Running For Our Lives

                           

 

 

Chapter VIII: Good Idea/Bad Idea


Angel slammed the door to the hotel shut so hard that the glass shattered the wooden frame splintered. Gunn and Fred, sitting behind the main desk, looked up with startled expressions on their faces.

"What's the matter?" Fred asked, eyes wide as she took in the soot-stained clothing and the tears on Cordelia's face. Angel ignored her and kicked at the grey island sofa, his vamp face coming out and his eyes turning a hard yellow.

"Whoa! Calm down! What the hell happened? Where's Wesley?" Gunn asked, vaulting over the front desk and landing before Cordelia. She looked up at him with bleak eyes, lip trembling.

"He's dead." She whispered breathlessly; she was finding it difficult to breathe or even think. He couldn't be dead, he just couldn't.

"What?" Gunn and Fred echoed each other, mouths dropping open and eyes going as round as saucers.

"There was...an explosion. There was, there was nothing left. Just a pile of....it smelled so horrible." Cordelia said, eyes haunted as fresh tears sprang to her eyes.

"Oh God!" Fred exclaimed, burying her head against Gunn's shoulder. He patted her with an unreassuring hand, lips open like he wanted to say something, but he couldn't form words. Finally he found his voice and squeezed out the only words he could think of.

"Who did it?" His mind immediately went to Wolfram & Hart and stayed there, wishing he could tear those damn lawyers apart limb from limb himself. Angel looked up from his rampage, rage seething in his eyes and his hands clenched so hard his palms were bleeding.

"Faith. She killed him." He said, mouth thick with saliva as he growled through his teeth.

"Faith? The Slayer?" Gunn exclaimed, sitting Fred down on the couch, letting his anger force the tears he wanted to cry out of his eyes.

"Yes. I saw her. That murdering bitch killed him. I saw her. I can't believe I ever...ever thought she was good. What a fool." Angel said, face unvamping, but the harshness staying in his eyes. "If I'd known she was even out..."

"Angel, don't blame yourself. You didn't do this. Faith did and she's not getting away with it." Cordelia said, lifting her head. Fred saw a hatred in the girl's hazel eyes that she had never seen before. Whoever this Faith was, she didn't have a prayer.

"What do you mean?" Gunn asked, seeing the gears in the Seer's brain moving at lightning speed.

"I mean we're going after her. She took Angel's car. Can we track the car at all? Find out where she is and hunt her down and kill her?" Cordelia asked through clenched teeth, turning her attention to Fred.

"Did you leave anything in the car? Cell phone? I could trace the signal...I think." Fred asked in a breathy voice, head wrapping around the ideas as quickly as possible. Angel, jaw clenched, fished into his pockets and pulled out his cell phone. Cordelia cursed under her breath and kicked at the sofa.

"Credit cards?" Gunn suggested, massaging the back of Fred's neck with one strong hand. Fred looked back at him, chewing her bottom lip.

"There are two cards in the glove compartment!" Cordelia said, eyes red and full of fire. "Can you track those?"

"If she uses them....I think I can. I'm not sure." Fred said, shrugging her shoulders.

"Be sure." Angel said, placing his hands on the back of Cordelia's neck and burying his head in her short hair. The tears had stopped rolling down her cheeks and vengeance was burning in her; Angel could feel her pain and anger and he trembled with her, barely contained. "But first, get me Faith's address. She must have been living somewhere and her probation must be on record.

"Alright." Fred said, standing up and bringing Gunn with her. Her mouth was set in a grim line and her chin rose confidently as she raced to the computer. Within minutes she was clacking and concentrating on the screen, her brow furrowed into a jagged line across her forehead.

"What are we going to do if she doesn't use them?" Gunn asked Angel, swallowing hard, his face the color of ashes.

"If she doesn't, then I'll hunt her down another way." Angel said roughly, face changing and unchanging as he spoke. Gunn backed up a step, eyes wide.

Cordelia looked back at the vampire and opened her mouth to say something to him, but Fred interrupted, her voice thick with unshed tears. "I have her address." She said, holding up a piece of paper, eyes shadowed.

