Leo hesitates, willing to make up with Piper, but Phoebe adds with a smile:
"Besides, Cole and Paige have something to say to you."
To Leo's surprise, Phoebe raises her eyebrows at Paige and Cole, and the half demon and the half witch exchange uneasy looks.
"You go first." says Paige, between clenched teeth.
"Why me? You go." Cole mutters.
Phoebe rolls her eyes, takes a coin from her pocket, and flips it, saying:
"Heads, Paige goes first; tails, it's Cole."
When the coin lies still, the three of them look at it, and Paige moans, while Cole gives her a victorious smile.
A very bewildered Leo watches as Paige stands up and says:
"Leo, can we talk in the kitchen?"
"Sure." says Leo, giving Phoebe an intrigued look, but this one just dismisses him with a smile.
Leo looks at Paige, sitting right across the kitchen table.
"I know I haven't made things easy for you," she says, "it seems that ever since I became a witch I have done nothing but get in trouble... And, well... Piper and I don't exactly get along well, and I'm sure it's not easy for you, since she's your wife..."
Paige fumbles with the pendant hanging from her necklace, while Leo looks at her, surprised.
"Anyway," she sighs, "basically, I'd like to apologize for all the times when I didn't listen to you, and ended up messing things up, and you had to go and fix everything."
"I had never had a Whitelighter... or a brother in law." she adds, giving him a sheepish smile. "This whole thing is sort of, uh, new. But I would really like to give it a try. I mean, if you want to."
"Sure." says Leo, with a smile. "Don't worry: it's only normal that we need some time to adjust to each other."
He reaches out over the table and holds Paige's hand. She squeezes his hand, with a smile of relief.
"Wow!" she says. "That was easier than I had expected."
"Why?" Leo asks, surprised. "Do I seem to be so stern?"
"Well, you know..." says Paige, shrugging. "Piper is your wife, and Phoebe is your friend. I'm just another charge."
"Paige," says Leo, "never say that. That's not the way I see you. First, none of the witches under my supervision is 'just another charge'; and second, you're family: it's not your fault that you arrived later. We just need some time to get to know each other."
Leo and Paige smile at each other for a while, than she says, with a sly smile:
"Now comes the best part." She turns to the door and yells: "Cole Turner! It's your turn!"
As Paige is leaving the kitchen, Leo stands up and pours himself some coffee, smiling as he wonders what Phoebe may have said to Paige and Cole to spark those sudden conscience crises.
When he turns back towards the door he sees Cole leaning on the doorframe, with his hands in his pockets, looking like a man who wishes he was anywhere in the world rather than here. Leo lowers his eyes to his mug and bites his lower lip, trying to hide a smile that would most certainly annoy Cole: it's amazing how knowing how close a guy was to be condemned to the eternal fire can make you feel more good-willed towards him.
"Look, you don't need to talk to me just to make Phoebe happy." he says, leaning against the counter and looking at Cole across the room. "Just sit there and have some coffee: I'll tell her that everything's fine."
By the look on Cole's face, he's clearly tempted to accept Leo's offer, but instead he waves his head and says:
"No, that's okay. I guess we, uh, we would have to talk, sooner or later."
Leo just looks at him, not knowing what to say, and Cole cleans his throat and proceeds:
"I'm afraid I'm not exactly a, uh... team work kind of guy. Specially when it comes to Whitelighters; you know, different methods and everything. Besides, old habits die hard. But you're Phoebe's Whitelighter, and since she seems to make such a great account of your opinion..." -- he scratches his head, uneasy -- "I guess I should trust your judgement... sometimes."
"I have to admit that your help has been quite useful, too." says Leo, tapping his fingers on his mug. "And I guess I haven't made things very easy on you, either, but as you said, decades of conditioning is hard to break."
He sips his coffee and adds:
"I never really thanked you for serving as bait for the Furies, when Piper almost became one of them."
Cole shrugs and says:
"You saved my life... twice."
Leo shivers as he recalls the events from last night. He faces Cole and says:
"As far as I'm concerned, we can call it even."
Cole gives him a surprised look, and Leo adds, smirking:
"Considering the pace we live, I think we both could use a truce."
Cole shrugs: despite the apparent nonchalance, he's visibly happy with the deal.
"Sounds good to me."
Leo himself is surprised to hear his own voice saying:
"One of these days we can have a beer at P3... and try to establish some ground rules."
"Yeah." says Cole, with a surprised grin. "Yes, we can."
Just then, they hear the front door being opened, and Piper saying something to Phoebe. Leo perks up and puts his mug on the counter. Cole notices it and says:
"I guess you and Piper have some things to talk over."
"Yes, we do." says Leo. He hesitates, not wanting to sound like he's dismissing Cole: "I mean, unless you still wanna talk..."
"No," says Cole, moving away from the door and motioning him to go, "go ahead."
As Leo is leaving, though, Cole adds, embarrassed:
"Actually, I do need a favor: when you see Phoebe, make sure you tell her I've already talked to you... otherwise I'm afraid I'm gonna sleep on the couch tonight."
"Don't worry." says Leo, chuckling as he slaps Cole's shoulder.
He finds Piper and Phoebe sitting on the couch. When Phoebe sees him, she immediately gets up and asks:
"Is Cole in the kitchen?"
"Yes." says Leo. While Phoebe heads towards the kitchen, he says with a smile:
"Whatever it was that you told him, it must have been pretty convincing."
