“TWO THUMBS UP!” [G] – 1/1

Here is a “CHARMED” fanfic I had written over six years ago. It is an Alternate Universe story set in Season 5:

———

“TWO THUMBS UP!”

RATING: [G]
SUMMARY: Old and new movies become a topic for Cole and the McNeills, and in turn, he rediscovers an old favorite movie series. Set three days after “Neighbors”.
FEEDBACK: deerush76@yahoo.com – Be my guest. But please, be kind.
DISCLAIMER: Cole Turner, the Charmed Ones, Leo and other characters related to Charmed belong to Spelling, Kern, Burge and WB. Dammit!

NOTE: I suggest that you read “Neighbors”, to get an idea of how Cole became acquainted with Olivia McNeill and her family.

————-

One stream of bright light flickered inside the wide room, located on the ground floor of the McNeill manor. The light came from a large television set, situated on one side of the room. It seemed almost as large as a movie screen. On the other side, the McNeill family and two guests occupied seats and the sofa, as they watched the movie being shown on the television screen. An old movie called SUNSET BOULEVARD.

Cole Turner held his breath, as he watched the final tragic moments of the movie played out before his eyes. Once it ended in its famous fade-out, he let out a gust of breath. Someone turned off the television and the CD player attached to it. Another switched on the lights.

A deep sigh escaped the mouth of the 78 year-old Elise McNeill. “Great movie, wasn’t it?” she said to no one in particular.

“Are you kidding?” Cole replied. “I’ve been a fan of “SUNSET BOULEVARD”, since I first saw it over fifty years ago.” All eyes focused upon him. “What?” he demanded. “That’s when I first saw the movie.”

A cross between a smile and a smirk touched Olivia McNeill’s lips. “I suppose that you also saw Gloria Swanson and Bill Holden at the premiere.”

Cole rolled his eyes. “Of course not,” he retorted. Then he paused dramatically. “But I did appear in a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie. One of their early ones called “THE GAY DIVORCEE”.”

The McNeills, much to Cole’s amusement, stared at him in shock. Olivia’s dad, Jack, was the first to recover. He added sarcastically, “Now that I have got to see. Who did you play? One of the background dancers?”

“No. Just a guest at the seaside resort, in the second half of the movie. You know, during that ‘The Continental’ dance number.”

Jack chuckled slightly. “Next thing you’ll be telling us is that you were an extra in “BEN-HUR’ – both the 1925 and the 1959 versions.”

Cole smirked. “Sorry. I have never developed a taste for Biblical movies. Not quite my forte.”

The McNeill matriarch looked upon her guest with envy. “Well, I’ll be damned. An extra in an Astaire-Rogers movie. You lucky man.” She sighed. “They certainly knew how to make movies, back then.”

Groans from the other McNeills filled the room. Doubt creased Cole’s forehead. “You think so? Hollywood movies haven’t really changed much, as far as I’m concerned. Just the usual batch of good movies, along with the usual crap. Both then and now.”

“Are you serious?” the elderly woman demanded. She stared at Cole, as if he had just committed sacrilege.

Cole opened his mouth to speak. Fortunately, the youngest McNeill sibling came to his defense. “Oh, c’mon Gran!” Harry cried. “You’re not going to start that ‘they don’t make movies like they used to’ stuff again, are you? I can think of plenty of old movies that you don’t like!”

“Oh? Name one.”

Harry replied, “I’ll name more than one. “GUNGA DIN”, “CIMARRON”, “STELLA DALLAS”, “BACK TO BATAAN”, “STRANGE CARGO” . . .” A long list of movies continued to roll off his tongue. He added, “And I can think of many recent movies that you love. “SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE”, “BULLETS OVER BROADWAY”, “L.A. CONFIDENTIAL”, all of the Indiana Jones movies, ““X-MEN” . . .”

“Wait.” Cole faced Mrs. McNeill. “You actually liked “X-MEN”? I didn’t think it would be your type of movie.”

