“Return With a Vengeance” [PG-13] – 12/18





Cole disconnected his cordless telephone and sighed. Another call from Suzanne Maxwell. Or should he say . . . Crozat? Earlier this morning, he had called his old friend and Cecile’s boyfriend to check the so-called “widow’s” background. As for Mrs. Maxwell, she had just invited him for a late night supper at her home in Palo Alto. Cole wondered what she had in store for him. 

A quick glance at his watch read six forty-five. He was due at Suzanne’s house in a little over two hours. Quickly stripping off his clothes, Cole dumped them on the sofa and headed for the bathroom, for a quick shower.

Hot water poured down his body, providing Cole a welcome relief from the stress of the past two days. Poor Paige. He still found it hard to believe that his former sister-in-law had been attacked by a bokor possessing Darryl Morris’ body. And as for the good inspector, if it is true that Dako now possessed him, he must be in a state of hell right now. Cole only hoped that Darryl’s experiences might proved to be less of a disaster than his own possession by the Source, last spring.

The past seven months flashed through Cole’s mind. Had his life really turned out that disastrous? At least during the past month? It still pained him that the Halliwells, especially Phoebe, viewed him with such dislike. Despite Olivia’s words that Phoebe might still be in love with him, Cole doubted that the middle Halliwell would be willing to give him a second chance. And to be honest, Cole did not really feel that upset by the possibility. Perhaps he was finally learning to live his life without Phoebe’s love. Or perhaps it was the friendship of a certain red-haired witch that now made his life bearable.

Or was it friendship? Cole decided that friendship seemed the perfect word to describe his relationship with Olivia McNeill. By the way she always spoke of her late fiancé, she was obviously still in love with Richard Bannen. And for some reason, it bothered Cole. Why? Did he fear that Olivia’s feelings for Bannen might ruin any chance for future love? Did her mourning over another man – dead or alive – filled Cole with jealousy?

Cole nearly laughed at the idea of him being jealous over some woman other than Phoebe. It was ridiculous! Well, almost. He still recalled his reaction the last time Olivia had mentioned Bannen’s name. And his irritation at that low life, Gunther Weiss, who tried to proposition Olivia. Instead of laughing, Cole shook his head in disbelief. Life can certainly be . . .

‘Help! Anyone, help me! I’m being attacked!’

The voice hit Cole’s psyche with such force that he nearly slipped in the shower stall. The voice. It sounded as if it belonged to . . . Harry McNeill. Cole shook his head. Maybe he was imagining things. Grabbing his sponge, he began to . . .

‘Help! Please help! Darryl is attacking me!’

Cole definitely recognized Harry’s voice. Since Olivia’s younger brother happened to be a telepath, it could only mean one thing . . . the youngest McNeill was in serious trouble.

* * * *

The voice took Phoebe by surprise. She gasped out loud. Oddly enough, so did Piper and Leo. The two witches and the whitelighter stood inside the Halliwell kitchen, staring at each other.

“Did you hear that?” Phoebe asked. “I don’t think that was a premonition.” She stared at her sister and brother-in-law. “I know you two heard that voice. Right?”

Piper replied, “Yeah, I heard it, too.” She returned the ladle in her hand, on the table and turned off the stove. “For a moment, I thought it was the baby, or . . .”

A frowning Leo shook his head. “Not the baby. Harry. I think he’s trouble. And that Darryl is part of it. We have to help.”

* * * *

“Don’t worry, Sheila,” Olivia assured her partner’s wife over the telephone. “I’ll find Darryl. I’m sure that he’s okay. Just don’t . . . don’t tell anyone else at the precinct that he’s missing. As far as Captain McPherson is concerned, Darryl has been home . . . sick.”

A pause followed. Then Sheila asked, “Has this something to do with the Halliwells?”

