Title: Letter Lost  (Valentineís Day 2001 Challenge)
Author: Kay
Email: kaytibird@usa.net
Feedback: Do you really want to see me beg?  My happy dance is way more
entertaining. Website:  ssfdu.tripod.com/kay/journal.htm  (Sandy rocks)
Archive: Hey, just ask first <g> Series: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel
Pairing: Angel/? (not that it doesnít become obvious almost immediately)
Rating: R Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the characters of the
show don't belong to me in anyway whatsoever. Mutant Enemy, I live in envy
of you.  This story is written for enjoyment, not for profit.  This whore
only works for feedback.  Litigation would be a waste of time, people. I'm
a member of the Starving Student Sect. Summery:  Angel finds a letter on
Valentineís Day...but yíall saw that coming anyway, didnít you?

Notes:  This is for Sandy - of course Iíll be your Almost Valentine!  Itís
also for Karen - youíll see why <eg>.

Letter Lost (1/1)

Angel picked up his pile of mail, resigning himself to sorting through the
growing mass.  He still wasnít used to having to do things like this.
Cordelia had always taken care of it before.  A humorless smile graced his
lips.  Before heíd fired her and Wesley and Gunn, sending them away.

Speaking of Cordelia...he picked up a manila envelope with her handwriting
scrawled across it.  So she wasnít even going to speak to him now?  No
phone calls, just letters?  Reluctantly curious, he carried the letter
over to his desk and sat down before opening it.  A single sheet of paper
and a small white envelope fell on to the desk in front of him.

He picked up the sheet of paper first.

//Angel-

I found this envelope with *your* name on it in *our* files.  It must have
gotten mixed in with *my* files.  You know, the files I took with me when
you fired us.//

No signature.  Looked like she was still pissed.

He turned his attention to the envelope.  It was no longer pristinely
white; it had obviously been in the files for a while.  His name was
written in a barely legibly scrawl across the back.  He wasnít positive it
was his name, although the first the letter was definitely an ĎAí.
Definitely maybe an ĎAí.

Intrigued, he opened it.  A single sheet of plain white paper was folded
up inside.  One side was covered in the same disordered scrawl.  Angel
squinted at it.  Was it in English?  He turned it one way, than the other.
 He held it a little further away and it suddenly clicked.  It was in
English, just messily written.  The reason why became clear with the first
words.

//Iím drunk again.  Not that Iím surprised.  Iím just surprised that Iím
sitting here writing this letter.  Isnít it more traditional to get drunk
and make maudlin phone calls to ex-girlfriends?  But I donít have any
ex-girlfriends, just an ex-wife, and I think Iíve done enough to make her
life miserable, donít you?

No way in hell am I making drunken phone calls to you, thatís for sure.
Iím not going to do anything that will risk getting me thrown out of your
life.  I know youíre only keeping me around because of visions.  You donít
need me for anything but that.  Well, I do help protect you from Cordyís
coffee, I guess, but I donít do much else.

I need *you*, though.  You give me something to try for, something to live
for.  No, not earning your love - Iím drunk, not a bleeding Harlequinn
novel. Besides, I know itís impossible.  But I do want to learn to be more
like you, learn how to earn your respect and friendship.  Thatís something
worthwhile, isnít it?

And if I get to walk behind you while you work and admire that delectable
arse of yours, hey, thatís just icing.  Not that thereís anything wrong
with the rest of you.  If I hadnít reached the self-pity stage of being
drunk, I might still be back buried in the lusting after your body stage.
Iíd be wondering what it would feel to run my hands over all that lovely
pale skin.  Wondering if you taste like I imagine you do, like Irish Creme
and regret.  Wondering what it would be like to be stretched out beneath
you, feeling you thrust into me again and again, driving me to screaming
release.  Wondering what it would be like to lie in your arms and exchange
slow, sleepy kisses as we drowse an entire day away.

There.  Do you see this?  I try to concentrate on the sex and I end up
getting all mushy.  How would Princess put it?  Being in love *sucks*.

Iím going to have to end this.  Iím starting to sober up, and thatís the
last thing I want to do.  Iím sure Iíve got another bottle somewhere
around here. I like to keep them handy, for nights like this, when Iím
alone in the office and so damn alone that the emptiness threatens to
shake me apart.

I love you, Angel.  There.  I just had to write it once.  Iím not stupid.
You donít feel the same, and you never will.  Itís not like youíll ever
see this. No need to let you know how pathetic I am.  Iíll just seal it up
and hide it. With Cordyís filing system, itíll never be found.  Lost
forever.

Kind of like me.

That was bad.  Whereís that bottle?//

The letter dropped from Angelís numb fingers as he sank back into his
chair, feeling loss course through him once more.  He thought heíd gotten
over the loss of his friend, thought heíd put the pain behind him.

He was wrong.

It ripped through him, tearing him apart all over again.  Heíd lost the
first friend heíd made on his own, lost a man who loved him more than heíd
ever realized.  Tears began to course down his cheeks, remembering the
feelings of loneliness recorded in the letter.  The realization of how
alone he was crashed into him.  He was alone in a building built for
hundreds of people, alone without friends, without connections to the
world.

He had become everything that his friend had tried to save him from.  Heíd
rejected everything the other had struggled and died to become.

Angel groped blindly for the phone, blinded by tears and remorse.  It took
several tries to get the number right.  He felt weak relief after the call
was picked up after several rings.

//Hello?//

ďCordelia,Ē he gasped out.

//Who...Angel?//  He could hear Wesley and Gunnís startled exclamations in
the background.

ďCordelia...Ē

//Whatís wrong?//

ďThe letter,Ē he said, not sure if he was making any sense.  ďThe letter
you sent me.  It was from Doyle.Ē  Then his throat was closed by tears and
he couldnít say anything more.

//Shit!  Angel, weíll be right there.//  He heard her begin to explain to
the others as she slammed the phone down.

He dropped the phone, not caring if it landed back in the cradle or not.
Curling up on himself he gave into the pain.  He deserved it.  Heíd
defiled the memory of Doyle.  He was going to need Cordyís help, hers and
Wesleyís and Gunnís to bring himself back to the edge and become the
person Doyle had wanted him to be.

The person Doyle had loved.

******



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