Author's Note: The sisters won't reappear until Paige calls the men back inside at the very end of this chapter. Sorry about that but I just wanted to show a bit more of the men's relationship and camaraderie with each other.
I think that if they were given the chance, the three of them could truly have become fast friends. Despite their different backgrounds, they still have similar experiences in both the magical and mortal world and most especially (for this 'verse anyway) their bond of loving a Halliwell witch. I tried my best to reflect that in this chapter and I hope it worked. :)
Stepping into the garage, Leo flicks on the light switch and mentions, "I hope you guys don't mind eating in here but I don't want to be too far away from Piper in case she needs me."
"No problem, buddy," replies Cole as he scans the area for a place to sit. When he spies a couple of folding chairs, he sets them up and reaches for his plate once he's settled in. Realizing that in the rush to escape Piper's wrath that they forgot their glasses of orange juice, he spots the garden hose curled up in the corner and pleads, "Leo, please tell me that you have a cooler around here somewhere. I don't mind my food being of the garden variety but not my beverages."
Leo walks over to his work bench and squatting down to shove aside some old junk, proudly declares, "Better than that!" as he reveals a mini-fridge and a newly built cupboard filled with various snacks. "It's tough being married to a chef, Piper watches me like a hawk so that I don't spoil my dinner. Good thing that she doesn't know about all the snacks I pick up from charges," he adds with a wide grin.
"So what exactly is the house, or shall I say the garage serving this morning?" inquires Cole.
Opening up the fridge, Leo states, "We've got soda pop and beers."
Gideon doesn't even hesitate before deciding, "Well, seeing as it is still morning, I'd best forego any alcohol."
"What? Are you mad, man?" cries Cole. "Did you see Piper's reaction to her newly remodeled kitchen?" He waves a hand at Leo and urges, "Leo, don't listen to him, give him the beer!"
Leo ignores Cole as he hands out the sodas. "Take it from me, Cole, when Piper's that angry, it's better to be sober. That way you have a clear head to plan your getaway."
"Yes…well…I'm sorry about your kitchen," apologizes Gideon, a hint of embarrassment tingeing his tone. "Perhaps Piper will allow me to restore it once she's calmed down."
"I wouldn't hold your breath on that one, pal," mutters Cole while he and Leo share a knowing look.
"So, Gideon, this is the first time that you've been out here. What do you think of my garage?" asks Leo.
Gideon surveys the room full of some familiar and some not so familiar items before answering politely, "It's very interesting. You seem to have a lot of tools here; I thought that your skills as a handyman were only utilized when approaching a charge that was new to the craft. I had no idea that you used them in recreational activities as well."
"Well, I've always enjoyed working with my hands and the era that I was brought up in always taught me that if you could repair something then there was no need to waste your money on buying something new," replies Leo wisely. He gives a slight shrug. "Besides, it's not just a place to fix things, the garage keeps me sane."
Gideon's brow furrows in confusion. "And how exactly does it accomplish that?"
Since Leo is busy chewing the mouthful of food he just scooped up, Cole kindly answers for him. "It accomplishes that because it's not merely a garage, Gideon. Take a look around and notice the distinct lack of feminine items and frills that we all appreciate on our women but not in our own private domains. No, this isn't a simple garage; it's a refuge, a fortress of solitude, a sanctuary."
Gideon's expression still carries a trace of bewilderment so Leo explains, "It's a man cave."
"I've never heard of that expression before," counters Gideon. "What does it mean?"
"It's where we hide from the girls when we're not fixing my truck," expounds Leo before he picks up his bacon and takes a bite.
"Or eventually working on my bike," reminds Cole as he casts an accusing eye at Leo. "Exactly when is that supposed to be happening again?"
"As soon as I have the time, Cole!" huffs Leo in frustration. "You know how busy I've been with dividing my time between Magic School, my Whitelighter duties and getting ready for the baby."
Cole groans, "I know that Leo but I can't ride around on that monstrosity anymore, it's embarrassing!"
"What's wrong with a motorcycle?" queries Gideon. "From what Paige has told me, I thought that mortals considered them quite flash."
"They are," grouses Cole, "and so was the one I bought until Piper blew it up during a demon attack."
"Then what bike are you referring to?" requests Gideon taking note of Leo's abrupt coughing fit in a poor attempt to cover his laughter.
Bearing an expression that reads pure misery, Cole tilts his head to indicate a bright pink Ten Speed bicycle leaning against a nearby wall. "It's Phoebe's; she's letting me use it until my bike is fixed."
