Disclaimers: (That I resent doing cos everyone knows I own nothing) Everything you recognise = not mine. Anything you don't recognise = mine.

General info on my thoughts on the series: Archangel never happened. I have never seen the episode and am amazingly good at lying to myself, therefore Richie Ryan is as alive and kicking as myself. The sixth season, again I haven't seen it so it hasn't happened. However I am going to go off on a completely separate tangent with this fic, but thought I'd just share my feelings on that.

This story is set three months after my first one (Revenge is sweet...) and eight months before the episode The Darkness.(I know I'm messing up the time line but that's the joy of fanfic, I can) However as I said this is going to be AU, but for my purposes this story is leading up to that episode.

Chapter one

The afternoon had dragged. There had been three customers since lunchtime and non of them had bought anything. So all in all, Richie decided he had definitely just wasted one of the sunniest afternoons in Seacouver history.

Not that he had any right to complain. He had offered to look after the store for Mac and Tessa while they went to some charity lunch that he himself really wanted to avoid at all costs. Dressing up in a suit and tie just really wasn't him, and Mac would have been shooting him evil looks across the table all afternoon for messing with the tie... So really, complete boredom was better than that.

Mac and Tessa arrived home just as Richie was closing up.

"Busy afternoon?" Mac asked when he saw the bored expression on Richie's face when he walked in.

"Oh yeah. Rushed off my feet. Barely had a second to myself all afternoon." Richie answered with just a hint of sarcasm evident in his voice.

"You should have come to lunch with me and Duncan," Tessa said as she breezed past him. "we had a lovely time."

"I'm sure you did," Richie said following her and Mac to the apartment. "I however would have been more miserable than -"

"Whatever you're going to say, don't say it," Mac warned.

"What?" Richie asked innocently.

"You know what," Mac said, the smallest hint of a smile on his lips.

Richie started to say something but stopped when someone knocked on the door. "I'll get it," he said.

Richie bounded up to the door and pulled it open. "Angie," he said surprised. Usually she always called before turning up in case they were out.

"Hey Rich. You busy right now?" Angie asked, not quite making eye contact.

"Not really. Do you wanna come in?" Richie was trying to hide the suspicion he felt. Angie had obviously come here with something on her mind and was still trying to decide how best to say it. Whatever it was.

"Yeah. If you're sure you're free. I could always come back later..."

"Now's fine." Richie assured her, stepping aside to let her in. Angie took a few steps before noticing Mac and Tessa.

"I've come at a bad time," She started.

"Of course you haven't," Tessa said warmly. "Duncan and I just got in. We were thinking about starting dinner. Would you like to stay?"

"I don't know," Angie said, shooting a look at Richie.

Now Richie really was suspicious. Angie was nervous. She had never been nervous around Mac or Tessa before and she was certainly never nervous around him. Something was going on.

"Angie. What's the matter? Why are you acting all weird?" Richie asked, deciding the direct approach would be the best thing.

"I'm not acting weird!" Angie said defensively.

"Well you're certainly not acting like you." Richie pointed out, ignoring the look Mac and Tessa were sharing.

"As if you'd know anymore." Angie said, starting to get angry.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Richie demanded.

"When was the last time you came to see any of us?" Angie asked. "It's been months Richie. Have you just forgotten about all of us? The old neighbourhood not good enough for you anymore? Or do you just wanna cut off all ties with your past?"

"It's not like that and you know it!" Richie said, trying and failing miserably to control his temper.

"Do I?"

"Yes! And this goes both ways Angie. I got stabbed four months ago and I never saw any of you then."

Angie went quiet for a minute. "I didn't know what to say to you. You know I'm no good at that sort of thing."

"Yeah," Richie sighed. "I do. And I'm not holding it against you, and I'm not turning up at your home to have a go at you for it."

"That's not why I'm here," Angie said dismissively. "All that stuff just came out. It's a defence mechanism. You should recognise them, you taught them to me."

"So why are you here?" Richie asked.

Angie took a deep breath. "You should probably sit down."

Richie narrowed his eyes.

"Just trust me please Richie," Angie said.

