When the dark wood fell before me
And all the paths were overgrown
When the priests of pride say there is no other way
I tilled the sorrows of stone

I didn't know what he was going to do.

Doyle was talking, and I thought he was just saying he understood what Angel had to do. I was kind of focused on the fact that Angel was about to kill himself, you know? I never thought... I mean, I wasn't happy Angel was going to die, but, in a way, it was kind of like I'd always expected it. That's what heroes, like Buffy and Angel... that's what they do, right?


Angel didn't see it coming, either. One second, he was getting ready to do this -- the next second, Doyle just... knocked him over. Knocked him right off the edge. I couldn't believe it, but I heard Angel hit the ground.

Then Doyle turned back to me and his face was... You know what's funny? You know who he reminded me of? Buffy. Just before she goes off to a fight she doesn't think she's going to come back from. That's what Doyle looked like.

He didn't say anything, he just looked at me with that expression. Then he strode over to me, like he'd never been afraid of a thing in his life, and he kissed me. I mean, he *really* kissed me, his hand against my hair, and his arm around my waist and his mouth hard on mine.... I never would have guessed Doyle could kiss like that, like the world was ending, but he was still going to take all the time he needed to do it right. I never guessed he could do any of what he did.

Our first kiss. It felt like it lasted forever.

Our only kiss, ever. It didn't last nearly long enough.

I did not believe because I could not see
Though you came to me in the night
When the dawn seemed forever lost
You showed me your love in the light of the stars

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

I knew what he was going to do by the time he stepped back. Even with my lips still tingling and my heart racing, I knew what he was going to do. Then he gave me that smile, that cocky 'hi, I'm Irish, aren't I cute' smile, and said "It's a shame we'll never know..."

And he changed.

"...if this is a face you could have learned to love."

Suddenly, his face was green and spiky and his eyes -- God, why didn't I notice his eyes before? -- were all red and demony. Like he wasn't Doyle anymore... but he was.

Angel says I should try not to remember him that way, that Doyle would have wanted me to remember him as human. As Doyle. But the demon was Doyle too, wasn't it? Or does it just not matter anymore?

I guess it doesn't. Because he took a second and looked at me, then looked at that thing -- bomb, whatever -- and then he jumped. I never saw anyone jump that far before, that easily. I guess it's a demon thing.

I didn't want to watch, but I had to. If Doyle could do this, then I could watch. Who am I kidding? I couldn't look away. I couldn't even *move*. Doyle died... and all I could do was watch.

I heard Angel yelling Doyle's name, but not like it was anything real. He got back up to me just as Doyle caught the power cable. I think Angel would have tried to jump, too, tried to save him, if it hadn't already been too late. Doyle looked like... God, it looked like it hurt, but the demon part of Doyle was fighting that thing every step of the way. Figures. Stubborn kinda describes Doyle down to the ground, you know?

Then it was over. This one bright flash, one last shout -- scream -- from Doyle, and it was all over. Quiet and empty and... gone. Angel's face was all sick and horrified. Kinda like mine must have been.

Then I was crying in Angel's arms, clutching him like if I just got close enough, just held on tight enough, somehow he would make it all go away.

Angel held onto me the same way.

Then the mountain rose before me
By the deep well of desire
From the fountain of forgiveness
Beyond the ice and the fire

I don't know how long we stood up on the catwalk, just hanging onto each other. You know what's crazy? A few years ago, I would have done all kinds of maneuvering, pulled all kinds of games to get Angel to hold me like that. Back when he was just a really cute guy, and Buffy was just an annoying Slayer-type person, and my life was so much simpler.

I wonder if I can blame all of this on Buffy. Probably not, huh?

After what seemed like a long time, we got it together... Well, okay, Angel got it together. I was still kind of losing it all over his shirt. He let go of me and made me look at him, but I couldn't see him too well with all of the crying. He dried my cheek with his hand, which would have been a really sweet gesture if I'd been caring, then told me, "We have to get the boat going, Cordy. The Scourge...."

Right. The Scourge. Those stupid little demons and their stupid little crusade and their stupid little bomb, and Doyle.... I almost fell apart again; I, Cordelia Chase, almost started bawling my eyes out again in the middle of a skanky cargo hold on a skanky ship. That was enough to get me moving.

We went down the ladder to the floor really slowly, 'cause it was kind of hard for me to see with my eyes all red and swollen and stuff. And me without my Visine; good thing I don't have any auditions coming up. The demons Angel and Doyle saved came to help me the rest of the way down, and all them kind of gathered around, touching us. It was hard to look at them, knowing they were alive and Doyle wasn't, and never would be... but that was the way he wanted it. So I guess that's good, huh?

The leader guy thanked us, I think; I don't remember too much. Someone said something about the "Promised One", and that made Angel laugh. But it was the kind of laugh that, like, hurts. A lot.

The captain let us off on shore; the demons that Angel had fought were still out cold. Say what you will about him, when Angel takes somebody down, they seriously stay down. Some of the good demons came out on the deck -- the leader guy, and the younger guy Doyle had had to track down, and a couple others. They waved at us while the boat was pulling out of the dock.

