Running For Our Lives




Chapter II: A Long Talk and A Long Walk

About a week later, he went back. Not because they asked him to, but because he was tired of feeling useless and alone. No welcoming arms greeted him; only nods of acceptance and curt answers to any question he asked. Only Gunn and Fred seemed to warm up to him, despite the distance that had built in his absence. Cordelia spoke to him only if she had to and Angel...Angel didn't even look in his direction.

All in all, it was much better than Wesley had expected to be treated. But it wasn't like it was before, when they were a family; Angel, Cordelia, Gunn, Fred, himself and of course, Connor. The hotel seemed empty, for all its many unused rooms, with the absence of one crying child. A shadow passed over everyone's face as long stretches of silence, once filled with gurgling and giggling, where laden with a sorrow so thick even Fred's naturally cheery disposition was thrust into depression.

So Wesley threw himself, like he did all things, into the process of getting Connor back. The lack of sleep was affecting him, but he knew he was closer to knowing what and how to get to the Quototh, the darkest dimension, as Cordelia had relayed to him. He was sure if he just studied hard enough and looked at dry, cracked parchment with old incantations on it he would find the answer.

Two weeks passed and he still wasn't any closer. Two weeks and finally Cordelia saw what he was doing to himself and she had one of her patented outbursts, complete with emphatic pantomiming.

"I know you're all with the guilt, but you're going to kill yourself if you keep on like this!" She shouted, throwing up her hands, her hazel eyes bulging.

"Cordelia...I have to. I have to get him back, for Angel." Wesley said softly, plucking at the sun-baked foliage that dotted the courtyard.

"Wes, Angel wants Connor back, but he doesn't want you to kill yourself in the process. That already almost happened." Cordelia said softly peering into his stubbled face with imploring eyes.

"I bet he wishes it had," came his melancholy reply, so laden with guilt and pent up feelings that Cordelia's eyes narrowed in anger.

"NO. He. Doesn't." She said forcefully, teeth clenched tightly.

"Then why won't he look at me...or even say "Hey pass the blood!" He asked bitterly, hurt welling up as he remembered the way Angel's eyes had slid over him as if he wasn't there.

"Because he still hurts. But he knows now that you thought you were protecting Connor. And he knows we all make mistakes. Hell, he knows better than anyone!" Cordelia said wryly, resting her chin on her hand and staring off into the distance. "Sometimes you make mistakes because you don't know any better and the right thing is staring you in the face, but you ignore it and go for the mystery prize, which just ends up being a toaster oven."

"Cordy?" Wesley asked her, his eyebrows rising at the rant that spilled from her lips.

"What? Ohh...uhh...nevermind." She said, coloring rather prettily. There was a long pause and Wesley heard a car alarm go off in the distance.

"Where is Groo?" He asked, suddenly realizing he hadn't seen the Pylean in all the time he'd been back at Angel Investigations. Cordelia went quiet for a moment and a shadow passed over her features.

"He went back to Pylea." She said quietly, her eyes slitted as she rubbed a leaf between her fingers.

"Why?" He didn't know why he was pressing, but he felt he needed to know.

"Why? Oh there were a couple of reasons. Let me see...first off, I'm all for being worshipped but it gets on your nerves after a while. Plus, I like stimulating conversation and that wasn't happening, but the sex was great!" Off his look, she continued, "Anyway, when we came back here, he just didn't understand...."

"Understand what?" He prompted, glancing over at her.

"He didn't understand why I had to be there for Angel. Why I couldn't, wouldn't leave his side for one minute the first week Connor was gone. Why I cared so much about a baby that wasn't mine. Why you all meant so much to me. Like I said, there were a lot of reasons." Cordy told him, leaning back against the stucco walls, her arms crossed over her flat stomach. She sighed heavily and bit her lip.

"I get that now. Do they know?"

"Only that he left for reasons unknown. Although I think Fred knows; she's quite astute that one." Cordelia said, smiling despite the shadows in her eyes.

"Yes, she is."

"I'm sorry." Cordelia said in a soft voice, one hand on his shoulder.

"For what?"

"Gunn and Fred. I know how you feel about her; it must be hard to watch them together." She supplied in a sympathetic voice. Wesley nodded and turned his gaze to the sky.

"Yes it is. But I know she's happy and that's all that I care about. And Gunn is my best friend; there isn't anyone else I would have wanted her to be with. Barring me of course." Wesley shrugged, a long pent up feeling of loss escaping in a half-mad giggle as he watched puffy white clouds dance across the little block of sky the courtyard opened up to. He smiled widely and shook his head.

He looked back down to his wrists and two shiny scars caught his attention and he watched them for a moment, wondering in the back of his mind what she was doing, where she was, what she was thinking. Vanilla and cinnamon tickled his nose and he shooed it away, looking back up at Cordelia.

"There's someone out there for you, Wes." Cordelia said with certainty in her voice, shaking her head so that a lock of short brown hair fell into her face. She brushed it away and smiled at him.

"Yeah, but she's probably some mad woman." Wes said wryly, that half-mad giggle escaping his lips once more.

"She'd have to be to fall in love with you." Cordelia replied with a wide grin, ruffling his hair with one hand.

From that moment on, things were okay between him and Cordelia, which was something Wesley never expected to happen again. Now if only Angel could do the same.


