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Third Time's The Charm

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This story is No. 1 in the series "A Willow in Thorns". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: This is the prequel to my story "A Willow in Thorns". The story of how Willow and Cole fell in love and became man and wife.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Charmed > Willow-Centered > Pairing: Cole TurnerzillagirlFR15721,43913112,41325 Aug 0618 Aug 07No

Chapter One

Disclaimer:

The characters and past story lines of Buffy – the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Charmed do not belong to me. They are the express property of the writers and producers of the aforementioned programs.

Summary:

This is the story of how the Willow and Cole of my story A Willow in Thorns became a couple and get married. Cole is in San Francisco spying on his ex-wife and Willow is in LA helping out Angel.

Author's Note:

This first chapter occurs after the events in my prologue to A Willow in Thorns. It is set shortly after the events of the Angel series finale. (Thus, it is approximately one year after Cole's vanquishing in “Centennial Charmed” and the series finale of Buffy.) Wyatt is two and Chris is only a month (or so) old. A final note, even though this takes place chronologically in Season 6 or 7 of Charmed, it should be noted that any events and/or relationships that take place after Season 5 do not occur.

Chapter One

Cole Turner

He was sitting across the street from Halliwell Manor, idly licking his crotch as he bided his time. The manor looked much the same as it always did except for the tire swing hanging from the old oak in the front yard. There were other signs of children as well. A Big Wheel turned over in the front walkway. (No, that's a liability law suit just waiting to happen.) There was a kiddie baseball bat and mitt on the front porch, as well as some Tonka™ trucks.

All signs that there were young children – boys – in the Halliwell household. He sat up suddenly as the door swung open and Paige ran out. She turned as she ran to call something out to someone in the house – Piper, no doubt. Phoebe was usually at the paper at this time. Watching his ex-sister-in-law carefully, he cocked his head and held his breath in anticipation. As she neared the Big Wheel, he realized (unhappily) that she was going to miss the obstacle. Well, can't have that. Can we? He started to wave his paw to – and then set it back down. Much as he would like to cripple Paige – or just skin her knees – that wasn't why he was here. He was here for Phoebe.

He closed his eyes to visualize her face. However, all he saw was an innocent elfin face fringed by long auburn hair. A smile that made you warm all over. He shook his head and opened his eyes, sighing as he saw Paige settle into her car and drive away. Well, that certainly wasn't Phoebe. But he had decided to tie up all his loose ends before he jumped into a new relationship. He'd learned the hard way just how carefully you had to take things while romancing a witch. Being vanquished two times was enough, he didn't want to make the third time the charm. He cringed at the pun.

He settled down on his haunches to wait. To take care of this loose end would require patience and cunning.

Willow Rosenberg

The unknowing focus of Cole Turner's thoughts was at that moment thinking of another half-demon altogether. She cursed loudly and kicked one of the file cabinets in frustration. “Cordelia Chase is a no-good, demonic, self-centered, ignorant...”

“Will!” Cringing in shame, Willow looked up across the lobby of the Hyperion Hotel to the second floor landing where her best friend was standing with her hands on her hips. And she was mad. “Please keep it down. I know you didn't like her much, but Angel did. I don't want him to wake up and hear you bad mouthing her.” Willow nodded in reply, but she had to smile as she saw what Buffy mouthed next. Even if it is true. She mouthed back that she was sorry and watched her friend walk sadly back to Angel's rooms.

She turned back to her chore and shuddered. Cleaning up and restoring Angel Investigation's files. It wouldn't be that hard if Cordy hadn't had such a dreadful filing system. Or lack of one. She still hadn't quite figured it out. It wasn't by client name or demon name or date or... Or any halfway reasonable explanation. Hell! She had no idea. But then she was a logical person... Cordy was... well, Cordy.

Looking back to the hallway where Buffy had disappeared, she sighed. Poor Buffy. She was so worried about Angel. It was really hard to tell just how bad he was. It's not like you could check his vital signs. Right. Respiration? Zero. Pulse? Zero. Blood Pressure? Non-existent. Body Temperature? Check the room thermostat. It made it really hard on Buffy. She loved him, she always would. All she could do was try and feed him. Feeding a comatose vampire was tricky. You could really get hurt if you weren't careful.

