Author: Kat Lee
Dedicated To: My very own Cole Turner, my darling Drew who always loves this pair and wants more of them <3 (I love you, my darling!!!!!!! Happy Halloween!!!!)
Character/Pairing: Cole/Piper, past Leo/Piper and Cole/Phoebe
Warning(s): AU, Character Deaths, Future Fic
Word Count: 2,450
Date Written: 3 September 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Spelling Entertainment, not the author, and are used without permission. The lyrics belong to their rightful owners, come from the classic song Spooky, and are also used without permission.
Piper sighed, turned, and sank into the nearest chair. She was tired. She was beyond tired, and cleaning up the club tonight after the party she had not even been able to attend was the last thing she wanted to do. She was tempted to call her children and get them to come in and clean for her, or at least with her. It wouldn’t have been the first time she’d resorted to such measures, and they were off from school the next day.
But she couldn’t keep relying on her kids. In a few more years, they’d be grown and leaving her too like their aunts already had. She couldn’t blame her sisters, though, not for having their own lives, husbands, and children. It was what she’d always wanted for them, and that and happiness, and they had that when the forces of Evil left them alone. Each was happily married and watching their own children grow rapidly into adults as Piper did hers every day, even if her husband had long been out of their lives.
She sighed. Maybe the Council had been right, she reflected, raking her fingers through her long, dark hair. Maybe a Witch and a White Lighter shouldn’t marry, but then Phoebe was happy with her Cupid and Paige with her “mere”, mortal man whom all the others had warned them against. In the quiet solitude of her own club, Piper could admit even she had not thought those two would last, but Henry had proved them all wrong. He loved Paige, and he had never let anything stop him from being with her sister and being there for her whenever she’d needed him no matter the reason. Piper sighed again. That was what love was supposed to be, and what she had once believed she had shared with Leo.
She shook her head and was just starting to try to force herself back up to her tired feet when strands of music began to play. She frowned and glanced over in the direction from whence the familiar chords were sounding. Her mouth almost dropped open. It would have, if not for all the strange things she had seen as a Charmed One for there, in an empty corner of the club where they usually let the bands keep the sound boxes and other extra items they might need throughout the course of their concerts sat a flickering jukebox. It was almost as though she was seeing into another time as the jukebox faded in and out of her vision.
She put a hand on the table and pushed herself slowly to her feet, wondering if she should call someone. What kind of a Demon, she pondered, used a jukebox? Was it about to start spitting records dripping with poisonous acid or something? Instead of throwing anything at her, however, a haunting melody began to crackle over staticy lines. She recognized the song immediately. “In the cool of the evenin’, when everything is gettin’ kind of groovy, I call you up and ask you if you’d like to go with me and see a movie.”
“We can watch a movie if you’d like, but I’d much rather have this dance.”
Piper spun around at the sound of the familiar, deep voice. A handsome Demon, wearing his mortal face, bowed before her. He looked up at her and smiled, and she felt herself melting as she had so often in his presence, despite the fact that he had never belonged to her. “May I?” Cole asked, a wide smile spreading slowly over his handsome features.
Piper’s heartbeat quickened. She hadn’t expected him tonight, but then she realized she should have. They were standing in a window between times and worlds, on the very cusp of Halloween. She had a feeling that, if she glanced at her watch, she’d see it was midnight on the dot, but she couldn’t take her eyes away from his. “I -- “ She swallowed hard and licked her lips.
“First you say no. You’ve got some plans for the night.”
She had no plans for the night other than cleaning the club, and the plans she’d had before had only served to screw them. She loved her children and never regretted having had them with Leo, but he had been gone from her life for so long now. And Cole . . . Cole had always had been so sweet to her when they’d been alone together. She remembered breakfasts she’d gotten up before dawn to cook only to have all her family run or orb out of the house with barely a bite. She remembered sharing those meals and the special times they brought with Cole, and she remembered times when he’d held her when she’d been crying over Leo.
His arms had always felt so strong and reassuring. She had wished so many times that she had chosen him over Leo, but she had never been able to be like her sisters. She had never been able to just act on the raw impulses that filled her insides when he held her close or chastely kissed the top of her head like a big brother. She never would have been able to take him from Phoebe, but in the end, Phoebe hadn’t wanted him either.
She hadn’t seen that the Cole they had known had been taken away from them. She hadn’t understood, and neither had Piper, if she was honest with herself, until after the fact, that he had taken all the evils from Pandora’s box into himself to save them and had been left powerless to be his own man against the wickedness within him. Vanquishing him had not only killed him. It had saved him, and he’d visited her many times since. She’d asked him once if he ever visited Phebs, but he had looked away so sadly while giving a distant answer that Phoebe was happy with Coop. She had never asked him again.
And now he was offering her his hand. She had no men in her life save her sons, her brother-in-laws, her nephews, and her employees. She had no one special. She had not since Leo had left her. She still wore his wedding band, she thought, looking down on the ring and tugging on it.
Cole, misunderstanding her, straightened suddenly. “I’m sorry -- “ he started to apologize.
“So am I,” she whispered, taking off the gold band and sitting it on the table. “Sorry I never took a chance with you before.” She licked her lips. “While you were alive,” she added quietly.
“We can’t go back and undo what’s been done,” he told her, his soft voice growing huskier as he held out his hand to her. “Believe me. I’ve tried.”
“So have I.” She smiled sadly up at him, but then she took his hands in hers. His hands were so much larger than her own. Yet, despite the fact that he was a phantom, they felt warm and strong around her small, delicate hands. They swayed together for a few moments.
“And then you smile and hold my hand. Love is kinda crazy with a spooky little girl like you. Spooky, heh, yeah.”