Phoebe winks at him and goes join Cole in the kitchen, leaving Leo and Piper alone. After staring at each other for an awkward moment, they both say at the same time:
"We need to talk."
They smile, then Leo sits by Piper's side and says:
"Please, let me go first."
He takes her hands in his and says, in just one breath:
"Piper, I'm so sorry for the way I've acted for the last few weeks. It's been a very hard time for me, but that's no excuse for my behavior. I've thought a lot about us, and of how my life would have no meaning without you. You're beyond doubt the best thing that's ever happened to me, and I should show it to you more often."
Leo halts, alarmed to see the silent tears running across Piper's face.
"Oh, Leo!" she says, with trembling voice, "I'm so glad to hear this! I was starting to fear that you had regretted the choice you made, marrying me against the Elders' judgement."
"God, Piper, no!" says Leo, shocked. He pulls Piper towards him and holds her tight. "I never for one second doubted I had made the right choice."
Recalling the doubts he held last night, he feels a pang of guilt and adds:
"The only doubt I've ever had was whether I was good enough for you."
"You are." says Piper, leaning against his chest. Suddenly, she starts to cry again, and Leo gently makes her raise her head and face him.
"Honey," he says, "what's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong," says Piper, smiling through the tears, "just the hormones, you know how women get..."
"PMS time again?" Leo asks, with a hesitant smile.
"No." says Piper, wiping away the tears and giving him a bright smile. "I was going to tell you during our anniversary dinner: there won't be any pre menstrual stress for me for the last few months."
Leo gives her an intrigued look, and Piper smiles sheepishly and put both hands on her still flat abdomen. When he finally gets it, his jaw drops.
"Are you...?" he says, pointing at her belly, and Piper nods, with a radiant smile.
"You... I... We..." Leo finally gives up and just holds Piper again, feeling in heaven. They stay in each other's arms, smiling, for a while, until he asks:
"When did you find out?"
"The lab results arrived yesterday." says Piper, still nested in her husband's arms.
"Have you told your sisters yet?"
"Of course not!" says Piper, raising her head and facing him. "I wanted to tell you first!"
Leo knows he must be looking pretty goofy, but he just can't wipe off this wide smile from his face. He kisses Piper again and again, her face, forehead, lips. Suddenly they hear I thud, and turn around to see Phoebe shoving Cole's arm, after he accidentally knocked down a chair as they were trying to get to the stairs unnoticed.
"Sorry!" says Phoebe, eyeing her boyfriend, who just shrugs, embarrassed. "Just pretend you never saw us, we're already leaving."
She takes Cole by his hand and they're about to leave the room when Leo calls them, after giving an interrogative look to Piper.
"Wait." Seeing their inquisitive looks, he says, with a smile: "We're having a baby."
Cole's eyes grow round, and Phoebe squeaks and runs towards her sister, virtually jumping on her lap.
"A baby!" she says. "You're gonna be a mommy!"
"And you're gonna be an auntie!" says Piper, giggling.
As Paige comes running downstairs, alerted by the noise, Phoebe screams:
"Piper is having a baby!"
Paige dashes towards the couch, almost knocks Cole down, jumps over Leo, and hugs Piper, yelling:
"A baby, a baby! We're having a baby!"
Meanwhile, Cole carefully approaches the group gathered on the couch, and taps Leo's shoulder, saying with a grin:
"Don't worry: you still have a lot of time before the baby is born, eventually they'll remember that you, too, are part of the event..."
Leo chuckles, because he has indeed been almost thrown off the couch, by the three very excited women that are laughing and speaking all at the same time.
Cole holds out his hand, smiling:
"I hope you don't mind me congratulating you in the old-fashioned way."
"Not at all." says Leo, smiling and shaking the hand he's offering.
Then Phoebe turns to Leo and hugs him, saying:
"Yeah, congratulations." says Paige, standing up and hugging him, too.
Meanwhile, Cole gives Piper an uncertain look. He hesitates, but since she seems to be in such a good mood, he shrugs and says: "Congratulations", and gives her a quick, awkward hug.
"See?" says Phoebe, giving Cole a victorious smile. "I knew it!"
"Had you had a premonition?" Leo asks.
"Yeah, right." says Cole, smirking. Ignoring the face Phoebe makes on him, Cole proceeds, with a smile: "Now she's gonna call it a premonition, but all that happened was that we stopped by a drugstore on our way back home, the cashier didn't have change, and before I could stop her..."
"My sisterly intuition had already made me get..." says Phoebe, reaching out for her purse, lying on the coffee table, "... this!"
She takes a rattle from inside her purse and shows it with a proud smile. The abrupt movement causes the rattle to make a tinkling sound, and Paige says with a smile:
"An angel has just won his wings!"
When Cole looks at Paige as if she had lost her mind, Phoebe laughs and says:
"I don't think 'It's a Wonderful Life' was a big hit in the Underworld..."
Cole looks at her, even more confused, and she explains:
"It's an old movie, baby: the idea is that, every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings."
"It's not a bell, it's a rattle." says Cole.
"Maybe," says Leo, with a smile, "it was a very young angel..."
"How you changed my world, you'll never know
I'm different now, you helped me grow
You came into my life, sent from above
When I lost all hope, you showed me love.
I'm checking for you boy, you're right on time
Angel of mine..."