Cole was in a strip club reserved for demons as he coldly stabbed one of the strippers, who had shapeshifted into his old flame Phoebe. She had made it clear that he was nothing to her at this point, considering what he had done and the sisters', Leo's and Darryl's constant rejection of him, and despite his genuine desire to be better and prove himself to the Halliwell sisters, the toll of the constant usage of his demonic powers became too much for him, driving him to using morally ambiguous methods, like murdering the slumlord, who threatened to expose Phoebe.
He knew that at this point, Phoebe and the sisters were done with him, despite that he meant well and wanted to earn their trust again and possibly make Phoebe fall in love with him again, he knew he had gone too far and contemplated, whether there was any redemption for him. He couldn't be the man she would love but he wanted to prove himself show that he was not evil anymore.
Maybe, if he would stop using his powers, maybe, there was still hope for him. He knew he wasn't fully human due to him possessing so many demonic powers, but he wanted to be better. Maybe, he wouldn't have to return to the Demonic Wasteland, once he died but he would find some peace in afterlife, like how the Halliwells' mother and grandmother had.
"…my client had resigned by then and therefore, Mr. Elkins had no claim over his assets anymore." Cole said to the judge.
"Your Honor, I'd like to point out that—" The other attorney started.
"No, Mr. McDonald, Mr. Turner has mentioned compelling points and after some consideration, we have decided that the building stays in Miss Patterson's possession." The judge said.
"Your Honor—" Lindsey McDonald attempted to protest.
"Case closed." The judge banged the gavel and Lindsey sighed before shooting a glare at Cole. He was a very skilled attorney and didn't like to lose, which didn't happen very often as he narrowed his eyes at Cole. He was good, Lindsey had to give him that, but there were other methods the Senior Partners could use.
"Patterson has a good lawyer." Lindsey said as he entered Manners's office.
"Whoever he is, he's no match for us." Manners said.
"Our client is getting very impatient, they need their nest on Patterson's ground." Lindsey said.
"Then we'll have to use other means. You know what I mean. Leave no witnesses." Manners smirked and Lindsey nodded.
"Miss Patterson, I think we've presented a strong case." Cole said as he sat down across Patterson in her apartment as she offered him dinner as a token of gratitude, which Cole found impolite to decline.
"Thank you, Mr. Turner, I couldn't have done this without you. These people have good lawyers. They work for Wolfram & Hart." Patterson said and Cole stiffened.
"Did you say 'Wolfram & Hart'?" Cole asked.
"Yes. You know them?" Patterson asked and Cole felt the hair on the back of his head stand up.
"Miss Patterson, we need to leave, now." Cole said as he got up and grabbed Patterson by her arm.
"Why? What's going on?" Patterson asked.
"No time to explain, we have to get out of here before—" Cole stopped, when a pair of demons burst in with axes and swords and crossbows. "Get down!"
Cole tackled Patterson to the ground as one of the demons fired from his crossbow and Patterson fainted upon hitting the floor. Cole got up and summoned a fireball and threw it, incinerating one of the demons.
"What are you? A warlock?" The second demon asked.
"Not quite." Cole smirked and summoned another fireball but the demon dodged and jumped out of the window. He expected an easy mark, not a magical bodyguard.
The demon climbed up the rooftop before Angel tackled him to the ground. They both exchanged blows before Angel and the demon were thrown away from each other as Cole teleported above and lifted the demon into the air.
"Tell the Senior Partners to leave me and my clients alone. I didn't come here looking for a fight. But if they come after me, they'll get one. They should remember what I did to the Triad." Cole said before throwing the demon to the opposite rooftop.
Angel had gotten up to his feet in the meantime and looked at Cole, sneering at him in disgust and Cole turned to face Angel, having a similar sneer on his face.
"Belthazor." Angel hissed.
"Angelus." Cole growled.
"Not anymore." Angel said. "Aren't you supposed to be dead?"
"I could say the same about you." Cole said.
Angel pulled out a knife. "Give me a reason not to kill you, Belthazor."
"That's not who I am anymore. It's just 'Cole' now." Cole said before they heard sirens. "You may want to leave before the police will have some uncomfortable questions."
Angel glared at Cole. As much as he was on Kate's good side for now, he knew that involving her into this would be getting herself in over her head.
"I didn't come here to hurt any innocent, Angel. I'm trying to be better." Cole pleaded as he saw Angel's conflicted look and Angel could see in Cole the similar struggle he had been going through.
"I'm watching you." Angel said before he walked away.
"You must be very brave or very foolish to face us." Manners said as the demon returned into his office.
"You do realize that the price of failing to fulfill the contract is death." Lindsey said.
"I do realize that but I've met a setback." The demon said.
"A vampire with a soul?" Lilah asked.
"No. Someone else. Belthazor. He's alive." The demon revealed and while the name didn't as much as ring a bell to Lindsey or Lilah, Manners narrowed his eyes.
"Well, then, that changes things." Manners said.
Lindsey frowned, looking confused as he turned to Manners. "Who is Belthazor?"
"'Demonic Soldier of Fortune. Has murdered countless of witches, innocents and demons, a cunning being, who is not to be trusted and there is no known way of defeating him, due to him possessing a vast amount of powers.'" Wesley read from one of the Council's files.
"I hadn't seen him for decades. I thought he was dead. I heard that he had been vanquished by the Charmed Ones, a trio of powerful witches fighting for the side of good few months ago in San Francisco." Angel said.
Cordelia frowned. "Either they miscalculated or this Balthazar—"
"Belthazor." Angel corrected.
