Running For Our Lives

                           

 

 

Chapter 16: Heat

"Itís so big." Angel said, slightly in awe, his eyes scanning the vast chasm before him. Cordelia smirked and glanced over at it, wondering how he could even see it in this light.

"I've seen it." She said, shrugging her shoulders and flicking a lock of hair out of her face. "So, where to?"

"
Fred said they're staying at another motel near here. Here's the address." He pressed a piece of paper into her hand and flicked the overhead light on. She read the address, wondering where the hell the motel was.

"I have no idea where this is." She said, lifting her gaze to his. He frowned and leaned his head back against the seat, a bitter taste in his mouth.

"Well, we'll rest here a minute and then we'll go someplace and ask directions. And I don't know about you, but I need to drink something or I'm going to eat my shirt." He licked his lips and reached for the cooler wedged between the seat and the back of the cab.

Cordelia watched him drink a blood packet, cold and straight from the bag, his tongue licking the plastic insides, his face changing as he ate... As disgusted as she knew she should have been, she just blinked and started in on her own small sandwich, totally indifferent to his behavior.

The sweltering day had turned into night with a nip in the air and Angel rolled up the windows for her benefit. Within minutes the windows were fogged up from her breathing. Amused, she swirled patterns on the glass with her forefinger, mind somewhere else.

She jumped when something hard knocked into the glass on Angel's side. Angel looked up from his meal, gold eyes glittering in the darkness.

"Cop." He mouthed and tried and failed to loosen his vamp face from its claim on his features. Panicked, she launched herself at him and hid his face behind the short curtain of her hair before rolling down the window.

"Can we help you Officer?" She asked breathlessly, lower lip clenched between her teeth.

"You know you're not supposed to be here, right? The park is closed now." The officer said, his sharp gray eyes peering into the darkness, flashlight blinding her as he tried to see Angel's face. Angel indulged him, peaking out from behind Cordelia's hair with normal eyes and a smooth forehead.

"Sorry. We're just passing through and she wanted to see the sights. If ya know what I mean?" Angel laughed, his voice taking on that possessive tone he used with her sometimes. She forced herself not to smile and instead forced an abashed look onto her face. Like a kid with his hand caught in the cookie jar.

"Sure thing. As long as you're just passing through." The officer said amiably; Angel had a feeling he'd broken up trysts like this more than once. "Just make sure you're gone before I make another lap, okay?" He started to walk away, but Cordelia stopped him.

"Sir? Can you tell us where this motel is?" She thrust the paper at him and he glanced at it with his flashlight.

"Yeah. Thirty miles down this road. You can't miss it." He pointed with his flashlight and handed the paper back to her. She thanked him and he walked away.

"Well." Angel said, his hands still wrapped around her middle from where he'd grabbed her. She smiled and realized she was straddling his lap, the steering wheel jammed against her back and her hands tangled in his hair.

"Uh...sorry...I panicked." She said, shifting so she could slide off his lap and onto the seat beside him. He watched her go, his eyes shadowed and his lap feeling naked without her straddling him.

"You panic okay to me." He said pointedly, looking over at her, that possessive half-smile crossing his features again. Again, she saw something, deep within him she didn't quite grasp yet. She ran from it and looked back down at the address in her hands.

"So--we'd better go!" She said brightly, stuffing the empty blood packet into the cooler and settling back down with an air of finality. He lost the smile and a soft, frustrated growl escaped his lips, like he was mad at her for something. She ignored him and pointed him in the right direction.

Just for once, Angel would have liked for her to get a clue.

*****

Heat, suffusing everything, absorbed into the fabric of his mind, swirling around everything and confusing the things he thought he felt. Images and flashes of bright red and smiling brown eyes. Two pairs of brown eyes and he couldn't figure out which one drew him more. The first pair was all innocence and jewel-bright intelligence. She watched him, but with disinterest. He reached for her and found his hands wouldn't lift. He'd wanted her, but he'd waited too long and now he wasn't sure he'd ever wanted her at all. But he had....he was sure of it. Wasn't he?

The second, the second pair, she scorched him, tore him to the earth and made him bleed in places he knew her lips had been. Her fingers were like water hissing along his spine and he could feel the dampness across his throat in patches and slashes. She worked her mouth into a smile and he thought the world would melt with the supple heat of her. Beneath her blazing flesh he sensed a river, a deep trickling trail of water connected to his soul. He wanted to swim in her and cool the heat deep inside himself. He wanted her and he didn't want to wait for the things he needed. No...if he waited, she'd evaporate into mist against his lips.

