“Second Power” [PG-13] – 3/8

“SECOND POWER”

PART THREE

A grim-faced Leo orbed in the middle of the Halliwells’ kitchen. Paige, who was busy helping her oldest sister prepare dinner, glanced up. “Hey Leo! You look as if you’ve had a crappy day.” 

“Pretty close.” Leo sat on the empty chair, opposite Paige. Piper stood near the stove, preparing a whole chicken for roasting. “Between helping one of my charges fend off a succubus and the Elders ranting about Olivia and Cole, it’s been pretty difficult.”

Paige paused in the middle of her task, allowing the knife in her hand to hover over a sliced cucumber. She frowned at her brother-in-law. “Ranting about Olivia and Cole? Why? Olivia hasn’t been your charge since she was in college.”

Leo sighed. “But Olivia is a close friend of mine. And they believe that Cole might be a dangerous influence over her. Especially now that she has this new . . . new power.”

“The Elders don’t have anything to worry about,” Paige said caustically. “At least not now.”

Piper whirled around to stare at the younger woman. “What are you talking about?”

“Cole and Olivia. They haven’t been around each other since the New Year.”

Shaking her head, Piper allowed a smirk to curve her lips. “What do you know? Olivia has finally seen the light! It’s about time, I say.”

Paige glared at her older sister. “It’s not what you think!” she retorted. “Actually, it’s . . . well, it’s personal.”

“What’s personal?” a new voice asked. Phoebe strolled into the kitchen. She opened the refrigerator and reached for a bottle of water. “Hey Piper, what’s for dinner?”

Piper replied, “Roast chicken. And as for the personal matter – Paige was talking about Olivia and your demonic ex. It seems they’re not exactly bosom buddies, anymore.”

Anxiety flitted across Phoebe’s face. “Why? What happened? What did Cole do wrong?”

“Nothing!” Paige cried out in exasperation. “Cole and Olivia . . . they just had a little disagreement around the New Year, that’s all! And they haven’t spoken to each other since. Mr. McNeill thinks Cole should help Livy control her new power.”

Piper rolled her eyes and mumbled, “That’s nice. A powerful half-demon helping a powerful witch control her brand new firepower. The Elders must be having heart attacks over that idea.”

“What they should be concerned about is Olivia’s lack of control of her new power,” Paige shot back. “She really needs his help.”

Phoebe took a swig of water. “Maybe the Elders are right to be concerned, Paige,” she said soberly. “It’s a miracle that Olivia hasn’t become a warlock with that new power.” She paused to stare at Leo. “Or has she?”

“No, she hasn’t!” Paige answered before Leo could speak. “Just because Olivia now has a fire power, doesn’t make her evil.”

One of Piper’s eyebrows quirked upward. “I thought she was evil before the fire power manifested.” Paige glared at her, and she heaved a sigh. “Look, how many witches do you know have pyrokinesis?”

“Barbara knows one who’s willing to help Olivia.” Paige’s response drew stares from the others. “She lives in Sausalito.”

Phoebe asked, “So why do the McNeills think Olivia needs Cole’s help?”

Paige resumed slicing the cucumber. “Because Mr. McNeill thinks this Margot Whatshername’s power isn’t as strong as Olivia’s.”

“I’m sure that Barbara’s friend will do nicely,” Leo added calmly.

The expressions on her sisters’ faces told Paige that they hoped Leo was right. She shook her head in disgust. Sometimes, her family can be so obtuse.

* * * *

A deep gong resonated from the CD player and filled every space inside Olivia’s living room, the following afternoon. GONG! A woman’s high-pitched voice murmured, “Relax. Take a deep breath and relax.” GONG! “Allow the tension to seep from the muscles within your body.” GONG!

Olivia frowned. It seemed pretty damn difficult to relax with that noise ringing in her ears. GONG! And Margot Palmer’s voice did not help. Was it really necessary for her to talk? GONG!

“You are standing at the foot of a long staircase,” Barbara’s friend continued. GONG! “At the top awaits a door. A door that will lead you to inner peace and control.” GONG!

Instead of relaxing, Olivia found herself growing increasingly tense. She wished that someone would turn off that damn CD player! GONG! Then to Olivia’s relief, the doorbell rang. She immediately sprang to her feet. GONG!

“Where are you going?” Margot demanded. She was a diminutive, dark-haired woman with attractive features and wide brown eyes. Like a doe’s. GONG!

Olivia strode toward the door. “To see who’s here, of course. What else?” GONG! She glared at the CD player.