"How humiliating for you," sympathizes Gideon.
"Yes, thank you, Gideon, I'm well aware of the embarrassment factor," gripes Cole as he glares at his two friends, "but not all of us can orb." He stares longingly at Leo's truck. "So when is this heap going to be ready so that we can share it?"
"It's not a heap, Cole!" defends Leo of his 1928 Ford Model AA. "It's a classic!"
"Whatever you call it, it's my passport to freedom!" Cole straightens up as an idea occurs to him. "Hey, maybe we could work on it after breakfast. Gideon could help us!"
"Oh yes, that would be splendid!" exclaims the headmaster. "Paige has been introducing me to quite a number of things in the mortal world and I would be more than happy to offer my assistance." He seems to preen a bit as he notes, "I happen to be quite handy with a hammer."
Leo hems a bit as he tries to find a graceful way out of accepting Gideon's offer. "Um…yeah, well…hey Cole, I've been meaning to ask you, what's Paige been cornering you about lately?" he questions with a tight smile and beseeching eyes.
Cole smirks knowingly at his brother-in-law's change of tactic. "She wants me to help out with some free legal aid at her old office like before. Apparently, they're extremely short-staffed down there and they're desperate for some volunteers."
"But what about that man that you hit right before you were possessed by the Source?" quizzes Leo as he starts in on his pancakes.
"That's all been taken care of," insists Cole with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Paige and Darryl were able to convince the lead supervisor that it was all due to a bad reaction to some medication." His grin is cocky as he divulges, "It was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud when Paige swore that they had taken care of the 'source' of the problem and that it would never happen again."
"I'm thinking of starting next weekend, you know, put in a couple of hours here and there." He glances up from his plate and stops cutting up his ham as he notices Gideon's countenance of displeasure. "What's wrong with you? I thought that you'd appreciate the fact that I've mended my evil ways."
"Of course I'm glad that you're attempting to atone for your previous transgressions, but…" his voice trails off as he grimaces in distaste. "You were a lawyer?"
"Yes," claims Cole heatedly, "and I was a damn good one!"
"Is there such a thing?" inquires Gideon doubtfully.
The attorney side of Cole's mind is already gearing up for his next argument when Leo advises, "Give it up, Cole. I've known Gideon for a long time and he can out argue the best of them. Besides," he comments as he takes a quick sip of his drink, "I think he was less disgusted with you when you were just a demon."
"Yes," admits Gideon with that far off gaze and tone he so often exhibits when his thoughts are on other matters. Within moments he comes back to himself and confesses, "Actually, I'm glad that we were forced out here, I've wanted to speak with the two of you for quite some time."
"Something wrong at Magic School, Gideon?" questions Leo in concern.
"No, no," he denies, "everything's fine there, this has to do with Paige." A flash of frustration crosses Gideon's face as he discloses, "I find myself having difficulty acclimating to the mortal world as easily as Paige has accustomed herself to the magical one. I'm afraid my attempts at fitting in are causing her a great deal of embarrassment and distress and constantly leaving her in a state of sheer frustration."
Cole swallows down his hash browns before revealing, "Well, Phoebe told me that Paige told her that you've maintained a steady pace when it comes to the kissing and handholding stage of the relationship." He scoops up another bite of food before adding, "Trust me, buddy, it's not your attempts to fit in that are causing the frustration."
Gideon's tone is a bit haughty as he replies, "Honestly Cole, I thought that it would be obvious to anyone that I'm displaying my utmost respect for Paige by treating her like a lady."
"Yeah?" remarks Cole with a hint of laughter. "Well that may work in the Jane Austen era, but if you want to keep a Halliwell witch then you'll learn how to start treating her like a woman." He stabs another piece of ham onto his fork as he turns to his brother-in-law. "Isn't that right, Leo?"
Gideon slowly chews his food as he watches Leo squirm uncomfortably in his chair while he darts an uneasy glance between Cole and Gideon. When he continues to remain silent, Gideon scoffs, "Leo, surely you don't agree with him."
Leo's eyes widen as he takes a deep breath before answering. "Well…," he looks over to a disbelieving Gideon and a smug Cole, "to a degree." He gazes contemplatively at his breakfast before casting a chagrined expression towards Gideon. "You see, it's like this. When it comes to the Halliwell women, they're as passionate as they are powerful."
