“Neighbors” [PG] – 9/11


Part 9

From inside the warlocks’ trap, Phoebe felt a familiar portent of impending doom. And her feeling had nothing to do with a premonition of any kind. But it felt hard to dismiss such feelings while a group of warlocks carrying athames watched and waited with evil intent on their faces.

Phoebe sighed. How she wished that she, Piper and Paige had heeded Olivia McNeill’s advice to stay away. It seemed ironic that within a period of six months, the Charmed Ones would find themselves in a trap similar to the one that the Seer had imprisoned them within. Only this time, they would not be able to deflect the warlocks’ attack. Especially since the latter planned to use a good old-fashioned stab fest to kill the sisters . . . after draining their power with this trap.

The dark-haired leader of the warlock coven raised his hand for some kind of action. Before he could do anything, a figure in black materialized beside him. Phoebe’s heart literally jumped with relief. It was Cole.

“What the . . .?” Crozat stared at Cole in shock. “Who the hell are you?”

Cole’s mouth stretched into a smirk. “What’s the matter, Crozat? Forgotten me, already?”

The warlock’s eyes grew wide. “Belthazor? But I thought you were dead!”

“Well, Belthazor is,” Cole coolly replied. “Have been for at least a year. I was even the Source for a while. Until I was killed.” He seared the Charmed Ones with a death glare. Phoebe shivered.

Crozat declared, “The Source? You were the Source? I had heard about a new Source, last spring. But he was vanquished by the Charmed Ones.”

“That’s right.” Cole continued to glare at the Halliwells. “But I survived. Ironically, thanks to my human side.” His eyes veered back to Crozat. “And I’m here to take back what’s mine.”

Crozat sneered. “Take back what? Your loving bride?”

Blue eyes that had once looked at Phoebe with love and passion, now regarded the warlock with icy rage. Crozat immediately assumed a more humble expression. “The only thing I want back is the Source’s power. And the only way I can achieve that is through their whitelighter.”

One of the warlocks cried out, “What a load of crap! He’s lying! How can a whitelighter help him become the Source? I say we kill him now! He’s just one daemon.” Before Phoebe could blink, Cole destroyed the dissenter with one quick fireball.

“Anyone else want to doubt my word?” Cole challenged. The warlocks remained silent.

Inside the trap, Paige whispered in a sarcastic tone, “I guess not. I see that Belthazor or maybe the Source is back. At least in spirit.”

“Paige!” Piper hissed. The younger woman remained silent.

Phoebe, however, remained silent, as she continued to listen in on the conversation outside the trap. A frowning Crozat added, “Gregor was right. How can a whitelighter help you become the Source again?”

Cole nonchantlantly replied, “Easy. The Charmed Ones’ whitelighter was the one who had hid the Grimoire. And whoever possesses it, can become the Source. I intend to get my hands on that Grimoire.”

“Leo destroyed the Grimoire, right?” a worried Paige asked.

Piper sighed. “Of course he did! He tossed it into a volcano.”

“But that doesn’t mean it was destroyed.”

Irritated by their chatter, Phoebe snapped at her sisters. “Hey you two! Can you please keep it down?”

“Why bother?” Paige retorted. “It’s plain that Cole wants to become the Source, again. At least he can’t use possession as an excuse, this time. I wonder how he plans to use Leo.”

Phoebe shot back, “Well, if you just keep quiet for one moment, we’ll find out!” Everyone fell silent and continued to listen to the conversation outside the trap.

“What makes you think the whitelighter will tell you where to find it?” Crozat asked. Phoebe assumed he was referring to the Grimoire.

Cole replied, “You’ve got the Charmed Ones. You can kill them and steal their powers. But not until I lure their whitelighter here and get him to retrieve the Grimoire for me. He’ll do anything to keep them alive. Especially his wife . . . who’s carrying his child.” Cole glanced at Piper. “He’s broken the rules for her, before.”

“Oh no!” Piper murmured to her sisters. “He’s not serious, is he?”

Before Phoebe could reply, she caught sight of a flash of red in front of the one of the warehouse’s windows. Red hair. Seconds later, her eyes adjusted to the sight of Olivia McNeill climbing through that window. The police inspector was followed by another redhead. Her brother, Harry McNeill. “Piper, Paige!” Phoebe hissed. “Look over there. Near the second window from the right. It’s Olivia and Harry McNeill.”

Piper frowned. “What are they doing here?”

“Isn’t it obvious? They’re here to help us. And Cole. He must be distracting the warlocks.”

A doubtful Paige added, “Are you sure? Maybe the good inspector found out about Cole.”

“Paige!” To Phoebe’s relief, the hard tone in her voice convinced Paige to keep quiet. The three sisters watched in silence, as the two McNeill siblings cautiously positioned themselves for an attack. Cole, however, continued his conversation with the warlock leader.

“. . . all a good story, Belthazor,” Crozat was saying. “But you haven’t told us how you plan to lure their whitelighter here.”