The question nearly floored Olivia. She knew that Darryl had kept the Halliwells’ and her secret from Sheila, but she had no idea that the latter harbored some suspicions about the three sisters. What should she say? Olivia took a deep breath. “I rather doubt it. Maybe Darryl is still working on the DiMatteo case. He seemed very . . . I don’t know, obsessed about it. You know how Darryl can be when he becomes obsessed over a case. However, I’m sure that he’s fine. I’m still loo. . .”

‘Help! Anyone, help me! I’m being attacked!’

The voice rang in Olivia’s mind. It sounded like it belonged to Harry. Which meant that her little brother was in trouble. Realizing that she had to cut this telephone call short, Olivia continued, “Uh, Sheila? Don’t worry about Darryl. I’ll find him. Meanwhile, don’t tell anyone else that he’s missing. Please.”

Sheila Morris murmured a subdued “Okay” and hung up. The moment Olivia hung up her telephone another cry invaded her mind.‘Help! Please help! Darryl is attacking me!’ Oh great! She turned to Cecile. “Did you just hear . . .?”

“Harry’s voice?” the other woman finished. “Yeah, I did. Where is he?”

A figure materialized in the middle of Olivia’s living room. It was Cole, dressed in a dark pullover sweater and trousers. And he seemed to be . . . slightly wet. “I thought I heard Harry’s voice,” he declared. “Sounded like he was in trouble.”

“We heard it too,” Olivia replied. “His telepathy must really be growing.”

Cecile added, “If Darryl or Dako is attacking him, we better leave. Now.”

“Hold on.” Cole grabbed the two women’s hands and beamed out of the apartment.

* * * *

The attack had come so fast that Harry felt lucky to be alive. One moment, he was examining a list of figures for a new company that McNeill Incorporated had purchased and the next thing he knew, one Inspector Darryl Morris had materialized in the middle of his office.

Harry tossed a file aside and stood up. “Hey Darryl! What . . . how did you get here?” At that moment, the police inspector raised his hand and a bolt of lightning spewed forth. Years of martial arts training kicked in and Harry immediately dropped to the floor. The lightning bolt destroyed his chair, instead.

‘What the hell?’ Harry thought, as he scrambled away from his desk. Another lightning bolt came his way. This time, Harry jumped away, missing the second bolt by inches. In a fit of panic, he sent a telepathic SOS – something he had never done before. ‘Help! Anyone, help me! I’m being attacked!’

Darryl attacked again with a third bolt. It hit its target and pain exploded in Harry’s right side. He immediately sent another message – ‘Help! Please help! Darryl is attacking me!’

Harry began to crawl toward an empty spot between the liquor cabinet and the bookcase. It was a hopeless gesture. Darryl merely followed him, until he found himself cornered between the two pieces of furniture. A smirk appeared on the inspector’s face before he declared, “Say hello to Ghede for me.”

Darryl raised his hand. Harry heard a voice cry out, “Darryl, don’t!” And then he blacked out.

* * * *

Cole, along with Olivia and Cecile, beamed inside Harry’s office. They had arrived just in time to see the Vodoun sorcerer in Darryl’s body, fling the Halliwells and Leo across the room, using telekinesis. They also saw Dako/Darryl glaring at his victims.

Piper immediately scrambled to her feet and tried to freeze Dako. She failed. The sorcerer shot a bolt of lightning at her. Without even doing anything, she deflected his attack and the lightning bolt dissipated. The baby, Cole surmised, must have given her the power of deflection. Which meant that Dako was no more powerful than the Halliwell-Wyatt baby. Or, Cole hoped, himself.

Using telekinesis, Dako flung Piper across the room, once more. Then he leveled his hand at Harry for a final strike. This time, Olivia used her telekinesis to budge the sorcerer. And she did . . . for only a few feet. The sorcerer faced her with enraged eyes and seconds later, she found herself joining the Halliwells.

Cole almost cried out, “No!”. Instead, he struggled to keep his emotions in check. This was not the time to give in to anger or fear. Especially with Dako now eyeing him. The half-daemon attempted to manipulate the bokor’s mind, convince the latter to stop the attacks. He failed. Not only did he fail, he also attracted the sorcerer’s anger.

