Author's note: warning - character death.
Cole was a clever man, even if he was half-demon. He could thrive in the Underworld or on the surface equally well - he had even managed to pass the bar above ground and become a lawyer a couple of decades ago, although compared to the complexities of demonic law that had been child's play.
Belthazor wasn't clever, which was why Cole tended to remain as Cole. Oh, Belthazor was a genius in certain respects, like how to torture someone for days on end, but for things that didn't involve violence, and lots of it, Cole generally suppressed Belthazor.
Which was a shame, because Belthazor was considerably stronger, both physically and magically, to Cole. Which was why Cole had had to revert to Belthazor for the repeated shimmering of groups of Listers, because Cole just wasn't up to using that much power in so short a time.
So, when Belthazor shimmered back to the warehouse to pick up another batch of Lister demons, and found a dozen or so members of the Scourge menacing about the half that many Listers and Cordelia, he reacted the only way he knew how - with overwhelming violence.
Of course, the Scourge weren't expecting a teleporting demon, otherwise they would've borne down Belthazor by sheer weight of numbers, but the couple of seconds it took for the Scourge to get over their shock - people just didn't teleport in this dimension - was plenty of time for Belthazor to even the odds somewhat. He didn't even bother using energy balls (and the fact that he might hit an ally was only a minor concern).
It was a short, dirty fight, although only Cordelia stayed to witness it as the Listers took the opportunity to run away. Belthazor enjoyed the adrenalin surge and the echoing surge of joy he felt at killing things before Cole asserted dominance and changed. "Where did the others go?" Cole said to Cordelia, panting slightly.
"Angel took Doyle and Drusilla to try and draw away most of the Scourge so that we could escape. He had some kind of plan, but he wouldn't tell me what it was." said Cordelia, gawping a little. Angel was probably a bit stronger than Belthazor, and their technique was about equal, but Cordelia had never seen anyone fight with such sheer ferocity
as Belthazor had. He'd ripped through the Scourge soldiers like so much wet paper - she doubted that Angel could've taken them out so fast. Cordelia wasn't much of fighting fan, but she couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to see Buffy and Belthazor fight. That might be a match you could sell tickets to.
Cole didn't notice any of that. He just cursed in an old demonic dialect - Cordelia didn't understand the words, but cursing was cursing in any language - before morphing back into Belthazor and shimmering away.
Cordelia stood stock still for a moment, before shrugging and heading after the Lister demons. She still had to make sure that they got on the ship and away from here before the Scourge caught up to them.
Angel had hoped that he would be able to convince Drusilla to hide in the shadows, because he needed her invisible as part of his plan - Drusilla had an astonishing ability to blend into shadows, no matter how bright the clothes she was wearing was. Angel had once seen an Argus demon (a demon nearly covered in eyes) walk past Drusilla without noticing her when she was dressed in a white wedding dress she had stolen from the bride she'd just eaten - but, now that she was away from Cole, Drusilla was beginning to go crazy again, and she wouldn't do anything he said. She was just alternating between giggling and looking sorrowful.
Well, that meant that Angel had to adjust his plan slightly, and hope that if it all went pear-shaped - as things tended to do around Drusilla - she'd help fight their way out of there, because Doyle couldn't fight for toffee and Angel doubted that he could fight off a whole squadron of demons all by himself.
The first of the Scourge entered the abandoned building, and Angel and Doyle (now green and spiny) began engaging in a mock fight, as Angel's plan dictated. The Scourge, as Angel had hoped, didn't rush them but slowed down to watch, evidently amused to see half-breeds fighting each other. They also seemed mildly interested in Drusilla, who was watching the tussle and clapping and laughing enthusiastically.
Then Angel, as he and Doyle had agreed, gained the upper hand in the fake battle and reached out and snapped Doyle's neck with a resounding snap.
The soldiers of the Scourge parted, and another demon - nearly indistinguishable from the others, save for the various badges and accolades on his Nazi-style uniform, which presumably indicated a high rank - made his way through the avenue and asked imperiously "Why did you, a vampire, the lowest, most impure half-breed of all, kill the other half-breed?"
Angel prepared to answer, hoping that he could explain away the crazy vampire who was staring at the Scourge leader with fascination, but he was interrupted when the stocky form of Belthazor appeared in front of him and incinerated the demon with an energy ball, before turning, grabbing an astonished Angel and an ecstatic Drusilla and shimmering away before the horde of enraged Scourge came charging at them.
