A visit from an old friend ends in tragedy...

Disclaimer: Joss Whedon owns them, and so does David Greenwalt. I do not possess the sheer mad genius they do to create Angel, the series.

AN: This happens during Angel's Season One, is in a sort-of AU, where Doyle is still alive (Yay!).

Light from a street lamp played off his dark hair as he stepped out of his car into the cold night. He looked up at the building he had pulled up at. Exhaling deeply, he walked to the entrance. He knew exactly what he was looking for, and he purposefully made his way there.

He stood in front of the door, taking deep breaths as he gathered his strength. Slowly he knocked on the ajar door, and stepped inside. It was empty. There wasn't a soul in sight. He sighed, as he turned to go.

He stopped as he heard a very familiar voice. "Isn't someone going to see who it is?" It was said calmly, yet the person who said it was obviously exasperated.

He froze as he heard her voice. The one he had come to see. "Yeah, oh, and if you're on your way, could you pick up the box of donuts I left on your table?" A pause. "What?" Another pause. "Oh.., I get it. Me?"

"That *is* your job," It was a new, unfamiliar voice, with a lilting Irish accent. He heard a distinct smack, then, "Ow! What'd you do that for?" A slight pause, then, "Oh, okay, I'll go."

He heard footsteps, then a dark-haired guy entered the room. "Hey, welcome to Angel Investigations, we hope you're hopeless, I mean.sorry to keep ya waiting for so long."

He was briefly fascinated by the accent. "What can I help ya with?"

"Cordelia Chase."

"Hah, good luck, buddy. It took me about half a year before she finally agreed to go out with me, and I ain't letting go of her." The guy smirked. "Ain't that right, honey?" he called behind him.

"I don't know what you said, but in your dreams!"

He smiled. It was her, alright. "I meant, I want to see her."

"And I understand why. She's quite the looker, ain't she?" the guy nodded. He didn't say anything. The guy noticed. "Okay, sorry, I'm just real proud of her. I mean, a guy's gotta be proud of his girl, right?"

His girl. He frowned, and paused. Then he nodded. "Yeah, I know. I used to be, as well."

The guy looked stunned. "You two used to..?"

He felt a little guilty, even though he didn't really do anything wrong. He looked down for a minute.

Suddenly, "Xander?"

His head snapped up at her voice. She stood just behind the guy, staring at him in shock.

The guy turned to her. "You know him?" She was still staring at Xander. "And I thought you guys trusted me to handle things up here."

"Mr. Broody figured I should *earn* my money," she said, slowly coming out of her stupor.

"You should." Xander's gaze flickered to behind Cordelia. Habitually, his gaze hardened. But he tried not to, and nodded at the newcomer, who took him in with raised eyebrows. "Xander," he said, in surprise. "It *was* you."

"Uh, yeah," Xander nodded. "Hey."

"So both Cordy and you know this guy? Angel?" the guy asked. Angel nodded.

"Yeah. Old..friends." He hesitated before saying the word 'friends', but he said it. Xander appreciated it.

"Um, Buffy sends her regards. And Giles, Willow and Oz as well." Xander said, somewhat uncomfortable. Angel nodded.

"So, what brings you here?" the guys asked. "I'm Doyle, by the way," he introduced himself, offering a hand. Xander shook it.

"Xander," he said.

"I kind of guessed."

"I'm here to see Cordy. Cordelia," he amended. He wasn't sure if he still had the privilege of calling her by a nickname.

Angel looked at him pensively, then rested a hand on Cordelia's shoulder, to let her know he would be there for her. He nodded at Xander with a brief smile, then he turned around and left, taking a semi-protesting Doyle with him.

As they left, a tense silence settled over the room.

"So, uh, Cordelia." Xander began. She cut him off.

"You *can* call me Cordy, Xander. We're still friends."

He smiled. "Okay. So, uh.you and Doyle are together, huh?" he asked, seeking a confirmation. She smiled and nodded. The happiness she obviously felt didn't go past unnoticed. "Um, that's great." Seeing her skeptical look, he added, "Really."

