In Medius Res
Summary: Fred and Gunn look for Cordy and Angel while Lorne tries to console Groo.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, the characters aren't mine, blah, blah, blah. Please don't sue.
"What if they went back to Sunnydale?" Fred asked "you know, because there was some danger at the Hellmouth". Gunn thought a moment, and it seemed feasible enough, but something in his stomach just didn't sit right with that idea. "I don't know" he said, rubbing his chin, "'Angel usually leaves a message or something when he goes back there" He shook his head and frowned, " nah, something's definitely up, " he concluded. "Angel, Cordy, Groo, and Connor all disappear on the same day, and we're left watching the house?" he sighed emphatically "this is just wrong". It had been over forty eight hours since their friends had lost contact, Fred was about to say something, but a thought occurred to her and she couldn't help asking "Are you worried about them, or are you upset because whatever they've gotten themselves into, you're not involved?". Gunn didn't reply immediately, but the guilty look on his face gave her all the answer she needed. "Action junkie" she teased him. He smiled at the continual revelation of how well she knew him. "Look, one way or another we have to find them". He looked over to the dry erase board with their impromptu list of possibilities.
"Well we checked Cordelia's apartment, and there was no sign of them there" Fred announced analytically, "of course if the state of the apartments disarray wasn't so idiosyncratically linked with Cordelia's personality, I'd say there could have been a struggle". She adjusted her glasses and continued "there was no trace of Holtz in that Motel we saw him at, but after Angel let him go, he said that he was going to leave for good anyway"; she paused a moment to think. "Why is it that Angel could forgive Holtz, but not Wesley?" Gunn raised his hands in a sign of surrender "please don't go there". "... but" she tried, as Gunn put his arms around her "listen, what happened between them is between them" he said smoothly "Wes helped saved your life when that slug thing tried to suck you dry, for that I owe him" he paused momentarily "For that and a hell of a lot more, but right now, after the way we bailed on him, he doesn't really want to see any of us, any time soon".
"So in time..." she pursued, "In time I hope we can fix things." Gunn finished her thought "Y'know Wes and I used to be really tight, but things just..." he let the matter drop, before she figured out that she was one of the reason's the two had drifted from their friendship. "Right. So Holtz is gone and..." Fred felt Gunn's embrace slacken. "Damn!" His arms dropped from around her and raced over to get the keys to his truck from behind the hotel's front desk. "What? what is it Charles?" Fred queried worriedly at her boyfriend's suddenly urgent actions. "Where are we going?"
Gunn hopped over the desk, with the keys in his hand. Striding over to her he looked into her deep brown eyes and told her calmly "You have to stay here okay? In case anyone calls". Tears were beginning to form in the corners of her eyes as she began to fear she was about to lose him too. "No Charles, I'm coming with you" she stated adamantly. "besides that's why we have thecell phones, so we don't have to stay in one place ". Gunn looked at her, hating himself for having to agree, and knowing that if he was right then both of their lives might be in jeopardy.
He nodded his consent, and took her hand. They dashed through out of the hotel lobby. Fred stopping to lock the front doors, while Gunn brought his hunting Rig around to the front. Gunn threw open the passenger door before he had come to a full stop, Fred leaped into the truck and buckled herself in as he floored the gas. "Um, hate to be all nosy- girl, but where are we going?" Fred asked coyly. Gunn's brows were furrowed with determination, and, for the first time since Fred had met him she thought, fear. He looked at her quickly, and returned his gaze to the road. His voice came to him after a second or so.
"Connor's back from Quar-toth right?" he asked her, she nodded silently, "so is Holtz" she added. "Well what if that whole spiel he gave Angel about forgiveness was a lie?, what if he found out about what Sahjan was really up to and..." Fred gasped at the thought "and freed him from the urn to kill Angel and Connor". Gunn shot her a desperate look. She unbuckled herself wordlessly and felt under the seats for the weapons Charles tended to stash there. "We're going to need help" she said while rummaging through an assortment of stakes. Gunn didn't bother looking at her when he silently said "Call him".
