Playlist for Reading:

"Into Dust" by: Mazzy Star
"Song to the Siren" by: This Mortal Coil
"Who Am I to Say?" by: Hope
"Memories" by: Within Temptation
"Goodbye, My Almost Lover" by: A Fine Frenzy
"Now We Are Free" by: Hans Zimmer & Lisa Gerrard


LETTER ONE:

From a Princess to a Fallen Hero


Dear Doyle,

It seems so retarded to sit here and actually write a letter to you after what happened but…let's just say I haven't been taking things very well…so Angel says writing might help. He's sitting behind the desk in his office right now, literally watching me through the window to make sure I do this. I guess it's supposed to help me get everything out or something like that, keep me from repressing it all. Honestly, though, I don't even know where to begin. I'm still trying so hard to understand how any of this can be real. I mean, it can't be real…can it?

Wanna know something messed up? Every time the office door opens, I catch myself looking up hopefully. Some part of me still expects to find you standing there, hung-over and smiling, offering me some lame-ass excuse for dropping off the face of the earth for the past week. Denial, party of one, right? I can hear you telling me that I'm 'lookin' great today' even with my eyes all puffy and red like this, apologizing for worrying me.

And you know what? I would accept it. I swear to God, if you came back to me I would completely forgive you for faking me out.

But it's not you that walks through the door, Doyle. And it never will be again.

Knowing that…just knowing I'm never going to get the chance to tell you everything I want to say, everything I should have said…I don't even have the words to properly express how bad it hurts. It steals my breath, it drains all of the strength right out of me, crushes me, breaks me.

I never used to understand the expressions, "aching" or "starving" for someone. I do now. My chest and stomach have been tensed up since you left, like something inside me is reaching out for you. It's like starving to death and knowing the only thing that can save me is out of reach. It feels like without you I'll just fade away, wither and die. I've been waiting, praying it will hurt less but it keeps getting worse.

Maybe that's why I'm clinging so desperately to the denial.

Since you'll never get to read this, I guess I don't need to sugarcoat things for you. I can't sleep. I haven't been able to since…before the last time you and I talked. It's just that I don't understand, Doyle. I lay awake and think maybe it would make sense if you could explain it to me, I miss the way you explained things to me. I can't eat and I haven't said anything in three days. That was when it really hit me that you were gone. Now I just can't bring myself to speak. It seems…pointless or something…or too draining to accomplish.

I know – that's hard to believe. Cordy? Not talking? You would probably tease me that we could find it listed in one of those big, dusty books as a sure sign of the apocalypse. It's sad, inconceivable, but it's also true. I think I kinda gave up, accepted that words aren't going to help me.

I did manage to get out of bed and come to work this morning for the first time since…you know…but honestly? It was just so I could sit here and watch the door. See, when Angel came to check on me yesterday, I started bawling my eyes out. This irrational panic just hit me out of nowhere. It felt like someone needed to be here, just in case you came back, just in case you needed us.

So yeah – I guess all of this sorta makes the reasons for Angel's unwelcomed advice apparent.

If I wasn't so broke I would put vamp-boy's mind at ease and pay a therapist to tell us what I already know, that I'm in shock. Unfortunately, with us living the life of the perpetually impoverished, I get stuck with Dr. Angel in there. He's been following me around, worrying over me as if you passed the freaking torch to him or something. His answer to dealing with this is the same as his answer for everything else. I guess he thinks I should follow his example of sitting in the dark, brooding in silence.

Me? Eh, not so much on the silence. I might not be talking but my throat is sore from sobbing at this point. Maybe Angel is hoping if I write this, his eardrums will get a rest. It's just that I'm so…angry and frustrated and…God, heartbroken and aching and…I just want to see you again. I want to look into your eyes and know that you're okay.

It feels like a bad dream, like a nightmare I can't wake up from. I guess that helps me, you know? To think of it that way – to trick myself into believing I'm under a spell or got poisoned by the latest sewer-dwelling nastiness.

And this is all just a dream.

