INTRODUCTION:

I don't own Angel/Buffy the Vampire Slayer or any of their characters/concepts. I'm simply taking them out and playing with them for your amusement and not getting paid to do so - in other words, DON'T SUE! haha The stuff that isn't from either of these shows is original and belongs to me - in other words, DON'T STEAL! :D

This one delves heavily into the grief felt by Angel and Cordelia as they struggle to deal with Doyle's death; I highly recommend keeping tissues handy for the first few chapters (and that's just for Angel's inner reflections alone – maybe keep a paper bag to breathe into for the parts with him and Cordy talking).

Set just after Doyle's death with new twists. My standard pro-Doyle rule of post-Hero-resurrection-fanfiction applies; meaning: "Expecting" never happened, let's not get me started on how epically made of FAIL the decision to go forward with that episode so soon after "Hero" was.

*BadGirl proceeds to Gibbs-slap the writers*

Note: I am heavily influenced by music when I write – if I include a song title/artist at the beginning or at a climactic point of a chapter I recommend that you go to YouTube or PlaylistCom and listen to the songs while you read. It will add to the experience immeasurably. Listening to the tracks will be especially crucial for Chapters 1 & 3 so you should get them ready to play before reading.

There will be tears, angst, fluff, comedy and (as if I would let you down) there will be a satisfying happy ending once all is said and done.

So without further ado, I present another scenario for how we can undo the loss of Doyle. We're going to "Take It Back".


CHAPTER 1


MUSIC:

"Memories" by Within Temptation
"Hurt" by Christina Aguilera


Angel stood outside the door, chewing the inside of his cheek, staring down at the handle with tear-filled eyes as memories replayed in his mind. He'd been here for five minutes already, unable to move forward, unable to reach out, unable to take another step.

"The good fight, yeah? You never know until you've been tested…I get that now."

Hearing Doyle's voice resounding in his mind caused him to draw in a sharp breath, pain rising steadily from the knot in his stomach and settling in the lump that had been in his throat for the past three days. His eyes closed and the vision of Doyle leaping onto that light, sacrificing himself for them and countless strangers, earning his place as a hero after enduring unimaginable anguish haunted him for the thousandth time. He reached out and gripped the door frame blindly as the sound of that last agonized scream reverberated through his memories, his breaths coming in fast bursts as the grief fractured his motionless heart inside his chest all over again. How could he help people, protect them when he couldn't even protect Doyle?

Death wasn't something new, he was closer to it than most are to family; it was a part of him through and through. He'd lost people hundreds of times, should be used to it by now…but this was proving to be something unique. This time it was affecting him so deeply he had difficulty concealing it. He figured it was Doyle getting his way after all was said and done; he'd wanted Angel to be more human…to open up…to feel…now he couldn't seem to turn it off.

Aside from Buffy and now Cordelia, Doyle was the only person he had ever allowed himself to truly care for. Buffy was his heart, his deepest love, the woman he would have given it all to marry and have a normal life with. Cordelia was like a beloved little sister; the way she looked up to him, needed his protection from the darkness in the world and felt safe enough around him to be her childlike self instilled eternal love and devotion in him. She reminded him that he could be a good person despite it all, hearing her laugh and seeing her smile were the only rewards he got for his efforts. It was enough to keep him going.

But Doyle

Angel held onto the door frame for support, gritting his teeth as the grief cut him deeper still; he was squeezing his eyes shut with silent tears streaming down his face. The agony of the loss was nearly crippling, threatening to send him to his knees in the middle of the hallway.

Doyle had been Angel's only friend in the world. He didn't need to be strong for Doyle; he just needed to be himself – someone he'd forgotten how to be. They'd enjoyed spending time together, had spent countless hours in the dimly lit kitchen of Angel's apartment just talking. Some nights the whisky sat unopened on the table between them, other nights it ran dry – all depended on the topic of the evening. Life, love, regrets…they'd let one another in. Doyle's friendship was something Angel hadn't experienced since childhood. He figured the Powers That Be had sent him an Irishman on purpose; hearing that familiar brogue reminded him of the days before he'd been changed – he'd even noticed his old accent slipping out occasionally, his speech patterns and phrases sounding uncannily as they had when he was human. He saw a lot of himself in his wild days when he'd looked at Doyle – the drinking to stop the pain, the detachment from the world. Doyle hadn't realized when he'd come that he needed exactly what he was sent to provide Angel – a link, a connection to others, a light to lead him out of his self-inflicted solitude.

Angel tried to smile through the pain recalling the first time Doyle had seen Cordelia, it only brought on a sob that he quickly muffled with his trembling hand. He'd fallen head over heels for her from that very first snide comment; the memories of his tireless attempts to get her to let him get closer were bittersweet now. Angel's little sister had found someone who could see past her shell of superficiality, someone he approved of and had hoped would have the chance to love her. He couldn't imagine anyone else able to give her the attention she needed, anyone else with such an understanding of why she was so outwardly cold. Both of them were carefully guarded against the world, efforts to protect gentle hearts from further pain. Little by little she'd been letting Doyle in, his smile and humor and adoration seeping through the walls she had spent so long building around herself. He'd refused to pay her attempts to dissuade him any attention, knew there was a sweet girl beneath it all and had been determined to reach her.

And they'd finally gotten their chance

Angel learned during Cordelia's first breakdown that Doyle's demon side had been brought to light just before his death; that they'd finally laid all the cards on the table and had been ready to try at a relationship together. It made the pain somehow worse, if that was possible.

They'd reached the office after sending the Lister demons safely on their way and she'd slipped into shock. She wasn't speaking or crying yet as she turned on the video – her only link to the man she'd finally accepted her love for. By the tenth time she'd watched it Angel tried to get her to turn it off, not wanting her to keep subjecting herself to it – or him since it was breaking his heart.

