Running For Our Lives




Chapter 26: Fire and Ice

Tires screeched and bodies piled out of the truck, weapons flashing brightly in the afternoon sunshine. It was too damned cheerful outside for the situation they were all facing, but the sun shone anyway, heedless of the pain of the man at the head of the pack.

Angel sprinted to the archway of the sprawling cathedral, a blanket wrapped over his head and shoulders. He threw it off when he reached the heavy shadows beneath the archway, his skin slightly smoking from his brief contact with the sun. Everyone followed behind him, mouths set grimly in their faces.

"We ready for this?" Cordelia asked, looking from face to face. Fred nodded, lifting her crossbow, her face pale.

"Let's do this." Wesley growled, his heart lodged in his throat. A glance at Angel and the vampire kicked at the door.

The massive wood groaned and stayed shut. Another kick. Nothing. He tried the knob. It was locked and the brass was cold to the touch, too cold and he pulled his hand away quickly.

"She's frozen it shut from the inside." Angel said, glancing back at Wesley. The Englishman cursed low under his breath and gulped a breathful of air.

"What are we gonna do?" Fred asked, her eyes wide.

Suddenly, Angel took off into the sunshine, his huge duster billowing out behind him like a cape.

"Angel!" Cordelia screamed, launching herself after him, her eyes wide as she saw the trail of smoke he was leaving behind him. Hitting the edge of the building, Angel crawled up the masonry, reaching the edge of a huge stained glass window. Cordelia skittered to a halt and shielded her face as the vampire leapt through the glass.

Glass landed everywhere, slicing Angel in several places as he fell to the frozen ground inside the cathedral. He landed, rolled and slipped against the thick covering of ice. A shaft of sunlight fell across his face and he growled, rolling away from the pain.

Safely ensconced in the gloomy cathedral, he looked around, his vamp face slipping up over his features and his eyes glowing yellow in the light. His eyes adjusted and found a roaring blue fire and he saw something pale and bloody lying near it.

He surged forward, just as something cold was thrust in the small of his back. He turned, his eyes narrowed at the little demon before him.

She smiled and launched herself at him.


Gunn lifted Fred in after Cordelia and then turned to Wesley. The Brit was staring up at the broken window, his face pale and the twin black eyes from his broken nose shining darkly.

"You ready, dawg?" Gunn asked, snapping Wesley out of his tense reverie. Wesley looked back down at Gunn and nodded.

Gunn cupped his hand and Wesley stepped in it, then grabbed ahold of the masonry and used Gunn's hand to propel himself upward. He clung to the side of the building as best he could, careful of the jagged panes of glass still sticking up out of the window frame like broken teeth. He extended his hand out to Gunn and lifted him up with him.

As soon as Gunn was clinging just below the window, Wesley jumped in after the two women and landed in a sprawl on the icy floor. Gunn landed beside him a second later.

He looked up to see Angel grabbling with the little demon, a thin coat of ice covering parts of his body where the thing had managed to hit him. It wasn't slowing him down though, as Wesley could see when he kicked the thing in the stomach, sending it sliding back against the wall.

Faith, where was Faith? His eyes looked, searched, groped for some form of Slayer and he found her. A crackling blue fire was blazing in the center of the huge room, sending azure sparks up into the lofty heights of the ceiling. Beside it, he saw Faith, her head resting limply against the floor.

"Faith!" He didn't realize he'd screamed the word so loudly that Cordelia and Fred looked up from their task in the corner. They watched, worry in their eyes as he sprinted across the wide hall until he reached her, sliding on his knees as he knelt before her. "Faith! Wake up!"

Her lips were blue, her skin so cold his mind went into a tailspin for a second until he saw her breath puff up out of her chest and hang in the air between them for a moment before dissipating. "Wake up; I'm here to rescue you!"

Her eyes fluttered open for a moment, a smile touching those blue, blue lips. "Wes?" Then her eyes rolled back up into her head and he bent over her, hugging the shaking frame against his own. His hands touched her belly and came away bloody.

"What the....oh my God..." He followed the trial of his hands and saw a big, jagged wound in her abdomen. Bile rose in his throat and he saw a large, serrated knife lying beside her in a congealing pool of blood. Her blood. "Gunn!"

He was there in an instant, as if he was conjured, at his elbow. Immediately the black man began hacking at the ice with his axe, careful of the fists encased in them.

"It's okay, love. You're going to be okay." His words sounded false, even to him.

Across the room, Cordelia lifted the hose of the weapon Fred was holding up. She leveled it at the fighting vampire and demon, looking for a shot and waiting until Angel cleared the path.

"Uh...Angel? Wanna move?" She ground out, one eye squinting and the other focusing on the little demon. Angel's head snapped up for a second, his attention moved onto the woman with the weapon.