Mrs. McNeill shot her younger grandson a dark look. “Actually, it’s not bad. It could have been longer. I thought the theme of bigotry was interesting. And I found it interesting that the characters had powers similar to ours, while being called mutants.”

Bruce McNeill, who was Olivia’s older brother and a younger version of Jack McNeill, added, “Oh yeah. Olivia has red hair and telekinesis – like that Jean Grey character. Mystique is a shapeshifter, like Dad and me. Storm has electokinesis, like Mom. And like Gran and Harry, Professor Xavier is a telepath, who can control the minds of others. Come to think of it, you have that power, right?” he said to Cole.

The other man nodded. “But I can’t read minds. Only send telepathic messages.”

“And don’t forget that you have a self-healing power as well,” Olivia added. “Like Wolverine.”

Bruce rolled his eyes in mild disgust. “Oh Lord! I wondered if you were going to bring up old Wolvie. I forgot that you’re a big fan of his.”

An indignant Olivia shot back, “I happen to be a fan of the actor who played him! Hugh Jackman.”

“Who?” Cole asked. “Are you talking about the guy with the sideburns and claws, who dresses like trailer trash?”

Chortling, Harry replied, “That’s him!”

Cole grunted. “Huh. If you ask me, I think they chose the wrong actor to play this Wolfman. In the comic books, he was at least 5’3″ tall.”

“His name is Wol-ver-ine!” an irritated Olivia retorted. “Not Wolfman!”

This time, Cole snorted. “Wolfman, Wol-ver-ine, what’s the difference?”

“Has anyone ever told you that you might be perverse? The difference is that Wol-ver . . . I mean, Wolverine is not a character from a Universal horror movie!”

Cole rolled his eyes. “Whatever. Like I said, the guy in the comic books is at least 5’3″. This Wol-ver-ine who’s in the movie,” he ignored Olivia’s dark glance, “is at least six feet tall.”

Olivia added with more enthusiasm than Cole cared for, “Six-feet-two-inches tall. Hugh Jackman is 6’2″ and is from Australia.”

“Really?” Cole replied with a small smirk. “I didn’t realize you had a thing for 6’2″ Australians. Since I’m the same height, would it help if I adapt an Australian accent?”

Staring pointedly at the half-daemon, Olivia shot back, “Unless you happened to be a shapeshifter and can morph into Hugh Jackman, you would be wasting your time.”

Cole responded with another smirk.

“Maybe if Hugh Jackman had been in “THE ENGLISH PATIENT”,” Harry added, “Olivia might have actually liked it.”

Mrs. McNeill shook her head in disbelief. “I really don’t understand you sometimes, Livy. You can’t stand “THE ENGLISH PATIENT”, but you’re crazy about “LOVE STORY”?”

Olivia retorted, ““LOVE STORY” doesn’t put me to sleep. And “THE ENGLISH PATIENT” does. I mean, c’mon Gran! It’s so damn long!”

“Long movies don’t bother me,” Gweneth McNeill commented, in her soft Welsh voice. “If it’s done properly, that is. Like “LORD OF THE RINGS”. The first one – “FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING”.” Sighs of deep satisfaction from the McNeills, filled the room. Joined by Cole’s own contented sigh. The middle-aged version of Olivia stared at him. “Oh. I didn’t realize you saw that movie.”

Cole replied, “At least five times. I’ve also read the Tolkien novels, and once met the author at Oxford, back in the late 40s.”

Bruce asked, “What about the others? Your in-laws? Did they liked it?”

Cole hesitated as he remembered. “Well, both Paige and Leo loved it. Especially Paige. She saw it seven times. Phoebe . . . like it a lot. At first. But after two times, she got tired of it. And as for Piper . . . well, I don’t think she really cared for it. In fact, I don’t think she liked fantasy movies that much.”

“Rather odd for a woman who reads fairy tales to her unborn child,” Olivia commented dryly. “At least according to Leo.”

“Perhaps impending motherhood has made her changed her mind,” Cole said with a shrug.