She smiled graciously. "Thanks. So.what did you want to see me about?"

"Um.not much, really. I mean, I sort of came by, to catch up on old friends." Xander shrugged. She obviously sensed something else, but she didn't acknowledge it.

"You want some coffee?" she asked. He nodded.

"Yeah, that'd be great. How bout we go out and talk over some? My treat." She smiled and nodded her agreement. They walked out to his car, and she directed him to the nearest Starbucks. They went in, ordered their coffee, then took a quiet booth in the back.

"So.." she began. He glanced at her. "How's life in Sunnydale?"

"Pretty good. Usual demon here and there, but hey, all in a day's work, right?"

"Yeah," she chuckled.

"How's LA treating you?" he asked.

"Its okay. Occasional demon or evil thing, occasional acting gig."

"That's good."

He grinned, and she felt herself smiling openly back. She had missed that smile. Although he was a happy-go-lucky guy, as a result of being the Slayer's right-hand-man, he didn't really smile all that much. But when he did, it was a nice smile. She usually responded to it positively.

"So, Doyle and you been going out long?"

"No.about just over a month." She tilted her head. "Why do you ask?"

He answered with another question. "Do you miss me?"

She was taken aback, but she responded. "Of course." His gaze alternated between her face and his hands. "Xander.."

"I know. You miss me as a friend. You've moved on." He was surprised at the bitterness of his voice.

She was surprised too. "Xander?" she asked cautiously. "Are you okay?" He nodded. "Look, I know it's tough to see me with someone else, but you'll have to accept it."

"I do. I don't know why I sounded so angry. I mean, I've got my own girl back in Sunnydale.." He shrugged. Suddenly, he asked, "Do you still love me?"

She stared at him in stunned silence. But she found her voice fast, and she glared at him. "How dare you?" she hissed. He didn't say anything, choosing to look down at his hands. She stood up angrily and glared down at him. "How dare you come here, intrude my life out of the blue, then ask me if I still love you, when you know that I'm with someone else? How dare you?"

He stood up, meeting her gaze. "Look, I have my reasons, okay? Just let me ex-"

"Explain? No way! I mean, hey, you've got a girl too! You want to jeopardize not one, but *two* relationships like this?" she shot at him furiously.

His fuse was lit, and he retorted hotly, "Will you shut up and listen? I'm trying to say -"

"No! *You* shut up!"

He threw his hands up in the air. "I don't have to take this," he muttered angrily, and he stalked out to his car.

"*You* don't have to take this? Excuse me?" she demanded, hot on his heels. He ignored her, getting into his car, slamming the door for effect. With a screech he pulled away and onto the road. She glared angrily at the departing car, seething in silence as she turned to walk back to the office.

Suddenly she heard a loud, dragged out horn blast, and then the sickening sound of metal upon metal. She whirled to see what happened, and froze in shock. Xander's car was crushed between a lamp post and a huge truck. A fire had started from the collision. The side of the tank on the truck read "Careful -Highly Flammable", and then it burst into flames just as she darted closer. The force of the explosion drove her back, and she watched in horror as the flames quickly consumed both vehicles.

"Xander!" she cried out loud. The blazing inferno illuminated the streets and buildings, and she felt the heat evaporate the tears that were streaming down her face. "Oh, God, Xander!"

It was late at night, into early morning, so there weren't a lot of people around. No one was around to help her, and she watched helplessly. She closed her eyes, sobbing, and slumped to the ground, curling up.

"Are you okay?" She lifted her head up, then quickly clambered up to wrap him in a hug.

"Doyle," she sobbed into his shoulder. "It's all my fault. Xander's probably dead, and its all my fault."

"No, he's not. He's gonna be a little worse for the wear, but its Xander. You wont know the difference." Cordelia turned to see Angel, smirking, carrying Xander in his arms.

