Running For Our Lives




Chapter 13: Alive?

Detective Carter was a busy man. Far too busy to babysit some crime scene down on the northside. But here he was, steaming hot mug of coffee pressed into his palm, licking foam from his heavy mustache and scowling at the charred remains of the apartment building. Yellow police tape caught the streetlight, flashing in his eyes and reminding him that someone had died here last night.

Thankfully, only one fatality though; the rest of the inhabitants of the building had been burned and hit with debris, but otherwise fine, which was a miracle. The only body they'd found was down at the Coroner's Office, waiting to be identified. Carter already had a good idea who the body belonged to, but he needed confirmation.

A stray puff of acrid smoke wafted in his direction and his eyes teared. Whoever this Wyndham-Pryce had been, he must have had one powerful enemy. His stomach churned as he caught the scent of burnt flesh that was still clinging to the air and permeating the area. He took another sip of his coffee and watched his fellow officers scurrying around like ants, picking carefully through the debris and looking for evidence.

"Carter?" He turned at the sound of his name and scowled when he saw Janssen standing at his elbow, fresh face pale in the darkness.

"Yeah?" He asked in his gruff voice, setting his styrofoam cup down on the hood of his car.

"It’s the Coroner. He says you better come down there quick." Janssen said, light blue eyes puzzled as he handed the cell phone over to him.


"Carter! There's something you have to see. That body you brought in last' just have to come. See you in a few." With that Tony hung up and he flipped the phone shut.

"Janssen, I gotta go. Try not to fuck things up while I'm gone." He tossed the phone back at the rookie and jumped into his unmarked car. As he pulled away from the curb, forgotten cup of coffee spilling all over the hood, he muttered, "Tony, this had better be good."


"Gone." Angel said, kicking at the clothes-strewn bed and growling, his face shifting into vamp mode. Cordelia clenched her hands into fists at her side and felt like screaming. How the hell had she gotten away? Again!

"This is re-goddamn-diculous. How do we beat the shit of her if she isn't even here?" She spat, wanting to do nothing more than rip out a certain Slayer's hair, strand by strand. Angel looked at her sharply again, that half-scared, half-worried look in his eyes again.

"Cordy." He whispered before he wrapped her up in his arms, like he could keep the world at bay with his muscle against hers. She was ridged with pain and anger, her eyes hooded. What was happening to her? "I think...we need to stop and think for a moment."

"Think about what? All I can imagine is that little bi--" He interrupted her, pulling away from her and staring into the deadly glint of her eyes.

"Talk about that right there. I want to get Faith as badly as you do....but...I'm beginning to rethink this "kill her dead" thing."

"Why? It’s the only humane thing to do. Put her down like a rapid dog and the world is safe from her again." Cordelia pulled out of his grip and her shoulders shook with the force of her emotions.

"When did you get so much hatred in you?" The words stung like bees against the fabric of her heart.

"When I left you and everything went to hell." She whispered back softly, wrapping her arms around her middle and feeling that old, familiar gut-wrenching ache of guilt. Now it was coming out.

"You didn'’s not your fault. Wesley---" He stammered, his hands descending on her shoulders and sending sparks dancing across her flesh. Damnit. Not now.

"Wesley only played a part in what happened. The blame can't all rest on him. I wasn't there to kick you all in the ass and to....I just should have been there. For you."

"I don't blame you. I know you needed to be with Groo." He turned her to face him, fingertips sweeping across her forehead to wipe away the strand of streaked hair that fallen across her skin. There was hurt, understanding and something else in his eyes that she didn't quite grasp the meaning of yet. But she was beginning to.

"But I didn't need to be with him. I needed to be with you....and the others. I'm sorry." She wanted to tell him what she had been thinking for the past month, thinking about him and guilt she'd been building up in her system. Guilt that was slowly turning to red-hot anger.

"No apologies." He laid a feather-soft kiss against her forehead, eyes softened and hands surprisingly warm against her shoulders. "We've got too much going on in our lives to dwell on the little things. Right now we need to find Faith. And you need to calm down. We'll find her."

"I am calm." She muttered, feeling the anger ebb slightly. He was right. She was covering her hurts with anger; not that she was pissed beyond recall at the rogue Slayer for taking one of the only people in her life that mattered. She still wanted her dead for what she'd done.

"No you're....." Angel's voice trailed off and his head snapped up, nostrils flaring open and his eyes rolling around in their sockets.

"What? You pick up something?" Cordy whispered, looking around the room as if she could see the errant scent he'd picked up. A growl escaped his lips and he fisted his hands to his sides.

His gaze turned to her and she felt a tendril of fear curl up her spine.

"Wesley's alive."


Lorne, footsore and parched from his long walk, stopped and checked the address on the card Aggie had given him. He would have gotten a ride if the cabbie's hadn't had a prejudice toward green people. Why can't we all just get along? He dismissed the thought and looked up at the unassuming cottage before him. Here he was, standing outside Stan Evan's House of Lost Souls with all his hopes riding on his shoulders. A knock on the door and he was beckoned in by a withered hand.

"Aggie sent me." He whispered to the short, gray-haired man before him. If his appearance was alarming to him, it didn't register. Lorne followed him through the house, eyes glued to the back of Stan Evan's head.

"Sit." Stan croaked, sitting down at a little round table. Lorne did as he was told, sitting down across from the soul-finder, his curiosity eating him alive. "Who?"

Lorne told him who he wanted to find, his knuckles turning pink as he clenched them on the arms of the chair. A crystal in the center of the table rose up off the surface and floated before him as he watched.

Stan shook his head and nodded several times, his eyes going blank and pupilless as his frail body vibrated with power. "Watch the crystal." Stan croaked, his voice a million miles away.

Lorne did as he was told, peering into the imperfect prism of the crystal until he could see the flickering image inside. The ends of his hair crackled with energy as the soul-finder worked his majick.

"The Slayer is leaving
Las Vegas, heading east along Interstate 15." Stan said, and with his words came a picture of the dark haired girl, her face wreathed in a smile. Lorne felt red-hot anger curling through him as he watched her smile, obviously oblivious to what she'd done and the hurt she'd caused.

"The man you think is dead is with her." Stan said suddenly, his voice catching. Lorne's mouth fell open and his gaze was captured by the floating crystal. Wesley's face stared back him, smile wide as he sat behind the wheel of a car.

"How?" Lorne whispered, turning his gaze from the crystal to Stan's wizened face. The mage collapsed, his energy spiraling back into his body and the crystal dimming as it settled back onto the table. Stan looked up at him with milky eyes.

"I do not know. I only find. Payment." He held out his hand and Lorne pulled out his wallet. Minutes later Lorne was outside, his cell phone in his hand.

"Fred?" He asked as someone picked up on the other side.

"Gunn." He corrected, his voice strange and dreamlike. "What is it?"

"I...Gunn…Wesley's not dead." Silence and then a choked reply.

"I know."

Chapter 14