Casually, Cole turned his back on Crozat and glanced around. Then he gave the warlock a chilling smile. A smile that Phoebe found disturbing. “Simple,” he said. Then with a flick of his wrist, he vanquished another warlock.

The next thing Phoebe knew, all hell had broken loose. At least for the warlocks. While Cole continued to incinerate more warlocks, Olivia McNeill sent others flying across the room and into large crates and the walls. Others she knocked unconscious using martial arts skills that Phoebe could only envy. One warlock flung an athame toward her direction. Fortunately, she used her telekinesis to counter the attack and bury it into the warlock’s chest.

Harry McNeill, like his sister, used martial arts on the warlocks. And he used something else that Phoebe could not see. She saw him stare at a pair of warlocks. Who eventually stabbed themselves with their athames. And the realization finally hit Phoebe. “Of course! He’s a telepath!” she murmured. Subliminal suggestions.

Paige asked, “What did you say?”

“Harry McNeill. Didn’t you see him? He used his telepathic abilities to force those warlocks to kill themselves.”

Piper said, “Never mind that. I think this trap is weakening. See?” She pointed at the force shield and a hole immediately formed, thanks to her combustion power.

“Try it again,” Paige suggested. Which Piper did. A second hole appeared. “Maybe if you keep using your power, the trap will finally break.”

Piper retorted, “Are you kidding? I’m only punching holes in this thing!”

Phoebe added, “Maybe the only way for Piper to break free is for more warlocks to disappear. Remember, they’re using the combination of their powers to keep this trap intact.” She glanced at their saviors. To her relief, the McNeills and Cole were still alive. And kicking ass.

To Phoebe’s right, Harry dispatched more warlocks using his telepathy. One warlock managed to jump him from behind. Fortunately, Harry viciously elbowed the latter in the gut, before knocking him down with a well-placed blow to the face. Before the warlock could recover, Harry tossed a small vial at him, and the warlock disintegrated in a ball of flames.

A small group of warlocks suddenly formed a circle around Cole and Olivia, causing the latter to gasp. Cole disappeared out of sight. A second later, he reappeared behind one warlock and quickly snapped the latter’s neck. Then he reappeared behind another warlock. One quick twist and -snap- that warlock was dead.

A blond-haired female warlock in a security guard’s uniform threw an athame at Cole. Olivia used her telekinesis to redirect the weapon, sending it straight into the warlock’s throat. She flung another warlock against the wall, causing his back to make impact into a jutting hook.

Rage filled the dark eyes of the warlocks’ leader. He stuck his arm out and sent a line of flames toward Olivia, much to Phoebe’s horror. Now she knew who had killed that warlock in Candlestick Park, last Saturday. She blinked and the next thing she knew, Olivia and Crozat had changed places. Leaving the warlock leader to feel the impact of the flames. Cole. There could be no other explanation. Her ex-husband had just saved Olivia, using the same power he had used when he had saved Phoebe from Agent Jackman’s bullet, last spring.

With Crozat and many other warlocks dead, the power holding the trap around the Charmed Ones, faltered. Once more, Piper used her combustion power to break the force field . . . and finally succeeded. The destruction of the trap seemed to stun the remaining warlocks, forcing them to reel about in confusion.

“Stand back!” Olivia barked. Once everyone followed her order, she used her telekinesis to gather all of the warlocks – alive and the remaining dead – to the same spot where the Charmed Ones had been held. Then the red-haired witch glanced at the Halliwells. “Okay, ladies.”

Phoebe, Piper and Paige stared at Olivia, then at each other. “Jeez! Did you see that?” the youngest sister muttered.

“Hello! The Power of Three! Use a spell to get rid of them now!” Olivia seemed to be using her power to hold those warlocks still alive, at bay.

Her sisters faced Phoebe and they struggled to create an impromptu spell. Unfortunately, this evening’s events had left their power slightly weakened.

“What’s the matter with us?” a concerned Piper asked.

Phoebe stared at her older sister in panic. “It’s the trap. It must have weakened our powers.”

Olivia cried out, “Hey! What’s taking you so long? I can’t hold them forever!”

“Oh, uh, . . . evil that has formed here,” Phoebe began. Then, “No, wait! Let’s try . . . no.”

An exasperated sigh left Olivia’s mouth. She turned to the half-demon. “Cole! Could you, please?”

Cole nodded. Then he formed an enormous fireball in his hands and tossed it at the warlocks. Every one of them, whether they were alive, unconscious or dead, disappeared into a ball of explosion. Olivia shook her head with mild disbelief. “You are such a ham,” she said with a teasing smile.

“It takes one to know one,” Cole shot back. He was also smiling. Which disturbed Phoebe. Very much. She could almost feel the hot knife of jealousy, twisting in her gut.

Piper mumbled to her sisters, “Well, that’s great. The Charmed Ones saved by two witches and a demon. Boy, do I feel like an eunuch.” Phoebe could not have said it any better.