Author's Note: Here's the fifth chapter! Thanks for the reviews on the last chapter, they made my day :D So, this chapter is for those reviewers, namely: CharmingKelsey16, Joleca, LucyCelticPrincess, anetteo, Mony19, kami and will. you. say. ok.
Chapter Five: An Old Nemesis and Lover Returns
A tall, dark and handsome man stood before the four Halliwell sisters, a small smirk playing on his lips. He looked up at the sisters and smiled, it was evident that he thought the situation humorous.
The Charmed Ones did not think it was amusing in the slightest.
Phoebe finally managed to find her voice, looked the man straight in the eyes and said firmly.
"Cole?" Phoebe exclaimed stunned."What are you doing here?"
Coop, standing behind the sisters with Leo, Henry and the children, visibly stiffened. He had after all, heard much about the hell this demon put Phoebe through.
"What am I doing here Phoebe dearest?" Cole asked grinning. "Why don't you ask yourself that? Seeing as it was you and your sisters who summoned me here."
Prue and Piper grabbed onto of Phoebe's hands and Coop came up behind Phoebe, wrapping his arms around her waist reassuringly.
Paige glared at Cole, and Cole glared right back, after all, they had always despised one another. Prue smiled at her youngest sister's glare, it seemed her and Paige had yet another thing in common.
"Piper!" Cole said, extending his hand towards his hand towards Piper. "What a pleasure it is to see you breathing again." Piper looked away, wisely choosing not to reply to Cole's comment.
"So much for a warm welcome," Cole muttered to no one in particular. "You'd think after they invited me here they'd at least be accommodating to their guest." He glanced up at the sisters, waiting for one of them to comment.
Phoebe sighed, and looked up at her ex-husband, a look of distaste placed firmly on her face. "What are you doing here Cole?"
"I think the question is; why did you summon me?" Cole said, smiling again, it seemed he rather enjoyed this game.
"Summon you?" Piper said pointedly, "We were summoning the 'unknown power' or something."
A broad grin spread across Cole's face. "Exactly." Cole looked directly at Piper. "Don't you remember Piper? Your dying body, Leo clueless miles away and me, teaching your spirit how to reclaim life?" Cole smiled at the look on Piper's face; it was evident that she had not shared Cole's involvement in that situation with her sisters.
"What?" Phoebe and Paige exclaimed, turning to face their sister. Prue stood watching, the exact details on the Cole situation still hazy.
"You didn't tell me that you saw my ex-husband while you were in a coma!" Phoebe said, Piper now the subject of Phoebe's glare.
"I- I didn't want to open wounds that we'd spent so long trying to close Phoebe! Remember, that was when you were just rediscovering love with that Drake guy." Piper said, waiting for recognition in Phoebe's eyes.
"Oh yeah, he was awesome." Phoebe said smiling slightly. Phoebe turned to Coop. "He was one of the guys we saw when we went to see my past loves."
"The Shakespeare demon guy?" Coop said smiling at his wife.
"Mm-hmm." Phoebe said, smiling back at her husband, for a moment completely forgetting her demon e-husband was in the room.
Cole cleared his throat loudly, "Excuse me! That was also my doing." Cole chuckled at the disbelieving look on Phoebe's face.
"What did you think I've been doing all this time people?" Cole said loudly, addressing everybody in the room.
"Well I was hoping you were rotting in hell like you deserved." Paige said vehemently.
"Sorry to disappoint you," Cole said smirking. "But before I could 'rot' as you so elegantly put it Paige," Cole said, distaste evident in his voice. "I was instead recruited to take part in something else all together."
"Something else?" Prue queried, looking Cole straight in the eyes.
Cole looked straight back at the eldest Halliwell and smirked, Prue hadn't changed much, her eyes bore into Cole's knowingly, just like they did back when she was alive.
"After your three younger sisters vanquished me," Cole said, addressing Prue. "A group of… of individuals decided that I would be a benefit to their… organization."
"Well, does your organization have a name?" Paige shot at Cole.