In reality, I'm in some kind of coma but you're fine, you're safe. You're with Angel right now, researching how to make me all better. You're on the internet, he has his nose buried in the books and I'm lying over there on the couch. Neither of you have had the chance to take me downstairs. It's just as well, though. You can't surf the web bedside and there's no way in hell you're going to leave me alone like this.

You'll find the cure…but it will require some really bizarre ingredient. And you'll call everyone you can think of trying to find it. You won't give up on me, will do whatever it takes to bring me back to you. The two of you will fix this if I just wait; if I just hang on and don't believe what I'm seeing is real. Any second now, I'll open my eyes and everything will be right again.

Not like it could get any more wrong, everything here is so horrible, Doyle.

But if I'm patient, I'll wake up. You'll be smiling down at me. Both of you will try to act macho despite your eyes being all misty. You'll tell me not to scare you like this again. You'll scoop me up in a hug while Angel gives me a purposeful smile over your shoulder. He's ratting you out, you see. He's telling me without words that you've been worrying for me like crazy. You'll say we're still going out to dinner, tell me that I'm not getting off the hook that easy, and we'll laugh it off.

I think my coma theory is more feasible than the alternative. I mean, come on. The day I realized I love you was the same day you died. No, I refuse to believe that really happened. It's too brutal, even for the PTB. It's like something from freaking Shakespeare or one of those other writers that got twisted amusement from tearing people's hearts out. It just seems like some Big Bad's idea of a cruel joke.

It isn't fair, Doyle. How is this fair? We were there. We were right freaking there and then wham! I lost you. One minute I'm planning out what to wear to dinner that'll make your heart skip a beat, the next you're gone forever.

And it just brings me back to that same sickening knowledge – that none of this has made a difference. None of these words have changed anything, just wasted ink and wasted paper, wasted time and wasted hope.

I miss you so much. It's only been a matter of days and I can't get over how much I already miss your laugh and smile - the one with the dimples, the way your eyes would light up when I walked into the room, hearing you call me 'princess', and even your bad fashion sense. I never got a chance to tell you I loved listening to your accent, to fess up about how I used to get you flustered on purpose because it made your brogue thicker.

I just wish things were different. I just wish I could hug you and kiss you and tell you how much you mean to me. It cuts me up to know that what we had was our first and last kiss. How could this happen to us? What did we do to deserve any of this? I know you made mistakes, Angel tried to explain it all to me, but none of it was bad enough to earn you a death sentence. It feels like I can't even breathe anymore.

I talked to you a lot the first night, I hope you heard me. I told you that your demon side wasn't a face I could 'learn to love' because I already do love you. I told you I need you and God, I'd give anything for another chance with you. I should have been nicer, I know that. I was just so afraid that I would shift my priorities to something less glamorous than a future in Hollywood only to get burned all over again. See, I never got to explain it to you but the reason I tried so hard to ignore you was because I…got burned once. Never mind, come to think of it I really don't feel like getting into it right now.

I wonder if I had gotten over my fears sooner, whether you still would have left me. I wonder if I would hurt less right now if Angel had died. I know that makes me a horrible person, but it's true. We would be so sad, but we would be together, we could get one another through it. You would be holding me right now, kissing my forehead…

The sad thing is I can't even convince myself that things would be better for us on that path. With him gone, where would that leave us? Would the PTB send you to relay visions to somebody else? Given their penchant for meddling in people's lives, I'm doubting they would have said, 'so your champion is dead? Oh, well then you're free to go. No more migraines for you, bub.' And if you had been set free from your gig as messenger-boy, what would we do for money? I mean, we were all just barely managing to get by with the few jobs Angel charges for.

Then I get really angry, you know? Like we were just destined to be screwed over no matter what, like we were doomed from the get-go but someone forgot to tell us not to get attached to each other. And I start trying to place blame somewhere, laying out all the 'what-if's in my mind.

What if you hadn't kissed me? Would you have survived if you'd jumped sooner? So I get mad at you.