I'd probably do the same for my love. She closed her eyes to visualize her sweet Tara... Dark hair, piercing blue eyes... What! Not to say he wasn't gorgeous and devastatingly handsome, but why did her memory come up with him and not Tara? She shook her head in disbelief. A man! And a demon, too. Why him? She felt a rush of warmth spread upwards from her loins as she remembered their meeting. She cursed under her breath and turned back to the filing with renewed vigor. Maybe Cordy's idiocy could purge him from her thoughts.

Wyatt Halliwell

He stomped out of the manor, but he closed the front door quietly. He wanted Mom to know he was upset, but slamming the front door would really upset her. He looked around the front yard. If Dad was here, maybe they could play ball. But Dad was rarely here. Of course, he was here more than he was when he was doing that Elder stuff. Still, his Dad would never be like other Dads. Normal, mortal Dads.

But Mom had told him to clean up the front yard. But no orbing. Drat! He hated doing thing without magic. It was so boring and hard. Maybe the world would be a better place if there were no mortals. Yeah! That would work. Then the demons wouldn't have to fight witches anymore. They only did it because they wanted the mortal souls for themselves. His eyebrows crinkled as he thought that out. Surely, that would work. But, the Elders and the Demons would probably hate that. They really seemed to like fighting.

He trotted down the steps to where the Big Wheel was lying across the walkway. He really didn't think tripping over it would kill anyone like Mom had said. Still, he'd move it to make her happy. As he leaned down to set the Big Wheel upright and roll it over to the yard, he saw something move across the street. His eyes lit up as he saw a dog. He looked up and down the street to see if anyone was looking for him. At least he thought it was a him. He walked down the walkway until he was directly across the street from the dog. He didn't want to spook it.

“Good doggy.” He called cheerfully to the dog. He saw the dog's head perk up, the tail wagging happily. Wyatt chuckled as he saw the dog look both ways and cross the street to meet him. Wow! He's sure smart. Maybe Mom will let me have a dog. This one probably doesn't have anyone. There was no collar or anything.

Rupert Giles

He looked up as a cup of tea floated towards him, gliding into his outreached hand. It was followed by a bowl of sugar cubes. He chuckled quietly. There were some advantages to ghosts. There were two ghosts in the hotel. He was fairly certain that the one bringing him tea was the ex-Watcher, Wesley Wyndham-Pryce. The other ghost, however, was a little more problematic. No one really knew where it came from. Luckily, though, it didn't seem to be threatening.

Taking a sip of tea, he looked around the former conservatory on the first floor of the Hyperion Hotel. Xander was busily working on bookcases and cleaning up the damage. Many of the plants were overgrown, and one wall had a piece of rebar thrust out of it. They were going to have to have Buffy remove it. It was thrust nearly a third of the way in the wall. All the glass in the room was shattered as well and it had taken them a couple of days just to clean up all the debris. He really wasn't surprised. No telling what Angel and company had battled in here.

They had decided shortly after they arrived that they were going to open up Angel Investigations once again, and run it until Angel was back in fighting shape. Judging by his condition, that might be a while. The Watcher in him was extremely concerned. Buffy had decided (and could not be budged on her decision) that she would feed Angel her own blood. She figured (rightly so) that Slayer blood would be the best thing for him. So far, there had been no change. But what concerned him was when Angel awoke. Buffy would start smelling like dinner. And THAT really concerned him. All of them had offered their blood as well – he, Willow, and even Xander! She wouldn't have it, though. Ordinary, garden-variety mortal blood wouldn't be as good as... “Bloody hell.”

“What is it, G-Man?” He cringed at hearing that insulting sobriquet. He glared at Xander until he sheepishly apologized.

“I'm concerned, Xander, about Buffy feeding Angel. We need to find another option.”

Xander nodded seriously. After all, he too was concerned. “I know, me too. But what other option? Unless you know of a hospital that admits the undead?”

