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Romance Via De-Stressing

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Her arms filled with groceries, Piper reached for the knob of the backdoor to the manor. She groaned in frustration when one of the bags toppled over and crashed to the ground.

“Please don’t let that be the bag with the eggs,” she muttered under her breath. Though it probably was considering the way her life had been going recently. She had a crazy sometimes husband who went from being unreachable to clingy, two young sons requiring attention and safety from the demon insanity that ran amuck in the manor, some sort of “big evil” that brought an annoying FBI agent into her family’s life, and to top it all, the universe decided to play little games with her. Like causing her to keep dropping dishes, adding one red sock to all the white laundry, and dropping those damn bags on the ground.

Piper kicked at the door and hollered, “Is anyone in there? Crazy woman requiring assistance!”

No one answered. She groaned and kicked the bag (as gently as possible) into the kitchen, dropped the remaining bags on the counter, and studied the layout of the house. Everything appeared normal. There was nothing out of place, no signs of any sorts of problems, but it was too quiet – way too quiet for the manor. Normally, she would hear Wyatt singing along to one of his videos or Chris crying for something.

No, this wasn’t a good sign and she panicked, instantly imagining some sort of surprise demon attack that took place upon Leo’s reversion to sulking psycho which left her children unprotected.

Piper ran up the stairs and called out, “Paige? Leo? What’s going on?”

The nursery was empty and, the panic circling in her chest had risen to astounding levels by the time she reached the door of her bedroom. She lifted her hands and blew the door open. She was ready to pounce, but she jumped back in surprise when she noticed Leo sitting in a chair reading.

He put down the book and asked, “Is everything okay, Piper?”

“Didn’t you hear me calling you?”

“No, I must’ve zoned out while I was reading.”

“Zoned out? Zoned out?! I thought something happened…and where are my children? I expected to hear crying and there was no crying. There was nothing.”

Leo stood up, dropping the book on the chair, and reached out to calm Piper. He began, “Honey, maybe you—“

She swatted his hand away. Logically, she knew she was behaving irrationally, that maybe this was some sort of weird magical version of post partum kicking in, but she didn’t care. It felt good to be the one doing the unloading for once. She crossed her arms and replied, “Don’t you honey me, Leo Wyatt. You’ve been AWOL for months and now you’re my Zen master? I don’t think so.”

Leo placed both his hands on her shoulders and said, “I didn’t mean to frighten you, but I asked Paige to watch the boys. They’re at the magic school with her for the rest of the day.”

Piper arched her eyebrows and asked, “Why is that?” When Leo didn’t respond immediately, she rolled her eyes and said, “I told you that I needed more time, Leo, and with all this stuff about a huge evil looming, I’d prefer to have my children with me.”

“They’re safe at the magic school.”

“That’s not the point.”

“The point, Piper, is that you need some time to yourself.”

“To myself?” Piper replied. Leo nodded and she added, “So this isn’t a forced date that you and Phoebe concocted?”

“Well, Phoebe helped with the planning, but it’s not a date so much as a pampering session.”

Piper felt some of the anger and frustration she was feeling dissipate. She shrugged, still keeping her arms crossed to keep herself steady, and replied, “I like the word pampering.”

Leo smiled and said, “I thought you would.”

“And the boys—“

“The boys are fine.”

Piper met Leo’s gaze and smiled. It was a strange moment, one that almost made her wonder if magic had been involved, but she felt a weight lift off her shoulders. She let out a long breath and said, “Okay then.”

“Okay?”

“That’s what I said. What does this entail?”

“I need you to get undressed.”

Piper rolled her eyes and said, “Nice try, pal. Last time I did that, I ended up pregnant.”

Leo laughed and rubbed her arm. He said, “I prepared a bubble bath for you.”

“You did?”

Leo led her to the bathroom, covering her eyes as they walked. She suddenly felt like she was stuck in some romantic comedy – much more Phoebe’s sort of thing than something she liked – but she didn’t want to hurt Leo’s feelings. It was obvious he was trying and, the truth be told, she did need some relaxation.

Leo lifted his hands from her face and she gasped at the setting before her. The bathtub was filled with a foamy coating of suds and rose petals, Puccini filtered through the air at a low hum, and a bottle of wine and her favorite snack had been set next to the tub on a small tray. Her eyes moved from that to a large wrapped box resting on the countertop.

She glanced over at Leo and replied, “Leo...you did all this?”

“You deserve it,” he replied. He nudged her forward and said, “Don’t you want to open your gift?”

Piper stepped forward cautiously. She couldn’t help it, but after so many years of dealing with tricky demons, she was wary of most situations that appeared too good to be true. This was definitely one of them. She reached out for the box and removed the wrapping. She took another deep breath before opening the box and shook her head when she pulled out a silk robe and slippers.

She rested the robe against her body, studying herself in the mirror, and replied, “I’ve been eyeing one of these robes for months.”

“Phoebe mentioned that.”

Piper turned to face him and said, “You didn’t have—“

“I wanted to, Piper. I love you.”

Before she knew what she was doing or allowed herself to properly think about the consequences, she closed the distance between the two of them. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled his face to hers for a kiss. She smiled against the feel of his stubble, one of those small things she had missed most about being close to Leo, and whispered, “Thank you.” She kissed him again and asked, “Care to join me?”

Leo pulled back and answered, “While I would love nothing more, this is your time, remember?”

“Well, maybe it could be our time.”

Leo shook his head and rubbed his hands up her back, making it very hard not to kiss him again, before responding, "As much as I want that, you’re not ready. I don’t want to rush this if it means losing you in the end, so I’ll do this your way.”

She groaned and said, “Sometimes it sucks being a responsible person.”

Leo nodded in agreement and motioned to the tub, detangling himself completely from her grasp. He ran his fingers through the water, splashing her with it, and said, “Take as much time as you want.”

Piper said, “Are you going to be here when I’m done?”

“I’m not going anywhere, Piper. I promise,” Leo replied. He reached out and caressed her face. As she leaned into it, he pulled away and said, “I forgot one more thing.”

“What else could there possibly be?” She paused and suggested, “Oooohhh...someone to massage my feet would be nice.”

From behind his back, Leo pulled out a pink loofah and said, “I’m afraid all I’ve got is this.”

“Do you know when the last time I had enough time to wash my hair let alone use one of these was?”

“A long time?”

“A very long time,” Piper replied, practically mesmerized by the loofah. She fiddled with it in her hands and added, “I love it...and I guess you can massage my feet later.”

“Lucky me.”

“Oh you better believe it. Play your cards right and it might be worth your while,” she replied with an exaggerated wink.

As Leo brushed past her, he kissed the top of her head and said, “I’m going to prove to you that this can work again, Piper.”

Piper stared at him. There was a lot that still needed to be said between them. She had to make him see that all these romantic gestures, while nice, weren’t necessary. All she ever wanted was him – but sometimes she wasn’t sure which version of Leo she was going to get.

All of that could wait a little bit longer. The promise of quiet time and relaxing warm water on her skin tempted her to overlook all the junk bogging down her brain. They had been through the worst of it – getting the Elders to let them be together, burying Prue, worrying about Wyatt, losing adult Chris, and Leo’s ongoing teetering with the dark side – and survived.

It could be done.

This, she mused as she stripped away her clothes and slid into the water, was another one of those stupid obstacles.

She smiled, the water and bubbles surrounding her as she dunked her head under the water, and felt a moment of clarity. It was all going to work out. She knew it. After all, Leo was her soulmate.

{Fin}