DISCLAIMER: Charlie's Angels and its characters are the property of Spelling-Goldberg Productions. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is my response to the two-part episode "Angels in Vegas" (third season) because I was tired of Sabrina always falling in love with clients/suspects and then having her heart broken. Without veering too far from canon, I wanted to investigate why Sabrina might be so drawn to doomed relationships and what she's going to do about it. And this story was the result.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Losing the Game
By tremblingmoon


Sabrina has a problem. She knows. And she wonders if Kris knows when the blonde comes to get her from the casino bar after Frank has walked away. Frank, who just arranged dinner for the two of them—him and Sabrina—at ten o'clock. Which is late for dinner and more than a little suggestive, but this is Vegas, and Sabrina knows she has a problem anyway so she might as well go with it. When Kris sees Sabrina's flushed face and smile, she thinks she gets it.

"You look like a lady with a man on her mind."

Sabrina thinks, yeah, something like that, and Kris smirks when Sabrina doesn't answer right away. Sabrina decides to let her believe what she likes, even plays along a little, mooning over Frank's departing form. So, when her young counterpart grabs her elbow to lead her away from the table, Sabrina willingly endures Kris's teasing smile, the slight roll of her eyes.

Sabrina likes Kris. She's sweet and smarter than her sister. Sometimes too smart. Sabrina wonders if they'd be better friends under different circumstances, because Kris is just a little too observant for her own good. Sabrina feels she has to be wary around her, has to keep certain feelings locked away and certain others on the surface as camouflage.

She's done a lot of that lately. Camouflage. And, yes, she knows she has a problem. Kris probably thinks she has a problem with men, and that's part of it, but Sabrina knows it runs deeper than that. But she doesn't quite understand what it all means. She hasn't quite figured it out herself, but she's starting to see differences she couldn't really put into words before recently.

Kris and Kelly—they flirt with men all the time, they tease, they smile, they kiss, they cuddle. But they don't get hung up. Not most of the time, anyway. Sure, they may like a guy, maybe they're even a little torn if things don't work out, but it's not the same. Kris is just too young; she's not interested in settling down, feels she has a lot of play left in her. And Kelly has trust issues. Kelly has her own problems. For Sabrina, things just feel different.

She clings, but not because she really wants to. Sabrina finds a man—someone like Frank: intelligent, troubled, handsome, often older or worldly or with seeming emotional depth—and she clings. She says she falls in love, although part of her knows it's not true. She used to really believe in love, until she began to realize that the pattern was always the same. She'd fall for a guy, he'd hurt her or turn out to be a murderer or just not be what he seemed, and she'd be upset when they broke things off. For a few days, maybe a week. But then another case would come up, Kris or Jill or Kelly would rally around her, and she'd get over things awful quickly. And after a few times, going through the cycle—love, loss and back to normal—Sabrina began to think that real love just shouldn't be like that.

If you lose someone you love, you should be devastated.

So if it wasn't love, then what was it? Need? Desire? Desperation? She hated the sound of that last one. She was the oldest angel after all. She'd been married once—a huge mistake. She didn't believe that women needed marriage in this day and age. And yet. And yet she really craved that kind of closeness. Not just the sex, but the companionship, the day-to-day simplicity of intimacy. Something about these men seemed to call to her, something about the security of their interest in her, feeling wanted, feeling beautiful. But it was never enough. It was never quite right.

Frank, though. He has something. A kind of gumption Sabrina finds appealing, familiar. She is fond of him and the attention he pays her despite his own personal tragedies and the stresses of the case. So she goes along with Kris's teasing. Maybe Kris is right. She is a lady with a man on her mind. A woman hoping she's finally found the answer to the persistent nagging doubt about her own capacity for romance. But still, Sabrina can't help but feel she's missing something.

They find Kelly by the slot machines. And when Kelly grabs her arm and whisks them off to see Bosley, she asks what they've been up to and catches Kris's smirk, her head inclined towards Sabrina. Kelly levels her friend with a teasing glare of her own, and Sabrina feels her cheeks flush a little brighter, the pressure of Kelly's hand hot through the thin material of her shirt.

But then shots are fired at Joey January and the case starts to get even more complicated than it already is and Sabrina doesn't have time to think anymore. At dinner, Frank kisses her and she can't help but grin and enjoy it, enjoy the feeling of breaking into another person's loneliness, feeling the connection between his lost soul and her confused one.

Frank has a fatal flaw though, one Sabrina hadn't readily expected. He is stubbornly devoted to the game of chance, not only as a profession but as a lifestyle. It seems to be the only thing he really believes in—the wheel of fate, the luck of the draw. More than that, he believes in the power of solitude, stoicism as armor, and Sabrina has an unhappy realization standing beside him at the craps table: he doesn't want to need her. Maybe he wants her. Maybe he might even learn to need her. But—just like he says—he doesn't want that kind of responsibility.