He shook his head sadly and sighed. He had to admit defeat. He started as he saw a book floating towards him. He narrowed his eyes as he focused his eyes on the book. It looked like a journal. It was one of Wesley's journals. Wes was trying to tell him something! He reached out his hand for the book, the pages flipped open. He looked down at the page.

March 11, 2003: My plan to find out more about the Beast using Angelus' memories has failed. Instead of getting to the truth so that we could discover how to destroy the Beast, now we have increasingly worse situation. The sun over LA has been blocked out, and the area over which it affects is increasing. Soon all of California will be affected, by the end of the week, I estimate the whole world will be affected. I have nearly called Mr. Giles in Sunnydale several times to inform him. However, I have heard that he and Ms. Summers are already facing a serious enemy of their own...

“Bloody right, Wesley, but let's get to the point.” He looked up to see Xander open his mouth, he shook his head, and returned his attention to the journal. Wes was trying to tell him something... but what?

Cole Turner

He trotted across the street happily, wagging his tail energetically as he approached the young boy. His pleasure was quite honest. He certainly wasn't faking it. He was glad he'd chosen the type of dog he had. He hadn't realized that Piper's child was a boy until he'd seen those toys. Up until then, he'd thought she'd have a daughter. He wondered just how magical this child was. He tried to resist shuddering as the child pet him. The white lighter part of the boy was something a demon never really got used to.

Still, his plan depended on earning this boy's love... and, of course, the mother's trust. He'd disguised himself as a mid-sized dog, not a small dog. Boys tended to not take to overly cute toy dogs. But he didn't want to be too big, that would intimidate his mother, if not him. So, he'd settled for a beagle. A more non-threatening and lovable dog he couldn't think of. He braced himself for the angel dust and licked the boy across the face.

The boy giggled and ruffled his head. He decided to completely immerse himself in the character, as the boy was his ticket into the Manor. He laid down and turned onto his back, exposing his belly for the standard belly rub. The boy kneeled down and started scratching his belly. His leg started to twitch. He was ticklish! How embarassing! Demons can't be ticklish!

Wyatt Halliwell

He giggled as he watched the dog's leg twitch and start to scratch. He's ticklish! He stopped rubbing the ticklish spot and focused on the upper chest area. He was a wonderful dog. He just wished he could convince Mom to let him keep the dog. He frowned. Unless the dog already had a family he lived with. He didn't have a collar or tag though. If the family loved him, they would have made sure he had a tag.

He looked over to the side of the yard as he continued to pet the dog. His baseball! Maybe the dog would play fetch with him! He stopped rubbing the dog's belly and jumped up. “Here, doggy! Want to play ball?” He danced over to the ball, the dog trotting happily beside him. He threw the ball and nearly squealed in joy as the dog loped over to fetch the ball, his ears flopping up and down as he went.

As he played ball, he pretended that he was a normal, non-magical boy with a normal pet dog. They could go to the park. He and his new dog could explore looking for bugs and frogs and things. No demons allowed. As he watched the dog go after the ball for the sixth, seventh, eighth times, he wondered what he should call his new dog. A dog's name was very important.

“Wyatt!” He cringed at his mother's voice. Turning around, he saw her in the open doorway, angry. She rushed down the stairs and stood between him and the dog. He looked over, the dog was scared. He was flat on the ground, he wouldn't even meet his eyes anymore. The dog turned around, his shoulders hunched, intimidated by his Mom's harsh tones. He started limping out to the street. A cold tremor shook his heart. No! He can't leave!

He struggled away from his Mom and ran to the dog. He pulled the dog desperately into his arms crying. “Mommy! No! Please let him stay. He's friendly and he needs a home! Please!”

Piper Halliwell

What next? She'd finally gotten Chris down for a nap and had gone to check if Wyatt was actually doing what she asked. And there he was! Playing with a strange dog. Granted it was a cute dog and seemed friendly. But he could be carrying something. She looked at it as it slunk away. Shame flushed her face. Poor little thing. She didn't mean to scare him. Still, she had to be firm.

