DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Never was, never will be.
SPOILERS: Angel Season 5, "Not Fade Away"
FEEDBACK: Yes, please
AUTHORS NOTE: Huge thanks to Lisa, for putting up with yet another plot bunny, but I had to get this one down! I haven't seen Not Fade Away in it's entirety given that I have the attention span of a mite when it comes to squinty vision, and who knows when it might actually get shown here! So forgive me for any huge glaring mistakes!
So think of me and get on your way.
It won't begin until you make it end.
Until you know the how the where and the when.
With a new face you might surprise yourself.
Faith No More - Last Cup Of Sorrow
It always comes back to the car.
He's at a loss to explain it; it was just the way it seemed to be. Even after the last year, everything that's happened, it came back down to this.
He'd have loved to have savored the moment – pulling the cover off it, sliding behind the wheel and starting it, letting it idle for a while before gently pumping the accelerator to rev it – but now wasn't the time.
Besides, it's just a car.
And things are just a little too pressing at the moment. He's just relieved that he'd had the foresight to leave it in the parking garage of the Hyperion rather than having it moved to the Wolfram and Hart car park when they'd made the shift.
Quickly, he primes the engine, satisfied when it starts after only three attempts, roaring to life. He allows himself a tiny relieved sigh then, but knows they are far from being out of the woods.
The passenger door opens, his team pile in, what's left of them. Gunn is placed on the passenger seat next to him; the blood that was once gushing from his belly wound slowing. He doesn't have much longer, even if they do get him to the hospital on time, but despite the pain and loss of blood, he's still conscious, barely.
Spike and Illyria leap into the back and he barely gives them time to settle themselves before he slams the car into gear and guns it out of the car park. If they can just get out, away from LA, away from the demon horde, they might just be all right.
If they don't, every effort he'd ever made was all for naught.
"You're sure they'll be kept busy for a while?" he throws back over his shoulder at Illyria.
He can almost picture the deadpan look she has leveled at the back of his head, matching the equally deadpan voice. "I'm certain."
Swings the car out onto the street, narrowly missing an oncoming car. Tires squeal as he turns the wheel, evens the car out and accelerates down the street, eyes darting about, searching for any sign of pursuit.
"Are you sure there's nothing you can do for Gunn, Illyria?"
"Could turn him," Spike voices up, his voice strained, "That'd fix him nice and good."
"Fuck off, Spike." His voice is gravelly, testament to the agony he must be suffering. At least he can joke.
"Don't worry, Gunn, we're nearly at the hospital," Angel tries to reassure. He's not even sure they have the time to get there. Not sure when they'll catch up.
"There's no time and you know it," Gunn grunts, "'Sides, don't think much of my chances if I do, not with my insides hanging out and all. If you wanna do something for me, get me out of this godforsaken city."
It's a little after four thirty when he senses Gunn starting to slip away.
They're on the I15, closer to the Nevada border than LA, never dropping under a hundred miles for fear they might be caught up.
He slows now though, bringing the car to a halt but not stopping the engine, can't risk that. His acute senses tell him Gunn's unconscious, been that way since well before Barstow, that his breathing is shallow, heart so slow that he can nearly count the seconds between each beat.
Without a word they all hop out of the car, converge around the passenger seat, around Gunn. There's nothing they can do or say, nothing that would make the moment anything other than what it was. He wishes he could have done the same for Wesley, wished he could have said goodbye. Too late for that now, though.
There was nothing any of them could do or say, (no comma) but watch as his chest rose and fell and rose again. Try to ignore the blood crusted on his shirt, his trousers, try to remind themselves that he was lucky – this death was peaceful and painless compared to most others they had witnessed, and perpetrated, in the past.
Only it's not, really, and Angel is above fooling himself about that.
Isn't above feeling the guilt though. He'd dragged them all into his world, his fight. Was responsible for every death because of it – Doyle, Cordy, Wesley, now Gunn.
He wonders if Illyria has those memories, of Gunn and Fred, their time together. Wonders if she feels anything, if maybe there is still a glimmer of Fred in that shell. Wishes he knew what was going on in Spike's head at this moment too, wonders if perhaps he and Gunn had been on a par, warrior and warrior, or whether the Vampire aspect had kept that distance between them, like it had between himself and Gunn.
He'd never be certain, didn't help that he'd distanced himself from them in the last few weeks, hell, few months. Didn't know who was friends, who played nice, who had stuck together despite the changes of the last year.
As the moment arrives he's not watching Gunn, but studying the expressions on Spike and Illyria's faces. Sees the same sense of desolation and defeat on Spike's face, sees a glimmer of something on Illyria's face that's shut down as quickly as it appears.
Sees the answers to his unspoken questions on their faces. Sees more questions that he can't provide answers for, questions he himself holds.
Where do we go from here?
Was it all for nothing?
Did we even make a difference?
He doesn't know, only knows if they keep moving, maybe the questions will answer themselves.
Have to keep moving ... have to stick together.