“Oh no! We can’t have any interruptions! Remember?” GONG! Margot rushed forward to intercept Olivia. But the latter reached the door first. GONG! “Olivia, your meditation is more impor . . .”

GONG! Sweetly, Olivia trilled, “Excuse me.” She opened the door. Her smile disappeared at the sight of the tall man that filled the doorway. “Cole?” GONG!

The half-daemon smiled nervously. “Hey Olivia. Uh, how are you doing?” GONG! The sound reached the doorway. Cole frowned. “What is that?” GONG!

“Music,” Olivia snapped. “For my meditation.” GONG! “Now if you’ll excuse me . . .”

Margot Palmer took this opportunity to make her presence known to the new visitor. GONG! “Olivia? What’s going on?” She glanced at Cole. “Who is this?” GONG!

Olivia struggled to maintain her equilibrium. ‘Dear Goddess,’ she thought. ‘Why me?’ GONG! She sighed. “Margot, this is my fr . . . uh, my neighbor, Cole Turner. Cole, this is Margot Palmer, a fellow witch.” GONG!

“Olivia!” Margot glanced at her, looking abashed. GONG!

“Don’t worry. Cole knows I’m a witch.” GONG!

Margot stared at Cole, who smiled. “And what exactly are you?” she demanded in a not-so-pleasant voice. GONG! “Another witch?”

GONG! “Not exactly,” Cole politely replied. “I’m a daemon. Well, a half-daemon, actually.” GONG!

“WHAT??”

Olivia nervously tried to placate Margot. “There’s nothing to be afraid of.” GONG! She indicated her neighbor with a nod. “Cole . . . you have nothing to worry about with him.” GONG! “He’s okay.”

GONG! “Okay?” Margot demanded. “But he’s a . . . a . . .” GONG!

“A daemon.” GONG! Right on cue, Cole transformed into some tall, muscular being with red-and-black skin, sharp teeth and a bald head. Belthazor. GONG! Olivia had seen his image in her father’s Book of Shadows. GONG! He returned to his normal state.

Margot let out a screech. “Aaaaugh! Oh my God! Oh my God!” GONG! She snatched her purse from a nearby table and started toward the door. GONG!

“No wait! Margot!” GONG! Olivia threw one of her hands out in a gesture, releasing a powerful burst of flames. GONG! Flames that would have incinerated Margot if Cole had not beamed her out of harm’s way. Seconds later, the pair reappeared in the same spot. GONG!

The older witch cried out, “That’s it! I’ve had enough of this madhouse!” GONG! “You can find someone else to help you!” Margot dashed out of the apartment. The CD player resonated with another . . . GONG!

Without saying a word, Olivia slammed the door shut. She seared Cole with the deadliest of glares. GONG! Even the half-daemon could not help but take a step back. “You son-of-a-bitch!” she growled. GONG! “Just what in the hell did you think you were doing?” GONG!

“I’m here to help you gain control of your new power,” Cole replied airily. GONG! “Only Harry failed to tell me that you had already found someone.” GONG! He frowned at the CD player. “You mind turning that off? It’s distracting.” GONG!

Olivia turned off the CD player with a wave of her hand. Then whirled upon Cole, fury emanating from her body. “Harry sent you here? Harry?”

“I ran into him at the Golden Horn during lunch, yesterday.” Cole started toward the sofa. “He told me that you have pyrokinesis as a second power.” A mirthful snort left his mouth. “I bet that didn’t sit well with Leo.”

“Cole!”

The half-daemon sat on the sofa. “Look, Harry told me that you were having trouble controlling this power and that you needed my help.”

“And it took you over a day to decide to help me?” Olivia demanded haughtily.

Annoyance, followed by sheer embarrassment flitted across Cole’s face. “I didn’t . . . well, I didn’t think you would accept my help.”

“You guessed right!” Olivia retorted. “I don’t need your help. And I don’t want it! And I don’t recall giving you permission to sit on my sofa!”

Cole heaved a sigh. “C’mon Livy, I realize that you’re still pissed about what happened during the New Year. You’re not going to push me away, when I’m offering you my help, are you?”

Olivia grabbed hold of Cole’s arm and jerked him to his feet. Surprising him with her show of strength. “Damn right I am. I’m pushing you away. Just like you pushed me away, two weeks ago.” She literally shoved him toward the door.

“Are you sure that you want to do that?” Cole stopped in his tracks, making it difficult for Olivia to continue shoving him. “Who else is there to help you? Your friend, Margot? This is fire we’re talking about, Olivia. It’s probably the most difficult element to control, aside from air.”

Olivia snarled. “If Bruce can control his aerokinesis without your help, I can control my pyrokinesis. And by the way, Margot is not my friend.”

