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Generally, it was a good thing Angel was around. Generally, Doyle enjoyed his company. But some days he found it hard to be around him. It was always something in the way his stomach twisted into tight little knots, and his mind faltered that made him too uncomfortable to contain himself. The way the vampire would walk past all straight faced and concentrated and accidently brush Doyle’s shoulder ever so lightly in a way that gave him chills. And then if Angel would turn and make a small apology and he would silently pray the red in his cheeks wasn’t noticeable. As much as he hated it, there was a part of him that found comfort in the feeling, but for the most part, it scared him.

It was a well-known fact that Doyle liked women, loved them actually. There was Cordellia, his sweet little princess who always left him feeling a little broken hearted, no matter what she said; and there was always Harriet, she was the love of his life. It never was men, really wasn’t, Doyle just didn’t feel an attraction to men, it was just Angel, just something about him. Something in his pensive, brooding nature that drew him in. Hell, even Angel’s looks were nice, Doyle recalled thinking that after his first vision of the man, at least of course after the searing headache ceased and he was able to put the jumbled thoughts together.

Even now, in the dank, darkness of Angel’s crypt, Doyle couldn’t focus on what he was doing. Couldn’t keep himself occupied as he flipped through the various records the man kept. But this day was one of the better ones, the quiet mornings where Angel would be meditating or practicing his tai chi, practically dead to world, well deader. He wouldn’t notice the occasional stares the Irishman would find himself caught in.

“Didn’t know you were a Boston fan.” His smooth Irish drawl came gently, quietly as if he was fearful of disturbing Angel, and he was. He didn’t want to get his attention, didn’t want to disturb the man from what he was doing in a desperate attempt to keep the attention veered away from him and his staring eyes.

Angel just shrugged a bit to his question and continued with what he was doing. “Who isn’t?” He mused lightly in return, not wanting to leave Doyle’s prodding unanswered. “You know it’s not nice to go through peoples’ things without asking.”

He froze up immediately at that, hoping that he hadn’t offended, but Doyle managed an amused snicker and rolled his eyes. “Yeah well, couldn’t help myself, got curious. Surprised you actually listen to music, no offense, just always took you for the type who wasn’t really down with pop culture.”

Moving carefully towards him, Angel took the records from Doyle’s hands and put them back in their proper place, a small, complacent smile tugging just lightly at the corners of his lips. “Music helps me keep my center sometimes. It’s a good release.”

“You know sometimes I forget ‘m talkin’ to a vampire and not a self-help group.” He teased a bit with a wide grin, stomach churning a bit when he saw the smile on Angel’s face. “Not that it’s a bad thing. Sobering really.” He fidgeted with his hands in his lap, looking down a bit and giving a distant sigh, lips parted ever so slightly as he breathed in the musty smell of the basement.

“You alright, Doyle? Or should I be worried?” He offered with a raised brow, folding his arms over his chest and leaning gently against the bookshelf.
“Fine.” He lied, smile just barely reaching his eyes in minute creases.

“Doyle.” Angel pressed, a small smirk on his face. “Cordy getting you down?”

He almost laughed at that. “No, no, s’not Cordy.” He admitted and shook his head a bit, tongue flicking out momentarily over his lips. “Kind of close though, I guess… but uh, s’fine really. Don’t worry about me right? I’m not the one who stays down in the basement and broods the day away.”

“So you’re worried about me then?” Angel rolled his eyes now a bit, lips pulled in a tight lipped smile, a part of him happy that Doyle was expressing his concern though he found it trivial.

Doyle didn’t answer for a long time, staring off distantly and giving the slightest bits of a smile. He let out a short laugh, shaking his head, eyes shut. “Yeah, sometimes I am.” He finally admitted, but really, truthfully, Doyle was more worried about himself more often than not. It seemed like the closer he got to Angel the more alienated he felt, because how could Angel ever possibly love him the way he did? How could Angel possibly return his feelings? “You just need to get out more is all, come with me for a drink-- well, me and Cordy that is. Or just me if she’s not up for it.”

“I’m good thanks.”

Looking down in something of failure, Doyle shrugged. “I’m in love with you.” He whispered, really it was less than a whisper, barely a breath of air as he shrugged his shoulders once more, a part of him hoping Angel hadn’t heard, though his expression said it all and he felt rejection bounding around the corner, damn vampires and their ridiculous sense of hearing.

“What?” He sputtered, looking more confused than he usually did. Angel had been alive long enough to know when someone was joking and the almost hurt expression on Doyle’s face was enough for him to gauge just how serious the man was. He didn’t know what to say, rarely did, but now more than ever. Doyle was his friend, he cared about him and Angel knew that saying the wrong thing or even nothing at all could take that all away. “You… love me? Like a brother or…?”

“Or.” Doyle said, inclining his head to the side a bit and letting out a soft slow sigh, crossing his arms over his chest and tapping his foot, almost eager to leave, planning on bolting.

“I didn’t know you were g—” Doyle cut him off there.

“I’m not.”

The awkward silence that wormed between them was enough to make the half-demon’s face heat up, red hot with embarrassment and disappointment. At least it wasn’t the reaction he’d been expecting, after all it could’ve been much worse, right? Angel could’ve hated him for it, laughed at him, but no he was at least taking it seriously.

“It’s just you.” It sounded a lot senseless to him out loud. Doyle swallowed thickly and averted his gaze, moving to the elevator as if to leave though a hand on his shoulder stopped him.

“No, don’t. I’m sorry I just… don’t know what to say.” Angel stated, offering a small attempt at a reassuring smile. “I’m flattered if that helps.”

“A little, yeah.”

“How long?”

“Since the second I met you.”

And now Angel was smiling, for once Doyle was looking at an actual smile and it made his stomach flip over and turn on itself at the sight of the vampire legitimately pleased; and if that wasn’t enough for him to be internally screaming, the warm hug he found himself suddenly tugged into was. Doyle honestly almost felt like crying in pure relief, and he allowed himself to put arms around the taller male and close his eyes as he, for just those brief seconds, felt at home, felt comfortable with how Angel made him feel.