What if Angel had just jumped, no hesitation, no talking and giving you the chance to do it instead? Would he have lived? We're talking entire minutes of time wasted from the point he said that he was going to do it to the point when…

So I get furious with him. And, I feel really bad for this, but since he was here and you weren't…I sorta vented all that anger on him the night it happened. I told him this was all his fault. I told him he shouldn't have let you do it. I told him he hadn't tried hard enough, that he could have done it faster, that everything would have been okay. I can't be sure, but I think I might have hit him a few times, too. He took it like a champ, though.

I guess that little meltdown is another contributing factor to my abnormal silence. Honestly? I'm afraid what I'll say if I open my mouth again. I mean, it's not like he cried or anything (God forbid he ever demonstrate a full spectrum of human emotions) but I hurt him and I didn't mean to. I know he's just as messed up about this as I am, but he's better at hiding it.

I have some experience in pretending everything is sunshine and smiles despite the world crashing down around me…but I don't think I can do it this time, you know? This is so much worse than anything I've ever had to get through. My parents losing all of our money, having my heart broken by a complete loser, living in the ghetto…none of it hurt like this. I can't put on a happy face and act like it isn't taking all of my energy just to keep breathing. I mean, how am I supposed to live my life now? I don't know how to act like I'm okay with this. I'm not. It's just…I keep going back and forth between being royally pissed off and absolutely inconsolably heartbroken. So the only breaks I get are the periods of numbness and denial.

I keep thinking about your cross, the one you wore on that leather throng around your neck sometimes. You know, the really old looking silver one I made you show me with the pretty circle in the middle. Celtic, I think that's what you said it was. But it's not here and it wasn't at your apartment, either.

I didn't snoop through your stuff, I promise. I asked your Mom and Harri if they could give it to me since they were the ones who boxed everything up at your place. When they were done they called to say they couldn't find it. Like that's it, you know? Like, 'sorry, everything is gone' and 'why would you even care? We're the ones grieving.'

How am I supposed to broach that topic with them now? "Yeah, I know you just lost your son and you just lost your ex but surprise! Doyle and I were an item…for like two minutes before he…"

They really have no idea how much I care about you. Angel says because your Mom didn't give you the heads up about your demon side, you and her didn't really talk much. He says her not knowing that there was something between us is evidence of the lack of communication. He swears that anyone who had a conversation longer than three minutes with you knew exactly how you felt about me. I think he was trying to make me feel better, and in some tiny way he did. Because I know he's telling the truth.

After they told me they couldn't find the cross, I went to your place to see for myself…but everything was gone. Even your awful orange curtains weren't there anymore. It was just walls and carpet. So not only did I realize I missed the chance to take something to remember you by, I also had to face it…that you weren't coming home.

That was when I stopped talking, when I gave up, and when Angel went into hyper code-red worry mode. It smelled like you there and…well, at least it was something. Some small part of you I could still have. I guess I just wanted to stay there, to pretend you were with me, you know? And I did. I just sat there for hours, staring at the door and taking deep breaths of the only trace you left behind. I think I was waiting for you there like I am here at the office.

Angel showed up and found me sometime in the middle of the night. I was so mad; I knew he was going to make me leave…

But he didn't. Not for a long time, anyway. I think seeing the place empty like that hit him as hard as it hit me. He just sat on the floor next to me and didn't say a word. We watched the door together, waited for you together.

He's really broken up inside, Doyle. I guess the reason he's watching over me like a vampish mother hen is because it's the only thing he can think of to do. It's like you left me behind so the only way he can pay you back and honor your memory is by keeping me safe. He treats me like I'm the only part of you he has left…and that kinda makes me glad. I like being thought of as yours.

As for me, all I have left of you in the world, the only piece of you here to console me, the only evidence that you were in my life, is our commercial. I watch that tape every day now but it doesn't offer much comfort. It doesn't laugh or smell like whisky or make me smile like you did. It kills me that I didn't hit record sooner, that I didn't leave it rolling for just a few more minutes so I would have more of you with me now.

I feel like I should have known how important that day was, like something inside of me should have said, 'hey, dummy – you're running out of time here'.

I wish I could go back to that morning, just wake up knowing what I know now and do everything differently. We could have spent the whole day kissing and cuddling, doing sweet stuff together. I could have shown you I was worth all of your efforts to rope me in, but then you thought that right from the start, didn't you? I could have warned you and Angel about that stupid light.