"Oh God! Xander! Angel!" She ran to them, throwing her arms around Angel's neck, looking down at Xander, who lay unconscious in the vampire's arms. His face was slightly charred, his clothes singed and stained from smoke. Suddenly a thought occurred to her. "How did you -"

"I had a vision," Doyle spoke up. "We came down here just in time to see the accident happen. Angel grabbed the boy just as the explosion occurred."

Angel smirked. "He was good as a shield from the fire." Cordelia glanced disapprovingly at him. "I'm kidding. He was slightly burnt by the fire, but I got him out before any real damage was done."

"Thank you," she whispered, hugging him again. Doyle looked away, obviously uncomfortable with her affection for Xander. Angel noticed, and cleared his throat.

"How bout we get him to the hospital?" he suggested.

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"So, uh, you're going to the hospital again?" Doyle asked, trying to keep the jealousy out of his voice. Cordelia nodded.

"Yeah." She hesitated. "Do you wanna come?" she asked, out of courtesy.

Doyle was tempted to say yes, as he had been many times before, he wanted to know what exactly Cordelia did, spending hours at a time in the hospital. But he listened to Angel's advice, and stayed out of it. Cordelia and Xander were a thing of the past, he said. She wont betray you. *Maybe not*, he thought, but he could be sending his dream girl right back into the arms of her old lover. He didn't really want to take that risk. But he knew he should trust Cordelia, so trust her he did. He shook his head. She leaned over and pecked him on the cheek lightly before disappearing out the door.

He sighed. He was alone in her house. Angel and Giles, who had come from Sunnydale, were talking in the office. He let Phantom Dennis give him a beer, and drank some. Buffy - man, was there ever a load of tension between the Slayer and Angel - Willow - sweet little redhead - and Oz had come for a few days, but they had to leave since they still had classes at the college. Giles, who was pretty much free, had opted to stay on to check on Xander.

He and Angel had been in to visit Xander a few times, since Xander had been admitted nine days ago. He had sustained a broken wrist, a fractured tibia, and the impact had landed him in a brief coma for about a day and a half.

The other guy, the one driving the tanker, had died on impact. They were told he was drunk, and Cordelia had become infuriated when she found out she nearly lost a friend over the man's stupidity.

Cordelia was very attached to Xander, Doyle had come to learn over the nine days Xander had been in the hospital. He had asked about their relationship, and Cordy had admitted that they had dated back in high school, and that she cared about him a lot. She had also recounted the last conversation they had before the accident, and needless to say, Doyle wasn't heartened. He didn't really think that Xander was trying to get Cordy back, but the fact that she obviously missed him and still loved him deeply showed, and Doyle was troubled by that fact.

The fact that Cordelia would be in his room every possible visiting hours also did not help ease his worries.

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"Hey, I brought you donuts!" Cordelia said cheerfully as she walked into his room. She nearly dropped the box when she saw him. She squealed in delight and set the box down as she darted over to hug him.

Xander grinned. "I'm on a walking cast now," he told her. "They say I can leave tonight."

"That's fantastic!" she exclaimed.

"I know. I don't have to wear this stupid paper gown anymore," he joked. She grinned. He really was better. "I mean, it clashes with everything I own."

"Xander, everything you own clashes with everything you own," she told him, and a glimmer of her old self came back. "Anyway, I've got some of your stuff, which the gang brought for you, at my apartment. I'll wait for you to check out tonight then we'll swing by my place to pick it up. Then I'll send you over to the office, where Giles is staying, and he can take you back."

He chuckled. "Why does it sound like you've been anxiously planning my departure?"

"Who says I haven't been?" she asked wryly. He laughed.

"Okay, okay. So, what shall we do until I leave?" He glanced at his watch. "In three hours."

"Why not now?"

"They have to run some final checks, make sure I'll really be okay. Which, apparently, is about to happen now," he said as a nurse walked in.