"We are known as the Paradoxes." Cole said, sweeping his arms about him elaborately, as if performing an obscure act of theatre. It seemed that Cole was even more insane than the last time the Charmed Ones had seen him.
"The Paradoxes recruit powerful beings on the verge of obliteration. They accept them into their ranks to further the progression of magic and power."
"Well that's hardly surprising." Phoebe muttered. Cole narrowed his eyes at his ex-wife.
"Well, what's that suppose to mean, oh dearest Phoebe?"
"Cole, you were always a paradox." Phoebe said, ignoring Cole's endearment. "You couldn't be good and you couldn't be evil, you couldn't be human and you couldn't be a demon."
"Exactly." Cole said, pointing his finger at Phoebe. "The Paradoxes typically recruit those with immense power and no true purpose, and since my only purpose was to be with Phoebe," Cole glanced at his ex-wife and couldn't help but grimace at the sight of her hands interlocked with the Cupid's.
"And since it became highly unlikely Phoebe would ever take me back, I decided to go along with the Paradoxes." Cole grinned. "Beats total oblivion, doesn't it?" Quietly Cole chuckled to himself.
"Why are you telling us this?" Prue asked, narrowing her eyes. "You were never one to talk openly about your motives, why now?"
"Why? Because I need you to trust me, I need you to become the elementals." He said, looking between the sisters.
Phoebe looked at Cole, confused. "Since when were you all about maintaining the grand design? Your entire existence you've been screwing it up."
"Because, because…" Cole threw up his hands in exasperation. "It's just what you need to do okay? I need you to trust me." Cole looked directly into Phoebe's eyes, his gaze softening. "I know you have absolutely no reason to listen to a word I say, but right now, I'm all you have and you need me to get through this."
Prue, Piper and Paige all looked to Phoebe, it was after all, her decision to make. Phoebe bit her lip and looked at the carpet under her feet. Slowly she raised her head.
"I'm sorry Cole," Phoebe whispered, as she tightened her grip on Coop's hand. "You ran out of chances years ago."
Cole's expression fell, as he watched tears gather around the edges of Phoebe's eyes. How he longed to be in the Cupids position right now, with his arms around Phoebe. Cole mentally shook the thoughts from his head and looked up at the four Charmed Ones standing before him.
Cole looked between each sister, Prue, standing slightly forward from her sisters, ready to defend those she loved at any moment. Piper, her two youngest children in her arms, as she looked to Phoebe in concern. Paige, a protective arm around Phoebe, as she glared at Cole. And of course, Phoebe herself, slumped back in her husband's arms, trying desperately not to let tears grace her beautiful cheeks.
Turning, Cole shimmered out, frustrated at his failure. Almost out of habit, he shimmered into the mausoleum. Cole glanced around, his eyes resting on the scorched spot where Phoebe had faked his death years ago. Cole screwed his eyes shut. Why couldn't he stop thinking about Phoebe? It had been years since he'd had such thoughts about her.
Storming up and down between the cold stone, Cole allowed his thoughts to wander.
He had gone into the Paradoxes expecting it to only be a means to cheat his way back into life, to interfere with Phoebe yet again. And at the beginning, that was what it was, another means to entwine himself in her life. But as the years progressed he found himself actually enjoying his work with the Paradoxes, he enjoyed having something to do, a purpose to fulfil. And gradually, the constant thoughts of Phoebe faded, faded until they were but a background noise.
But today had brought it all back, seeing her face again, seeing the Cupid with his arms around her, it had brought back all the old feelings, all the old conflicts.
Cole twirled his old athame around in the palm of his hand, he could not allow his thoughts to slip back to Phoebe, it was time to think of more pressing matters, matters concerning the elementals, the awakening, and of course, how it could all benefit Cole. A cold and frightening smile spread across Cole's face.
"Are you okay honey?' Coop asked, his eyebrows furrowing slightly as he looked down at his wife.
Phoebe nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine, it was just a shock to see him again. I mean, I truly believed he was gone, forever." Phoebe shook her head and smiled slightly. "But don't worry about it I'm fine, really."