You both would have come up with some convoluted plan that wouldn't make sense to me but in the end it would work out. And then you would be here with me right now, sitting on the edge of my desk watching me work. You would be grinning like crazy and making me say over and over again that you're my boyfriend because hearing it would never get old. You would be telling everyone who walked into our office that we were together. I'd tease you for it, of course, but you'd say none of my comments could spoil it for you.

Sometimes I wonder if this would be easier to handle if you hadn't kissed me. Like maybe if I didn't have that memory, I wouldn't be starving for the chance to hold you again, like I wouldn't know what I was missing. You were warm and soft and right. You were perfect. And I was an idiot, I didn't know what I had until it was too late. I've never had someone tell me they loved me without saying a thing before – yet I've never known the truth of it from words like I did when you showed me. It was so clear, it was there in your eyes, in the way you touched me.

None of your warmth is here for me now and it drives me crazy. I just feel empty and alone inside, like half of me is missing without you. How did you become so crucial to my happiness? I mean, I can't pinpoint at what exact moment you became my best friend in the world.

I keep worrying that I'm missing chances to see you by not sleeping. Maybe you're there, waiting for me right now. You want to tell me how sorry you are that things went this way. You want to hold me and kiss me and promise to always be with me in my dreams. You want to tell me that your sacrifice earned you a mansion up in heaven, that we'll be together there forever when I die.

But I just can't fall asleep; no matter how exhausted I am, I can't get my mind to shut down. I relive those last moments. I see that look in your eyes that scared me to death but awed me in the same instant. You knew. I mean, you just knew there was no other way and you were okay with it. You accepted it. And you were thankful that I was there to see it, there to kiss you goodbye and watch you in your finest hour.

It isn't fair that the real you was only revealed in the light that stole you away from me. You saved us, Doyle; all of us. You were so incredibly brave.

Damn it! Now broody-boy is coming out to check on me because I'm sobbing again…and do you know why? It's because I can hear you, Doyle. I can hear your voice in my head, your response to me calling you brave:

"You think you can say that again without so much shock in your voice?
You're stepping on my moment of manliness here."

And again, it's not that I'm surprised – it's that I'm grateful for you.

You were so much more than you ever showed the world. You hid it; you locked up a heart of gold, put on this show of being some bad person to keep everyone away from you. It makes sense now, knowing how ashamed you were over the whole half-demon thing…I didn't understand before how you went from volunteering at soup kitchens and teaching third graders to ducking bookies and drowning yourself in booze. You played the part of a drunken gambler because you thought you deserved the hate it brought, didn't you? And the ruse kept everyone from seeing the truth, that you were this amazing person inside, that you were sweet and compassionate and warm, that you cared about so much more than your next drink.

God, that's what you saw in me, isn't it? That's why you responded so much to me. You could see that I was putting up a front just like you were; that my snide comments and flippant attitude are just defensive measures. We had so much more in common than I ever realized…

And you were so totally on to me, weren't you? Huh. Who knew so much wisdom could be hidden away under such hideous clothing. Well…kudos to you for your insightfulness…but let's just keep it between the two of us, okay? It'll be our little secret.

Doyle? Since you knew the truth about me being a big softy, can I tell you something?

I'm scared. Like really, truly terrified right now…and it's because I don't know what to do without you by my side. When I didn't have anyone in the world you walked into my life and, no matter how hard I tried to fight it, we just fit together. It was you and me, keeping Angel connected to the world and giving one another someone to confide in. You were the one who understood me, who kept things light around here even when the going got tough. Now that you're gone, I lost not only what might have been between us, but also what we already were: friends.

Shit, the paper guy just walked by the office and gave me a weird look. He's looking for you, ya know. He's wondering why you aren't rushing out to grab it from him and talk about last night's game. Great, and now he's tossing it on the couch and staring at the others there that have been piling up since you left. Please don't let him ask me where you are…I don't think I could take it.

