She thinks it's funny. Or ironic, or humorous, whichever of the swirling daring words in her head really fits.
(They used to snap into place just so like bones being set, or those pieces in Dru's silly puzzles. But now it's a dense swamp of mugginess and mosquitoes, like Florida, and she can't find the ones she wants and the alligators bite. They look like logs until the second before you're dead.)
(Strange like dead eyes staring at you, she's heard them say that they never stop but for her they look away sometimes. They forget about her. She thinks she wants them to remember but she thinks she also hates how they stare.)
When she was—who she was before—
(Who was she before? Something wrapped in silk and flowers like a present but when you unwrap her it's fangs and harsh glinting light. Now the packaging's tattered and she's not sure what's behind it.)
—she was Darla, dear one, with her dear boy. Not anymore, not anyone—
(She feels like an empty chair, an empty room. She's waiting for someone to come back and fill her up, like the ancients waited for rain, like the lonely worried parents wait for a letter or a body from a soldier son, like the wavering nervous light in the window waits for the husband to come home. She's waiting but she's not sure if what she wants can ever come back.)
—back when she was her, she could have stood like this for weeks.
(She wonders if it will eventually turn into the other kinds of waiting—the contented sunning cat waiting for a meal, the excited child waiting for school to be over. She doesn't think it will.)
Until she became part of the surroundings, an odd-shaped pipe or pillar, only a shade too cold, must be an early frost—
(There was an early frost that winter in Prague, they sipped fine wine that sparkled and froze in the air, but hissing blood squeezed out of neck wounds broke the ice well enough. They lunched on fine young diners and smoked their fine dusty cigarettes in the fine cool air. They couldn't feel the cold.)
—and then she snapped.
She was the alligator.
(Snapping, jaws hinge and click and close, stars burst in their eyes as the life flows out in puddles. There are so many but they're all different, it used to be an art and now it's nothing at all. She never felt this empty, not even on her whore's death bed.)
But she never did. Could have, but didn't.
She knew she had that power, to be so still, so silent, for so long—why didn't she use it?
(It's more powerful to show something without using it; she used to suggest pain and strength with the flick of a nail or the tensing of a fist. Now she tries to do even that, to bluff at having something behind her showy displays, and it's too hard.)
There were other things to do. People to eat, dresses to wear, palaces to conquer. She knew she would live for centuries, and yet she had to frantically fill every moment with perfumes and smoke, until she couldn't smell her own rot anymore.
(She smelled so many things in their blood; what they ate, what they felt, what they planned, who they loved, what they would have become, when they would have died. Scenting was as delicate as wine tasting, more so.)
Her rot is all she smells now. Liquid, putrid, thick. Like molasses.
(Molasses that crawls through her veins. Everything takes so long now. She wants to break the glass on the clock and turn the hands herself if it will make this stupidity go faster.)
Now that she wants to—to keep every limb and every organ locked in tight, not a quiver of muscle—she can't.
(So many things she can't do. She was free then, even when she felt like she was always running.)
After barely ten minutes her legs start to shake.
It's gone. All of it. Her.
(They were nobodies, they didn't matter, they were food, walking buffets. Animals to torture if she had the energy and boredom to spare.)
A curiosity, a party trick.
"Oh, well, just raised her from hell, that's all. It's been done before. Nothing special."
(She was unique. They feared her. She created the ultimate darkness in him. It's all destroyed.)
And then they point at her, and then they laugh. She's being swallowed by their giant laughing lips.
It's stupid. This is all so, so stupid. She hates it.
(There didn't used to be hate. Amusement and soft chuckles, annoyance and sly smiles. No hate; too juvenile, too silly, too emotional. Too weak.)
She hates them. She hates Angelus.
(Her boy, he never did become a man. Maybe he's something like one now. But not exactly.)
She hates everything.
(Hates it all.)
She's twitching now, swimming, in fear and smog. It's all the same, really: wafting around her, pinching at her skin, tinging her darkly. How did no one notice that?
(No wonder this city's full of screams; it's so polluted. They just need to clear out the air with ornamental fans, and no one will ever, ever be sad again. They can live for a thousand years in golden palaces and the blood will flow easy and free. The word guilt will not exist.)
She's not crazy, like Dru or Angel. She's just lost.
(Lost inside this maze of minds and blood and biting.)
He was crazy because he had power that he didn't know what to do with, that he had to fight against using. She was crazy because he realized she could be.
But Darla? She's nothing.
No real name. Not a person, not a vampire. She's powerless. Vulnerable.
(She doesn't quite remember how she got up here. Was there a party? She always liked a view.)
She tips her toes out onto the ledge.
She wonders how long she can balance before she falls. Five stories.
(There are more stories than that in her head, they all end the same.)
She wonders which stories they are. Happy, or sad?
(They're all sad now. They've all ended.)
She hears someone call her name. That name. Is it him? Her? Them?
None of it matters.
Into an arm, or a hole, or a story, or an alligator's jaw. Stones slide over stones slide over bones, click click.
It doesn't matter, anyway.