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almost lover

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-one

He kisses you in front of the office, quick and gentle and apologetic. "I was going to do the whole, walk you to your doorstep, goodnight kiss, thing," he blushes a bit. "but..."

You grin at him. "But we should have known better than to have a night off for a date without Angel needing us to help with something demon-y?"

"Probably should have, yeah."

Turning away from him with a flip of your hair, you open the office door, then turn back to him. "Maybe we'll have better luck next time."

Doyle barely has time to repeat a pleased, next time, before you pull him forward to properly kiss him.

Doyle kisses you like no one else ever has; like you are something rare and precious but not like you're fragile; he licks at your lips, then your mouth, like you are the best thing he's ever tasted. He tastes of whiskey and smoke and salad dressing (salad was the only food he got to before Angel called).

You've tasted leftover beer on your previous boyfriends' lips, smoke too, but none of those boys ever kissed you with love. Xander had kissed like he loved you, but he always tasted like candy or gum.

You've been kissed hard and rough and you've been kissed as if your lips are made of thin glass. You've kissed boys and men and probably a something not human (danger of Growing Up Sunnydale #65).

If you hadn't known before, you know now- you like Doyle. A LOT.

There's a noise behind you, and you break apart awkwardly to find Angel grinning like the dork he is.

You'd tease him about it if you weren't grinning just as dorkishly.

-two.

"I think I'm gonna move into the hotel." Doyle tells you one night, your head resting on his chest and his arms wrapped around you.

"Angel's hotel? Why?"

He snorts softly. "Princess, you've got a list with a dozen reasons why you are never going back to my apartment tapped to your fridge. I'd like to live some place you don't mind coming to."

You shift to see his face, shadowed in the darkness but still visible enough to be able to read any expressions. "When was the last time you even went back to your place? Between work and me not wanting to go over there, its pretty much just a storage unit, isn't is?"

Doyle nods. "Yeah. So, what with all those extra rooms Angel has laying about-"

It takes a moment to decide on a better option. "Or you could move in here,"

Doyle blinks. Once. Twice. Three times, then again, rapidly in a row. "Here?" He asks, and if you weren't Cordelia Chase, you might have felt a bit nervous. But you are, so those are not nerves fluttering in your stomach.

"Yeah, here. I mean... I'd like it, if you wanted to live here. With me." You frown at yourself because that shake in your voice is shyness.

"You... You want to live together? Are you sure?"

And that you can deal with, Doyle's weird insecurity that sometimes pops out, you know exactly how to huff and roll your eyes and reassure him, "If I didn't want to, I wouldn't have offered, Doyle. So, do you want to or not?"

He never actually answers, but he kisses you deep and holds you close, and within the month what few things he actually cares to keep (and you allow into your home) are in their own places.

Doyle has his own place, too, in your life. And you want him to stay there for a long time.

-three.

Sometimes, on quiet days when there are no cases, no visions, and Angel Investigations is just a mismatched family, hanging out in a old hotel lobby, you look around; at Wesley, with his old demony books; at Gunn, his smile softer and eyes less sharp than they had been at the beginning, and, these days, both his smile and gaze following Fred; at Fred herself, no longer hiding under tables, but laughing and researching and talking with everyone, and returning Gunn's smiles; at Connor, just a little thing, and already having caused more chaos in their lives than anything else, but so worth it; at Lorne, his ridiculous, flamboyant clothes and crooning voice-

And you think about how these people found their way to the three of you, and how it was before, back when AI was just a moping vampire with a soul, a psychic half-demon with a drinking problem, and you, the poor little no-longer-rich-girl.

Sometimes you think about how lonely you used to be, even surrounded by the friends that had followed you like sheep. You think about the boys that never listened to a word you said, how they assumed you didn't have anything interesting to say, so you never did.

You can't remember the last time you've been lonely, now, and your friends will follow you if you ask, but you will follow them right back if they ask. Doyle listens to you and cares what you think, because even the more materialistic habits you still have are interesting to him, if they're yours.

From time to time, you think about what your life would be like if you hadn't seen Angel at that party.

You don't like thinking about it for too long.

Today is a quiet day. Gunn and Fred have just gotten back from their daily pancake outing, Wesley is translating a dusty book with Angel, Lorne is happily chattering to someone on the phone in the office, and Doyle...

Connor's birth and the crises following it had been pretty dramatic, but one of the bigger one's, in your opinion, was that none of them knew how to take care of an apparently human infant- except Gunn and Doyle.

Which had provoked a smaller, quieter crisis for you, because you discovered that Doyle holding a baby was something you very much enjoyed.

You knew how you felt about Doyle- you just hadn't realized that they were the types of feelings that make you think, I want to spend the rest of my life with him.