Bruce added, “Makes me wonder how Piper felt about the latest “STAR WARS” movie.”

Surprise caused Cole’s heart to leap. “New “STAR WARS” movie? I had heard about it, but I never got to see it.” He added wryly, “Considering I was trapped in the Wasteland at the time.”

“You’re a “STAR WARS” fan?” Bruce stared at Cole.

Bruce’s father nodded. “That’s right! Now, I remember. When Gwen and I were trying to keep that amulet from Cole back in ’77, we had a friend trail him all over London.” Jack turned to Cole. “She told me that you saw the original “STAR WARS” four times.”

“Wow!” The word came out of Harry’s mouth like a gunshot.

Incredulity was stamped on Cole’s face, as he stared at Jack McNeill. “You had me followed? How?”

“Oh, due to an associate of yours named Orobas. Of course, he was in human form at the time we had captured him.” Jack continued. “Oddly enough, he didn’t really put up a fight when we . . . uh, persuaded him to tell us about you. In fact, he didn’t even bother to lie.”

Cole rolled his eyes in disgust. “Damn Orobas. He always prided himself on being honest. That damn honesty of his nearly got me killed.” Then he asked, “But how was your friend able to . . .?”

A knowing smile stretched Jack’s lips. “Teleportation. Our friend possessed it. She blinked. Made it easy for her to track you. And no, she wasn’t a warlock. There are a good number of witches who can blink. Like Olivia’s friend, Nathalie Green.”

“Unbelievable,” Cole murmured with disbelief. “By the way, speaking of that new “STAR WARS” movie . . .”

Olivia spoke up, “It’s called “ATTACK OF THE CLONES”. Unfortunately, the movie has been pulled out of the regular theaters since last August.”

Disappointment reflected in Cole’s voice. “Oh.”

Olivia continued, “However, it has been re-released in the IMAX theaters. Just recently.”

“Really?” Cole failed to repress the hope in his tone. “Is uh, is anyone in the mood for Jedi Knights and the Force, tomorrow night?”

* * * *

The last strains of John Williams’ score filled the dark theater. Cole stared at screen, still in a trance over the movie he had just watched. After the last credits disappeared, the lights brightened the theater. Cole heaved a long sigh.

“What did you think?” Olivia asked. She, along with Bruce, Harry and Bruce’s fiancée, Barbara Bowen, had accompanied Cole to the movies, tonight. The entire party of five stood to their feet and edged their way toward the aisle. “Did you like it?”

Another gust of breath left Cole’s mouth. “Are you kidding? I loved it! How many time have all of you seen it?”

“Bruce and I saw it three times, before tonight,” answered the blond and gregarious Barbara. She linked arms with her fiancé.

Harry added, “This is the sixth time I’ve seen it. And for Olivia,” he nodded at his sister, “this would be her ninth time.”

“Tonight would be my seventh time, moron.” Olivia gave Harry a quick jab in the arm. “Learn to keep count.” Then she turned to Cole. “As for you . . . Dad wasn’t kidding. You really are a “STAR WARS” fan!”

Cole explained that the second movie in the series, “THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK”, happened to be his favorite. “But this new one might turn out to be my second favorite. A very close second. I think for the very first time, I’m really beginning to see both trilogies as one continuing saga. And that actor who played Anakin Skywalker . . .” He shook his head. “Whew! That was some scene when he confessed to that massacre.”

“Wasn’t it marvelous?” Olivia cooed. “Hell, I didn’t know whether to be frightened out of my wits or feel sorry for him. Maybe a little of both.”

Barbara added, “I’ve heard that a lot of fans couldn’t understand why Padme Amidala would marry Anakin after that confession.”

“Maybe they can’t understand that she loves him, no matter what,” Olivia replied, drawing stares from the others. Especially Cole. The five people stepped out of the theater and into the night. “Padme seems like the type who’s willing to accept others for themselves. And she’s very compassionate and forgiving. There aren’t many people like that in real life.” Cole frowned, as he found himself musing over Olivia’s words.