"We're going tonight. Gunn, stay here and keep an eye out. She might come by here looking for more trouble. Cordelia, come with me." Angel told the taller man, lips pressed into a thin line.

"Good idea and don't worry, she comes here looking for trouble, she's going to find it." Gunn said, anger he was trying and failing to hold in coming out and adding steel to his voice. Angel nodded and with that, he walked out, Cordelia in tow.

*****

Somewhere in the desert, a figure stopped, head snapping up as an unseen force twanged through her soul. The figure kneeled in the dirt, eyes closed as she received an image on the inside of her eyelids.

FireDeathSwordsArrowsSlayerManSisterMateoDEAD. Four.

Anger laced through the demon's chest and she stood, form changing and unchanging as her majicks were interrupted by the transfer of death-energy. A slight burning sensation lanced through the crescent-shaped scar around her eye and she grimaced. Finally, she closed her hands and resumed her woman-shape, bright pink hair nearly glowing in the moonlit desert, shoulders shrugging her arsenal into place as the steel returned to her eyes.

Revenge and the prize lay before her and she opened herself up to the Slayer's aura. Far across the desert, she found her by fear and the power only the Slayer could possess. She was coming straight to her.

Uriah smiled and waited.

*****

Wesley moaned, head throbbing in time to his heartbeat. He grimaced and felt something flaky and crusted on the side of his face as he did so. He was aware that he was in something moving, with a slight breeze blowing across the nape of his neck. Opening one eye, he noticed everything up close was a bit blurred.

"Where are my glasses?" He asked, saying the first thing that popped into his head as he sat up and blinked, wind hitting him straight in the face.

"You lost them." Wesley jumped and turned, a mouthful of air whistling through his teeth as pain thump-thumped through his skull. Faith, sitting behind the wheel of...Angel's car?, stared back at him. Her face was pale and pinched, blood dried over her purple tank top in great splatters, one sliced arm wrapped with a makeshift tourniquet. The side of her leg, he noticed, was burnt, the pant leg charred away and the skin beneath slightly pink.

"Oh." Was all he could think of, wondering why the hell they were in Angel's car and why the hell they were doing..."In the desert? Why are we in the desert?"

Faith was silent, eyes shifting everywhere, trying to avoid his wide blue stare. She gulped and shrugged, ruby red lip tucked between her teeth.

"Faith?" He persisted, shifting position on the seat and glaring at her.

"Okay, so I freaked out! I thought you were dead for a minute and the explosion and the ninja thing and then Angel was there....I was kinda confused and running was the only thing I could think of." She said, gulping back a thousand things she wanted to say, but she wasn't the type to tell him she was scared to death.

"I understand; you were scared, but we have to go back. If Angel saw you there and I'm not around, he's going to think you did something. And I'm afraid in his current state, you don't want to make an enemy of him." Wes said, shaking his head to clear it.

"I know we have to go back, but do we have to go tonight? You look half dead and I'm ready to pass out." She asked, yawning hard enough to crack her jaw. Wesley grimaced and understood exactly what she was saying. He was tired and not just from the fight or the head injury; weeks of stress and insomnia were catching up to him fast.

"We should stop, but unless you brought your wallet, I'm afraid we're sleeping in the car." He said, shifting uncomfortably at the thought. What he wanted was a warm bath and a bed. With a gut-wrenching pang he realized his apartment had just been blown to bits and everything he owned was toast.

"No we aren't." Faith said, a mad glint in her eyes.

"What do you mean?" He asked, eyeing her sharply, but she just smiled and kept driving. A few minutes later she eased the car to a stop in front a little motel on the side of the road, one that looked about as inviting as the car. He eyed the flashing neon sign that read Desert Rose Motel and frowned. "Why are we stopping here?"

"Cuz we're going to get a room." She said, stepping out of the car and gesturing him to come with her. She shushed his protest with a finger to her lips and grabbed him by the front of his shirt, hauling him along behind her. The motel gave Wesley the creeps because it reminded him strongly of the Bates Motel in "Psycho" and he wondered for a moment if that movie was modeled after this place.