I haven't been able to bring myself to touch all those papers, other than to open them up and lay them out for you. I don't know if I'll ever be able to. If they stacked up to the ceiling I still don't think I'd be able to throw them away, Angel would have to do it when I wasn't around. That same irrational fear wells up inside me every time I consider getting rid of them. Like if I throw them away then I'm accepting that you'll never be back to read them, like you're not really gone until I let it be real. I don't want to kill you, Doyle. I don't want to let your memory fade, to let you go.

God, how can this be happening? The ache is getting stronger again, I'm sobbing again. But how can I not be? You should be sitting right there, Doyle! You should be lounging on the couch in front of me, smiling at me over your paper. We should be joking around, flirting in our special way, the way that no one else in the world would recognize as flirting but you always did.

All I can think about…dream about…is seeing you and holding you. I don't want to keep going with my life if you're not here with me. I know I was a horrible bitch to you, I know I wasn't good enough for you but I'm so incredibly sorry for every way I hurt you. I acted like I didn't even notice you but I can't handle this! I did notice you, I did need you, and I still do because I love you! I swear I do, please come back to me! I'll be better, I promise. If you come back, you'll see. I'll try so hard and you'll be so happy. You can help me let my guard down, help me be the kind of person you deserve. I'll help you, too. We'll get our lives straight together. We'll be together like you wanted, like I wanted but was too afraid to show.

Please don't leave me like this.

Why can't you come home to us? Angel said he tried to get the Oracles to fix it but they wouldn't help. Isn't there some other way, though? Isn't there something I can do, something I can give to bring you back? We got a shot at love, Doyle. That love should be enough to bring you back. Shouldn't it?

There has to be someone out there who can help me. Angel gets so mad when I say that but I don't care. He says it's dangerous to think like that, to wish in my heart that I could offer something in exchange for you. He says it might summon something really bad, that you wouldn't want me to take such a risk, blah blah blah.

It's tough for me to think of anyone or anything that could bring you back to me as being 'bad'. So secretly, I've been broadcasting that wish in my mind, telling anyone or anything out there that will listen that I'm open for negotiations. I even started thinking up what I'd be willing to give in order to have you back. A long, insanely happy life together in exchange for a few years in a hell dimension after I die seems reasonable, right? I could totally do that.

But then it all fades away, all the bargaining with non-existent higher beings for your return, and it's still just me here. I'm still alone in our space, still staring at an empty couch with an empty heart.

Begging won't bring you back to me. Crying won't bring you back to me…not like that's gonna be enough to make me stop, though.

So what now, Doyle? What comes next? I'm just supposed to carry on? Find a way to live with a hole in my heart? Keep fighting the good fight?

The scary part is when I try to convince myself to do that, the only thing that makes me consider it is the knowledge that before too long, doing so will kill me, too. Then we can be together. You're my light at the end of the tunnel; you will be for the rest of my life. When death finally comes for me, I'll be excited even if I'm terrified or in pain in those last seconds. Because I know when the world fades away, you'll be there waiting for me, won't you? Right now, you're up in heaven or wherever we're heading just smiling that I've gotten it right, aren't you? I'm right that you'll be standing at the door for however long it takes until you can see me again.

So that's what I'll cling to, that's how I'll make myself live until I can eventually die.

Until then, promise me you'll watch over me? I just need to know you're near. Do whatever it takes, kick Dennis out if you have to – just stay by my side. And you better haunt me, too, damn it. Just make sure whatever you do, it screams 'Doyle'. Hold me while I'm curled up in bed, write a message on my mirror, hell, even blow the door open while I'm taking a shower one of these nights and I'll know for sure that it's you. You had to leave me in life, don't leave me in death, okay? I'm not ready to lose you yet.

I don't understand how I can be so angry at you for this but at the same time be so proud of you.

I am, though. Proud of you for your courage and bravery, for saving us all, for kissing me even though you were always so afraid I would turn you away. You're a beautiful person, Doyle. I guess, even with all the heartbreak, I'm glad I got to see that before the end.

So, with all of my heart, know that I love you. We'll be together again soon, one way or another. Hazard of the job, right?

Love always and forever,
Your princess, Cordelia


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