“Whatever.” Cole turned around to face Olivia, giving her the full benefit of his blue eyes. “Look I’m sorry about Whats-her-name. But it’s obvious that she wasn’t really helping you. I mean, who uses gongs for meditation? Didn’t you find that distracting?”

With a sigh, Olivia had to admit that Cole had a point. Margot’s methods of attaining self-control had not seemed to be working. And the firewitch had also seemed taken aback by the strength of her pyrokinesis. “All right,” Olivia finally admitted. “Perhaps you can help me.”

Cole smiled triumphantly. “Great!”

She glanced at the half-daemon and noticed that he was smiling. “I wouldn’t get too cocky if I were you. I’m still pissed.”

Her words wiped the smile off Cole’s face. “Olivia, about what happened . . .”

Shaking her head, Olivia barked, “No! Right now, I’m not interested in what happened on New Year’s Day. I’m more interested in controlling this new power. Understand?” She gave her new trainer a pointed stare.

Cole sighed. “Loud and clear.”

* * * *

The telephone inside Jack McNeill’s private office rang. He answered it. “Hello?”

“Mr. McNeill, you have a call on Line 2,” his secretary replied. “It’s your mother.”

“Thanks, Sophie. Put her through.”

Seconds later, Elise McNeill’s voice filled Jack’s ear. “Jack? Is that you?”

“Mom! How is Palm Beach?” The McNeill matriarch had left San Francisco over a month ago, to visit her sister in Palm Springs.

The elderly woman replied, “It wasn’t bad. Got a little boring, though. Right now, I’m in Scotland.”

“Scotland?”

“Your Cousin Keith’s funeral. Remember?” Elise continued, “I decided to remain here for another week or so after the burial. She added that the inhabitants of Dunleith Castle seemed to be on edge. “With poor Keith’s death, we’re all wondering who will be the next McNeill staff bearer.”

Jack interrupted. “Mom?”

The elderly woman continued, “It’s rather silly, really. Everyone sitting around . . . waiting for some of the younger members to manifest pyrokinesis.”

“Uh Mom?” Jack added. “I believe I have a pretty good idea . . .”

“Really Jack! Can’t you at least wait for me to finish?” Elise protested. She added, “Anyway, as I was saying, everyone is sitting around, waiting for some of the younger family members to become a firestarter. Quite frankly, I’m getting bored. January in Scotland isn’t exactly my idea of a holiday. I think I’ll return to California by the end of the week. I’m not exactly in the mood for more Palm Beach charity balls and parties, either.” She paused. Finally. “Well, how are things at home?”

Jack rolled his eyes, grateful that his mother could not see him. He took a deep breath. “Nothing much. Harry is dating Dana Morton. We haven’t seen Cole since the New Year.” He paused dramatically. “And Olivia’s second power has manifested.”

A delighted squeal filled Jack’s ear. “Really? Livy has her second power? Oh and I missed it! What is it? Molecular Immobilization? Telepathy? Electrokinesis? Glamoring? Astral projection?”

Jack hesitated before he finally answered, “Pyrokinesis. And it’s very strong.”

“Pyrokin . . .” A protracted silence followed. Then, “OH. MY. GOD!! Livy has a fire power? Ohmigod! That means . . . Ohmigod!”

“Mom!”

Elise continued, “And it happened just ten days after Keith’s death!” She paused. “Does Olivia realize that she might soon be . . .?”

Sighing, Jack replied, “No. I don’t Livy and the boys have even thought of that since they were kids. Hell, I thought it was a family myth until I first saw Cousin Keith use it nearly thirty-six years ago.”

“When do you plan to tell her?”

Jack paused momentarily. “As soon as she gets her new power under control. I mean, we’re talking abou pyrokinesis here. Only the God and Goddess knows how long that will take. And . . .” Once more, Jack hesitated.

“What?” the older woman demanded.

Jack continued, “Gwen thinks that Olivia is going through some emotional stress right now. Something to do with Cole.”

“Oh?” Elise replied. “Has it to do with . . . Whatshername? Phoebe?”

“I don’t know. But it all started at Warren Mitchell’s New Year’s Eve party. The problem is that Cole might be the only one who can help her control this new power.”

A sound resembling dry leaves filled Jack’s ear. “Oh God! Why do we all have through some damn personal problem whenever a power manifests?” Elise sighed. “Anyway, I’ll be home within the next few days. At least by Saturday. I better tell the cousins about Olivia. See you in a few days, honey.”

“Bye Mom. I’ll see you.” The line went dead before Jack hung up.

END OF PART THREE