Hope you've all enjoyed the ride, it's the last chappy. It's been great.
To Catch a Thief
"Sit down and take off that coat," Cordelia ordered as soon as they were in the bathroom. Doyle obliged, his movements slow and deliberate, and took a seat on the toilet as Cordy rummaged through the medicine cabinet in search of the first aid kit.
"Ah, I found … oh my god." Any exuberance she may have had left, left her when she saw the true damage done to Doyle for the first time. Blood trickled in red streams down his back, some dry, some fresh, the cuts that the blood oozed from were deep and long, forming two X's, one at the top of his spine and one at the bottom, then there were the burn marks. All down his back, and his chest to a lesser extent, there were circular burn marks, that all looked just about the same size as a cigarette. His skin almost didn't appear human; every inch that wasn't covered with blood, burns or lacerations was inflicted with deep purple bruising. The shock at seeing the wounds startled Cordelia so badly she dropped the first aid kit.
"Oh, god Doyle, I'm so sorry," Cordelia didn't know what she was apologizing for, but after what he had gone through she felt she had to offer her grievances.
Doyle tried to shrug, but it hurt too much, "It's not that bad Princess, I'll be up and around in no time flat. Us micks are tougher than we look."
The words didn't fool Cordy but she accepted them and opened up her first aid kit. She took out the alcohol and cotton swabs, warned him that it might sting and began to clean out the cuts and burns. Doyle tensed but didn't say anything as she treated him. As she moved onto the small burns she asked:
"Did uh … did Spike do this or the lawyers?"
Doyle tried to look at her but his neck was sore too and he didn't get around, "Um, Spike mostly. Compared to 'im the suits took pretty good care of me."
Cordelia just nodded, not knowing what else to say. His hand came up and took hers, forcing her to make eye contact.
"Thank you Princess, for rescuing me … and for caring," Doyle said sincerely and thoughtfully.
"I uh … it's no big deal. It's just … Angel. Angel needs you and everything so, yeah," Cordelia stumbled over her words, flustered by the gentle look in Doyle's eyes.
"Yeah," Doyle mumbled in reply, releasing her hand and turning back around. Cordy sighed and continued to clean the deep cuts on his back. Her hands were gentle and timid, afraid to hurt him more, but determined to care for him. Doyle wasn't worried about infection though; he would heal pretty quickly due to his demon half. He was mostly worried about healing too quickly and Cordelia noticing the inhuman rate that he recovered, but there was nothing to do about that.
The room was quiet after that, and the air was thick with all that wasn't said and needed to be. Cordelia quickly changed the subject to Oz and asked Doyle if he knew anything that may help him get his sight back. Maybe he'd seen something at the law firm?
"No, not really. That warlock was bad news but I didn't recognize his kind. It was black magick I know that much at least, but I don't know how that'll help Oz, there's lots of different kinds of magick users," Doyle supplied.
Cordelia had faith though, faith in the Scoobies back in Sunnydale, "Buffy will figure out how to fix him. Well, maybe not her, she just fights the evil, but Giles will know for sure. He knows more about demons than I even want to think about; it goes the same for magicks and spells, although when I left it was becoming more Willow's department and she definitely won't stop looking for a cure for him until she's exhausted every source possible…"
Doyle closed his eyes and listened as she rambled on. He could listen to her all day and he felt safe with her hands gently wrapping his back and chest with gauze and bandages. This was the closest he had ever been to her, both physically and emotionally and he liked it. In fact he was so content that it wasn't long before his eyes began to droop and his shoulders sagged until he was sleeping peacefully leaned up against Cordelia's knees.
"Doyle are you listening? Doyle? Yu-hu, Doyle? Oh," She was at a loss for a moment when she realized he was asleep. "Okay, this is awkward. Let's just get you …" Cordelia trailed off as she tried to move him without hurting him in anyway. It was proving difficult.
Luckily Angel came along just then, having left Oz to deal with his own pain, and carried Doyle gently to the downstairs apartment where he laid him softly on the bed, turned off the lights and let him rest.