A wry smile touched Bruce’s lips. “I forgot that Anakin Skywalker happens to be Livy’s favorite character.”

Olivia gave her older brother a knowing look. “Qui-Gon Jinn from “THE PHANTOM MENACE” is my favorite character.” She paused. “Anakin happens to be my second favorite.”

“Well, he happens to be my favorite,” Cole interjected. He smiled mischievously. “Even when he was Darth Vader.”

Cole, the McNeills and Barbara reached the theater’s parking lot. They exchanged goodnights, before Bruce, Harry and Barbara entered the former’s dark-blue Jaguar. Seconds later, Cole and Olivia climbed into his black Porsche convertible. As the Porsche sped along one of the streets, Olivia asked Cole how long since he had been back from the Wasteland.

“On a permanent basis? Since last September,” Cole replied. “Why?”

The cool wind ruffled Olivia’s red hair. “I don’t know. I wondered how many summer movies you may have missed, this year. I mean, we had “SPIDER-MAN” . . .”

“I saw it,” Cole said, interrupting her. Olivia stared at him. “Right before I had been vanquished. Wasn’t bad. The drama was better than the action.”

A quirky smile stretched Olivia’s lips. “It was also the number one movie, this year . . . believe it or not. And it’s on video and DVD. So is that new Jack Ryan movie, “THE SUM OF ALL FEARS”. Now that’s pretty good, although most critics had put it down.”

“What else did I miss?” Cole asked.

“Well . . .” Olivia rambled off a list of movies, including “SIGNS”, and “MEN IN BLACK II”. So far, there have been two new spy movies – a new version of “THE BOURNE IDENTITY” – which is pretty good – and “XXX”. And a new James Bond movie is supposed to be released in about a week. “DIE ANOTHER DAY”, I think. And there was “ROAD TO PERDITION”.” She heaved a heartfelt sigh.

As the Porsche reached an intersection, Cole eased it to a stop. He glanced at his companion. “I take it that you enjoyed that very much.”

“Hell, it was great!” an enthusiastic Olivia crowed. “It’s a gangster movie with Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. Set in the early 1930s.”

Cole wondered if he had heard right. “Tom Hanks and Paul Newman in a gangster movie?”

“Yep. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Hanks played a hitman for the mob. He turns against his boss, Newman, after his wife and younger son is murdered by Newman’s son. Real nut case, by the way. I loved it! Very complex.”

Cole murmured, “I’ve got to see this. Unless . . . it’s out of the theaters by now. Right?”

“Well, I know it’s still playing at this theater in Sausalito. We can go see it tomorrow, if you like.”

For a moment, Cole hesitated. “ROAD TO PERDITION” sounded interesting, but he still had another movie in mind. “Sounds great,” he said. “But can it wait until we see “ATTACK OF THE CLONES” again?” He stared at Olivia. Who stared right back. Then she smiled. “What?”

“You should see the look on your face right now. You look like a young and very eager Anakin Skywalker,” Olivia replied, the smile still fixed on her face.

Cole grunted and the light turned green. He stepped on the gas and the Porsche shot forward. “Funny that you should say that. Because you also remind me of someone from the movie.”

“Like who?”

“Padme.”

From the corner of his eye, Cole saw Olivia frown. “Padme? Anakin’s Padme? I don’t see how. I’m not exactly the reserved type. In fact, I can barely keep my mouth shut.”

Cole smiled. “Maybe. But like Padme, you’ve got a very big heart. What did you call her? Compassionate?”

The Porsche approached another intersection and stopped. Cole turned to face Olivia. Thanks to the street lamp above, he noticed that her face nearly matched the color of her hair. “Are you . . . blushing?” he asked.

Her eyes fixed on the street light, Olivia quickly shot back, “I’m not blushing! I’m . . .” She glared at Cole, who allowed himself another smile. A huff escaped her mouth. “Never mind!”

“If you say so.”

Seconds later, the light turned green. Cole allowed himself a private smile, as the Porsche quickly roared into the night.

THE END

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