Cordelia lost it when he reached for the remote, words pouring from her desperately. "Why? Why, Angel? Why did he have to do it?" She'd screamed with tears streaming down her face. "We talked – I knew what he was and we were going to try. Didn't he want to stay with me? Didn't he really love me? Wasn't I enough?"

Angel's jaw dropped as her questions tore at him, sitting beside her and trying to pull her into his arms. She fought him off for a moment, her screams of "No, no Angel! Nooo…" changed to sobs as she brought her fists against his chest.

"I love him; Angel…why isn't that enough? Can't he come back for me? He can't leave me – not now! I just want to be with him…he can't really be gone…say it – tell me it's not real…" She pleaded, looking into his eyes as she frantically gripped fistfuls of his shirt.

Angel couldn't speak as tears rolled down his cheeks, he tried to hold her again but she snapped. The knowledge that it was final, that there would be nothing more for them, that she'd never see his smile or learn the comfort of his embrace…hear him calling her 'princess' again…they fueled a hysterical rage and sent her to her feet shrieking red-faced.

"Why didn't you stop him? He didn't know any better! Why did you let him do it? Whatever he did in his life wasn't bad enough for him to have to die to make up for! You should have tried, Angel! He was your friend! You could have done it faster…it would have been okay…everything would have been okay…" Her hand went to her mouth as she let out a long sob, "If he hadn't kissed me he could have been there in time to stop it without dying. Why? Why did he have to kiss me, Angel?"

Angel felt dizzy from the pain now, staring at the floor with tear-blurred vision as he fought to speak. Hearing her blaming him was only echoing his own thoughts. "Because he couldn't risk dying without doing it, Cordy; you were the only thing he wanted in his life." He managed in a choked whisper as he looked up at her, it was all he could do to swallow back sobs as he stood and walked to her.

Cordelia clung to him, weeping uncontrollably and slowly collapsing to the floor with him following her, keeping her in his arms as she screamed in mourning. "Doyle…please, Doyle…please…please…God, noooo…" She'd sobbed incoherently against his chest as she hyperventilated. All he could do was hold her as she wept, not moving away until she finally lost consciousness the following morning.

It had been three days since then; he'd gone to the Oracles and begged for Doyle's life in vain, hadn't slept or fed in all that time. The task had been left for him to go and clear out Doyle's place, boxing up his possessions and bringing them back to the office, stacking them in the closet of his bedroom. They'd stay with him for centuries if he had any say in the matter, reminding him of their bond without him having to lift a single cover.

He would still be in his apartment, sitting at the table with the bottle of whisky and two empty shot glasses, staring at the empty chair across from him if not for the need to check on Cordelia. She wasn't answering her phone, didn't respond whenever he came knocking. Every time he would have to let himself in and would find her staring off into space, her eyes red and swollen from the endless tears. Knowing grief intimately he'd brought one of Doyle's shirts for her, had bagged the rest to keep his scent around for when she needed it. She'd clutched it to her chest when he offered it to her, smelling it and curling up with it as she bawled. He couldn't get her to eat or drink, couldn't get her to leave the apartment or speak to him. Seeing her anguish made the emptiness all the more difficult to endure. He couldn't make it better, couldn't protect her from this darkness. She didn't smile or laugh for him anymore, with Doyle's death he'd lost everything he needed in the world.

The door opened slowly and he took a deep breath seeing no one standing behind it. "Thank you, Dennis." He whispered and wiped the tears from his face, entering and listening to the door closing behind him.

No lights were on, the curtains were drawn and air was still – all of the joy seemed to have been sucked from this place just as it had been from their lives. He pushed the door to her bedroom and sighed as he found her sitting up with her knees drawn to her chest, her eyes locked on the window but not seeing it. She looked so pale, dark lines beneath her eyes attesting to the fact that she wasn't sleeping either.

The food he'd left for her the night before sat untouched on her bedside table and he crossed the room, picking up the containers and replacing them with the new ones he'd brought. She didn't bat an eyelash as he sat beside her on the bed; her hand was cold and limp as he took it in his own.

"Cordy…how are you feeling?" He choked out, wincing at the sight of her broken nails and bloodied knuckles from one of her breakdowns.

She turned to face him slowly and he looked up in surprise, it was the most response he'd gotten out of her in days. The anguish he saw in her eyes crushed him but he didn't look away, she was taking a breath as her bottom lip quivered, her nostrils flaring as she steadied herself to tell him something. "Doyle…" She whispered and Angel watched her swallow back pain at just saying his name. "He…gave me…" She tried, her voice cracking as Angel squeezed her hand and nodded for her to keep going. "His visions."

Angel's eyes widened in surprise. "What?" He breathed in confusion.

"When he kissed me…he passed his visions to me." Cordy said softly, her eyes welling up all over again. "That was why he did it, Angel. He didn't do it because he loved me." Her voice gave out on her, the last part coming in less than a whisper.

"Cordelia…" Angel began with a sigh, looking down at her hand again and shaking his head. "He might not have even known he'd passed them to you…or maybe it was that he trusted you to keep the one thing he had in the world that was worth giving, that he believed in you…but there is nothing I've been so sure of in my entire life than the fact that he was in love with you."

Cordy nodded and closed her eyes; her lips were trembling uncontrollably as tears streamed down her face again.

Angel reached out and brushed a strand of hair from her face, tucking it behind her ear and putting his hand under her chin. He waited for her to open her eyes, forcing a smile for her before continuing. "Knowing Doyle he probably could have given you those visions by winking at you but used it as a convenient excuse to finally kiss you." Cordelia smiled weakly despite her tears and nodded. "So…do you want to tell me what you saw?" He asked, picking up a notebook and pen from her bedside table and offering them to her.


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