Cole attempts to hide his smile by taking another bite of food when Gideon's eyebrows rise in both surprise and interest. "It's not that they're ruled by their hormones or anything like that," assures Leo with a wave of his soda before he takes a huge gulp, "but more that they're very…," his eyes narrow as he tries to come up with the right word, "emotional!"
"But not in a bad way!" he insists fervently. "It's more like how their powers are tied to their emotions; it basically works the same way." Leo aims a pleading gaze at Cole. "Cole, could you help me out here?"
Cole barks out a laugh before apologizing to the exasperated Whitelighter. "Sorry, buddy, it's only that I've never been called on for counsel before someone's been accused."
Gideon lets out a loud, "Ha!" and even Leo has to join in their laughter. "Anyway," begins Cole as he returns to the topic at hand, "Leo's right about the sisters, their every decision and instinct is tied to their emotions. They'll rely far more on their emotional responses than they ever will any piece of logic or reasoning that's presented to them." He leans closer to Gideon and urges, "That's why you've got to forgo any pre-conceived notions or plans of attack that you might have and just go with your emotions."
The ex-demon settles back in his chair and recalls, "Early on in our relationship, I tried a lot of planning and it never worked out, it only served to cause a lot of problems between us and her sisters. So just go with your gut," he advises as he takes a quick bite of his eggs, "a true emotional response is what Paige will relate to best, regardless of your misguided ideas of being a gentleman."
Gideon's expression is dubious as he mulls over Cole's recommendation. "But didn't your problems with Phoebe and her sisters stem from your plotting to kill them?"
"Okay, yes that was part of it," concedes Cole as Leo smirks at him, "but my point still stands. Besides," he gestures at Leo with his fork, "Leo had the same problem with Piper."
"Really?" asks Gideon in a doubtful tone.
"Well, not as drastically as Cole, obviously, but whenever I held back with Piper by trying to maintain a strictly working relationship, it never worked out. Either I kept trying to push her away to maintain a professional and emotional distance or my need for her became so great that I'd basically use any excuse to see her." Leo shakes his head sadly in regret. "There were a lot of mixed signals, Gideon, and that caused a lot of mixed feelings which caused a lot of grief. So please, if you can learn anything from mine and Cole's mistakes, just be honest with how you feel about Paige and follow your instincts." He offers his friend an encouraging smile. "And more importantly, follow your heart."
Gideon bears a soft grin as he considers Leo's words and Cole nods in agreement before adding, "Yeah, that's great advice, Leo." He exhibits a devilish smile as he faces Gideon and notes, "Especially the part about your heart. After all, I don't think that Paige is exactly interested in your mind at the moment."
Gideon blushes fiercely as he seeks to avoid Cole's teasing gaze until he notices that Cole's laughter is instantly quelled when Leo interjects, "From what I saw this morning in the hallway, it looks as if Phoebe's of the same opinion."
"Shut up, Leo," mutters Cole fiercely before digging into his eggs with more force than necessary.
Gideon chews the last of his food thoughtfully as the men eat in quiet companionship. "I must say that you two have given me some food for thought," jests Gideon as he sets his empty plate down on an old wooden crate. "I may have to work on my physical approach with Paige but at least I know that our social engagements have been going quite well."
Leo and Cole share a silent communication with each other until Leo relents and shifting in uncomfortably in his seat and clearing his throat nervously, he forces himself to inquire, "Gideon, Paige hasn't just been talking to Phoebe, she's been talking to Piper as well and there's something that she wanted me to ask you about." He bites his lip and plows ahead. "Is it true that you're using your dates with Paige as an excuse to vanquish demons?"
Gideon's does a fair impression of intimidating the men with his full height while managing to maintain his seat in the chair as he perceives Leo's question as an insult to his character. "I would not tarnish the pleasure and privilege of Paige's company with an excuse to eradicate a few demons!"
Leo and Cole both cast apologetic expression towards their friend until he finishes, "I purposely plan it that way so that we can share in the joy of ridding the world of evil as well as basking in each other's company!"
Both Halliwell husbands are rendered speechless by this passionate declaration until Cole breaks the silence by practically doubling over in laughter. In between catching his breath, he remarks, "That's great, Gideon! Even at my most evil, I didn't have a plan that topped that!"
Gideon merely stares back at him in befuddlement while Leo offers a compassionate smile. "Maybe we could talk it out a bit, you know, give you some ideas on where you could go without fighting evil?"
"How about back in the house?" pipes up a feminine voice from behind them. They all turn around to see an anxious Paige clutching the door frame. "Leo, you better hurry back inside, your wife's in labor!"
To Be Continued…