Richie took a seat at the kitchen table.

"Would you like some privacy?" Tessa asked. She was still looking uncomfortable from having witnessed the argument between Richie and Angie.

"No, you may aswell stay," Angie said.

Mac and Tessa took a seat next to Richie and all three turned to look expectantly at her.

"Ok, so this isn't a huge deal Richie, remember that. And a lot of time has passed and we're all different people now. And maybe we'd all do things differently if we could go back in time, but we all have to live with the mistakes we made and do the best we can."

"Angie?" Richie said.

"Yeah?"

"Just spit it out."

"Ok. Ok. Spitting it out now..." Angie took a deep breath. "Kate's back."

Richie had no idea what reaction Angie was expecting. He had no idea what reaction to give. That was the last thing he expected to hear.

"Kate? Katie? Katie who we knew when we were nine? My Katie?"

Angie nodded. "That'd be the one."

"When?" Richie asked. "When did she come back?"

"Last week," Angie answered. "But I never saw her until yesterday. I asked if she'd come to see you, but she didn't know where you lived. And she didn't know if you'd want to see her. You guys didn't have the best of partings you know."

"Yeah, I think I can vaguely remember that," Richie snapped, and instantly regretted doing it. It wasn't Angie's fault. At least she'd come and told him. "I'm sorry. I just didn't expect you to say that."

"It's ok." Angie shrugged. "But I think I'm gonna go now. I said if you wanted to see her I'd give her your number. So call me and let me know ok?"

Richie nodded.

"I'll see you out." Tessa said standing and walking Angie to the door.

"Are you all right?" Mac asked Richie when Angie was out of ear shot.

"Yeah," Richie said. "I'm in shock, but I'm ok."

"Who is Katie?" Mac asked.

"Kate," Richie corrected absently. "I'm the only one she ever let call her Katie."

"So who is Kate?" Tessa asked retaking her seat at the table.

"She was my neighbour when I was nine. I was staying with this ok foster family and her parents moved to Seacouver from England. They were only here for a year. Her dad died in a car accident and her mom decided to go back to England. I haven't seen Katie since." Richie told them.

"And what was so bad about your parting?" Mac asked.

Richie almost smiled at the memory that surfaced. "Katie taught me how to steal. She taught me nearly everything I know on breaking and entering. She was a bad influence on me."

"I find that hard to believe," Tessa said with a smile.

"Nah, seriously." Richie said. "I didn't have a clue until I met her. Thing is, she came form a really good family. Well respected and such."

"Let me guess," Mac said. "They caught her stealing and you got blamed?"

"Got in one. Troubled foster kid or respected girl from a good family. Who would you believe?" Richie asked sourly.

"Didn't Kate take responsibility for her own actions?" Tessa asked, clearly shocked at the thought.

"To be fair she tried to, I wasn't even with her that night. But I still got the blame. They all figured I must have taught her, not the other way round. So I got sent back to the orphanage and she went home to England with her evil witch of a mother and I never heard from her again."

"I still don't understand why Angie would think you wouldn't want to see her now. Surely if she is here she must want to see you." Tessa said.

"I told Angie after Katie went that I never wanted to see her again, that I hated her. It hurt so much to lose her, so I decided the best way to deal with it was to forget her. After that we never spoke of her again. I guess Angie's just remembering what I said. And someone's probably told Katie what I said by now."

"Do you still feel like that?" Mac asked.

Richie shrugged. "I don't think I ever really felt like it in the first place..."

"So phone Angie and tell her to give Kate your number. What's the worst that can happen?"

"Katie could hate me? Her mom could hunt me down and disembowel me? Her gran could - "

"But realistically?" Mac interrupted before Richie got into full swing.

"Realistically? What if we don't have the same connection we had before? What if we don't like each other?" Richie didn't even want to consider that. Despite everything Katie had always been his best friend. The one person he would sometimes lie in bed thinking about when he couldn't sleep. What was he going to do If she wasn't everything he remembered her to be?

"And if you don't take the chance?" Tessa asked gently. "Could you live with not knowing what could have been?"

Well of course he couldn't... But he just knew that somehow he was going to regret this.