Title: Marching As To War
Author: Syn
E-Mail: veruca_werewolf@hotmail.com
Disclaimer: The characters in this story belong to those crazy Mutant Enemy bastards. Don't even try blaming Gwen on me!
Content: Fred/Gunn, character death
Spoilers: Umm...Ground State, but right in the middle of the episode I go off into my own AU.
Rating: PG-13
Summary: What if Gwen hadn't revived Gunn?
A/N: I haven't written anything Fred/Gunnish in a while and I wanted something um...non-fluffy. Plus, I hate Gwen and hey, watching me go into bitch-mode is funny. In a scary way. ;)
Songography: "Onward, Christian Soldiers" written by Sabine Baring-Gould
Feedback: It's such a small thing, if you please.

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"Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war..." My voice rings out as I cock an arrow into place, letting my eyes slide over the familiar crossbow.

He made this.

Numb, I let my gaze slide over to the taser next to the crossbow in my hand. Would it hurt, or would she like it? I decide against it and just heft the crossbow, knowing this is the only thing I'm going to need. Holding the familiar object brings me closer to him and I fight the urge to break down on the lobby floor where I'm hidden.

Break down right there and spill my guts all over the floor for what that bitch did to him. But I've got to keep it together. I've got one more task to do.

"With the cross of Jesus, marching on before." I sing, mind crawling through a sludge of memory and time. Remembering the days of lazy, hot Texan Sundays and stifling churches; sitting in the back row, reading Science Weekly while Reverend Jamison went through the sermon in his slow drawl. Only looking up from my fascinating articles on nuclear fission when the hymns were sung, my voice clear and happy as the entire congregation took to their feet, carrying me along with them.

Why am I singing this song? Shouldn't I be warbling some version of Amazing Grace or something equally as sad and tragic? Swing low, sweet chariot? Already come and gone.

Chariot came and took him away. Promises or no promises, he's gone. My unwilling mind grates it's gears, whirring as I turn time back to the warmth of summer and the mystery of not knowing, but the comfort of us.

~*~

Blood flowed stickily down his side, pooling in a fold of his dark, baggy jeans and spilling over to the towel I'd placed on the bed. My fingers, coated in the red fluid, worked quickly, staunching the blood flow as best I could with a fresh, clean bandage.

"I'm not as good at this as Cordelia was. Is." I corrected myself immediately, biting down on my lip and looking away from his dancing brown eyes.

"It's okay. Cordy's got nothing on my girl." Charles said, flashing me a quick, gleaming grin. Returning it, I looked back down at the bandaged wound and finished up, pressing the tape down as gently as I could. He still winced.

"Big baby."

"Am not." He shot back, tugging his ruined shirt down over the bandages, moving slowly as pained muscles twinged. I made a mental note to give him a back massage later. He'd really earned it tonight. "Where's Connor?"

"No clue. When we didn't find out anything from those Belantas demons, he took off. I think he really had his hopes up, ya know?" I said, walking into the bathroom and washing my hands off. I grimaced at the blood under my nails and scrubbed extra hard.

"Poor kid. We should take him to Disneyland or something."

"Charles...we can't afford it." I said, exasperated. He knew the money situation as well as I did; we barely had money to eat, let alone enjoy a day giving in to the wonders of Disney. "Maybe we can go to the beach or something."

His eyebrow lifted sardonically and I managed a laugh as I came back into the bedroom and sat down. His arms immediately went around me and I nuzzled against him gently, careful of his still-fresh wound.

"Don't leave me."

"What?" He asked incredulously, pulling back and giving me a hard stare.

"Just...don't. Promise you won't go anywhere."

"Where would I go?"

"I don't know. Just promise you won't go there. If you do, I might go crazy." I admitted, touching my fingers to his lips. He lifted his wide, strong hand to mine and pulled it away from his face.

"Yeah, but no one does crazy better than Fred." Charles teased, putting my hand on his chest, so I could feel his heart beating. I just stared at him. He knew I was serious. "I promise. I won't leave you." His mouth descended on mine and I drank up that promise from his lips like wine.