When Angel returned upstairs he found Cordy standing nervously at the end of the hallway, clearly reluctant to take the last few steps to the office. Angel came up behind her, making enough noise that she knew he was there, and placed a hand on her shoulder. She turned to him thankfully, and then looked down the hall to Angel's office where their guest was currently alone.
"I want to help him somehow, but I don't know any magic and I don't have any sources and I can't kick butt like you. The least I can do is go in there and talk to him, try to cheer him up or something, but …"
"What?" Angel asked, not understanding her reluctance.
"He's always been so … withdrawn, you know. He's not exactly a Mr. Sit-down-and-talk-for-hours kind of guy. I don't even know if he wants someone with him," Cordelia admitted, clearly torn.
"I think he does. Oz may not have a lot to say most of the time, but he's always there for the people he cares about, we should do the same for him. Why don't you take him to your place for the night, so he can get some real sleep? Who knows, maybe when he wakes up it'll have worn off," Angel offered optimistically, though he didn't really hold out much hope of that. "I'll stay here with Doyle."
Cordelia nodded and finally descended down the hallway. Slowly approaching the doorway, she peered in and saw Oz. He was sitting on the floor, back against the desk and knees drawn into his chest. His unseeing eyes were focussed on a spot on the floor and Cordelia thought he might have been crying. She easily could have sat down with him, shared in his grief and let him sink deeper and deeper into despair, but misery only begets more misery so she decided to go with the casual approach, in hopes of lifting his spirits.
She sighed dramatically as she finally entered, walked quickly by him as if the floor was a perfectly normal place to sit, and plopped herself on the couch with a swish.
"Woo, I'm exhausted. It's been such a long day, I just want to go home and have a nice long bath."
Oz started at the sound of her voice and shook himself into alertness. His back automatically straightened when she entered and he wiped away the evidence of his tears. He nodded at her words and tried to steady his voice for his reply.
"Yeah, the day's been kind of rough."
"Why don't we both head over to my place? My sofa's a pullout; it's not the Ritz or anything, but it beats Angel's couch if you want to use it. Besides, he needs that for his brooding." Cordelia said, her voice light and uplifting. Oz's lips turned up in what she knew was a smile for him.
"Sure, that sounds great," Oz replied simply, not having the strength to argue, much like Doyle earlier.
"Fantastic, but I do have a no brood rule so if you want that futon you'll have to be the fun-loving Oz I know and love."
Oz quirked an eyebrow at this.
"Well, not love love. Friend love, and personality love; all that good kind of love," Cordelia stammered.
"It was more the "fun-loving" part that caught me off guard actually," Oz confessed.
"Oh well, you don't really have to do that either, just no brooding."
Oz lifted his hand in a mock salute, "Scout's honor."
"Great," Cordelia said, getting up and offering him a hand up off the floor. He gladly accepted and didn't release her arm as he stood, needing her for guidance. She didn't mind in the least.
"How's Doyle?" Oz asked suddenly, bringing down the mood and coming very close to 'brood-mode'.
"He's good, I guess. I fixed him up the best I could and I think he'll be okay. He's sleeping, but I can take you down to see him if you want." Cordelia missed her slip of the tongue too late. Oz couldn't see anything.
He flinched noticeably and tried to cover it up, "No, that's okay. I'll see him tomorrow probably. I just … I just wanna get some rest."
Cordelia understood and led the way out of the building. Oz shuffled along beside her, his arm strung through hers as they walked.
"Thanks for everything you're doing," he said sincerely as they neared the door.
"It's no problem, don't even worry about it," she told him. She released his arm for a moment to push open the heavy back door leading to the alley. It had been a few hours since they had arrived and the alleyway was now bathed in sunlight. The door opened and the warm rays filtered into the hallway, and with them came a cry of pain from Oz.
Cordy turned as the musician yelled and tried to catch him as he flung himself away from the light. His hands went up to his eyes and he clutched at them as they burned. Cordelia wasn't strong enough to keep them up and they fell to the floor in a heap, Oz gasping for breath with his hands over his face and Cordelia worriedly trying to help.
"Oz, what's wrong? What happened?"
Oz did not answer as the pain behind his eyes banished all memory of how to speak.
