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21 April 2012 @ 10:17 am
Killing Her Softly (Binding Ties)  

Celebratory ritual followed celebratory ritual to mark Prue’s entrance into the Brotherhood.  Days passed.  Cole was returning from one such event when he spotted the Seer, seemingly loitering outside in the passageway.  “I have a vision your witch should see, Belthazor.” She smiled coldly. “One she should be very interested in.”

Cole looked down at her. “If my understanding’s right, Seer, you have more important visions to concern yourself with. Such as the one you lied to the Source about.”  She didn’t blink. He narrowed his eyes at her. “Do you know what kind of game you’re playing? He’ll kill you without a thought when he finds out the truth.  And all for what?”

The Seer smiled. “The advancement of evil, of course. You can’t honestly expect me to believe that a Charmed One should carry the prophesied child, Belthazor.  Just as you cannot expect me to believe that you would want your child in the belly of that witch.”

Cole gritted his teeth and took a step toward her. “The only thing that should matter is what the Source expects from -” The Seer fixed him with a piercing look.

“The Source’s expectations are shaped by his knowledge of the future.  Knowledge that I am among the first to provide to him.  My visions are always true, in their way.  But they are always influenced by what happens next.  It is much the same as it is for --”

Cole cut her off.  “Don’t.  Unless you want me as a greater enemy.”  He gestured for her to walk with him.   “This most recent vision, what did it show?”

She pursed her lips.  “Your witch’s sister, consumed with anger at her. Anger that suppressed her grief and took control of her, attracting furies.”  Raising an eyebrow, she added, “If your wife has been fully turned, she’d want to enjoy it.” 

Cole considered this.  If nothing else, going along with the Seer could help them figure out what she was up to.  And besides, he was vengefully curious to see Piper Halliwell, the sarcastic but more magically passive sister who had been the only witch to cut his flesh in fifty years, driven to fury.  Prue, he was sure, would be just as interested. 

“I’ll bring her to you,” he murmured to the Seer as he opened the magicked wooden door.

He closed the door firmly before turning to Prue, who sat paging through a grimoire she’d found--well, at the moment Cole neither knew nor cared where.  He cleared his throat, and nodded at the door.  “The Seer has had another vision.  You wondered what your sisters would say to you turning.  She’s got part of the answer.” 

Prue looked up at him thoughtfully as she rose to her feet.  “And she’s got our fates in her hands.  Let’s not keep her waiting.  Come on.”  He didn’t fail to notice the glint of anticipation in her eyes. 

Skirting the Source’s chamber, they returned to the lair of the Seer.   
The sight of a large rock-formed pool in the center of the room greeted them.  The Seer stood by its far side, and Prue couldn’t help but be entranced by the sight of the demon’s eyes.  Red light beamed from them into the pool‘s water-like substance, where an image was slowly taking shape. 

“Piper,” Prue murmured.  Cole, who had stayed behind her, put his hands on her shoulders.  Who he was reassuring, he wasn’t certain.   Prue, however, only gazed at the image as it shifted: Piper transforming into a fury before them.   Whatever worry Cole had (reawaked sympathies?) he needn’t have, however.  The scene shifted again, to a row of tomb markers at the new mausoleum.  Piper, literally Furious, raged in front of one of them, on which the three observers could just make out an inscription:  Prudence Halliwell 1970 -2001. 

Before Piper’s accusations could register, Prue zeroed in on the inscription.   “That’s it?!” Her face contorted in a snarl of disbelief beyond empathy or reason.  Tomb inscriptions were always briefer than those on graves.  She knew this, and yet --

“Who does she think she is?  That ungrateful little whiny nagging brat.   How dare she!” Without knowing it, she clenched her fists at her sides.  And without anyone knowing, blue streaks of energy flickered along her palm lines -- though only for an instant. 

Only Cole was watching the Seer in time to catch the flash of -- triumph, yes, but not only that.  She was definitely up to something.  Prue, of course, may as well have thought the Seer was a piece of conjured furniture.   All she saw was Piper and the inscription.   Even the presence of Phoebe and … Paige, was it, did not cross her mind.

“She has no right to be angry with me,” Prue muttered.  “Not after everything I’ve ever done for her.”  She backed away from the image, now of Piper sinking to the floor, pleading with Prue to return and sobbing away her fury.  “And there is no way I’ll ever go back.”


She was still muttering when they returned to their suite.  Cole had looked to the Seer for … anything, any clue or indication of her plans.  And all he’d gotten was a mouthed, “Soon” before they were ushered out.

“’No way you’d ever go back’?” he echoed.  Pulled out of her reverie, she whirled to face him. “You did, though. Twice.”  Putting his hands on her shoulders, he looked her in the eye.  “I am not letting you go.  Now, you got your answer. Question is, can you let them go and focus on the Seer?”

She looked at him, put her hands on his wrists, and muttered, “What did she say to you?” 

He raised an eyebrow.  “All of it? Are you sure?”
Shrugging his hands away, she tilted her head sarcastically.  “You want me in, you tell me everything.”

He’d known she would say something like that.  Still, there could be some advantage to doing it this way.

“She told me I couldn’t expect her to believe a Charmed One should carry the twice-blessed child.  Or,” he couldn’t avoid her eyes, “that I would want you to carry the child.” 

“Well.” She held out her arm.  “Do I look like a Charmed One to you?” 

He considered this.  The vesica piscis said no, but there was still something in her eyes. 

“You don’t look like a demon. Bo Lightfeather could see it, in my eyes.  I can‘t see it in yours.  And if I can‘t…” 

She finished for him, nodding.  “Neither can the Seer or the Source.” The size-you-up look was back.  “So, what do I -- what do we -- do about it?”

