Title: Refraction
Author: Beer Good
Fandom: Angel
Word Count: 600
Rating: PG13
Summary: There's a mirror hanging right by the door of the shelter. It's there for a reason.


Refraction

Shelters live on donations, everything in them is second-hand. Cash, clothes, food, furniture. And, obviously, the people who stay in them. Runaways or those who never had somewhere to run away from, needing someplace to feel safe, if only for a night, sleeping on unmatched beds and eating on other people's plates before going out into the world again.

Take the mirror that hangs right by the door, for instance. Anne brought it here herself, though it belonged to someone else once.

(Chanterelle looks in the gas station mirror as she cleans the bitewound on her neck. Winces at the sight of the bloody glistening hole in her, the feel of skin torn ragged under her fingertips. She wets the cloth under the tap, water running more pink than red now, and looks in the mirror again, meaning to look at the wound but accidentally catching her own eyes. She stares at the reflection she was supposed to be rid of by now; the eyes of someone who wanted something so bad, thought she finally had it, but at the last minute turned it down when she saw its true face. Out of fear. Out of pain. Out of... here. She has to get out of here.)

Most people don't notice it. It's a mirror, a mundane functional object that everyone keeps around, hangs on their wall next to their family photographs (not that there are any here). It's not even a fancy one, just the kind of mirror that you find in cheap furnished apartments, bought by the crateful from some cheap furniture dealer.

(Lily looks in the mirror in the tattoo parlour, seeing herself incomplete for the last time. This is important. This is a day to be remembered, the day when she finally leaves it all behind and becomes someone. She glances down at her arm, still naked, then smiles as Ricky's face fills the mirror next to hers.

"What do you say, baby? Are you ready to make it permanent?"

She ignores the growling in her stomach and smiles at his reflection.)

There are some who notice the mirror, though. In this neighbourhood, there's bound to be. Gunn was one of them. At a certain point, once they got past the "I know that you know that I know about stuff" part, he nodded at it. "Good idea. Wouldn't wanna let anyone in here who doesn't have a reflection." She smiled and shrugged, then kept on working. She never told him that wasn't really the idea.

(Anne looks in the bathroom mirror in the dingy apartment above the diner. Every day for a year and a half, she's looked in this mirror, a long hard look at the face of someone who literally fought her way out of hell. Every day for a year and half, she's stepped out of the moldy little shower where the water is always too warm, wiped a spot clear on the mirror, looked into her eyes, and then written her name in the fog at the bottom right before going to work.

Now, she carefully unhooks it, carries it out into the main room, wraps it in a blanket and packs it in her suitcase. When she starts decorating the shelter, it's the first thing she finds a place for.)

Mirrors are functional objects. They're very simple, they can supposedly only show what's already there. And every now and then, Anne sees one of the kids stop in front of the mirror on their way out and give it a long, curious look, as if there's someone there they recognize.