Soon came about two weeks later. Random demons had made remarks that whole time -- whenever Prue had left their suite to explore, get exercise, and flex her rapidly developing demonic senses, she would pass one demon or another sneering, “Belthazor’s whore!”, “enjoying the life of a concubine?”, “Is that the reward for disloyalty these days” and on and on. She kept her head up, but kept quiet, knowing she was outnumbered.
She also decided not to tell Cole, at least, not right away -- what could he do that wouldn’t compromise their tenuous position further? If she kept her “eyes on the prize” (how ridiculous a whitelighter’s arrogant guidance should come back to her now) she’d be okay. So it was that she spent hours in random caverns hurling energy balls, while Cole stayed in their suite and studied his law books.
She’d asked why, of course, and he only winked. “You’ll see.”
And so it was that he had been reading, alone, when two red-rimmed eyes appeared to the side of him. Klea materialized a moment later. “Hard at work, I see.”
His face, even turned from her, was unreadable. “Come by to check up on me?”
“Never,” and this is a whisper, a caress. Cole rose to his feet and faced her. “Come to see if you can be persuaded to regain your senses.”
He played along -- the internal politics of the brotherhood have always demanded this game, and it is second nature to his demonic half. “Betray the Source again? For the Brotherhood?” His eyes raked her body. “For you?”
Her eyes seemed to smolder. “For true evil. For the Seer’s vision of a world we rule. Think of it, Belthazor! Pure evil triumphant.”
His patience slipped then. “You have it, it grows by the day.” There was ice in his voice. Her lips pulled back in in a snarl of revulsion.
“From a witch? From a Charmed One? No.” She sized him up, eyes full of cunning. “Whatever bastard she bears will be theirs, not ours.” Cole’s lips pulled back into their own snarled response before he can check himself.
“In the fiber of your demonic being you do believe that.”
She has closed the distance between them without him recognizing it. “You bedded her on the Source’s orders, not because it would advance our side.” Her head cocked to the side. “Perhaps you wished to punish her and her sister for what they did to you.” He met her gaze, unflinching and yet still unreadable. Klea smiled. “Either way, we have this opportunity to achieve true greatness for evil. Let us make this child together. Lie with me, Belthazor.”
There were suddenly in Cole’s mind two very vivid images. One was from the evening of V-J Day, strolling along the embarcadero and whispering to Klea, “Well, you win some, you lose some.” And the pure lust that had shot through him when she replied, “There are always consolation prizes.” And they had grabbed a passing young mortal woman, pulled her into an alley, and Klea had forced her to her knees, and let Cole have his way with her, before both of them took out their athames and stabbed her through the heart.
The second was his bravado in the face of Prue and her sisters discovering him in the trap around the Halliwells’ Book of Shadows. He had been in superb blustery form. “That’s illegal! I ought to have you arrested!” and so on. And she had only stared him down, never flinching once. It had been … novel. Intriguing, for all his pretense to insult. He had killed witches who hadn’t defended their children with that steady fierceness.
Klea had a point, though, and they both knew it -- any child Prue bore him would have surface ties, just like he’d told her.
It was his demonic nature that gripped Klea’s hands, then. “Alright,” he said simply. “Let’s seize the chance.”
They come together in a familiar melding, honed from long practice. Her lips on his, so cool and bracing, the feel of her body fitting comfortably against his, and everything simple, straightforward -- all suppress his human insistence on remembering his wedding vows.
Only the sound of Prue’s conjured key in the suite’s conjured door stilled them. “You’ve overstayed your welcome, Klea.” Cole gestured her away.
As she faded out, she kissed him. “Go back to your little game of house, then.”
Only his previous experience as a double agent enabled him to greet Prue like nothing was amiss. Her scrutiny, her wonderful damnable suspicious and observant nature, had begun to lighten in recent days, and he had been concerned. With the taste of Klea on his lips, however, he simply looked forward to dinner, their customary time of simple quiet conviviality.
Prue, however, had something on her mind. “If the Source is still waiting on us,” she gestured with her fork, “why haven’t we been dragged before him again? I’d have expected some further arm-twisting.”
Cole shrugged, seemingly nonchalant. “The Source is used to playing a long game. He doesn’t like it, but he knows how to be patient. Especially for a prize this big.”
She considered that. “And the Seer?” Even as she said it, Cole realized he should have grasped the significance of Klea’s visit. She never had been one to act independently. It was all up to him, though, whether or not the Seer’s little scheme succeeded. And that, well. He could manipulate Klea, hold her off. He could, or…. He considered Prue. How sure he had been, that she’d crack like a nut under the weight of Vinceres’ curse. How, he had learned from the Triad, she and Phoebe had a history of romantic … rivalry, for lack of a better term. He’d seen her roll her eyes at Phoebe’s eagerness when he’d first approached the Charmed Ones. He weighed these lessons. Aloud, he said only, “We just don’t know enough about what she’s planning. About all we can do, until you start showing, is lay low.” His face quirked into an ironic half smile.
Prue held his gaze a moment, and he almost thought she saw through the jocularity. But then she shrugged, a what-can-we-do gesture. “So we lay low.” As if that settled that, she rose and began clearing the table. Cole, deep in thought, just watched her. She could take nearly anything -- had, in fact, and was more aware of the losses than Phoebe had been, or could be. His demon self hissed, “This too, this too. Make her suffer this too!”
