It had started out so simply – a man, a meal to be more precise, in an alley – but it had become so terribly confusing. The alley was gone and, instead, she was kneeling on a sea of stars. She could feel the moon off to her left but, even when she turned to look, couldn't see it. She was only showing her dark face that evening.

The man lay stretched out away from where she held his head up against her chest. He wasn't dead or at least she didn't remember killing him and he had no fang marks on his neck. He had no heartbeat either but he hadn't, even back in the alley. She just hadn't noticed it at the time.

"What do you want?" he asked her. Not dead then, even without a heartbeat. Or breathe.

She stared at him for a long time. He was beautiful. As perfect as the face her Daddy was called Angel for. She hadn't brought them to that cold place so he must have. How dare you, she thought. Don't you know what I am? "To slice you open, pull out your long, stringy insides, and play them like a harp." She ran a delicate finger along his torso, not cutting but showing where she might. "Won't it sound pretty?"

"That's not what you want."

Of course it is, she wanted to say but he was right. She was alone, always so alone. It had never been like that before for first she'd had her family: mummy and daddy and her two sisters along with countless aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. After that just Darla and Angel, at least until they'd added Spike but Darla was dead, had died a third and final time. The rules only let you come back so many times or you just weren't playing the game properly. Angel and Spike were as good as dead, to her at least, with their human souls so firmly fixed that they'd never be part of her family again.

All she had were the stars, who still talked and sang to her but were distant. They twinkled in her head all the time but they never reached out and touched her, held her, or danced with her. Sometimes she thought she'd made them up but she'd never told that to anybody, not even to Spike when he'd still loved her. It was too difficult to explain, that they might be real but they might not, especially when they told her so many true things. She'd been afraid that, if she confused him, Spike would leave her but, in the end, he had anyway or perhaps she'd driven him away. It was so hard to recall.

"Are you ready to go back to the way you were before?"

"No, please don't." Back was vulnerable. Back was death and massacres. Like last night, she thought. All the little children at the slumber party. Sleeping forever now but safe. Angel couldn't touch them, couldn't hurt them but he wouldn't, would he? Not anymore. She had but it was what they deserved. For being happy without her.

His eyes opened, dark and fierce. Light bolted out of them and she cried at the burning. She shredded her claws against her arms, cutting through dark dress and skin, but the pain wouldn't stop. She was too caught up in her screams to notice when he vanished from her lap. All she knew was that she could reach more skin to shred. The blood had stained her dress, turning it into such a pretty red, but it couldn't be a stain, she realized as the pain lessened. It was her birthday dress, bright pink with such a lovely blue shawl, from that last happy time before Angelus had found her. The pain had become barely noticeable at all and the cuts had healed by the time her dress changed one final time, becoming a beautiful white gown spun out of clouds and moonbeams.

A light appeared before her, just like a door opening. It was quite bright but she could still see clearly. A rainbow zigzagged up before her, a carpet covering a set of stairs. She was afraid to step on it at first, in case it wouldn't hold her up but, when she put her foot down, it was quite solid.

As she climbed higher, she could see people waiting for her at the top. They were still out of reach but getting closer with each step she took. "Mummy?" she cried. She hurried up the stairs, finally heading home.