"Angel! Help! Angel!" Cordy screamed when Oz did not respond.
"What's wrong? What happened?" Angel asked as he raced down the hall, wary of the sunlight nearby but not letting it keep him from helping. He took hold of Oz's shoulder gently and helped him into a sitting position as his breathing came under control.
"I don't know," Cordelia exclaimed, "I opened the door and he screamed and he fell like the sun was burning him or something; he looked a lot like you do when that happens."
The pain was slowly dying away and the werewolf started to become aware of his surroundings. It had hurt as much as when the warlock first shot him, and the agony was wracking his body once more, but as he pulled in several deep breaths there was only one thought on his mind; did I just see light?
"Not my skin, just my eyes," Oz said, finally removing his hand from his face. He squinted hard and looked up above them, directly at the overhead light. "Light. I can see light."
Angel reached a hand out and forced Oz's gaze to meet his own. As his eyes were drawn from the light the musician found he could see nothing else, but Angel noticed that the pitch blackness of his eyes had faded slightly.
"It must be wearing off," Angel said, smiling.
"Black magick!" Cordelia yelled. Oz and Angel turned to her, confused. She gave them her best 'duh' look. "Doyle said the wizard guy with the bad hair was using black magick; doesn't it make sense that the sun would, you know, destroy black magick, it being not-black and all?"
"She's right," Oz agreed. "After the sunlight hit me it hurt, but I can see light now. There's nothing else though; I can't see any images."
"Maybe it just takes time," Cordelia suggested as they stood up. She took his arm and began to guide him down the hall, thinking he should rest here after all.
Oz shook his arm free, a determined look on his face, "No, it takes more sun." Then he turned and followed the only thing he could see, the light spilling in from the open door. Cordelia tried to grab his arm back and Angel made a grab for him too but soon he was in the alley once more, standing in the sunshine and looking into the sky.
"Ah!" he cried again as his eyes burned once more and he flung himself back into the hallway to safety. He fell to all fours as the pain once again overtook him. Cordelia and Angel were instantly beside him as he simultaneously healed and hurt.
"Come on Oz, there's got to be a better way," Angel rebuked him, taking his arm before he recovered fully and moving him further down the hallway. Oz tried to push him away but didn't have the strength or coordination. He couldn't speak because he knew if he opened his mouth only a whimper or some other sound of pain would escape, so he stayed silent until the pain passed. When it did he looked up slowly once more and blinked his eyes.
"Oz, are you okay? Let's go back to Angel's office now, alright?" Cordelia said as she stared at him with his eyes that were even less dark than they had been.
"Shapes, I can see shapes. It's working, I can almost see," and without a second thought he rose and tried to head back outside but Angel grabbed him and wouldn't let go.
"Hold on, if you insist on doing this at least wait awhile; let your body recover," Angel requested, but his voice was firm and demanding. Still Oz argued.
"No, just a little more and I think I'll be able to see. Let me go just once more," Oz pleaded, pulling and fighting for his freedom.
"No Oz. Let's wait and see if your sight comes back on its own, and if it doesn't the sun's not going anywhere. I just don't want us to do more damage than good," Angel explained, pulling Oz to face him. The musician finally let go of his goal and nodded, but looked longingly to the doorway where the sun still crept.
"Okay, I'll wait. But just for awhile," he said. His voice was thick from the anxiety of the situation, and the utter relief of a very real cure.
Doyle tossed and turned, trapped in the throws of a nightmare, but whether it was caused by the past few days, or the past horrors he had seen in his life, he did not remember when he woke up, gasping.
Sitting up abruptly wasn't a good idea though as his head began to spin with headrush and his body pulsed with aches and pains from his many injuries that had now settled into constant pain. With a groan he fell back down on the pillows and sighed.
Maybe if I sleep for a few years I'll feel better, he thought as he shut his eyes once more, but a voice interrupted his sought after rest.
"You want a few Tylenol or something, man?"
Doyle jumped a little at the sound but didn't move off the bed. He cracked opened one eye then closed it, sighing.
"Scotch would be great, Angel owes me some good shite," Doyle told the voice that he knew belonged to Oz.
"Luckily we got that too."