And now, when Doyle picks up Connor, or Connor reaches out to grab at his fingers, or Doyle puts on his spikey-face to stop Connor crying (and the fact that the only things that seem to calm that kid down are demon faces, well, no ones thinking too hard on it), you can't help but get that same thought/feeling/want every time.

Angel takes his kid back eventually, and since its a slow day and looks to be a calm night, Doyle suggests they have a night in.

Their nights in are usually crappy movies and greasy takeout, curling up on their couch and not thinking about monsters or evil lawyers or any of the other things they deal with for a living.

Doyle leaves before you, saying he has some errand to run, that he'll see you at home. Right before you leave, Angel and Lorne stop you and are distracting enough that by the time you leave, Doyle'll of been home for at least an hour. Maybe that means the food will be there already, though.

There is food, when you get home, but its not greasy takeout, and there's also candles, and music, and a very nervous Doyle, and a ring.

Apparently, he wants to spend his life with you, too.

-four.

Buffy seems to think an minor apocalypse happening in the middle of your wedding reception is bad luck.

You were pretty much counting on the forces of evil doing something, because they just have the greatest timing, you're noticed.

But evil lawyers releasing some evil demon thing from one hell dimension or another to wreck havoc on the population of Los Angeles is pretty par for the course by now. And they let you have the actual wedding first.

You have a weird feeling Wesley and Lilah are to thank for that. You don't know how that's going to work out, but-

You're married, and you can't really care about Wesley's possible relationship complications right now, because a couple hours ago Doyle said I do and you said it back, and you kissed in front of your LA friends and the Sunnydale crowd. Your parents were even there.

Angel insists he can deal with the demon thing. That you should go on your honeymoon.

Doyle looks at you, and you look at him.

You both grab your weapons.

-five.

It's strange, you think, that a half-demon and a girl who was raised on a Hellmouth (who both work for and are best friends with a vampire), two people who have spent years brushing elbows with monsters and evil and the worst things this world- and a couple others- can offer could ever create something so beautiful.

But they have. And her name is Teagan.

When Connor was first born, you spent hours just watching him- a little boy who by all laws of science, nature, and magick, shouldn't exist.

Now you spend days gazing at your daughter, her big eyes still the pale blue of infants. Fred says her eyes will darken, a bit- probably closer to the green of your eyes, darker and earthy, than the green of Doyle's. Fred has been fascinated in trying to predict how their genetics will mix. And not just the demon part.

Although- the demon part.

You love Doyle, and you haven't thought all demons were evil and slimy by default for years; you just never really considered the possibility of having a daughter who's a quarter demon.

How are you meant to raise her? You barely know how you're going to raise the human parts, and you're human.

But they had managed with Connor, all of them working together. It takes a village, and all. Plus, now the Sunnydale gang are around more often than not, their Slayers-in-training taking advantage of the numerous empty rooms in the Hyperion half the time instead of going back to the boarding house/training school a few blocks away, run by Buffy most of the time with special guest Angel the Soulful Vampire at least once a week.

So. Lots of people helping you and Doyle raise Teagan. Makes it easier- doesn't make it any less terrifying.

You think sometimes about that plan you had- hotel, hotel, husband. Get away from Sunnydale, get away from demons and death and live your life blissfully ignorant and even if you never loved anyone, you would have been happy. Because what else would you have known to be?

You think sometimes about that life, and you shudder, pulling your friends- family- in close and refusing to let go.

Because you got the hotel, and the husband, and even got out of Sunnydale. And maybe your husband is a demon. Maybe several of your friends are, too. Yes, there is death and fear and constant threat of some kind of apocalypse happening (again). Would you trade it, though?

No, you think. Not for anything.

Doyle smiles at you, and your family is here, and everything is right.

+the one that did.

There were so many churches in Sunnydale, too many for a town its size. Giles explained it, once; how, when good people live their lives soaked in evil, not knowing why or what from, they turn to what they believe is good; that those who knew of vampires and other demons used churches as sanctuaries, the crosses and holy water and hallowed ground chasing away some of the monsters; and of course, the tendency to have people you know, people you love, killed violently at a moments notice- well, lots of dead means lots of funerals, often at the same time. So, churches.

Your family wasn't religious, not really. You didn't say grace or pray before sleep, but you did go to church on occasion, with Harmony's family. And when there was a funeral.

If you had ever thought to guess, you wouldn't have assumed Doyle was religious. Maybe you would have been right, too, but his mother is.

His mother, who Harry was apparently still in contact with, who had flown in from Ireland as soon as she had been told that Doyle- that her son had-

You don't know if its horrible or wonderful that Mrs. Doyle (Becca, call me Becca) is here, because even though you hate everything to do with this situation, hate the way her eyes have been red and tear-swollen since the moment you met her, hate the way her hands will start shaking and how she will sometimes look at Angel with pure hatred because he should have done something...

You couldn't done this yourself, and you doubt Angel could either.

Neither of you has ever had to plan a funeral before.