Your Enemies Closer

                           

 

 

Chapter Twenty:

Setting---The Hyperion Hotel, 4:30am

Lorne rushed through the door of the hotel, sliding in blood a moment before he regained his footing. He prayed he wasn't too late as he bolted up the stairs, hitting the landing and bursting through the door to Fred's room.

The sight of the familiar black scribbles on the walls was comforting for only a moment as he caught sight of the thrashing girl in the corner. The morphine shot had worn off since he'd left and he cursed colorfully. Falling to his knees beside her, he grabbed her chin in his hand and tried to force her attention to him.

"Fred...Fred honey...please...look at me! It's Lorne...please..." He pleaded with her and was rewarded when her unseeing eyes turned on his. She shook and he winced as he saw the shackles had rubbed her wrists raw. And there was so much blood...

His attention was caught by the two puncture wounds on her arm, dark and livid, the veins spiderwebbed black all the way up her arm. It made him sick to see it and he was immediately angry that he couldn't kill the son of a bitch again. But he'd gotten what he needed from the corpse while it was still fresh and warm.

"Rattlesnakes...they're everywhere...." She muttered unseeingly while Lorne reached for her cure.

Pulling the vial out of his pocket, he lifted it to the light and prayed there was enough inside to cure her. He put the yellow demon's blood to Fred's lips and poured it down her throat. The whimpering Seer coughed and sputtered, but Lorne clamped his hand over her mouth and nose, forcing her to swallow.

Then, he waited, her body pulled hard against his, praying to whatever god would listen that she would be okay. That it wasn't too late. He rocked her and talked to her in a soothing voice, hoping she could hear him and that she'd come back to herself. He told her everything and let his heart pour out, knowing he shouldn't, but not having the strength to stop himself. He had to tell her now.

His voice petered out as he suddenly realized her arms had stopped reaching and her murmurings had stopped. His heart lodged in his throat. Oh no....oh god no...please no...

"Fred...?" He shook her and her head rolled on his shoulder, her eyes staring up at him. He waited, praying he hadn't been too late. Suddenly she blinked at him and took a deep trembling breath.

"Lorne? The rattlesnakes got my toes..." She said in such a normal voice that he laughed.

"I know baby...but they're gone now. It's just you and me now, kitten." Lorne grinned widely and brushed a lock of blood soaked hair from her face. "And those rattlesnakes are going to leave you alone from now on."

"Promise?" Fred smiled and laid her head back down in his lap, her hand clutched in his. He took a deep breath and ran his fingers through her hair.

"I promise, kitten. I promise. Whatever happens, they won't ever bother you again. Ever." Lorne said hotly and closed his eyes, his mind wandering back to Wesley and Faith and the fight that was surely going on right now. He could feel it, the air was crackling with energy and he knew wherever they were, something bad was happening.

"She's all dim....all dim now..." Fred suddenly said, making Lorne's eyes snap open.

"What?"

"I saw it, she's all dim and that light is gone. No more shine. No more heart, there isn't a heart anymore." Fred said, her head in his lap, her fingers clenched around his.

"Who?"

"Cordelia...."

*****

Setting---Point Dume, 4:00am

Faith caught movement out of the corner of her eye and wheeled around, ducking a blow Angelus threw at her. Her eyes widened at the sight before her.

Justine. Justine alive and standing with a gun pointed straight at a downed Wesley. How the hell had he gotten down there? Faith answered her own internal question immediately, anger welling her throat. Oh God...

"No!!" She screamed, twisting around and kicking both and Angelus and Cordelia away from herself. The two were surprised and didn't block the blows, but she didn't care. Her mind was narrowed on one thing and one thing only: Wesley. "Justine!"

The redhead turned and glared at her, the gun in her hands unwavering, her long black coat billowing in the off-shore breeze. A grim, determined smile graced her features and Faith fought the urge to wipe it off with her fist.

"Faith...nice to see you again."

"Cut the shit...I thought...I..."

"That you killed me?" Faith could only swallow, her eyes switching back and forth between Justine and Wesley. "You did."