"Sisters," Paige said, walking back into the lounge room. "We really need to talk."
Piling onto the couch, the four sisters looked between each other.
"Okay, so obviously we can't trust Cole," Paige said, glancing sideways to Phoebe, who nodded in agreement.
"But," Prue continued, "the problem still remains. We've been turned into elementals, what do we do about it?"
Piper looked up from baby Melinda in her lap and looked between her sisters. "Well, there's only one thing to do isn't there?" Piper said shrugging. "Keep living our lives, and learn to master our new powers as we go, and if any demons come along then we-"
Phoebe cut in, a smile playing on her lips. "Kick some demon ass!" The four sisters laughed.
Piper smiled, "we haven't said that in a while."
The sound of a ringing cell phone sounded from Pipers pocket, Melinda began giggling at the new and exciting sound.
"Hello?" Piper said into her phone, Prue gently took Melinda from Piper's arms and began to play with her new niece.
"Dominic, slow down." Piper said into the phone frowning. "What? You quit? But you've only managed P3 for a month! I don't have time to find a new manager, I've got a new born baby for God's sake, and you can't just-"
Piper cut off her rant, looking into the phone. "He just hung up on me." She said, looking to her sisters. "The new manager for P3 just quit, saying something about not being able to handle all the crazy situations. What's that suppose to mean?"
"Piper, honey, don't worry we'll find someone else, it'll be fine." Leo said soothingly, stroking his wife's back.
"I'll do it." Prue said, surprising herself. "I'll manage P3." She smiled, although she was not expecting to say it, she was glad of her decision.
"What? Really?" Piper said, her eyes wide. "You want to manage P3?"
Prue grinned at her younger sister. "Yeah, I do. After all, seeing as I'm going to be staying here, I'll need a job, and I practically know how to run it, being your sister and all. That is, if you want me to?" Prue said, frowning slightly as she looked apprehensively at Piper.
"Yes, yes!" Piper said. "That would be great. I've got to stay with the kids right now, but if you want to ask Billie about it that would be great!" Piper threw her arms around her sister. "Thank-you!"
Prue laughed, and returned the hug. "I'm always here for you, remember? I'll always be your big sister." Prue paused. "Wait, Billie? Is that the blonde witch, does she work at the club?"
"Yeah," Paige said nodding. "So you did meet her? Because before you came back, Billie burst through the door saying she'd seen you."
Prue smiled, "Yeah, that was me, Billie's my new charge, and speaking of which," Prue said frowning. "She's actually calling me right now, got to go!" Prue called orbing out, flashing a quick smile at her sisters.
Piper and Phoebe grinned at each other. "Who would have thought," Phoebe said smiling. "That Prue would be a whitelighter."
Piper looked to her husband. "Why didn't you know about Prue being a whitelighter, Leo? I mean, you didn't see her up there did you?" Piper said.
Leo frowned, "I had no idea. They must have kept Prue away from me on purpose."
Piper sighed. "You've got to love the elders and their stupid god damn secrets."
Paige sighed, "well, apparently, we've got an even higher power to worry about." She said looking between her remaining sisters. "These so called Paradoxes, what do they do anyway?"
Phoebe and Piper shrugged. "Who knows," Phoebe said. "I mean, if Cole's one of them then they can't exactly be all that good."
"But the elders listen to them, so they can't be all that bad either." Leo pointed out.
"Looks like we'll just have to wait and see." Piper said, biting her lip as many worrisome thoughts filled her head. "We can't trust these Paradoxes until we know more about them and the Elders know nothing, as usual. It looks like we're on our own girls." Piper said, looking at her sisters.
"Well," Paige said smiling, "we're not quite alone. We've got Prue."
Phoebe and Piper smiled back at their younger sister. "Yes, we've got Prue." Phoebe said. "And for that, I am so grateful."
Author's Note: Thanks so much for reading! Please review, both compliments and constructive criticism is welcome, I love getting feedback! (plus, reviews encourage me to write more…) xx