He kisses you hard, at first, hard enough to push you back, even though all you want to do is sink in, draw closer to him. He tastes like whiskey, and dust, and something you think might be demon if only it wasn't so sweet.

His hand is on your head, as if he's afraid you'll pull away (as if you would deny him this, when you know this is his last chance, because he didn't punch Angel off the platform to doom them all, he did it to save the Champion he had been sent to protect) (as if you could deny yourself this, when you know this is your last chance, because there will be no dinner date, no shy first kiss in the doorway of your apartment, no waking up beside him, this will never happen now), and your hand trails up his arm, wanting to clutch and grab at the hideous brown jacket that doesn't seem so hideous, not on him, not anymore.

His kiss is soft, then, and tender, and your lips buzz with some kind of power (you'd call it demon, if only it wasn't so sweet). Too soon he pulls away, and no, he can't go yet because once he's gone he isn't coming back.

But if you learned anything from your years in Sunnydale, you learned that no one lives forever, not even immortals, and sometimes, good people have to die. You have gone to enough funerals to know, have stood over too many graves. He will just be another headstone.

(Except- the bright, blinding light flares, and when it's gone, so is he. There is no body, there isn't even ash. There will be no funeral, no grave, no headstone with his name carved into it. He is dead, well and truly dead, and he has left behind less of a body than even vampires)

(Except- the others you have lost- too many to count, too many to name- were to be expected. You can't live on a Hellmouth without a few dead people. But you have never looked at him and thought, I will lose you. It's not that you thought he couldn't be a hero; you knew he could, you've known since that vampire attacked you after the horrible date, when he saved you and got hurt and only cared that you were okay. Its more that you simply never considered losing him. Not him.)

Angel's chest is solid with muscle and cold with death, silent in a way that used to be disturbing, before you realized it was only because of the lack of heartbeat. Now its comforting and exactly what you need, clutching handfuls of his shirt in your fists and staring at the place where he should be, but isn't. Never will be. Never should have been.

The demons- people- he saved are in awe. Realizing who is really the Promised One. Their saviour. The teenager Doyle had gone back to find is choking back tears. Entire families, some crying in gratitude. A few of the elders are looking to you and Angel, unsure of what to say. Thank you or I'm sorry or he will always be remembered.


There is no funeral, no obituary, and the few people who you know knew Doyle are told over the phone, or, in Harry's case, a face-to-face meeting. She had cried, had pressed a hand over her mouth while silent tears fell from her eyes. You wonder if this is how you look, when you break down, but you doubt it. You're pretty sure that when you cry for Doyle, you sob.

It turns out word of mouth is pretty effective in the Los Angeles demon community. And since Doyle owed half of them money, it travels even quicker. Angel has to kill four different demons who come into the office demanding money, threatening you.

You wonder if that blood and slime will ever come out of the carpet, or if you should buy a cover rug.

You wonder how your life came to this.

You miss him.


You read through one of Angel's dusty old books, and you find a picture of a demon who looks like Doyle had, right before, before he-

Its labelled Bracken Demon, and there's a paragraph on their burial rituals. Doyle had no family, at least none that he was in contact with or bothered to call back, so you show Angel the book, tell him to find the special burial amulet it talks about, while you go through his things, picking out what you think he might of treasured most.

(if you steal one or two shirts, ones that smell like the not-drunk-or-hung-over version of him, no one will know)

There are words to be said, words that sound older than Latin but softer than most demon languages, and ceremonial herbs burned and dropped into the hole in the ground, outside of LA, where you are burying his things. You don't believe in this, don't really believe in anything (just because you sort of have to believe in everything, these days, doesn't mean you can't cling to some sort of cynical atheism), and Doyle probably didn't believe in this either, but it still fills you with a kind of peace when Angel begins shovelling earth into the not-grave.


You sit in the office, later, with Angel, a cup of blood in his hands and a cup of something that passes as coffee (and though you know he can smell the splash of Doyle's whiskey you mix in, Angel doesn't comment) in yours, and remember. Put in the tape of his horrible attempt to make a commercial for Angel Investigations, listen to his voice.

If y' need help, then, look no further. Angel Investigations, is the best. Our rats are low-


It says rats.

S-so, our rates, are low, but our standards, are high. When the chips are down, and you're at the end of your rope... you need someone that you can count on. And that's what you'll find here. Someone who'll go all the way. Who'll protect you, no matter what. So don't lose hope. Come on over to our offices, and you'll see, that there's still heroes, in this world.

Is that it?

...am I done?

He is.

You're not.