"…is simply a cockroach. You try to squish the bug, he manages to run." Cordelia finished.
"The cockroach thing may not be that far off the stretch, Cordelia. I spoke with one of my friends in the Watcher's Council. According to them, Belthazor tried to fight at the Charmed Ones's sides for a time but then he became the Source of All Evil, so they were forced to vanquish him few months ago." Wesley said.
"How is he still alive, then?" Cordelia wondered.
"I'm not sure." Angel said, brooding.
"You're more broody than usual, Angel. What's going on?" Cordelia asked.
"He didn't want to kill the woman. That look in his eyes…" Angel considered. "I don't know. He seemed… conflicted. I wonder if I looked like that after I got my soul. He seemed to be meaning well. I can't tell, since I can't see my own reflection in the mirror."
"You're saying we may have a good demon here? Can demons have a soul?" Cordelia asked.
"No. Theoretically, it's not possible. And I'm not sure if there is a spell that would curse a demon with a soul." Wesley said.
"Demons can't. But half-demons can have a soul." Angel said.
"Like Doyle?" Cordelia questioned.
"I heard that the reason why Belthazor was such an efficient murderer was because one of his parents was a human, so he could easily learn the ways of human and blend in." Angel said. "But he didn't want to kill anyone but he was defending himself."
"So you think he's a good guy?" Cordelia asked.
"I'm not sure yet." Angel said.
"I'll see if I can reach out to the Watcher's Council, maybe they know what has Belthazor been up to recently." Wesley said.
Cole was in his apartment, sitting and drinking as he looked at the photo of himself and his old flame, Phoebe. She and the Charmed Ones had made it clear he was not welcome anymore, after what he had done to them and how he betrayed them, despite that he was genuinely trying to change. They wanted to trust him, but were worried that even though he was human now, him possessing demonic powers was a risk they couldn't take.
Maybe he couldn't be with Phoebe anymore and he knew that if he died, this time, it might be permanent, but maybe, if he could atone for some of his sins, maybe he would find some peace in the afterlife this time. Phoebe and Cole still loved each other, but Phoebe made it clear that it couldn't happen between them anymore after what they had been through.
But Wolfram and Hart… that changed things. If he were still the Source of All Evil, he would be able to match the Senior Partners, but since he was human now, but possessing an arsenal of demonic powers, he dreaded the idea of being a puppet of another cabal of demons. All he wanted now, was to live in peace, but if he was on the Wolf, Ram and Hart's radar, it would be a matter of time before they would send their minions after him, either to recruit him to their cause, or destroy him because of him being a possible threat to their plans. Either way, Cole didn't care at this point. All he wanted was to find some peace in life, if not love.
"I've heard you've softened, Belthazor… if that's who you still are."
Cole growled as he got up and turned around to face an elderly man.
"I should introduce myself, I am—"
"Holland Manners, I know who you are and who are you working for. If you want to kill me, I dare you to try." Cole said.
"No. Actually, I'd like to make you an offer on the behalf of the Senior Partners." Manners said.
"I'm not interested. I'm not trading one cabal of demons for another." Cole said.
"You do realize you cannot fight us. We are legion. We are eternal and if you refuse us, the Senior Partners will hunt you down and we're more powerful than the Triad or the Source. Our reach goes beyond this realm. Imagine the power we could give you, if you joined us. We can make sure Phoebe stays at your side." Manners said.
"She's made it clear she said 'no.'" Cole said as he got up and poured himself a drink. "And I'm not interested in your otherworldly squabbles either."
"Well… shame. Guess we'll have to do this a little differently." Manners shrugged.
A group of demons entered but Cole did a gesture of his hand and burned them all to ashes.
"More will come." Manners said. "But we can offer you a place among the Senior Partners."
Cole considered as Manners left.
A few hours later, someone knocked on Cole's door. "Come in."
Angel opened the door and faced Cole. "Well, it's been a long time, Cole. I've been catching up with what you've been doing. Belthazor. Human. The Source of All Evil. Return from the dead, rising from the Demonic Wasteland and stealing demonic powers."
"You've come to bore me with your lecturing or kill me?" Cole said indifferently.
"I know why you're doing this all. For Phoebe." Angel said and Cole stiffened. "You want my advice? Don't try to be good to impress others, since it only makes you look selfish. Try to be better for the sake of being better."
"What makes you think there's any redemption for me after what I did?" Cole pointed out.
"You don't know that until you try. But don't fight for yourself. Fight for others. Now, don't get me wrong, you will never forgive yourself for what you've done. You need to accept it and own up to it. But that doesn't have to be the end of it. They may never accept you despite your efforts, but the least you owe them is to make sure that what you've done to them, no one else will, but don't do this for your own sake but for theirs." Angel said as Cole considered before Angel left.
Sometime later, a group of vampires attacked Cole as a retribution from the Senior Partners but Cole again burned them to death with a gesture of his hand as he considered. Joining Wolfram & Hart was a tempting offer but he didn't trust the Senior Partners and didn't want to trade one cabal of evil omnipotent beings for another. Helping innocents like how Angel does it? Tempting, but part of him knew that it would be more about him, rather than the fight and he knew that not even a vampire with a soul or the Charmed Ones would trust him, considering that they all saw through him and knew his ulterior motive, everything he did, was in a foolish vain hope to win Phoebe back, despite her rejecting him for good. But perhaps he could find some peace, if he tried to at least atone for his sins. Maybe that's how he could win Phoebe back, by never stop trying to be better.