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Title: The Last Bit of Hope
Author: Tania
Rating: PG
Summary: Angel's sense memory is tied to deserted buildings and dead friends.

He wants to call it a flashback, but thereís nothing flashy about it. This is a languorous sense memory taking him back to a time when he called a steel-plated basement home and the kitchen smelled of eggs and syrup at least once a week. He sees slow moving faces, laughing and smiling as they share in tales of slaughtered demons and near misses.

Angel slaps the air, trying to make the memory fade, but as he does the sensation of glass crashing around him, slicing into flesh, pushes him to look on the moment a little longer. Heíd forgotten just how slim Wesley was back then. Not weak, just maybe too new to his body. Angel tries to remember what it was like to be that age, he imagines that to humans it seems plenty of time to get to know oneís own body, but in vampire years itís a blink. Like the memory itself, a cleansing of the mind as well as a wetting of the eye.

The temptation to stay here in the hotel, pretending that their time here was all happy is strong. Itís all he can do to keep himself from running to the car and driving back to the building he pulled a singed Wesley from so many years ago, see if it ever recovered from the blast that so nearly destroyed them all.

He canít, not tonight. Tonight there are friends to mourn, friends to bury, and amidst his pain he knows there will be more battles to fight, and for the first time in half a decade he must do it without Wesley behind him, helping decide his next move. Itís an uncomfortable place to be, in the company of demons alone, and as Angel steps into the alleyway and sees Spike and Illyria lay Wesleyís broken body across the back seat he thinks that maybe the last little bit of hope he carried lies there too.