For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in had,
From a world more full of weeping than he can understand.
- W.B. Yeats, The Stolen child
Angel first became aware of warm fingers trailing lightly down his bare chest. He opened his eyes slowly to gaze contentedly up at the hand's owner. Doyle sat next to him in the bed, as naked as his companion. He was watching his own hand trace meaningless patterns on Angel's skin with rapt interest.
Angel's mind felt slightly hazy. All his memories seemed to blur together into harmless patterns of light and dark leaving him floating. For once safely free of the pain and guilt that had controlled him for so long. Even the specifics of how he had ended up here, in his bed with his best friend were uncertain, but it didn't really seem to matter.
"I'd wanted this for so long," Angel said quietly.
Doyle's gaze finally rose to meet his. "You and me both, Ang'," he answered just as softly. His gaze was as warm as his touch, and just as loving. Then he returned his attention to his hand as he rested it lightly over Angel's still heart. "I'd never really thought it was possible," he mused, sounding more like he was talking to himself instead of Angel.
Angel's brows drew together slightly. "This?" He asked, raising his hand to cup Doyle's cheek gently, making a slight caress out of the gesture and drawing the other man's gaze back to his face for a moment before it slid away again.
"No," he answered. "Well, yeah actually..." A rueful smile. "This too." The smile faded again. "What I meant though was... well... fallin' in love with two people at once." His eyes came back to meet Angel's again. "I didn' think that that was possible, but I managed it. I didn't mean to. It jus' sorta... happened. You and Cordy… you're the whole world to me. I don't think that I could face life without one of you… either of ya. I'm a coward that way, I guess."
"Doyle..." Angel wasn't given a chance to speak as Doyle leaned down quickly and cut him off with a light kiss. He didn't sit back up again, but stretched out next to Angel and remained poised just above him as the two started deeply into each other's eyes. "I love you," Doyle breathed softly.
"I love you, too." The whispered words seemed to leave Angel more naked than his lack of clothes. He had not even admitted to himself yet how he truly felt about the half-demon, but found he had no doubt that it was true.
Doyle's eyes filled with tears, but they didn't fall. "I want you to be happy, man. I want that more than anything."
"I am happy," Angel said running his fingers through the silken coolness of Doyle's hair. "Right now... like this... with you. I'm happier than I have any right to be."
This time a tear did escape Doyle's beautiful eyes to fall onto Angel's face. Angel could feel the warmth of it against his cool skin as it rolled down his cheek as though he had cried his friend's tear. He slipped his hand around the back of Doyle's neck to draw him back down for another kiss. It was tender and slow and Angel lost himself in the sweet warmth of his friend, wondering why he had denied himself this for so long.
Doyle pulled away first, slightly breathless. "Gods, I love you." His voice was rough with emotion and unshed tears. "That's why I had to do it, ya have t' understand. I never meant t' hurt either of ya. I just needed you both to be safe and happy so damn badly. It was all I could think about. Promise me that you'll always try to be happy. That you'll always try t' see that she's happy."
"Promise me Angel, please." Doyle's voice and gaze was suddenly fierce and desperate.
"I promise," Angel whispered after a moment, wanting only to calm his new lover.
The tension drained out of Doyle. "Jus' be happy," he said again, "whether ya think you deserve it or not, ya do. Don't let the past destroy you, and don't worry about hurtin' me, you can't. I just need you... both of you... t' be okay."
"Doyle..." Angel started again. Something was very wrong here, but Angel couldn't figure out what it was and it was starting to scare him.
Doyle cut him off again with another light kiss. "I love ya both so damn much." The light in the room seemed to fade as he spoke.
"Doyle?" Angel reached out to find nothing in the sudden darkness. "Doyle!"
"Doyle," his soft, pleading cry seemed to echo in the silence of his empty room as Angel opened his eyes. The crushing weight of the past, absent in the dream, slammed back down on him again, leaving him gasping for air he didn't need. With it came the knowledge of what had been so wrong in the dream.
Angel closed his eyes again trying to block phantom memories of the taste of lips that he had never known, and the feel of a body that he had never held. Doyle's voice, from both the dream and the harsh reality of that night, echoed in his mind until thought he would go crazy.
The good fight, yeah.
I never meant to hurt either of ya.
You and Cordy… you're the whole world to me.
Ya never know 'til you've been tested. I get that now.
Promise me that you'll always try to be happy. That you'll always try t' see that she's happy.
Angel rolled on to his side, trying to swallow down the pain. All he could do was wait until morning, when Cordelia would arrive for the day. When her bright presence would at least partially dispel the darkness within his own mind and soul. Until then he was left alone with his ghosts, with the guilt of not having been able to save the one life that meant so much to him. Sleep would not come again tonight, and the morning was a long way off.
Angel lay still in the dark, wishing for the catharsis of tears that would never come.