So he reached and found nothing but that swirling, heat driven veil in his mind. He battered his fists upon it and found something there, something hard and evil and wrong. It spoke with his lips and it worked his limbs with mind-numbing accuracy.

And it wanted her too.

No...not again. He screamed and screamed, but his lips stayed clenched tight.

*****

Faith stepped out of the bathroom, towel clutched to her chest. Her muscles screamed in protest as she moved and she knew her back was one tight knot of tension. The bath and subsequent masturbation hadn't lessened that burning ache low in her stomach. Now her skin vibrated, water trickling down the soft slopes and pooling at her feet and her shoulders. She brushed stray droplets from her neck and searched for the panties she'd discarded earlier.

She found them crumpled on the floor and she grudgingly pulled them on, wondering where in the hell Wesley'd gotten off too. Wondered and wished he'd walk in right now; she dared the door to open and frowned when it didn't. She pulled the soiled t-shirt back on and waited for him.

She didn't have to wait long before the door opened and he walked in, head lowered, hands spidered against the door. His chest heaved, muscle over bone moving like waves under the splattered white wifebeater. She sat up, the bee in her ear buzzing again, the hair on the back of her neck rising. If she had hackles, they'd have been rising too.

"Wes?"

He moved stiffly, insects dancing in his eyes, his head tilting to the side, puckered scar pulled tight. His Adamís apple bobbed up and down as he looked her over a moment before speaking.

"Hello. Faith." He stumbled over her name like he wanted to call her other things and thought better of it.

"You wanna close the door; it's cold in the desert at night, ya know." She said, shifting in the chair and making her voice lighter than she felt. Something was wrong.

"Yes. I'm sorry." Stilted voice again and he closed the door with a soft click, his eyes still connected to hers, burning a trail down her body as he looked her over and over again.

"Get food?" She stood, searching for the jeans she'd misplaced, realizing she wasn't wearing anything but panties and a dirty t-shirt. Why was she suddenly so uncomfortable around him? And why was that bee in her ear again? She vibrated slightly and blinked rapidly in the soft lamplight.

"Yes. In the car. Would you like to go for a drive?" A whole sentence, but one that sent those alarms in her head clanging as loud as canons.

"No. I'm tired." She looked over her shoulder at him and pulled the jeans on, sliding them up over her hips as fast as she could. "I think I'm going to....take a bath." She mentally smacked herself for the lame excuse to escape the same room he was in, but something surging on the edge of her senses was controlling her words and she let it. She moved toward the door, but he crossed the distance in a heartbeat, hand slamming against the frame in front of her face.

"No."

"Wes...let me go." The words were cut off as he pushed her against the wall, hand splayed across her breastbone, face inches from hers. "What the hell is wrong with you?"

"I thought you wanted a bad boy? Not bad enough for you?" He asked, something flashing in his eyes that made gooseflesh rise up over her arms in spasmic waves.

"Wesley. Don't make me hurt you." She warned, tolerating the increasing pressure on her chest and the way his fingertips pressed down into the soft flesh between her breasts. He laughed, his mouth turning up in a way that she'd once found charming and now only held scorn. It's amazing what the eyes can do to a smile you've seen a thousand times.

"But I like it when you hurt me. When you torture me and stab me and touch me. Hurt me Slayer." He begged her in a gravel-filled voice, his words bringing up the hurt she'd thought was buried between them. Two shiny flat scars on his wrists flashed in the light and she shivered between him and the wall.

"What's wrong with you?" She lifted her hand to his face and felt his skin; he was burning up and her palm felt raw where she'd touched him. In response to her touch, he seared his hands across her chest, cupping one breast in his hand and tugging playfully at it. She felt a flash of desire low in her belly; she broke it off and glared up at him.

"I want you." He answered instead, making that want seem like a promise and an apology all in the same breath. She was left speechless, words dropped like acid down her throat and she wanted to hit him, send him flying away from her so that she didn't feel like a piece of shit in his eyes.

"That's....not what I asked." She said slowly, taking his hand in her own and twisting it away from her chest, knowing he was going to bruise where she'd touched him. He didn't even flinch.