Belthazor deposited Angel and Drusilla at the warehouse that was now teeming with Lister demons, before shimmering back for the prone Doyle that Angel, as quickly as possible, explained was there.
Just after Belthazor left, Drusilla muttered "He'll be too late."
Suddenly, Angel felt sick. He really
hoped Drusilla didn't mean what he thought she meant. "What do you mean?" he asked, dreading the answer.
"The spiny one will die. Has died. It is written in the sky." Drusilla said simply.
Angel didn't bother to protest, to declare that Drusilla was wrong, that she had to be wrong, and that Doyle was still alive. He wouldn't know until Belthazor came back.
The minutes stretched by, and Cordelia made her way over to them. The first thing she asked was "Where's Doyle?" but the look on Angel's face was all the answer she required. She sat suddenly on the floor as though her legs had given out. She didn't say anything, because there was nothing to say. Drusilla patted her shoulder gently, but Cordelia didn't notice.
They stayed there, as the minutes dragged by, until abruptly Cole, not Belthazor, shimmered back, the head from one of the Scourge demons in one hand, the other arm being used to support an extremely bloody, but definitely alive Doyle, who Cole slowly lowered to the floor.
Cordelia rushed to hug him, but Angel put a restraining hand on her shoulder. "I wouldn't." he said. Having had more experience with wounds than Cordelia, Angel was able to tell that several of Doyle's ribs were broken, and one arm was fractured. Hugging wouldn't be a good thing.
"I'm sorry, the Scourge was already on him when I got back. I managed to fight them off, but he was like this when I got to him." Cole said. He had barely known the half-demon, and he wasn't the type to mourn - he'd lost too many comrades in various skirmishes to do that - but Cole nevertheless enthused his voice with as much sympathy as he could manage. "I think one of his ribs has punctured a lung." Cole said, indicating the blood oozing from Doyle's mouth. Everyone heard Doyle's laboured breathing. Cole went on "He's lucky to be unconscious and not dead. I doubt he'll last much longer." Cole said clinically.
"Don't you say that! Don't say that! Just don't!" Cordelia half-yelled, half-sobbed, pounding on Cole's chest, who just stood there and took it. Angel walked over to the Scourge's severed head, looked at it consideringly, the kicked it the entire length of the warehouse, narrowly avoiding a Lister's head on the other side. The demon was about to complain, before seeing the look on Angel's face and wisely deciding not to. It didn't make Angel feel any better.
Then Drusilla said, from her kneeling position by Doyle's side "Hush! Spiny's trying to say something."
Everyone was immediately by the now-conscious Doyle's side. He was saying, so quietly as to be almost inaudible "Cordelia." over and over again.
Cordelia took the dying man's hand and squeezed it tightly, and said in a voice thick with unshed tears "I'm here, Doyle, I'm here."
Doyle struggled to say something else, but his voice had now faded completely. However the word was fairly easy for Cordelia to lip read. "Goodbye
" he mouthed.
"Don't you say that! You'll be fine, you will!" Cordelia said, crying openly now.
Cordelia might have gone on for longer, but Doyle was trying to say something else now. This, too, was fairly easy to lip read. "I love you
"I know, I know you do. I might - I might - oh, fuck it, I love you too!" sobbed Cordelia, and kissed the dying man. Unnoticed by everyone, an ethereal light moved from Doyle to Cordelia at the contact.
Doyle died with a smile on his face, and the entire warehouse was silent save for Cordelia crying, as the Lister demons commemorated the man who had given his life to help save theirs.
Angel remembered the time that he had first met with Doyle, when he had convinced him to help the helpless. He wondered whether there was any way that things could've gone differently, if whether he had gone solo would Doyle still be alive.
Drusilla wished she could have Seen anything that would've saved the life of the spiny, useless Seer. If there was any way that wouldn't have led to Doyle dying today.
Cole thought about the blind rage Belthazor had gone into when he had seen the broken, bloodied form of the man in front of him. He wished that he had been faster, that he had brought back Doyle on the first trip to warehouse. That there had been something he could've done to save him.
Cordelia didn't think about anything. She couldn't get past the fact that Doyle, the man who had loved her, the man she was just beginning to love, was dead in her arms.