Lorne wasn't at all surprised to find himself with such an amiable traveling companion. In fact he had almost predicted the spot where he would pick the heart broken battle prince up from wandering the streets . The Groosalugg had done more than borrowed Angel's clothing while he was here in this dimension, but now he seemed to have taken on the grim face of brooding that Angel seemed to have patented. "Want to talk about it Champ?" he attempted for the first time in two days to pierce the warrior's icy exterior. Groo raised his head and took a deep breath. Lorne guessed that this would be a long, and silent road trip, but he was pleasantly surprised. "I have no purpose here, I have failed in the one quest I have ever set upon for the sake of myself." He smiled bitterly, "such is the price of selfishness".
"I'm sorry, how exactly were you being selfish in all this? I must of missed it in between the bouts of sacrifice, when you were saving the innocent, and giving up your one true love, so she could find happiness with another man" Lorne drawled sarcastically. The Groosalugg could only sigh in penitent expression for his actions. "I loved her so much, and I love her still, but I turned away from my duty because of that love, for I am the Groosalugg, Defender, Champion, and formerly King of the Cows in my home realm, I was not made for love, but for battle." He raised his gaze to the sky and nodded in acknowledgement of his proclaimed greed. "Some how I forgot that, and sought out my own pleasure instead; seeking to dwell with my Goddess Cordelia" He lowered his head once more.
"Yeah, you should be dragged out into the street and shot" Lorne feigned agreement. "A fate far to kind for one such as me" the Groosalugg affirmed.
Lorne stared at him for a moment, and turned his eyes back to the road. "You're really something you know that?", Lorne was seriously starting to feel bad for fallen Hero, he was in a dimension far from his home, he had lost the only woman he had ever loved, and honestly believed that he would never find such a person in his life ever again; and worst of all he blamed it on himself ,for anything less would be dishonorable. Lorne was taking the scenic route to Las Vegas, and he really wasn't in any hurry, but he was beginning to wonder if fate would let the pair of them be, a legendary Warrior and a Bard from his native homeland, who just happen to be traveling to the entertainment capital of the world? He didn't have to be a psychic to know something was bound to happen.
As they were cruising across the barren desert road and the night was deepening into a purple starlit canopy, something sparked Lorne's intuitions. He brought the rental car to screeching halt. "Why has the beast stopped its procession?" questioned Groo, petting the leather interior of the car. Lorne cut the engine, and waited for the headlights to go out. "What has happened? " Groo continued. "Hush!" Lorne whispered fiercely, pointing up to the sky. Groo looked and saw only the twinkling of the stars, but his view became obstructed as some thing exceptionally large passed right over them causing a small dust storm in its wake. The two sat silent for a short while, dusting themselves free of the desert sands.
"What ever that thing was, it was heading in the same direction as we were" Lorne noted. Groo stood in his seat, his face splitting in a wide grin of a warrior who has seen a worthy adversary. The grey slate Tee shirt he was wearing stretched taught across his exquisite chest as he breathed in the scent of challenge. "Then it is indeed most fortunate, that we are heading that way" The Groosalugg affirmed, his intent unmistakable. He reached into the back seat and drew forth his blade, one that he had brought from a demon merchant on his trip to Mexico. Lorne understood, and began to drive towards their destiny.
Justine knew she was a marked woman. After all the trouble she had caused amongst the Vampire community even before she met Holtz; but now with what was left of Holtz' army following her in a fight against the Vamps, she had earned herself a death warrant from the underworld. She would however, have been surprised by the being tracking her tonight, as she walked alone to her apartment. Her pursuer had followed her many a night, especially along this route; simply watching her movements, when she fought, trained, when she ate and bathed. He knew every last inch of her body, and her mind. He knew her as only a man obsessed could. Of course he could defeat her, that wasn't the point, but he needed to be near her, to see how fate in and of itself would handle her, after all that she had done. He needed to know that there was some sense of divine justice at work, or else his work for so many years would mean nothing, The life that she took, his life, would have been forfeit.