"But itís what you feel. You want me." He moved closer than good sense allowed and tilted her chin with his thumb, his mouth grazing her cheek. She moved away from the smoldering heat of his skin and backed up further along the wall. He followed her, thigh brushing against hers and sending that thrill of pleasure spiraling through her again. No. This wasn't right. His breath blew out along her collarbone and she shivered.

She was afraid of him. No, not of him. Of the thing inside him because she knew that this wasn't Wesley. Couldn't be Wesley. She didn't know how she knew, but from the moment he'd walked into the room she knew. Some strange river in her soul had sensed a churning deep in the waters and had known that wherever Wesley was, he was drowning. And calling out to her.

"I do." She answered him, like an echo of her own apology. She felt him move closer and she realized his scent wasn't right either; there was something rotten about him, but not dead. Good. He was still alive, just infected with something demonic and hard.

The bee buzzed harder in her ear, as if the words she said excited it and she wondered where the Sister was hiding. Wherever she was, she was good. Not good enough to best her; but good enough to play on her emotions and use the one thing she had in this world against her.

She saw Wesley smile and she hoped he'd forgive her. Then she clocked him, muscles uncoiling and stretching, bone cracking against bone and she knew he'd be bruised and seriously pissed in a second.

He just stared at her and then punched her back, his fist crashing into the side of her face with more force than a lanky Englishman should possess. Her eyes flashed and she kicked him in the thigh, knocking him down. He looked up at her with hatred in his not-right eyes and then he ran at her like a football player, slamming her around the middle and dropping with her down onto the bed.

"Get off of me!" She struggled, the smile on his lips sending clammy spiders walking down her spine. He buried his face into the crook of her neck, knees pressed against the insides of her thighs, slowly prying them apart. "Wesley..."

He laughed at the fear threading her voice and pressed harder, his hands slipping under the dirty t-shirt and dancing across her skin in a bruising wave. She felt his hardness pressing against her crotch and cringed, knowing what he was planning and knowing that no one hell was this Wesley. He would never hurt her like this, no matter what she'd done to him. Anger spilling past her lips in a screech, she brought her hand up to the scar along his neck and scratched, her feet working themselves between the two of them and levering her away from him. A grunt and she kicked him away from her.

He landed in a sprawl, burning eyes locked on hers for a moment before he launched himself back at her again. She rolled off the bed and met his charge with an elbow to his stomach, then grabbed his shoulder and ran him into a wall headfirst. He fell back into her arms and she slammed her fist into that arrogantly held chin; a muffled grunt and he collapsed, eyes closed in pain, a red welt rising immediately across his forehead. Fire flared up in her stomach, bile churning as she looked down at her fallen Watcher. She bent, settling him gently on the floor, smoothing one hand over the welt and feeling her heart breaking.

"Sorry Wes." A beat and then she spoke directly to that bee in her ear, knowing that wherever the bitch was, she'd hear her. ďCome out and fight me. Your pathetic attempt at assassination failed. So come out and we'll play fair." It was a challenge not only spoken with words, it was laced with her anger and worry over the man on the floor and fear that she hated. She hated fear.

"You're good. The Watcher's Council said you were good, but I didn't believe them." Tinkling bells sounded from behind her and she whirled to see the door open and a white-white-woman standing there, arms crossed over her chest, silky strands of pale hair spilling down her shoulders and across the rich white velvet of her robes.

Faith was struck with the beauty of her for a moment and then she recovered, shaking her head to clear the bee from the back of her mind before turning hate-filled eyes to her. "The Council?" She asked, brow furrowing in confusion. She glanced over at Wesley for a moment before refocusing on the Sister in the doorway.

"Yes, they're behind all this. Didn't you know?" The Sister said, milky white eyes looking at her and a light blue tendril of power curling up from her hands. She played with it, twisting the emotion into a curl before springing it free and sending it spiraling back into her body.

Faith glanced down at Wesley again, the feeling of betrayal nestling in her heart. It felt strangely foreign there for all the betrayal she'd had in her life and she didn't like it. She snapped her gaze back to the demon in the doorway and growled, "Stop fucking with my emotions."

The demon laughed, white, white teeth flashing, blue tendrils spidering out from her throat as air was pushed from her lungs. "You think that's enough to stop me? I've been in your heart, Slayer. I know what you feel, how you feel and why you feel so strongly for him. We're attached you and I, at the heart."

