"LIES AND CONSEQUENCE"
The rain continued to drench San Francisco, as the black Porsche made a left turn on Prescott Street. As Cole continued down the street, Phoebe broke the silence between them and startled him with a question. "Why are you driving?"
"What?" The half-daemon shot a quick glance at his ex-wife.
Phoebe repeated, "Why are you driving? Why don't you just shimmer or however you teleport these days?"
Cole cleared his throat in his usual manner. "First of all, I don't need to teleport. I have a car. And I'm not in a hurry. Second, I like driving my car as much as I possibly can."
Another bout of silence followed before Cole added, "Listen Phoebe, why don't you tell me what's really on your mind?"
A sigh left Phoebe's mouth before she continued, "What did you mean by . . . 'If you say so', when I told you that Jason was upset over what happened with Richard's spell?"
"Because I think you're just fooling yourself," Cole answered in a matter-of-fact tone.
"Excuse me?" Phoebe's voice rang with indignation.
Cole repeated, "You're fooling yourself, Phoebe. And you know it."
"What the hell do you . . .?"
Sharply, Cole interrupted. "C'mon Phoebe! You know damn well why Dean had really broken it off between the two of you. You had lied to him about being a witch. Or to put it another way, he's probably pissed that you had kept this a secret from him."
"Since when did you become a telepath?" Phoebe retorted bitterly.
"Actually, one of my powers is telepathic manipulation."
The black Porsche came to a halt in front of a stop sign. Several people crossed the street. Cole realized that he had forgotten about Phoebe's tendency to deliberately blind herself from reality. Which was not surprising, since he had not seen her in nearly two months. "Phoebe, when you had first told me about the whole Mata Hari mess, you made it clear that you and Dean had broken up before Montana had cast his little spell." Once the intersection was cleared, Cole continued driving.
The Charmed One glared at him. "So?"
"You don't get it, do you?" The Halliwell manor loomed into sight. Cole guided the Porsche into an available parking space. "I suspect that Dean would have eventually tolerated you being a witch, if you had told him a lot earlier. After all, he loved you enough to stay with you for nearly a year. But during that same period, you had kept a secret from him. A big secret. What did you expect?"
Phoebe's face trembled with anger. "This is pretty rich coming from a guy who had lied to me during the first two months we were together!"
Cole rolled his eyes. "Yes Phoebe, I had kept my identity a secret from you. As I recall, we were both keeping secrets. I didn't lead on that I was a half-daemon, sent to kill you and your sisters. And you three were determined to keep your identities a secret from me. Come to think of it, the same happened when Piper and Leo first dated." Phoebe glared at him. "Leo told me," Cole continued. "Some time after Prue's death."
"Okay, so we both had lied!" Phoebe retorted. "But still . . ."
Switching off the car's engine, Cole turned to face his ex-wife. "But what? C'mon Phoebe! Paige had been nagging you to tell Dean the truth about yourself for months. In fact, she seemed to be the only member of your family who doesn't keep secrets from guys she is serious about. She had told both her old boyfriend and that guy, Nate that she was a witch. Whereas you, Piper and even Prue . . . well, your histories with the men in your lives in that regard haven't been all that great in the past few years."
Anger glimmered in Phoebe's dark eyes. "I don't think you even have the right to tell me . . ."
"Phoebe, this isn't about my past fuck-ups," Cole retorted. "This is about yours. Why don't you just admit that you had fucked up a pretty good thing with Dean? From what you've told me, it all went to hell even before idiot Montana had cast his spell. I hate to say this, but maybe you're just paying the consequences for your lies. Hell, I have."
From the corner of his eyes, Cole saw Phoebe's face become a mask. He could almost hear her teeth grinding. Then he glanced ahead and saw his brother-in-law's Mazda parked several yards ahead. "Hmmm, I didn't realize that Harry was here."
"I better get going," Phoebe suddenly announced. She opened the door. "Thanks for the ride."
A sigh left Cole's mouth. He knew that tone from long experience. Phoebe was pissed off. Not because she believed that he had committed some contemptible act. She was pissed because he had exposed a truth about her and her family that embarrassed her. Even worse, an ex-husband, whom she had once viewed as nothing more than an evil bastard, had exposed her. And Phoebe has always been a person who preferred to live with her illusions - if possible.
"Glad to help," Cole murmured. Phoebe climbed out of the car. "And Phoebe?" She paused, as the rain began to soak her hair and face. "I'm truly sorry about you and Dean. I mean it."
Something like a stiff smile barely cracked the Charmed One's lips. "Yeah. Thanks. I'll see you around." She slammed the door shut and marched toward the manor's front stoop.
Cole watched his ex-wife climbed the stoop. For the second time in his life - the first time occurred last summer - he pitied Phoebe. But what could he do? Only she could help herself. One day, she would have to realize that she was her own worst enemy. Hell, he had to learn that hard lesson, himself. In fact, he still might be learning.
The half-daemon heaved one last sigh, switched on the engine and drove away from the Halliwell manor.