He saw them coming before she did. It wouldn't be the first time he had saved her, without her knowing it. He drew his sword and leapt down from the fire escape over looking the alley that she was crossing through. He landed silently, his blade decapitating the first hidden assailant, dust scattered across his fine shoes. Another one appeared and leaped at him growling fiercely. He raised his sword and the vamp found itself impaled to the hilt before disintegrating. Two more came at him, and a third charged at Justine.
Justine heard the thing's growl and spun to see what was behind her but, she was rushed off of her feet and pinned against a garbage dumpster before she could get a look. She looked into the face of her attacker and recognized him as one of Angel's protégés. "Look out!" she gurgled as one of the alley vamps was about to attack him.
Gunn used his free hand to stake the oncoming vamp without breaking his intense stare at Justine. "He's not your problem, I am!" Gunn shouted in her face, and slammed her against the dumpster again. Fred came running up beside him with the large crossbow aimed into the shadows of the Alley way. "There were four more that followed her in" she said "what happened to them?"
"Don't know, don't care!" Gunn said, the intensity of his voice more than a little frightening. He couldn't help feel anything but rage toward this woman. He found his grip around her neck tightening, and she was beginning to turn blue. She could fight, he knew she could, but he wondered if guilt was holding her back. "Where's Sahjan!?" he demanded. She gasped hoarsely as he loosened his grip.
"What the hell are you talking about?" Justine rasped, "you saw me capture him in the Urn" . Gunn pushed her back against the dumpster "Fine! where's the Urn?" he said leveling the stake at her neck.
"Why, what do you want it for?" she retorted, loosing her fear, knowing that he didn't have the heart to kill her. She straightened her jacket, thoughts whirling through her head, realizing that they didn't recognize her part in Angel's disappearance. Her confidence returning she smiled at Gunn " It's safe, you don't need to worry about it". Gunn never broke his steady glare, as he drove the stake into her left shoulder. She cursed at the pain and threw a quick punch at him with her right fist. He caught it and twisted her arm behind her, forcing her around to face Fred's crossbow.
"One more time," Fred declared slowly "Where is the Urn?". The determination in her eyes, and the hard glint of true fury were evident in the slight girl. "At my place" Justine stammered. " I'll take you" she relented as Gunn pushed her to the ground "Then let's get moving".
"That's really no way to treat a lady" came a voice from the shadows, so familiar that it hurt. Fred lowered her weapon and spun around. Gunn was too intent on keeping his eyes on Justine, who looked like she would bolt any minute. "That's a'ight partner, she ain't no lady, She cut my best friend's throat and now she's..." Gunn's words dropped as the figure stepped from the alley's shadows.
"Wesley" Fred whispered, as the Ex-watcher emerged. Gunn froze in place as Wes' icy stare swept over all of them. Justine saw the man she had betrayed and killed, and as his angry glare landed on her she got to her feet and ran, past the other two. Gunn shook himself out of his stupor, and went after her, Fred stared for a moment more before going after him. When she caught Gunn at the end of the street, she looked back and Wesley was gone.
"Damn!" Gunn exclaimed, seeing Justine barrel through the flowing traffic, about to follow himself. When Fred caught up, he told her to get the truck and meet him around the other side of the small park across the street. He dove into the traffic which had momentarily stopped. Fred ran for the truck which was parked a short distance away. By the time She had come around the corner with the Rig she found Gunn fighting fiercely against a couple of Justine's men who had been patrolling the park. Justine herself was up against the park's wire fence while someone was bandaging her shoulder.
Gunn spun back and forth parrying blow after blow being thrown by the two men dressed in black. Realizing he couldn't keep this up indefinitely, he spun low and swept one off of his feet, springing up a second later to kick the other one square in the face. Both men fell and Gunn approached Justine. She looked up at him and smiled as he drew closed. The man bandaging her shoulder looked up also as he finished his work. Fred cried out when she saw his face. It was Connor...
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