That was all Lian needed and she threw a roundhouse at him. Angel flew backward, slamming into a discarded wooden cross that was propped up in the corner. The dusty, splintered thing toppled over before Angel could move out of the way.

Cordelia eyes widened as she saw the cross pin Angel to the floor, his skin sizzling, smoking where it touched his skin. Without thinking, she threw the nozzle down and slid across the floor to where he was struggling. Fred watched her go, her eyes wide.

The smell of burning flesh was cloying, but Cordelia ignored it and tugged at the cross, tugged and pulled, but it stayed where it was. "Can you get up, Angel?"

"" Angel grunted, his eyes full of his Seer's face. His gaze shifted from Cordelia to Wesley and Gunn. Cordelia followed his line of sight and nodded.

"Gunn!" The black man turned, his eyes wide as he saw Angel. He sprinted to them, leaving Wesley to Faith's fallen, bleeding form.

Lian, who had been watching, her side bleeding where Angel's sword had cut her deeply, saw the abandonment and descended on the Slayer and her Watcher.

Wesley stood, his chin jutted out defiantly at her. "Try it."

"Don't mind if I do!" The little demon grabbed Wesley by the throat and lifted him off the ground. Wesley kicked his feet, his hands reaching for her eyes as his air supply was cut off.

"Shit!" Cordelia said, seeing the demon grab Wesley. Gunn didn't even look back as he grabbed the huge wooden cross and lifted. A second later, Cordelia added her strength and the cross slowly shifted off of Angel's scorched, sizzling form.

Angel rolled, his eyes squeezed shut against the pain. He struggled to his feet, Cordelia reaching for his arm and supporting him with her body.

"Oh fuck...Wesley!" Gunn said, letting the cross crash back down in a heap. He rushed forward, just in time to see the demon throw Wesley against the wall.

A sickening crack was heard and the Watcher slid limply down the wall, his head hanging. He slumped on the floor, unmoving.

"You fucking bitch!" Gunn roared, reaching for the axe he'd abandoned near Faith's feet. Damn.

"You're mean! I don't like you!" Lian said, smiling widely as she broke the remaining ice around Faith's feet. She lifted the bleeding Slayer by the roots of her hair, waving her at the others like a sick prize.

"Yeah, and I'm losing sleep at night cuz of that." Gunn muttered as Angel put a burned, quelling hand on his shoulder. The vampire limped forward and glared at the demon.

"Put her down."

"I'll kill her right here. Just like I did to her Watcher."

Angel's eyes bore into the little demon's and he tried to ignore Fred, just behind her. The little physicist was creeping up behind the blue demon, her eyes wide, the nozzle of the weapon clutched tightly in her shaking hands.

Gunn and Cordelia watched her too, eyes narrowed, waiting for the signal and the right moment.
It came as Angel launched himself across the room, once more sliding in the ice and sweeping the Sister off her feet. Bodies tangled, slammed into the floor and rolled across the ice.

Faith rolled out of Lian's arms and was quickly scooped up by Gunn, his arms curling protectively around the fallen Slayer. Cordelia followed up behind him, grabbing her legs as they hauled her backward.

Over her shoulder, Cordelia called out, "Fred! Now!"

Fred didn't hesitate. She twisted the nozzle on the flame thrower and a huge, bright red torrent of fire came blasting out of the end. Angel rolled away from Lian's fallen body just in time.

Flames hungrily lapped over the ice demon's body, sucking at the skin and cracking the icy armor of her body. Lian screamed, standing and lashing out with her power. Ice flew, hitting Angel once more and sending him to his knees. The blast wasn't very powerful though and he climbed right back up. The demon screamed and turned on Fred, but the little Texan held her ground, even as the demon rushed her.

Angel saw what she was going to do and reached in, grabbed the demon, heedless of the fire licking at his already burned, raw flesh. He threw her towards that huge, roaring blue fire still burning in the center of the room.

Lian screamed and writhed in the combined flames. The blue mixed with the red. Purple flames rose, higher and higher until something in the flames gave. A scream, so loud it was deafening, thundered off the walls of the cathedral and forced them to their knees.

The flames exploded for one, long moment and then....

They died, guttering out and leaving a blackened, broken body in the center of the fire pit. Silence enveloped them, thick and long and full of tension. A horribly pungent smell drifted lazily across the cathedral, making them cough and their eyes to tear.

Finally, Fred broke it by throwing down the flame thrower and letting out the tense breath she'd been holding.

"Wesley!" Cordelia exclaimed, snapping out of it and sprinting over to his fallen form. She lifted his head in her lap, her fingers coming away bloody. She looked his pale face over and then turned her gaze up to Angel's.

"Is he okay?" Fred asked, then her blood ran cold at that panicked, anguish riddled-voice that sounded from Cordelia's throat.

"Call 911. NOW!"

Chapter 27