Disclaimer: "ANGEL" is a trademark of Twentieth Television © 1999.

Flashes in the Dark
by Ellen

Been alone so long, I thought I'd set a record. The more fool I....

Those vamps, they have an unfair advantage. This one had a hundred years or so to brood. Tough catching up with that one.

Depending on which side of the family I take after, who knows? Might just get the chance.

My hand was shaking too hard to write down what I remembered of the vision. It was a longer one than usual, more detail. Vivid pictures of everything this vamp had done, good and bad. Mostly bad. And I was looking at it through his eyes.

I was tasting the flesh as it tore, and the pumping blood.

Lost my lunch when I came to. Lucky it was a liquid lunch to start with.

Only one part of the whole sorry mess that didn't make me heave when I thought about it. The girl.

She almost made it worth remembering.

Yeah, all those memories, too. Felt 'em. The smell of her hair, wet with rain. The feel of her trembling.

The pulse in the hollow of her throat, and the way a vamp can almost taste the blood under the skin, and hear the heartbeat going faster.

The other things that a vamp can smell. Lots of detail.

Lips. Hands.

Other things.

Got better recall from it than my own memories of Harry, or anybody else ever brightened my night for a bit. Most of them, I never did remember.

Never thought how warm human flesh must feel against cold. Never thought of what a kiss could be like if you don't have to breathe.

Never thought of a lot of things before.

Seein' through his eyes, it was like the reflection he doesn't have.

Me, I get to be the mirror.

Lucky.

Right.

Walking away from someone like that? Could I do it? Not a chance. Not and stay away, while the nights piled up on top of the days.

I might try to go, but it would pull me back.

I felt it pull him back, even from hell itself.

I got a scene at sunrise. He wanted to end it then. It wouldn't have taken me even that long, I'm thinkin'.

I got the taste of snowflakes, and the feel of her fingers.

I got that last look at her, in the light of dying flames.

I thought I'd come up with something new and different in my own sorry life, y'see. Don't we all think it? We may not have the faith, but we absorb the teachings in mother's milk: atone by suffering. Like there was only so much joy in the world, y'know? As if being miserable left more of it for others.

You lose everything that makes it worthwhile getting up in the morning. One day you know that you had your chance to make a difference, and you let it go by. So, what do you do about it?

You play the old pain symphony, and you hope somebody up there listens. You hope that if you get wretched enough, the powers will feel sorry for you. If it doesn't work, well then, you figure maybe you haven't suffered enough yet, so you knock back another, and you try for some more.

Hasn't worked yet, but we don't learn, do we? We keep trying.

Anytime we think we've come up with something new, turns out the ancestors have been doing it for years, even made a religion out of it.

That vamp, he's been playin' that same tune for years longer than I've been alive, and I gotta say, it gets old fast.

Time to change the music, man.

You and me both.

I'm waitin' now for the next one, so that I have something else to tell him, besides his life. Since he's been there already.

In the meantime, there's always another drink.

Don't know why they think he's gonna listen to me.

It took two more to get me on my way, but the truth is, it was more of one vision, in two pieces.

The first part was confused, like most of 'em. There wasn't much to it at all. Nice-lookin' gal, in need of help. If someone didn't get there fast enough, she was goin' to be lunch for something big and bad. So, what else is new? Typical night in L.A., right?

I got "Tina" and "the Coffee Spot," not much else. That one was for him. His message.

The next piece of it was mine. Can't tell you how I knew that, but I knew.

It was connected somehow to whoever, or whatever it was threatenin' this Tina, but it wasn't about Tina. She wasn't there. I couldn't tell if that was because something got her, or because she got away.

There was a gate and I was in a car. I couldn't tell where I was, or when I was, but I knew somehow that I had just tried to bust the damn thing down, and that it wouldn't budge.

There was somebody falling. Two people. Gunshots.

A man and a woman, staggering toward me….

I got a glimpse of the man. It was the vamp-soul-guy. Angel.

I didn't see the woman's face yet. No need.

I knew that I was there for both of them, and that I was where I was supposed to be. And I knew, at the moment when I saw the woman, that this night would have been her night to die.

They were getting in the car, and there were more gunshots, and we were leaving in a bit of a hurry.

Just before it ended, I flashed on her face, just for a moment. This wasn't Angel's woman, not the one from his memories. This was someone else entirely.

Her face, framed by long, dark hair, was pale and scared. Well, no great surprise there. Almost dyin,' and bein' shot at, and all.

It was also the most beautiful face I'd ever seen.

And then it was over, and there was only the pain ringing in my head.

And the silence.

And the dark.

I figured out something then. Well, not that exact moment, actually. It was awhile later, after I picked myself up off the floor.

I knew that I was going out to find this Angel, even though I didn't know where or when all this would come down. I'd give him the message about Tina. And I'd wait. However long it took, I'd be there.

Because sooner or later, there would be this other gal. Not Tina, not his slayer. Someone else. I didn't know her name.

I didn't need to know her name.

All I needed was to be there.