He spun her, surprising her, but when she came back to him, she pressed her body close against his strong, muscular length. His arms moved to where they surrounded her small frame like a cloak, and Piper found herself wishing she could just stay in his arms and hide away from the outside world forever. Her children needed her, whispered a voice in the back of her mind, but she was tired of being needed. There was a difference between need and want, and she was only beginning to realize how long she had been needing someone to need her.
He moved gently against her in rhythm to the old song. He was stooping slightly, and the bottom of his chin rested on top of her head. She seemed so small compared to him. She remembered Phoebe once laughingly commenting that he must have had some Giant blood somewhere in his lineage, but Piper didn’t care if it was true even. She didn’t feel dwarf compared to him. She felt like his huge, strong body would protect her from whatever came, and she was tired of always fighting. She wanted someone to protect her. She wanted someone to love her.
She should have taken a chance while he was alive. She knew that now, but it was far too late. She had chosen the wrong man, and had let Phoebe have the wrong one. The funny thing was, if she had simply given Phoebe Leo in the beginning, perhaps she would have been the one who would have been able to love Cole. Maybe she would have seen what had been happening with Pandora if she had been with him. Maybe she could have stopped it. Maybe she could have saved him. She certainly would have loved him.
She had been listening, for a few seconds, to something pounding and realized suddenly that it wasn’t the music. Someone was knocking on her club’s door, but suddenly the door flew open. Piper stepped away from Cole as her children filled the doorway. “Mom?” Melinda called out uncertainly.
Piper looked up, but already Cole was beginning to fade from her vision. She opened her mouth to plead with him not to go, but he stepped up suddenly to her again. “Next Samhain,” he promised in a hushed whisper. He bent to kiss her head, but she lifted her mouth just in time, catching his pursed lips with her own. His dark eyes widened in surprise as Piper deepened the kiss.
“Is she dancing with Dad?” she heard Wyatt whisper doubtfully. She blushed, but didn’t let up in kissing Cole. If they had only this moment all year, she wanted to make it last.
His hands came up to cup her face. His thumbs brushed against her cheeks as his tongue slid smoothly across hers. They danced again for a moment, their tongues thrusting and wrapping around one another, until Chris turned on the light. In one swift moment, Cole and the jukebox were both gone. The last strands of the song seemed to hover for a moment in the air, “Oh spooky, spooky. I said spooky.”
Melinda frowned as she looked around them. “Mom,” she asked, “are you playing the radio?”
“N-No, of course not.” Piper shook herself and stepped away from where she could still feel heat registering in the air. Remembering her ring, she quickly moved to pick it up from the table and slide it back onto her wedding finger.
Melinda and Wyatt seemed to miss the movement, but Chris frowned at her. “Is everything all right?” he asked.
“Everything’s fine.” She smiled. “I’m just tired,” she added after a moment. It wasn’t a complete lie. If she had been tired before, she felt thoroughly exhausted now, exhausted by trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations and, in the end, failing to attain her own happiness. She was tired of acting like she was happy but never really being so. She was tired of being a single mother and of feeling like a widow -- but she didn’t feel like one tonight.
She repositioned the ring on her finger and smiled secretly as she thought of what she had just shared with Cole. No one needed to know. No one would believe her even if she tried to share the story with them, and Phoebe and Paige both would just think he needed to be vanquished again. Oh, how Phebs had missed out on that one! How they both had!
But he would come again next Halloween, she remembered. She sighed. Oh, but it was going to be a long wait over the next year until she could see him and be with him again! But it would be worth it, she knew, for five minutes with Cole had left her feeling more loved than she had in the last five years with her actual husband. Oh, yes, it would be worth it!
“I know,” Melinda was saying. “That’s why we came to help you clean up.”
“You didn’t have to do that.”
“No, but we wanted to.” Her daughter smiled up at her, and Piper watched as her children moved around the club, setting up chairs, picking up trash, and cleaning surfaces. They had been doing little chores in this place almost since they had been old enough to walk. She wasn’t going to stand in their way.
“Why don’t you go home, Mom, and rest a while?” suggested Chris, who she knew suspected something more had happened here. He had a good guess of what it was -- she knew that from the way he eyed her wedding ring --, but he was still concerned for her and putting her welfare as his first priority.
She smiled. She may not be loved by a living man, but she was loved by her children. “Thank you,” she said, walking over to him, wrapping him in a hug, and kissing the top of his head.
“Aw, Mom,” he muttered, blushing.
It felt good to know she could still embarrass him after all these years. Piper laughed, actually laughed, and all three of her children turned to her. “Mom,” Melinda spoke in surprise, her eyes wide as she approached them, “you sound -- “
“Happy?” Piper finished for her. She nodded decisively, still smiling. “I am. And why shouldn’t I be? It is Halloween after all.”
She opened her arms to her children, and they came together in her embrace. She hugged them before starting to leave. She called back from the door, “Thank you again, and happy Halloween.”
“Happy Halloween!” they chorused back to her.
Wyatt frowned at his brother right after their mother had left. “What was that all about?” he hissed.
Chris shrugged. “I don’t know,” he answered honestly.
Melinda sighed, almost dreamily. “But I sure would like to know,” she remarked.
“You always keep me guessin’. I never seem to know what you are thinkin’.”
Melinda dropped her rag. “Did you hear that?” she demanded of her brother as the three siblings looked at each other.
“Just ignore it and clean up,” Chris advised. “It is Halloween after all.”
Melinda hesitated. Her brothers resumed picking up chairs. After a long moment, she shrugged. “Well, whatever it is, I’m just happy Mom’s happy,” she spoke decisively and returned to cleaning. She hummed under her breath.
“Just like a ghost, you’ve been a-hauntin’ my dreams, so I’ll propose on Halloween. Love is kinda crazy with a spooky, little girl like you. Spooky!”