"What?" Wesley croaked from his sprawl in the sand, so weak could barely move his head. Faith cursed under her breath; he was in bad shape and it was killing her. Whatever was doing this to him had to be stopped.

"We're all dead. You, me, her and those two demon fuckers over there. I wish more of you Connor Investigations assholes were here, but what can you do?" Justine ground out, suddenly firing in Angelus and Cordelia's direction. Faith turned in the sand, her feet feeling like they were sinking in as she did. Angelus and Cordelia, forgotten until now, were sneaking up behind them, waiting to pounce. They ducked the shot and glared at the three of them. "Destroy that thing."

Cordelia's eyes trailed over to the glowing obsidian stone; Faith noticed Wesley's gaze was riveted on it too, like a hungry man looking at his last meal. Cordelia barked a laugh and crossed her arms over her chest. "You honestly think you're going to stop this? The world is ending and we're all going straight to hell tonight."

"You've got one thing right, bitch." Justine spat, the gun still clutched in her hands. Faith clenched her fists and tried to keep her anger under control. She knew she'd kill Justine if she tried to hurt Wesley, despite that sick, leaden feeling in her chest. The bitch had been alive the whole time....

"Justine...help us stop them...please...we can do this together." Faith began before she knew she was talking. Justine wheeled on her and pointed the gun straight at her head.

"I don't fucking think so, Slayer. You know, if things had gone according to plan, you'd be dead by now and so would Angelus. But no....you both had to fuck it up. Someone's always fucking things up."

"Ohh...hear that Faith? She's blaming us." Angelus spoke up, grinning from ear to ear as he sauntered forward. "Big surprise. Justine can't handle the fact that no one needs her. You were better than her and it drove her nuts. Wesley had the loyalty of his little family and what did Justine have? Recruits and nothing more. She couldn't even save them. And Holtz? That was some fucked up shit right there."

"Shut up Angelus." Faith shot at the cocky vampire, dividing her attention between him and Justine.

"What about you Faith? Fact is, you're expendable, Slayer. You fall and another one just like you rises up somewhere in the world. You're worthless and you should be put down like the dog you are." Angelus countered, wheeling on her and grinning that evil grin. "And Wesley? Wesley...well he's nothing but a traitor. But, we all knew that didn't we? Can't let him forget what he did to my son. And that's what brought us all here today. Wesley's guilt and Wesley's pet rock."

Faith trembled and locked eyes with Wesley, seeing the guilt plain there. "What?"

"Oh, she doesn't know? That stone orb over there is chock full o' Wes and just waiting to rip through the fabric of the world and make it all come tumbling down. It's all Wes's fault. Ohhh...I just love those words." Angelus grinned again and moved up next to Faith.

"Okay, enough with the blame-fest." Cordelia said, her voice strangely quiet and echoing as she spoke. "Time to get this shit done." Her body began to glow and Faith blinked in the twin lights of the orb and the demon.

"Why are you so keen to end the world, Cordelia?" Faith asked, glaring at the glowing demon. Cordelia's harsh gaze lighted on Faith and she smiled.

"Why the hell not? I made the world this way, I might as well undo it."

"What?"

"Well, since we're doing the sharing thing and we're about one chant away from oblivion, I'll tell you." Cordelia smiled widely, haunted guilt in her glowing eyes. "Everything here happened because of me. I killed Angel and this bastard took his place. It started with one mistake I made a long time ago. One I'm supposed to pay for for the rest of my life. But it's not going to happen. End of the world, end of my suffering."

Wesley laughed from his sprawl in the sand. "You stupid, self-centered woman."

"Fuck you Wesley. I don't need your guilt and mine." Cordelia spat and moved toward the glowing stone.

"Fuck you Cordelia. You don't fuckin--" Faith suddenly went flying as Angelus grabbed her and threw her in Wesley's direction. She didn't even have time to react; she hadn't realized he'd moved within arm's length of her. She hit the sandy side of the bluff and rolled down next to Wesley.

