Wrinkled Paper

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Cordelia sat alone on the unmade bed and stared at what was left of Doyle. A few pieces of paper, a chest of drawers that had clothing hanging out, books with broken spines and a pair of shoes, waiting by the door for someone to take them for a walk. She sighed again, for the millionth time, and gazed across his room.

If she breathed deeply, so deeply that her lungs ached, she could smell him here. She could smell that clean, spicy scent that trailed in with him when he would walk into the office. If she concentrated hard enough, she could imagine what he must have done mechanically in this room. Hit the alarm, hop out of bed, trudge to the shower and then to the closet to dress for the day. If she squeezed her eyes shut and really tried, she could visualize his blue eyes raking the shirts in his closet and standing before the mirror to shave.

Then the memories would segue into a flash of blinding white light and he would vanish, the taste of his kiss still present on her lips.

It wasn't right, this wild card that had been dealt. One second it was the three of them, laughing, joking, finding a way to stop the big bad, and then there were two. Two beings who had trudged home from the docks without a word. Two friends who had lost their anchor, lost their eyes into the future and lost their hope. Two people, subconsciously reaching for the third, that was no where to be found.

Cordy didn't have to say that she needed to watch the tape of Doyle and she was grateful when Angel had slid it into the VCR and leaned behind her. The commercial was cheesy and Doyle was stiff and unsure of where to put his hands. He flubbed the lines, missed his marks, looked bewildered and neither Angel nor Cordy could take their eyes off of him. By the time they had viewed it three times, Cordelia decided it was her most prized possession and asked if she could have it. Angel had agreed instantly and retreated to his office.

It was unspoken but it was loud, their need to be alone.

Cordelia had slipped her shoes on, pocketed a stake and slipped into Angel's overcoat. The walk to Doyle's apartment wasn't a long one and she was so preoccupied that she would not have noticed if it was miles. She used the fire escape, remembering that he always left his window cracked, and let herself in. Then she sat, completely still, on the edge of his bed and tried not to crumble apart.

The cramp in her back was the only indication of how much time had passed and she wondered how long she had been sitting slumped over with no support. Standing slowly, she trudged to the bathroom and splashed water on her face. The smell, his smell, was stronger here and as she lifted his towel to dry her face, she sobbed into it. It didn't feel real.

She moved restlessly back into the bedroom and glanced at the various items on his dresser. A book stuck out because the pages wouldn't close and she lifted it, gingerly flipping through to the middle. A wilted rose was pressed firmly between the pages and she narrowed her eyes, recalling the day Doyle had plucked one from the dozen that some agent had sent her. He had grabbed her around the waist and stuck it in his mouth, mimicking a tango, and she had insulted him and told him to take his saliva covered flower and leave.

He had done just that, with a wink and with the flower.

Holding the book to her chest, Cordy scanned the dresser again and saw a jar full of change and a crumpled piece of paper. She turned the lid and fished the paper out, unfolding it and holding it up to the light. There was a heart, a gorgeous bubbly heart, drawn in the middle and it had swirly handwriting that read, "Doyle loves Cordelia."

If she had found this on him, she would have mimicked him and poked fun and accused him of being a gradeschooler. Instead, she folded it again and added it to the book in her arm. A new sob erupted and she rushed into the living room to snatch the box of tissues she had seen on his coffee table. Flopping down on the sofa, she blotted her eyes and tried not to think of how empty she felt. She tried to comfort herself in the fact that this amazing man had loved someone like her, but she failed miserably.

In an armchair next to the front door, she noticed a little beige teddy bear with a rose in it's paw. She stood, smiling through her tears, and picked it up. The book toppled to the floor when she saw the tag and she dropped down to her knees to pick it up again. For several minutes, she was too stunned to move and then she let herself go.

The dam erupted and the sobs broke forth like a hurricane, blowing through her soul and drowning her heart. Memories hit her like flying debris, lost chances and words that were never spoken and could never be said. Her mind kept forming the sentence, "If only I had known". Then she would berate herself because she had known. She had enjoyed knowing that she was the object of his affection and had toyed with him.

Now he would never know. He would never know that she told all of her friends that she had a boyfriend named Doyle who spoke with a cute accent. He would never know that she had doodled his name in her address book and arranged the magnets on her refrigerator to spell out 'Francis Doyle'. Phantom Dennis had rearranged them of course, but she had done it just the same. And he would never know that the moment he kissed her, every other kiss she had ever been given was erased from her mind.

All she wanted was his kiss and his arms and his love.

And she had it.

Too briefly and not long enough to cherish it completely.

She stumbled to her feet and picked up a pen and piece of paper off the coffee table. Chewing her bottom lip, she wrote quickly, pouring her heart into the prose that spilled like blood on the paper. It came fast and easily and when she was finished, she noted that her tears had dampened the black ink. It seemed fitting to see the ruined paper and the runny drops pulling the ends down on some of the letters. Blowing it a little to dry it, she lifted the book and bear and walked to his bedroom again.

Cordelia lifted his pillow and buried her face in it, inhaling again. She would never know what he looked like when he woke up. She would never know if he slept on his stomach or his side and she would never know what it felt like to lie in bed with him. But she smiled. His new pillow was her heart, his cover was her soul and she would sleep with him every night in her dreams. He would never have to wonder how she felt about him as long as he was alive in her.

She used the front door to let herself out and Angel waited until he heard the door click before he stepped forward and lifted the paper off the pillow. He had followed her the second she left the office, too afraid for her safety to allow her to leave alone. If he lost her now, he would die himself. He sat on the edge of the bed and read the words slowly.

It wasn't long before his own tears had mixed with hers, and the words on the paper became a blur.

I found a wrinkled paper
On which you had scrawled my name
You wrote down that you loved me
Did you know I felt the same

I found a faded rose
Pressed inside your favorite book
I had twelve on my desk one day
And that's the one you took

I found a little teddy bear
That said, 'My Heart Belongs To You'
You had written your name next to 'from'
And my name was printed by 'To'

I found myself alone tonight
Wondering where you are
Wondering if you can see me
And if my love travels that far

I found myself hating you
For leaving me this way
And I found myself loving you
And letting you go today

I found a box of tissue
I sat in your floor and cried
There were a million things left unsaid
And I never even tried

I found a pen and paper
And wrote 'I love you too'
I have nothing else to give
My heart will beat for you



©copyright 2000 Chelle Storey

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