"I'll come back in three hours," she promised, as the nurse waited for her to leave. She left. Frankly, she was happy not to have to talk to him. For the past week - since he had been conscious - whenever she spoke to him, they carefully avoided what had happened, and anything regarding that topic. But she knew they couldn't avoid it any longer, and they would have to confront the issue sooner or later.

It was still plaguing her three hours later as she picked him up and they went to her apartment. She wordlessly handed him the small duffel bag. He just as silently took it, speaking only his thanks.

She couldn't take it anymore. "Xander, why did you come here?"

He closed his eyes, running a hand through his soft wavy hair, and it rested at the base of his neck, as he tilted his head up. He opened his eyes and brought his gaze down on her, the conflicting emotions evident in his intense deep brown eyes. He slowly let out a breath neither had been aware he had been holding.

"Look," he said softly. "I didn't come here to ruin your new life. I didn't come here so that I could rub it in that you're no longer the status queen you were in Sunnydale. And," he said, a faint smirk playing on his lips, "I certainly didn't come so that you could bitch at me the way you used to."

She too, smiled. It was a small smile, but it was a smile. A genuine one. She held his gaze, waiting patiently to hear him out.

"I came," he said, gently lifting a hand up to push away a stray lock of hair, and his other hand resting on her arm as a sign of assurance. "To tell you that I missed you. I'm not looking to restart what we had - not since I know you've moved on. We both have. But I've missed you, Cordy. And I still love you. And somehow, I think you feel the same. And well.." He shrugged. "I think it's for the best if we cleared it up, so that we can really move on with our lives."

She broke their gaze, looking down, unsure of what to say. But she nodded, almost imperceptibly at first, then it became stronger. And she looked up at him, a sad smile on her face. *Her beautiful face,* he thought wistfully. Even though her skin was paler, and she obviously hadn't had much rest since the accident and she looked older than she had before - much like he did, he knew - she was still beautiful to him.

"Xander, I - I really don't know what to say." Cordelia began. She hesitated.

"That's a first," he teased lightly. She smiled. She started to speak again, and he cut her off. "Cordy, just tell me you love me too. And then I'll go. And we'll both move on, but we'll never forget." He smiled at her.

She looked into his warm brown eyes, and felt herself melt inside. There was so much love, so much hurt, so much pain, so much joy, so much regret, so much satisfaction. She knew the same was reflected in her eyes. She smiled briefly again, then nodded.

"I love you, Xander. I always will. And I'll always remember the good times."

He smiled, then leaned forward to quickly capture her lips in a soft, brief, final kiss. "Goodbye, Cordy."

"Goodbye, Xander," she whispered, and she felt herself tear up again. But this time, it was out of relief. Relief that she and Xander had finally sorted things out. Fate had seemed to conspire against them, but they had succeeded in overcoming the trials thrown in their path. She closed her eyes.

And she felt Xander pull away, she felt his warmth slowly dissolve into the coolness of the room. His hold on her had lifted as he pulled apart. She listened as his footsteps faded away out the door into nothingness, and stood still for a good few minutes, reveling in the tranquility of her living room.

She opened her eyes to view her empty apartment with a wistful smile. *Well, almost empty.* Phantom Dennis gently led her to her couch, and offered her a drink.

"Thank you, Dennis."

As she said it, slowly the front door clicked open. She looked up, wondering if Xander had forgotten anything. She smiled widely, standing up as she did so.

Doyle stood nervously at the door. "H-hey, Cordy," he stammered out anxiously, afraid if she had bad news for him. "Mind if I come in?"

She smiled at him. "Not at all," she said. She sensed he was worried over what had happened between her and Xander, whether he would be cast aside. So she slowly leaned over and kissed him. "I missed you, Doyle."

He broke into a grin and wrapped his arms around her. "I missed you too, Cordy."

She didn't offer an explanation. She didn't need to. He understood everything. And as they stood there, in each others' arms, all was right with the world.

:::THE END:::

AN: This has been reposted, with minor mistakes corrected... Please, please review!