I leaned against Angel, and he put his arm around me, and we both just... walked away.

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

Angel offered to take me home, but there was no way I was going to go there. The apartment Doyle found for me, and helped me fight for, and drank a housewarming toast in.... No. No way.

So we wound up back at the office. I just sort of collapsed onto the couch; Angel hung up our coats, then he sat down beside me. He didn't touch me, and I didn't want him to. I wanted be alone. God, I didn't want to be alone.

A few hours before, Doyle and I had been sitting in this office and I'd been giving him a hard time about his clothes and his accent and his height and anything else I could think of, and it was fun. He'd just take it sometimes, shrug it off. And sometimes he'd fight back, and that was fun too, in a really annoying kind of way.

I'm not sure when I first figured out that Doyle had a crush on me. I mean, Doyle specifically, since I kind of generally assume that most guys have a crush on me. Hey, I'm usually right, aren't I? But.. he saved me that night, when Tall, Dark and Studly ran like a woman, and I guess I really looked at him for the first time. Then laughed at him when I caught him re-enacting it the next day, but still....

Darn it, he was about ask me out. And I would have gone and maybe we would have killed each other before the main course got served, but at least I'd know, you know? Now... Now I'm just kicking myself for not doing something earlier.

I can't believe he kissed me good-bye. What was up with you, Doyle, you couldn't have done that a week ago? A month ago?

Well, no, I guess you couldn't have. I would have laughed at you. I didn't know....

God, listen to me. You'd think we were some kind of immortal love affair or something. Well, we weren't; probably never would have been. I mean, he's not exactly my type.

Wasn't exactly my type.

Though we share this humble path alone
How fragile is the heart
Oh give these clay feet wings to fly
To touch the face of the stars

I think I was just sitting there, staring into space, for a pretty long time. Then something warm touched my hands, and I looked up to see Angel kneeling in front of me. I hadn't even heard him move. He had a mug full of coffee that he was awkwardly trying to fold my hands around; I took it, and tried to smile, and sipped it on automatic pilot. It was good. How did that happen?

Then I suddenly saw Doyle standing in front of the coffee machine, complaining loudly while he downed two cups without stopping, "so's I can't taste it". The coffee went bitter in my mouth and I put the mug down without looking at it again.


"Do you remember the Spring Fling?" I asked, not even really hearing Angel. "Of course you do, since Buffy died that night and all. Well, I remember it, too. Except, you know why I remember it?"

Angel didn't say anything; he just shook his head, his eyes tired and worried and grieving.

"It's 'cause someone else died, that morning. Kevin. I was going to yell at him for not setting up the sound system like he said, but I wasn't going to really yell at him. 'Cause I, like, really cared about him."

I'd been with Willow, looking for the guys. We'd found them in the A/V room, opened the door... "I remember his face, all pale and those two little holes in his neck. So little... He fell into my arms and he was so heavy." I looked up at Angel, but my eyes were dry, so dry they burned. "Doyle... he's just gone, right? There's nothing left...?"

Angel shook his head again, swallowing so hard I could see it. "No. There's nothing left. Just what we've got here."

I looked at him, with no *clue* what the heck he was talking about. "In the office?"

He almost smiled, then he touched his heart. "Here."

Oh. Right. That. Great.

I don't want that. I want Doyle.

Breathe life into this feeble heart
Lift this mortal veil of fears
Take these crumbled hopes patched with tears
We'll rise above these earthly cares

We'll have to tell Harry, I guess, and Doyle's mom -- Angel knows how to do that. We'll give her a copy of the awful commercial I made Doyle record, with his accent and his complete lack of acting ability.

I had to explain to Angel what it was, when he saw the tape lying on top of the camcorder. But he almost laughed when I told him, then he put it into the VCR and hit play. He sat on a chair beside the couch, beside me, and we watched it, over and over. And over. We didn't talk, and I didn't cry anymore.

I don't think I'm ever going to cry again.

Angel says we might fly to Ireland, to have a memorial service there -- it'll have to be at night, but Doyle's mom will understand. So would Doyle, I guess. Just another wonderful fact of life with a vampire.

I can't believe Doyle thought I wouldn't have understood about the whole demon thing. I can't believe he didn't trust me.... Well, okay, maybe I might have freaked, a little, under different circumstances. But still... I would have gotten over it. I would have. I'm not *that* shallow -- I dated Xander Harris for almost a whole year!

But maybe it *was* better this way. It would have been awkward and weird and we would have had to actually deal with issues and stuff. There wasn't exactly time to do that, not with a whole army of Nazi demons marching down on us. Not much time at all....

Angel says there's no such thing as enough time with the people we love. I guess he's right. I mean, not that I was in love with Doyle or anything but... I cared about him, you know?

He was my friend. And, for a minute there, I guess he was my hero.

Damn you, Doyle. I really will miss you.

I really will.

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me



Written in a quick sobfest after the end of "Hero", mourning for Doyle. Normally, I would acknowledge that Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt created and own these characters, but since they can't be trusted to play with them without breaking them, the hell with it. The song, however, is "Dante's Prayer", performed by Loreena McKennit.