Anyway. Here, have an
It’s a slow afternoon, and the air in the office smells like stale salt and Cordelia’s nail polish. Doyle sits by the window, drinking his coffee, and watching the lumbering orange school bus stop at the corner with an audible creak. Children spill out the doors, laughing, and hitching their back packs tighter on their shoulders.
Doyle smiles, bends his head, and listens to the high pitched chatter that comes in through the windows as the kids walk past in clumps of two or three.
“…yeah, he was way harsh,” a dark haired girl tells her friends as they skip past the windows, rolling her eyes and sighing, “gave me double the spelling and *everything*.”
“You’d think they could be maybe a little quiet?” Cordelia grouses, flipping the page of her magazine sharply and glaring. “I mean, this is, like, a business. We could be doing something important. Of course, we’re not, which is why none of us are making any money, but that’s beside the point.”
“Aww, c’mon, they’re only children. They get all excited when the day’s done,” Doyle says, still smiling out the window. “ ‘Sides only thing they’re interruptin’ as of right now is you pinin’ away after things you see in that fashion magazine of yours.”
He shoots her a grin over his shoulder, and Cordelia holds up a glossy picture, expression deadly serious and hardly amused. “These are Manolo Blahnicks. You’re *supposed* to pine for them. That’s what they’re *for*.”
“Is that so? They look painful,” Doyle tells her skeptically.
Cordelia rolls her eyes, and points emphatically at the strappy red high heels. “These are not painful. They’re like, the newest in foot wear technology. They’re delicate, and lady like, and *way* in. And besides, they’d go really well with the dress I’m going to buy when, as and if Angel ever pays me.”
She glares at him balefully, as though he’s personally responsible and he shrugs noncommittally, turns back to the window, says, “Ahh, well, goes to show what I know.”
“Which is nothing.” He listens to Cordelia sigh, but knows it’s mostly for show, so he does nothing. Just watches the bright colors of the children’s back packs as they walk past. One little girl folds her hand into a friend’s, giggling softly, as her curly hair bounces with every step. Her friend blushes, but smiles over at her, and the sun catches on his braces. His face is thin, and freckled, and when Doyle looks at him, he thinks of himself at that age.
“What will you be, big man, when you’re grown up?” his mother asked him every night as she tucked thick blankets underneath his shoulders.
“Taller!” he said, and she would laugh, and brush a quick kiss over his forehead.
A dark eyebrow would arch up, and she’d tell him, “Not by much.” Then she’d turn out the lights, and close the door, and he’d fall asleep.
Once, he’d thought he’d grown up. He’d been married to a curly haired girl who held his hand and made him blush. He’d filled those brightly colored back packs with homework, and made phone calls to parents, and he’d loved it. He’d loved the number lines that he made the kids put across the top of their desks, and the big, awkward handwriting he’d read through every night at home. He’d loved the crayon drawings of suns and stars that littered his refrigerator. ‘For Mr. Doyle,’ they all said, in bright blues and reds, scribbled over the corners of the page.
And at night, Harry would lean in, and kiss his lips gently, and she would say, “Goodnight, Mr. Doyle,” and he would kiss her, and hold her lightly, and whisper, “Goodnight, Mrs. Doyle,” and he’d think. “This, this is it. This is what I’ll be,” and he’d been happy to know that this was what he’d have to look forward to all the rest of the his nights. That this is what he’d keep doing for as long as he could.
But he hadn’t grown up yet, and he hadn’t known the first thing about what was going to be.
“Uhm, Doyle? Hello? What’s with the creepy kid watching? Could you, like, cut it out? Because it’s way weird, and you’re totally not listening to me, are you? Doyle? *Doyle*?” she calls, and her voice gets thin and high with frustration.
“I’m here, princess.” He turns, sheepish, and waves his hand at the window and presses back the memories, and like sand he knows they’ll stay put for only so long. “Just thinkin’, was all.”
Cordy flops back into her chair, and crosses her arms. “And while I hate to interrupt what had to be a novel process for you, I was just wondering, do you think you could have one of those oh-so-convenient migraine-y vision things? And this time, of maybe a country club member or something? Or, ooh, maybe you could just have a vision of what the lottery numbers are?”
“You and I both know it don’t work that way. If it did, don’t you think I’d be using it to help with the odds at the racetrack?” Doyle says, sitting across from her, and laughing at the way she purses her lips with displeasure.
“God, you would go to the racetrack, wouldn’t you?” She says, reaching up to pull a rubber band from her hair. It falls around her tan shoulders, long, and dark, and lovely, and as the light catches on her flashing eyes, Doyle thinks again about how magnificent she is.
He stretches out, and crosses his legs at the ankle, smiles at her. Spreads his hands wide in a placating gesture and tells her, “It passes the time, love.”
“Yeah, and so does going to the gym, which, by the way, wouldn’t do you any harm, Mr. Skinny,” she shoots back. “If your lungs could handle it, with the way you worship at the altar of Phillip Morris.”
“I’ll tell you a secret,” Doyle confides, leaning toward her, “cigarettes are addictive.”
“Uhm, *duh*.” Cordelia eyes him critically, and he sits up taller, wonders what she sees. “And, you know, while we’re doing public service announcements, they’re also like, really bad for you. So you should probably stop. Not that I care, or anything, because I don’t, but you probably should. Stop.” Her last sentences trip over one another, and her eyes skitter across the room, and he can see that she does care, and he’s surprised.
Pleased, as well, of course, and so he smiles at her, tells her, “I’ll bear that in mind, then.”