It started on accident, really. She had worked the late shift at the diner and was walking home because she missed her bus. Not to mention the fact that both Gary and Rob had come into the diner and pinched her ass until it was raw. AND left lousy tips when she'd told them off. All in all, it was the perfect end to the perfect day when she was grabbed from behind and hauled into an alley.

At first, Faith was slightly scared and annoyed. Who the hell would dare try to mug her? But when she felt hot, rancid breath on her throat and noticed that the hands that held her were much stronger than they should be, she was pissed.

With a bone jarring head butt, she sent the vampire reeling into the wall, blood spurting from his ridged nose. She didn't have a stake on her, but the trash can lid she found did just fine. She decapitated him before he could recover from her first attack.

Watching the vampire turn to dust sparked something in her, something she hadn't realized she'd lost. A lust for the kill was what it was, or at least she thought that was what it was at first. The thought of killing scared her and she ran from the alley, all the way home.

The next night, though, she purposely walked home, a stake hidden in the pocket of her apron. It didn't take long for two vampires to spot the fuckable young woman walking in a blue skirt and tight shirt. They were dusted in rapid succession and she again felt the spark growing, expanding in her belly until it threatened to choke off her air. She cried herself to sleep that night, feeling that she had once again failed herself. She wanted to kill again and she hated herself for it because that lost feeling in her soul was whole once more.

She woke in the morning with a hardened heart; she would not become a killer. She rode the bus home that night and the night after that.

Saturday night she was pacing the shag carpet of her little hovel, muscles aching from the lack of exercise. She knew what she wanted to do and she set her jaw, willing the spark to go away. She sat down in front of the television and lost herself for an hour. When the movie was over, she stood up and went to the door, moving before she knew she was doing so.

The route she chose wasn't conscious, but it did take her to a run-down part of Los Angeles, one she didn't recognize and didn't care too. The stake she didn't realize she was carrying was tucked nicely in her palm, ready to be raised to ward off attack at any moment.

When the vampires showed themselves, Faith knew that they would be there waiting and she wondered how she knew. Thought was forced out as they attacked. She fought like a hellcat; the muscles too long reigned in singing and adrenaline pumping through her system like cocaine. As she slammed the stake home into the last vampire's rib cage, feeling the wood scrape bone, she smiled.

It came to her just then; it wasn't like murder. No, it was Slaying, it was what she was built for. It was her calling and the only thing in life she still understood. She couldn't believe she had mistaken the one thing she had ever felt so damned sure about for cold-blooded murder.

After that she was addicted. Every night Faith snuck out of the apartment building that housed the other parolees, aware that if she was caught violating curfew, she would be in big trouble. But that didn't stop her. Every dusted vampire was like one more shot in her veins and she would watch her hands shake in anticipation of the next fight, her muscles screaming for something to lash out at. Even the sound, the feel, of destroying the abominations was entering her system, filling the holes in her soul with the ashes of the slain. With every vampire killed, more pieces fell into place and she wasn't crying herself to sleep at night. Hell, she was barely having nightmares anymore.

But she was still lonely.

Walking one night, Faith realized she knew where she was and she swallowed hard, peering through the shadows at the ruined office building, the charred remains roped off with faded yellow police tape. She wondered where he lived and if he knew, or even cared if she was out.

He hated her and she knew it. All the dreams of him forgiving her, even holding her and making love to her faded as she realized the truth of the matter. This wasn't a dream and she wasn't the perfect little Slayer he needed.

No, she was just some fucking whore who murdered a bunch of people and tortured her Watcher. She swallowed hard and sat down across the street from the charred husk of Angel Investigations, one hand wrapped around the stake and one hand wiping tears from her cheeks. She wondered why she cared so much about a person whom she had never respected either way.

But she did respect him. He didn't even scream when she was hurting him. She felt sick at the thought and she ran away from the place, looking back over her shoulder once and wondering if she'd ever get up the courage to knock on his door and ask for tea. She laughed and thought that was a fine idea, even if it did get a door slammed in her face.

She didn't know if he'd do that, but she kept walking by the abandoned place. She didn't know if she did it because she wished she'd accidentally meet him and see pride swelling in his chest at the good little Slayer before him, or if the memories of a life with people she cared about were so much stronger in this place. She didn't know, but it made her feel good.

And that was something she hadn't felt in so long that she clung to it and waited for him to find her in the darkness. It didn't take as long as she expected.


Down in the dungeon-like stacks of the Watcher's Council mansion, Andras was immersed in a pile of dusty tomes, each as thick as his waist. An hour had passed since he'd cracked the fifteenth century book open and he wasn't any closer to the information he needed. Finally, after what seemed like days, he found the passage. A grim, dusty smile crossed his lips and he squinted at Father Abernathy's tiny, handwritten scrawl.

All the information was there, even bits he had forgotten since his learning. He frowned, making notes and keeping one ear trained on the metal door that led to the fireproof room. He coughed slightly and kept reading.

He wondered how long the journey from whatever place the Five called home would take. They would get there quicker than he would have liked; he'd bet money on it. And from London, it was just a slight jaunt over the pond to Los Angeles and he had to be prepared. Tonight he would ferret out the number of the only man he knew might care about what happened to the rightful Slayer and as soon as he did, he'd give that man a call and warn him. Perhaps the Slayer would survive again. All Andras knew was that he had to give her the chance, no matter how small it was.

He wrote his notes out frantically, never noticing the small camera hidden in the shadows near the ceiling.

Chapter 3