"Let's get this done." Angelus spat, not meeting Cordelia's eye. He didn't like what he saw there.

"Glad you're finally getting off your ass abo--"A shot suddenly rang out and Cordelia stopped, her mouth falling open and her eyes blinking stupidly. Looking down at her chest, she saw a large blossom of crimson staining the front of her white blouse, a ragged hole in the expensive silk. She looked back up and saw Justine smiling at her.

"I..." Cordelia fell to her knees, her fingers clutched over the wound, blood flowing thickly between her fingers. The glow wavered and then died like a flashlight with low batteries.

"Cordelia?" Angelus sounded child-like as he stared at the blood and his lover collapsed in the sand.

"I told you we were all going to hell. Starting with her." Justine said, throwing her huge black coat off. Faith's eyes widened as she saw the explosives attached to Justine's torso. There was enough C-4 there to blow up an entire city block. She suddenly understood what the woman had planned.

"Justine...no... But Justine ignored her and looked down at the timer on her chest, hitting a single green button before looking back up again. The glowing red numbers clicked on and Faith's breath caught in her throat.

2 minutes and counting....

"Fuck this shit..." Faith climbed to her feet and made a grab for Wesley, but the Watcher was already climbing to his feet, very, very slowly for Faith's peace of mind. "Come on Wes.."

"You fucking bitch! You shot her..." Angelus roared, advancing on Justine, who just smiled and raised her hands to the sky.

"I'm just finishing Daniel's work." Justine managed to say before Angelus grabbed her around the throat and threw her away from the pentagram. She rolled and Faith winced, praying the explosives wouldn't go off. She needed every second she had to get Wesley out of there. Shots rang out as Justine tried to hit Angelus. Faith ducked a shot as it grazed her cheek.

"COME ON, Wes!!" She screamed, all but picking him up as she climbed the bluff. Wesley resisted her, his breath coming in short, choppy gasps as he looked back at the stone orb in the center of the pentagram. "Wesley!!"

"I have to...it...it wants me...it's me..." Wesley said, his blue eyes focusing and unfocusing as he wrenched his arm out of her grip.

"No!"

Time slowed as Wesley put on a burst of strength she didn't think he could possess, running full out toward the glowing orb, right past a fighting Angelus and Justine. Right past a downed Cordelia, bright red sand all around her in a spreading stain.

Faith jumped down from the bluff and ran after him, not bothering to glance in Justine's direction. She knew they were almost out of time. Damn Wesley...what was he doing? She was answered a second later as he violated the circle of the five pointed star etched in the sand. One of the sparks of lightning licked up his chest and centered on him.

"Wesley!" Faith screamed as she got to the edge of the circle, reaching for Wesley. At the edge of her hearing, she thought she heard a helicopter and voices. She ignored them and reached for Wes, trying to avoid the sparks of lightning coming off the stone in waves.

"Hit the stone! Get them!" The voice sounded vaguely familiar and Faith turned her head in the direction it was coming from. Get who? Suddenly, another shot rang out from high on the bluff and Faith winced. The glowing stone in front of Wesley shattered into a million pieces as a bullet struck it.

Pure white energy spiraled up out of broken stone, throwing Faith backward. She clutched for purchase and found Wesley's arm, her nails digging in as she held on as tightly as possible. The energy spiraled upward and then raced back down, slamming into Wesley's body and lifting him out of the sand backward. Faith was dragged along with him as he was thrown into the bluff once more. He screamed in a pain so great Faith nearly shattered under the power of it. And then, as he slumped beside her, the scream stopped and he was still.

Then, somewhere off to her right, something exploded and she didn't have to ask what. She couldn't see the three down the beach, but she didn't need to. The explosion blinded her and knocked the breath out of her lungs. The world shook and she felt the sand and earth on the bluff give way above her. She had the sense of mind to throw herself over Wesley's unconscious form before an avalanche of dirt covered them both.

Faith had a moment to wonder if she was already dead before a rock slammed into her head and she fell into deep, blissful darkness.

Chapter 21

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