I sank into his arms, losing myself in the feel of him against me, his lips, his fingers and his body all a promise that he was there and he wasn't going anywhere. And when I woke up, he was still there beside me.

~*~

"Like a mighty army moves the church of God; Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod." I breathe out the only lyrics I can remember through my teeth, glancing down the brightly lit corridors of the huge office building. The fichus I'm kneeling behind smells strange and it's distracting. But it's grounding too and I'm able to concentrate on not concentrating on the fichus.

My ears prick forward as the sound of boots clunking along the polished floor sound from down the corridor. Months of training and years of honed survival instincts kick in and the his crossbow is lifted with ease. It's so easy just to point and aim it and I'm reminded of that poor slave back in Pylea.

The first and only time I ever killed someone. I was half-mad with starvation and desperate for life. He was going to turn me into the demons and I killed him with his own weapon. I still dream about that sometimes, but I know I just did what I had to in order to survive. That's what I'm doing know.

I want to be sick.

No time for that. Gotta survive.

Seconds after hearing her footsteps, I see her strutting--Strutting--into the lobby, a black velvet bag with a large object in it clutched in her hands and her face a haughty mask of indifference. More fuel on the fire.

"Hell's foundations quiver at the shout of praise; Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise." The words are barely a whisper as I narrow my eyes.

Without blinking, I squeeze the trigger, as easily as she's pushing the button for the elevator. The arrow flies across the distance and I see her jerk, spasm as the point hits her right between the shoulders blades, a spray of bright red blood hitting the polished white walls and spilling down her slutty red top.

She collapses to the floor in a heap as I slide out of my hiding place with ease. Her eyes go round with surprise as I stand over her, the crossbow trained to her head. The point of the arrow is just visible between her breasts. Blood is everywhere.

There was no blood when he died.

"You remember me? Good. You're dying, you know that right? Your lungs have been punctured by the arrow, probably collapsing them, that's why you're gasping for breath. And I think I clipped a major artery when I shot you, so your blood is pumping out faster than you can make it. Now that's not a scientific synopsis of what's happening to your body, but your brain is shutting down and I didn't want to confuse you with too much medical jargon. The question really is, do I do the humane thing and shoot you in the head, or do I let you bleed out everywhere?"

Her red lipstick looks smudged but I know that it's really a trickle of blood spilling out over her lips. Her eyes flutter and her fingers clench at the wound. I see sparks flooding her fingertips, dancing along the metal edge of the arrow tips. Whatever she's trying, it's not working. I ignore her and go on.

"I loved him so much and you killed him. You killed him. And now, you're dead."

"Does this make you feel better?" Angel's voice is cold behind me, his hand hovering just above my right shoulder. Wisely, he doesn't touch me. I don't need cold comfort right now. I need blood, something he understands all too well.

"No, it makes me feel sick. But I couldn't live with myself if I didn't make her pay." I answer, face impassive, the old refrains of "Onward, Christian Soldiers" sounding through my head.

"I could have done this for you."

"No you couldn't. I know you Angel...this would have ended badly and she would have walked away. You're too forgiving." I answer, taking a deep breath and smelling the metallic scent of blood strong in the air. The girl thrashes on the ground and looks up through a mass of streaked hair. Her eyes are going glassy.

Angel doesn't move away from my side as we both watch the girl die. It doesn't take long and soon she's just a corpse on the ground before us, one of Charles's arrows in her chest. Angel's cold hand finally descends onto my shoulder and he pulls me close, picking me up as I start to weep uncontrollably.

"We've got to get out of here, someone's coming." He explains, but I can only stare behind us. He hastily picks up the blood-sprayed black velvet bag as he starts to walk away.

Over his shoulder, I see the girl's dead body, staring at me with accusing eyes. I am only numb to it and I close my eyes, the haunting voice of Charles in my skull, singing along with me. The last strains of an old hymn dance along my lips as Angel carries me away from the kill.

"Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng, Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song. Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King, This through countless ages men and angels sing."

(end)

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