He took her hands.  “We train you to let go of the surface, and to survive down here.  Whatever’s holding you back -- “

She interrupted, confident in her dismissal. “Nothing is holding me back.”  And to demonstrate, she pulled her hands free and sent a glass figurine on their coffee table flying.  It shattered against the far wall.  

Cole only raised an eyebrow.  “Objects are one thing.  You still have -- the stench of humanity on you.  You’re still attached to something on the surface.”

She couldn’t meet his gaze.  Pressing his advantage, he continued at a whisper, “Not to your sisters, of course.  Not even to that sense of responsibility you’re weighted down by.” Prue shot him a sharp glance, while laughing weakly and trying to turn away.  “No,” he went on, “It’s something else.” 

To her trembling back he asked, “You’re holding onto him, aren’t you?” Her slight intake of breath proved he’d hit his mark, but he went ahead to press the point: “Morris’s partner. What-was-his-name.  Trudeau.” 

She turned back only a fraction, and the accusation had all the calculated bite he’d hoped for. “Is that how you won her over.”  Her laugh was brittle.  “Knowing things she didn’t, sensing things, using that and convincing her you meant no harm by it?”  Another roll of her eyes and she made for their kitchen.

He called to her now-retreating back.  “He was your high school sweetheart, wasn’t he?  Everything about him and what he represents -- your mortal childhood, that’s what you’re holding onto.”

As he’d again hoped, her first reaction was to clench her fists.  But she was also standing very still now.  The silence lengthened.  Then, she whispered to the far wall, “Tempus was the first demon I truly hated.” 

“Even though,” and his voice is like velvet; she can’t help but shudder at the silky roughness of it, “even though he was simply doing you a favor.  Couldn’t you see?  Trudeau had to die -- the exposure threat was too great for either side.” 

Logic, clear-eyed logic, could be heard in her voice when she answered.  But she seemed to cling to it a little too tightly, like a beloved stuffed rabbit.  “Why didn’t the Source ever send Tempus after my father?  Why not go after Morris once he knew the truth?”

He moved then to stand just behind her.  “Only Trudeau’s death would have stopped the threat and hurt you enough to throw you that off kilter.”  She tensed, tightening her fists.  The streaks of blue light up every line before they blink out.  “The Source almost had you.” She seemed very far away, as though she only half heard him, and her silence let him press his case.

“You nearly gave your book away, and now you are holding yourself back from power,” his hands rested on her shoulders, “all for the memory of a mortal who never understood you, and never truly loved you.”

Cole tilted her chin toward him, and saw that he had finally struck pay dirt.   Her eyes are glistening with tears.  Prue’s voice, however, hasn’t quite broken yet.  “He understood me better than anyone.  And he loved me enough to die for me.”

As she blinks away the moisture he turns her to face him and takes hold of each of her hands. “But not enough to live for you, to understand and accept your secret.  Not enough to love you for this,” a kiss on one palm, “or this” a kiss on the other. 

“He tried -- his dreams, and mine, and just --”  she spoke to herself as much as to Cole.  Her fists clenched again. Small blue sparks jumped from between her fingers.

“The timing was never right.” He doesn’t fully smirk as he says it.  She nodded, and he goes on.  “But the setting wasn’t right either.  You aren’t the picket fence type, Prue.”  It was like looking through a viewfinder at herself outraged, to know that he knew -- her thoughts, dreams, fears -- but not to care very much here and now.  “Accept that.  Accept that he had to die.”

He drew her to him, kissed each tear-damp eyelid, and breathed in her ear.  “Embrace the hunger to have done it yourself.” 

Hunger for the kill, bloodlust, demonic motivation -- whatever you called it, it slid into Prue that night.   All through the dinner that they ate, as usual, in relative silence, all Prue could think of was being nine, ten, eleven years old, and how Grams, who never let up, never gave her a spare moment to be a kid, would watch especially closely at dinner -- to make sure Prue was setting a good example for Piper and Phoebe.  She had hated her grandmother then.  Even hated her mother for dying and taking most of Prue’s childhood with her.

Her left fist remained balled under the table as they ate -- lasagna, she supposed, although she barely noticed.  Cole would occasionally glance her way, but he said nothing.  Left her to her thoughts, which were mainly that he was right.  If Andy had truly loved her, all of her, he would have found a way to make them work, but even then, was she really the type to settle down into domestic responsibility?  Was she like her mother?  No!

Was she someone who needed the kind of knight in shining armor rescue that he’d insisted on providing?  Would she even be here if she was?  The thoughts, the accusations, the questions swirled in her head, and the feeling in her chest was icy now.  “Frigid”, she smiled to herself, glancing at Cole as they cleared the table. 

And all the while, beneath her clenched fist, the energy strengthened. 

It appeared fully formed while she was brushing her teeth before bed.  Anger at Piper, Phoebe, her father, and remembered rage toward Vinceres and even Cole congealed, and in her palm glowed a small blue-white ball of energy.

She didn’t call out to Cole -- simply walked up behind him as he was undressing and cleared her throat.  He spun around, and a truly sinister grin began to spread across his face.  “Did you know, I’ve had a stray nightmare or two that began exactly,” his eyes traced the sight of her in her grey slip, holding the energy ball, “like this?”

The energy ball glowed between them.  Prue took that in.  “I always give as good as I get,” she murmured. 

“As evil,” Cole replied.  He leaned over, pinched her fingers together, and as the energy ball snuffed out, took a hard look at his wife’s face. 

“The Source has that look,” he told her, pushing her down onto the bed.  “And now we can say the same about you.”