He watched as Faith slunk to the room on the end and pried open the window, the wood splintering under her fingers as she let her strength loose on it. The window open, she promptly slid inside, the frame digging into her belly.

"Faith! This is a bad idea." Wesley hissed and poked his head into the window. She grinned up at him from the darkness and grabbed his shirt once more and pulled him into the room head first. He fell onto the floor with a muffled crash.

"I got us a room. As long as we don't turn on the lights, we're golden." She said, closing the window behind him. He stood and frowned, then shrugged.

"Fine, but if we get in trouble, I'm giving you a preemptive 'I told you so'. Got it?" Wes said, grinning slightly and eyeing the room. Drab wallpaper, drab bed and no tv. It was a good thing they weren't paying for the place or he'd seriously have a complaint or two for the manager. As it was, beggars couldn't be choosers and they were definitely begging.

"Gotcha, but I've done this a million times before. Don't worry." She said, stretching and then falling back on the lone bed. He chuckled and wondered when she had done this before, but decided not to ask. The past was best left in the past, especially when the future was so uncertain. That thought brought him right back to the Council and he wondered what he should tell her and decided it could wait until the morning.

They both sat down on the edge of the bed, Wesley very aware that they had only one bed and that there were two of them. And as he had always been good at math, the numbers didn't change no matter how much he ran them through his mind. "So uh...I'll just sleep on the floor." He stammered, reaching for a pillow.

"Yeah, that's probably best..." She said, biting her lip and looking like she wanted to say something else. She watched him through slitted eyes as he bedded down on the floor, and she curled up on the creaking mattress. Silence stretched and the darkness seemed to grow shapes that wanted to reach out and grab her. She draped one arm over the side and groped for Wesley's hand.

He took it and held her hand, fingers warm and sweaty in the darkness. "Faith?"

"
What are the Five?" Her voice was so terror filled and innocent that he wanted to wrap himself around her and keep her from the world.

"They're demon assassins. All female, all very powerful and immortal. From what I can remember they're connected to each other in a spiritual way. And some of them can change shape. I wish I knew more, but I'm finding it hard to remember all the details about them. The Council used to work against them...but..." His voice trailed off and he gulped, wondering if she'd pick up on the terror in his voice as he mentioned the Watcher's Council.

"Why do they want to kill me?" She asked, blithely unaware of his tremoring voice.

"You're a great prize Faith. Itís not many that get to kill a Slayer and I suppose the Five jumped at the chance to have the honor. I do know that they won't stop until you're dead or all five sisters are. And even then, I suppose....I suppose that won't stop anyone or anything else from coming for you." He frowned at the revelation in his words. Faith wasn't safe anymore and he knew it. He knew it just as surely as he knew that if they went back to L.A.
, where they expected her to be, she was going to be targeted.

"I guess not, but I'm a Slayer, I'm used to daily death threats. Kinda goes with the territory, ya know?" She said lightly, snuggling down into the bed, the springs groaning under her meager weight.

"True." Wes said noncommittally, thoughts turned inward. She was silent after that, her breathing steady. He kept her hand in his own, one thumb rubbing her skin as he thought. As much as he knew they should head back to
L.A. and Angel Investigations, there was a part of him that didn't want to. That part, the same part that still wondered why he wasn't dead, wanted to keep going with her, to run as far and as fast as they could go. Alone they could make it somewhere safe, couldn't they?

Logic asserted itself and he shook his head. They had to go back to
Los Angeles, where there were people he cared about and needed him. And her. Jealousy stabbed through him as he thought about what Angel would do with her once they got back. He'd do the sympathetic, soulful eyes routine that made her want to hide beneath his wings and let him protect her.

Wesley wanted to protect her, he realized. He wanted to be the one she ran to, the one she shared sympathy with, the one who kept her from the world. In the end, jealousy ruled out and he decided to keep going, no matter what his logical side was telling him.

There was also the fact that the jealous part of him was wondering if anyone in L.A. even cared if he was alright and even though he knew better, the idea stuck in his craw and wouldn't leave. When he finally fell asleep, it was with a bitter taste in his mouth.

Chapter 9

Back