"You have no heart." Faith spat, stomping in front of the beautiful alabaster demon and glaring up at her.

"I don't need one. I have yours." And with that, she flicked the rubber band between them and the bee was stirred into a frenzy, blocking out all sound as she vibrated with power. A million emotions she didn't even know the name of rocked her, shocked and angered her within the space of a second. She saw the attachment for what it was and fear laced through her.

And it pissed her off.

She leapt at the demon, hands clenched into fists to hard they were like mallets hammering at her beautifully sculpted face. They both went down, tumbling out the door and into the sand outside.
"No. One. Makes.
Me. Afraid." She spat it out through gritted teeth, thumbs finding the eye sockets of the demon in her hand and pressing, pressing, pressing until something popped like a grape and jelly oozed out past her flesh. Still she kept digging, hoping to kill that damned bee and make it stop its stinging.

*****

Too fucking warm and he thought he saw her, scared and shaking. Scared of him and the things he was saying and doing. Threatening her. She touched his face and he knew she was melting against him. He battered his fists again and felt the veil waver slightly, but not enough. She was fighting whatever it was that had her. Him. She was fighting him.

And then, he thought he heard an echo, so filled with scorching, searing honesty that he grasped on to it and pulled it into that dark, too warm heat.

"I want you." And then. Darkness. The heat fled and he clung to those three words and let them pull him out of the mire of his mind. Pulled and shifted and pushed him up in front of his own eyes, like a child to a telescope on a starry night. He pressed his face against the twin eyes and felt the snap of something connecting, becoming whole again.

He slowly came back to himself.

*****

"Saris!"
A deep, booming voice invaded the haze of anger and she centered in on it, knowing it was an enemy and she targeted it without thinking. He touched her, intending to rip her off his Mistress, but his arm came away in her hands and she heard him scream. She dropped the arm and took his neck in her own hands and twisted until so many things cracked it was like someone stepped on bubble wrap.

Whoever he was, he dropped to the sand beside her and didn't move, so she turned her red-misted eyes back to the demon in her hands.

All that beauty was fading as she beat on her and beat on her until the white, white skin was black and cracked under her knuckles. The bee stirred once more and then it quieted. She stopped and listened, felt with her heart.

And then a crack as the rubberband exploded, making her physically reel away from the dead body on the ground. Faith landed on her side, breath rasping in her chest and something dripping down her face. She stared at the body for a moment and then leapt back at it and clawed at the chest, ripping the bloody white velvet open to reveal the demon's breasts. Still she clawed and peeled and forced her fist into the oozing cavity of the chest, warm, searing heat enveloping her hand as she plunged it into Saris's chest. She seized what she'd been looking for and tugged with all the strength she had in her.

Something touched her shoulder and called her name at the same time. She looked back at Wesley, one eye blackened, his lip split, welt an angry purple. The sight of his wounds made the anger grow and she tugged one final time, pulling the heart free of its chamber.

"Faith. Stop." Wesley's voice, stilted but stilted because it was him behind the eyes and not the demon. Stilted because he saw madness in her eyes and it scared him. "Put it down."

She glanced back over at the black heart in her hands, wondering how something so colorless on the outside could have been so dark on the inside. She quivered, not knowing if she could do it and praying he'd help her. She wanted him to help her.

The plea was plain in her eyes and he uncurled her fingers from their death grip on the dead organ, pulling her thumb out from its grave in the black tissue. Her fingers uncurled, she let it fall to the sand, bile so thick in her throat that she choked for air.

"Wesley?" Faith choked, working the word out past the lump in her throat. He gathered her up against his chest, face nuzzled in the damp strands of hair, hands pushing against her arms to make the fists unclench, the hard line of her jaw to soften and the mad light in her eyes to break apart.

"I'm here. It's okay." He whispered in her ear, heat sliding across her earlobe and sending shivers dancing down her spine. She trembled at the surety in his words and collapsed against the softness of his chest. Comforting arms encircled her and she broke down, crying against him.

He picked her up and put her in the car, his own aches making him stumble and pant, but he refused to put her down. Ignoring the terrified eyes peaking out past the doors of the rented rooms, he hopped into the car after her and tore off into the night, wishing for once that the Powers would give his Slayer a break.

And him.

Chapter 17

Back