She looked down to talk to him. He rushed away before she could say a word. He ran to the dog and pulled it up into his arms. She cringed inwardly as she heard her son cry and plead for the little dog. Well, it seemed safe. But, she'd have to have it checked out. It would need shots and things. It seemed clean, but it probably wouldn't hurt for it to have a bath. It would also --

Hey! She was buckling under! She had to be firm, she had to say No! It wasn't that hard – one little word, right? She took a deep breath and decided to be firm. She could do it. She COULD do it. “Wyatt, sweetie, we can't have a dog. We don't know where this little guy has been.”

Wyatt whined and cried a little more. It was heartbreaking, even more so as she heard the dog whining along with him. The little dog was wagging his tail hesitantly and licking Wyatt on the chin and cheeks. It was a little weird how he would avoid the lips. Almost like he knew what Piper didn't want to see. Then there was the way he kept on looking at her. Like he knew his future depended on her. It was just a little spooky.

She knelt down and held her hand out to the dog. It sniffed her hand and gave her a small lick. It then started to creep carefully out of her son's arms and move towards her. She smiled. He really was a nice little dog. Perhaps they could... She groaned. She had absolutely NO willpower. She looked up at Wyatt and smiled. “Okay, Wy. Maybe we can work something out.”

Her son screamed happily and hugged her. She looked at the little dog. His eyes seemed to be shining with satisfaction, almost smug. She blinked her eyes. It was just her imagination.

Buffy Summers

When the flaming lute-thronged angelic door is wide;

When an immortal passion breathes in mortal clay;

Our hearts endure the scourge, the plaited thorns, the way

Crowded with bitter faces, the wounds in palm and side,

The hyssop-heavy sponge, the flowers by Kidron stream:

That it may drop faint perfume, and be heavy with dew,

Lilies of death-pale hope, roses of passionate dream.

(The Wind Among the Reeds, 31. The Travail of Passion, W. B. Yeats, 1899.)

She paused at the end and looked up from the book. It was really lovely poetry. She had never really been much into poetry until she'd come her to care for her own “immortal passion.” She knew the poem was about Christ, but some of the imagery seemed to describe her and Angel's passion. Their hearts had endured a scourge as well. She had been reading to Angel from his remaining library, hoping that something familiar would speak to him, awake him. She only dreaded that instead of Angel, she'd be faced with his other half, Angelus. She shuddered at the thought.

She looked at Angel. Peaceful. It disturbed her that there was no sign of life. And, of course, there wasn't. He was dead – undead, really. There wouldn't be anything. The only sign of hope was that he was still here. If he had truly died, there would be nothing left but ashes. Her eyes teared up at the thought. No! He would get better. If she could defeat the First Evil, Angel could definitely survive a fight with a horde of demons. Okay, so there had been a lot of demons. Probably more than just one horde. Maybe a horde of hordes.

She looked up at the clock. It was four-thirty. Nearly time for her to feed him again. She set the book down on the end table. It had taken her a lot of hard thinking to figure out how to feed a comatose vampire. It actually was very tricky. At first, she had tried to just press her bleeding wrist against his lips. She thought that the vampire would instinctively bite down. Nope. Guess that would've been too damn easy. So, then she held her bleeding wrist over his mouth and watched as the blood slid down his throat. At first, she thought that was working. It was going down his throat after all. But after a few tries she realized that it was wasn't working. Nursing a vampire was very tricky. You were never sure if they were improving. Death never seems to have many stages. Except rotting, of course, but that never happens to vamps.

She finally tried something different and it worked. She had to do it herself, of course. Giles, Willow, and Xander just couldn't stand watching. She would slash his wrist and hers and press them together. This was instantly noticeable as working. She could feel the coolness of his blood pulling at her warm blood. But it was so very slow. She wanted it to work, she was praying for it to work.

She got up and moved to the chair beside the bed. She reached for the knife and slashed her wrist open, and then she reached for his arm to slash his – His hand snaked out and grabbed her wrist, pulling it towards his mouth. She gasped in pain and desire as his fangs pierced her wrist. She could feel his great hunger as he took her blood, much faster than her system. She looked up into his eyes in joy. She didn't really care if she died if he was going to live. But, her heart froze at the look in his eyes... They were cold, cold and evil... Had she spent all this time nursing her enemy?
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