Clearing his throat, he stood to help. Prue went straight to the bedroom and fell into bed afterwards; her training wiped her out. Watching her, Klea’s words come back to him. “Whatever bastard she bears…” Had Klea meant to mock him, or did the glorious vision of evil and her lust make her forget?
Memories overwhelmed him: he and Klea, but also other images from his youth, memories of his mother, who he hadn’t thought about in years, and even flashes of the one or two impressions he had of his father.
Prue shifting beside him broke him out of his reverie. His eyes fell on the vesica piscis. Gently, ever so gently, he reached out and traced it with his index finger. The glow came up just as it had before. His smile was triumphant. Yet as he leaned down to kiss her forehead, another scrap of memory came up unbidden. A careworn oldtime lullaby.
He drifted off to sleep with the melody running through his mind.
Three days passed, with no sign of Klea. By unspoken consent Prue had begun to use Cole’s athame in her training exercises -- both offensive and defensive.
For his part, his studies keep his mind focused, barely. Move forward like nothing had happened. Nothing’s changed. So he thought to himself. The Source still has you over a barrel. Betray him again and -- he didn’t even finish the thought. Klea was right, though, on the merits, on their history, even on how disingenuous his motives looked.
And as if his thoughts had summoned her, she appeared beside him again. “Trouble in paradise? I know I‘m not interrupting a thing right now.”
“Forget it, Klea.” He pulled an open book toward him, made a show of returning to his reading.
“Forget what, Belthazor? How you told me before you left what a thrill it would be to force the eldest Charmed One to her knees and have her service you before you slit her throat? What glory would come to the Brotherhood because you had killed the Charmed Ones? How could I forget?”
He was on his feet again in an instant. “This,” he gestured around the room, his voice ominously quiet, “is the Source’s plan. You and the Seer defy him by not following along.”
She raised a nonplussed eyebrow. “Forgive me, my brother. Perhaps I had forgotten that your completely unwavering loyalty to the Source made you an expert on such matters.”
He took a step toward her. “Sarcasm doesn’t become you, Klea.”
Her smile was wry as she came toward him. “Perhaps. But what about this?” Her lips, her cool tempting lips are against his a second later. It is second nature, to his demon self, to pull and push her back onto a sofa. To take stock of every shadow of every self-healed scar, and to work his way between her legs.
This time, the sound of Prue’s key doesn’t still them. Under him, Klea murmured, “Let her see us, Belthazor. Let her suffer.” And softly, as she could nearly read his thoughts, “Do you remember V-J Day?” The slow grin on his face makes her laugh.
And that laughter was what Prue first noticed when she entered the room. She came around the sofas, and the shifts in emotion across her face -- he wished, in that moment, to have been able to see her under the empathic curse. As it was, though, she bottled herself up quickly, and took a step back. Only then did Cole see the hilt of his athame sticking out of a leg pocket on the yoga-style pants Prue wore to train.
He could see the blood lust in her eyes before Prue herself did -- and certainly before Klea could take it seriously. She, trying to prolong the moment, kissed him again. The next thing either of them were aware of was the zing of an energy ball, sailing low over the sofa. Cole got to his feet. He looked Prue in the eye. “Leave, Klea.”
With a sneer, she shimmered away.
The flint of Prue’s eyes has softened, but he didn’t mistake that for defeat. She had the hunched look of a cornered animal, gathering itself to strike. “Say something,” he finally snapped.
Eyebrows raised, she drew out his athame. Pressed the hilt into his hand. “Here.” Her eyes are like smoke and granite as she stepped toward him. “Since I mean so little to you.” And she lifted her chin.
He stared at the hollow at the base of her throat, reminded suddenly that yes, Klea had been exactly right about what he’d told her before the Triad mission.
A beat, and he has a restraining hold on her arm. He raised the athame, thinking that this was fitting. He’d wanted Phoebe’s death to be cloak and dagger, but Prue? He had wanted to look her in the eyes when he killed her. She was the type who wanted to face danger square on, after all. And sure enough, only bravery showed on her face as she tilted her head back. The blade edge was at her throat before the incongruity fully hit home.
The woman who fought the Angel of Death, even invisible, on behalf of her seven year old self was giving herself up like a sheep to the slaughter. How often had he thought, as a young demon, that the Angel of Death was evil, simply because of his father? There had been such a comic pathos to that whole incident, and he only fully saw it now. Her bravery now isn’t a mask -- she has given herself up, resigned herself completely to annihilation. At his hand.
His grip does not waver; it slides, deliberately, and he draws blood before he hurls the athame across the room. It embeds itself next to the door.
She closed the gap between them in an instant. Cole felt the trickle of hot blood against his face as Prue pressed her lips firmly against his. Without throwing herself into it, all of her is there -- the fierce bravery and the vulnerability, her composure before his lawyerly high-handedness and before the Source, and the vixen he’d been rather astonished to find in his marital bed.
“Damn you,” she whispered when they came apart. “Damn you for all of it.”
Heedless of the blood, he cupped her cheek. “Damn me to hell. Klea I should have seen coming.”
She covers his hand with hers, draws it away from her cheek. She contemplated the sight of her blood on his hand before she said, “Promise me, Cole. I need to know your past. I”, and he marveled at how familiar this sounded, “deserve to know about your past. You want me in, you tell me everything.”
“Done.” He’d been planning to, of course. Eventually. So he told himself.
Her gaze shifted to where his athame is sticking out of their wall. “And promise me that once we expose her, I get to kill her.” His answering laughter was chilling.