And that's when Sabrina realizes. She doesn't want to be someone's responsibility. Doesn't want someone to feel they have to protect her or treat her a certain way. Sure, she feels responsible for Kris and Kelly, but that's different. She loves them, they're her family. They are all each other's responsibility because without one another a whole case could fall apart, and then she might fall apart. Sabrina doesn't protect Kris and Kelly because she thinks they can't protect themselves, but because if something happened to one of them where would she be.

She would be devastated without them.

Losing Kris and Kelly? She doesn't even want to think about it. Losing Frank? Suddenly it seems inevitable and not all that earth-shattering.

So what is Frank then? Another man who's failed to deliver the promise Sabrina thought he symbolized? A man who cares more about his business than letting himself be happy? She isn't sure, but she does know one thing. This whole incident with Frank was going to have to be the last. And it has given Sabrina a vital clue to her problem with men, that maybe she wasn't going about things the right way. She needs to find someone who is a partner first and then a lover. Someone who understands her commitment to her job and doesn't question the fact that, no matter what, Kris and Kelly will always come first.

When they rush from the craps table in search of Slocum, Kelly takes charge, surprising Sabrina. She's been so out of it this entire case, maybe Kelly felt her friend needed a break this time around. But it's the way she takes charge that stops Sabrina in her tracks.

Sabrina believes her. Believes Kelly would do it no questions asked, just shoot Slocum right there in the casino. And she thinks, I know how she feels. I'd shoot him, too. No one gets left behind.

They drive, Slocum reveals their set-up and the shooting breaks out and suddenly Sabrina feels back in her element. She feels Kelly at her side, veering off to the left while Sabrina dives behind some bushes. This is right.

Kris is fine. She probably won't even bruise, she's so indestructible, and Sabrina breaths a sigh of relief as the cops drive off with one of Marty's goons.

Sabrina's peering over the cliff at the wreckage of Marty and Slocum's untimely and fiery demise and then she hears Kris's voice on the breeze, talking to Bosley, assuring him for the fiftieth time that she's all right. Kelly appears at her side, stands next to her, and looks out over the abyss.

"I think we might be slipping, Kelly," Sabrina begins. "I mean, how many people have to die before we can solve a case? Jip gets killed, I get shot at, Kris gets kidnapped. Frank might lose his business. What did we really solve?"

Kelly just reaches down and slides her hand into Sabrina's, pulls her back toward the car.

"Come on, Bree. Let's go check on Frank."

Frank is an idiot, but he wins back his money and Sabrina's not sure she would have done the same. Of course, she would have quit a lot earlier, accepted her losses before they were astronomical. And maybe that's why she and Frank could never work. Sabrina doesn't need to win all the time to be happy, doesn't believe that stepping back when the stakes are too high is tantamount to losing. There are only a few things she'd risk everything for and money isn't one of them. And knowing that is enough to make her goodbye a little easier. Frank seems resigned, seems to know that he'd never get to keep her, and Sabrina is surprised to feel lighter when she walks away.

Kelly smiles at her when she gets back to the room, a small smile that tells her everything will be all right and Sabrina believes it. Kelly moves up beside her, bumps Sabrina's hip with her own.


Sabrina nods, "Let's just go home."

Sabrina feels Kelly's hand brush hers, feels the warm tingle of skin on skin, and then Kelly walks back to her room. Sabrina turns to finish her own packing.

Sabrina is melancholy on the flight back to LA and Kris keeps casting concerned looks in her direction. She tries to smile, considers explaining that it's not about Frank, that it never really was about Frank, but then decides to keep quiet.

Let Kris think what she likes.

Sabrina has a problem. And it's not Frank, and it's not men. It's her. She is the one common denominator of all her failed relationships. Maybe romance just isn't for her no matter how much she wants it. Maybe that's why things don't ever seem to turn out, why the men are never what she imagines them to be. Maybe she wants too much.

Kelly's return from the bathroom interrupts Sabrina's train of thought, as she squeezes herself passed her into the middle seat. Kris is leaning into the window, finally leaving Sabrina to herself, and Kelly settles down between them before turning to Sabrina.

"How much longer?"

Sabrina looks at her watch. "Just over an hour. Enough time for a nap, if that's why you're asking."

Kelly smiles her you-know-me-so-well smile, says, "Perfect," lays her head on Sabrina' shoulder and shuts her eyes.

An unexpected feeling of contentment washes over Sabrina. Kelly always knows when she's ready to talk and now is not that time. She's glad for a friend that understands her, accepts her as she is. Sabrina presses her head into the headrest and let's her own eyes drift shut.

Kelly's head shifts a bit on her shoulder, her body drawing closer, and Sabrina can't help but smile.

The End

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