Doyle opened his eyes at this, intrigued. Oz was sitting casually in an easy chair that he had pulled beside the bed and smiled genuinely at the shocked expression on Doyle's face. The Irishman had every reason to be happily surprised though, Oz's eyes were clear of the horrible blackness that had overtaken them and his natural, seeing eyes were watching him.
"Your eyes. You're all fixed up," Doyle noticed with a grin.
"Yeah, I'm back to 20-20," Oz announced happily.
"Well that's lovely, you get your sight back and one of the first things you see is my ugly mug," Doyle joked, overjoyed by this news. "What happened?"
"Seems you were right; it was black magick, which sunlight acts pretty strongly against apparently. Took awhile but it wore off eventually after a little time in the sun," Oz explained, negating to mention the incredible pain that had accompanied every trip outside to get his sight back. It had been worth it though, it had been painfully worth it. Nothing was worse than the darkness he had been immersed in, nothing was more horrible than the never-ending abyss of blindness.
"That's great man … is that for me?" Doyle quickly spotted the tumbler on the bedstand. Oz handed him an already poured glass of scotch.
"Angel left it for you, says you should be happy to know it's probably older than your grand-father," Oz said.
"Just the way I like it," Doyle claimed as he sipped it lovingly, then coughed rather harshly. "Oh, he wasn't joking. This stuff has had a bicentennial. Wow, you should try it."
"Nah, I gotta drive, I'm heading back home soon," Oz explained. This was clearly his final good-bye.
"Riding off into the sunset and all that?" Doyle joked as he shot back the last of his scotch.
"Something like that," Oz agreed, standing. He held out his hand, which Doyle gladly took, and shook it firmly out of respect.
"Thanks for everything you did here; it would have been a crappy weekend with you," Doyle remarked. Oz gave him a questioning glare, "Well, crappier than the crap it was anyway."
Oz laughed, "It was no problem. It was nice meeting you Doyle, you're an interesting fellow. You should come on down to Sunnydale if you get the chance."
"Meet your Princess?" Doyle asked and Oz nodded, "Sure, why not? But you feel free to come back to LA."
"Deal," Oz agreed, releasing the handshake. The two smiled and Oz hefted his backpack and headed for the door.
"See you around, man," he said in parting, and Doyle offered a meagre half wave.
"Oh," Oz said, turning around, "She likes jewellery."
"Cordy. A necklace, or a locket; she'll love it," Oz said, sounding very knowing.
"All right, thanks," Doyle said gratefully. Oz smiled, ascended the stairs and was gone.
Doyle lay back down, still exhausted and in pain. After pouring himself another glass of scotch he started to wonder, about Oz and what the future would hold for him, and about himself and if he had a future with Cordy. He didn't know the answers, he probably never would, but he hoped to see the young man again for no other reason than that despite the enormous size of the world, he had few friends in it, and he wanted that to change. But would he see Oz again? He didn't know, but he hoped. Sometimes all you have is hope.
And with these thoughts he went back to sleep, content, and dreamt about hope.
Well this was fun, we should do it again sometime. I've got another fic for a different fandom that I'd like to write first, but then I think I will write a sequel to this one. I kind of liked this one.
Anyway, time for my last thank you to my reviewers. Hope it's been a good trip for you all.
Sport – Well if you liked this one come on back when I do my sequel, it won't be for a few weeks though, I've got exams and school stuff for the next little while. You're right, Doyle needed more episodes, at least a whole season.
Irish-Dancer – Wow! I never even thought of actually getting the Latin translation, but I'm beyond impressed that you speak it. Very cool. See ya when I do my sequel.
Tap Dancing Widow – If I did a sequel it would probably be, "Oz shows up after leaving Sunnydale and lends a hand against the Scourge (since they'd be after him too, half breed and all). So Doyle wouldn't die at all, and as much as I like Wesley now, in season 4 and 5, I hated him when he first came cause he replaced my poor Doyle, so I probably won't bother with him at all."
Lunacat – Thanks for all the reviews. Things turned out good for Oz so I hope you liked the happy ending.
Thanks everyone for reading, it's been a blast. Robinyj