“Nice try!” the bokor boomed with Darryl’s deep voice. Then Dako sent a bolt of lightning toward Cole’s direction. Olivia yelled something, but Cole did not hear. Instead, he deflected the sorcerer’s attack and the bolt struck Dako squarely in the chest. Seconds later, some kind of dark spirit rose from Darryl’s body. But only for a brief moment. It quickly returned inside the body and Dako/Darryl disappeared.

Cecile stared in horror at the spot that the bokor had previous occupied. “Good Lord!” she exclaimed. “That was Dako? How in the hell are we supposed to defeat someone like that?”

Cole quickly knelt beside Harry to check for injuries. The red-haired young man was unconscious, but alive. Thankfully. Cole called for the whitelighter. “Leo, over here. He needs your help.”

The whitelighter scrambled over to the witch. He placed his hand over the young man’s side. A white glow indicated that the latter’s wound had been healed. “Are you okay, Harry?” Leo finally asked.

The youngest McNeill fluttered his eyes momentarily, before he managed to croak, “Yeah. I’m alive, thank goodness. But I feel a little sore. Jeez! That guy sure packs a punch. And that wasn’t even a killing blow.” He sat up.

“Hey! Turner!” The cry came from Piper, who along with Olivia and Phoebe, managed to scramble to her feet. She glared at Cole. “Next time, take it easy when you deflect an attack, will you? You could have hurt Darryl!”

Cole sighed. Naturally, he could not spent two minutes in the same room with a Halliwell without receiving a snarky comment. “Sorry about that. I barely deflected his attack and I didn’t think it would affect . . .”

“That seems to be a problem with you, doesn’t it?” Phoebe strode toward Cole, hands on hips and her eyes brimming with anger. “You never seem to think! Why is it that everything you do or touch ends in death? Darryl could have been killed! But in typical fashion,” she continued, throwing her hands in the air with exasperation, “you resort to your true nature and . . .”

Olivia cried out loud, interrupting Phoebe. “Stop it! Both of you! This bitch-and-moan session is getting boring!”

“Cole could have hurt Darryl!” Phoebe retorted.

Olivia shot back, “And Darryl . . . I mean, Dako could have hurt all of us! Just be glad that no one was permanently killed this time! Besides,” her voice grew more reflective, “we might have a way to free Darryl from Dako, if a potion or spell doesn’t work.”

Piper now glared at Olivia. “By hurting Darryl?”

“Perhaps.” Olivia glared at the two Halliwells. “I seemed to recall Leo telling me about the time when Prue stabbed you, Piper, in order to free you from some non-corporeal spirit. Is that true?” The two sisters looked away. Cole gave Olivia a grateful smile. She responded with one of her own.

A morose Phoebe murmured, “I don’t think we’ll have to resort to such drastic measures. Piper and I were working on a potion, before we heard Harry’s call.”

Cecile offered to help create the potion. “I can help. It might need a touch of magic from me,” she added.

“Thanks, but we’re doing just fine,” Phoebe responded uneasily. “We’ve got the Power of Two and Piper’s baby.” She grabbed her sister’s hand. “Let’s get out of here.” Leo grabbed hold of the Halliwells’ shoulders.

“Wait!” Cecile cried. “It’ll probably be better if I . . .” The Halliwells and Leo orbed away before she could finish. The Vodoun priestess snarled with anger. “Dammit! What the hell is wrong with them?” She rounded on Cole. “How in the hell did you put up with them for so long?”

Cole responded with a silent shrug. It was something he had pondered over a lot – especially during the past three months. Phoebe no longer seemed to be a plausible answer. Sighing, he picked up the semi-conscious Harry and slung the latter over his shoulder. “Okay, ladies. It’s time to go. Ready?” Both Olivia and Cecile took hold of an arm and Cole beamed the entire party out of the office.