Run, Baby, Run
A/N: All good things... This is the end. Epilogue, people. Thank you for reading and reviewing, for liking and encouraging me. I'm not too happy with this bit, but I can't come up with a way to make it better, so it'll have to do.
Silly Trivia at the end. Because I felt like it.
Run, Baby, Run
By the time Sarah woke from restless sleep, she had quite literally managed to worry herself sick. Her stomach churned, her vision blurred – though whether that was from nausea or tears was anyone’s guess – and she felt like her limbs were filled with lead.
Caleb was out there somewhere, possibly fighting for his life. He might have gotten hurt. He might have…
Calm down, she told herself sternly. Caleb would be fine. He’d had his friends with him when she’d left him at the barn and he’d said he had things under control. Chase had been knocked out and tied up. Not exactly dangerous.
But she couldn’t help but remember Kate writhing in her hospital bed, the dead kid in the newspaper, Caleb’s worried face as she woke from the weirdest dream ever with the taste of sulfur in her mouth. She didn’t think Chase was ever not dangerous. And Caleb had refused to just go to the police. What were they going to do with their errant Covenant member?
Take his powers? Could they do that? Caleb said losing the power meant losing your life. Would they kill Chase? Lock him up? She had too many questions and no answers. She’d tried getting Mrs. Danvers to talk when she’d returned Caleb’s car home, but the woman had only looked at her with bleary, unfocused eyes and told her to go home. That everything would be alright.
Sarah wasn’t five anymore. She knew that things usually were not alright in the end. But Caleb…. Caleb had to be alright. And his friends too. She liked Buffy, liked Pogue. Tyler and Reid were fun, too, in a way. They couldn’t get hurt. They couldn’t die. They couldn’t…
Stop. She had to stop over-thinking things.
Sarah forced herself to sit up and look at the alarm clock on her nightstand. It was almost eight in the morning. That was good. It meant she’d slept for a while at least. But it also meant that it had been more than eight hours since she had left Caleb in that damn barn to try and deal with someone who wanted him dead. Who had held her captive.
Eight o’clock also meant she could finally do something. She dressed in jeans and a comfortable sweater, needing the comfort of something soft and warm and damn pretty to hell. She brushed her teeth, shoved her hair into a ponytail and snatched up her car keys and purse.
It took her twenty minutes to get out to Caleb’s place, where she was summarily informed by the housekeeper that Master Caleb had not come home last night and neither had any of his friends. The woman reminded Sarah a bit of a female Gorman, but she resisted asking if there was a family connection. She did weasel Buffy’s and Pogue’s addresses out of the reluctant woman, though.
She figured they had to be somewhere and they would have gone back to the dorms where Reid and Tyler lived. Neither of the boys had ever mentioned anything about their families, so Sarah was pretty sure they wouldn’t have gone home even as she found it strange that the boys lived to completely separate from their families in such a small town. Oh well.
At Pogue’s place, no-one answered after five rings of the door bell. That left only Buffy’s home. The woman who opened had to be the blonde’s step mother, who looked at her in confusion until she introduced herself and stated her cause.
Immediately the woman’s gaze shuttered and her face became curiously blank. “I don’t know where Buffy and her friends are,” she said, very carefully, “But I wouldn’t worry if I were you. They can look after themselves.”
Sarah studied Mrs. Summers’s face for a moment before deciding to take a risk. “It’s just that, Caleb promised to call me as soon as he got home because they… they did something dangerous last night. And I’m worried.”
If the brunette didn’t know about Buffy’s secret, this wouldn’t tell her. But from her expression, she did know something at least. She shook her head. “Like I said, they can look after themselves, dear. Just go home and wait. Your Caleb will turn up.”
Then she smiled in goodbye, crooked and strange, and closed the door before Sarah would say another word. She got the impression that she had just been told to go home and forget about Caleb. What was that about?
The blonde returned to her car, laying her forehead on the steering wheel, thinking frantically where else the boys could have gone. There was no way they were at the barn anymore. The roof looked like it held off water as well as prayers and paper and it had rained all night. And even if they were Harry Potter on dope, they couldn’t fix the weather, could they? No, they had gone somewhere else after dealing with Chase. And she wasn’t even going to consider the hospital.
So what was left?
She went through all the places she’d been with Caleb in her mind and almost smacked herself. The old mansion! It was close to the barn, inhabited and dry. Why the hell hadn’t she thought of that hours ago?
With a quick prayer to the god of engines she started her old VW and kicked it into gear as fast as the tired machine would allow. Caleb was at the mansion. He had to be.
Gorman opened the door after an agonizing minute, glaring at Sarah with something akin to hate in his beady, half blind eyes.
“Miss Sarah,” he greeted, his voice disdainful in that bland way servants in the old movies had. He didn’t like her, but he also knew that his opinion didn’t matter. At least in theory. In reality, the look he was giving her made her stomach churn again, just like it had when she’d woken up, sick with worry. Because the old man looked at her like she was something bad. Something nasty.
“Good Morning, Mr. Gorman,” she returned, forcing a polite smile onto her face. “Is Caleb here?”
She knew he was. She’d felt a wave of relief so great it had made her knees weak when she’d found the end of the gravel road blocked by Buffy’s convertible and Tyler’s SUV. The Covenant was here. Now it was just a matter of finding Caleb and making sure he was alright. Making sure, too, that Chase was dealt with and they could get on with their lives now. No more magic. No more bad guys and no more spiders. She could finally sleep again.
The man hesitated before confirming, “Indeed, he is, Miss.”
“Can I see him?”
Hesitation again. And then a small, quick smile before the old man said, with something oily in his voice, “Of course. Come in. They should be in the kitchen, right down the hall, last door. Make yourself comfortable, Miss.”
He grinned a grin of crooked teeth and left her standing there in the open doorway, heaving old bones up the rickety stairs.
Sarah slipped inside, closing the heavy oak door behind her as gently as the rusty hinges would allow, mindful of Caleb’s father just above. The hall was dark and full of the kind of grime that doesn’t just cover things but eats into them, becomes them. She hitched her bag up higher on her shoulder in a sort of defensive movement and quietly made her way through the twilight of the old house.
There were voices coming from the door at the end of the hall and maybe it was fear, maybe apprehension or tension or elation, that made Sarah stop in front of it, peering inside the big room while keeping her own body in shadow.
The kitchen was large and old fashioned, counters and cupboards taking up most of the right hand corner and the far side of the room. The middle of the room was marked by a table that wore a hundred years of water stains, scars and even burn marks with the dignity of sturdy, hand crafted furniture. There were elaborate chairs, almost thrones, at either end of the table and benches along its sides.
Pogue was lounging in one of the chairs, one leg thrown over the arm rest. He looked like some sort of wicked prince with his hair falling in his eyes, wearing only jeans and a tight shirt, looking sleep tousled and heavy lidded. Sarah tore her gaze away from him with a blush and a flush. Buffy was standing at the counter, waving a skillet about as she waited for something in a pan to finish frying. She was wearing a t-shirt that definitely belonged to one of the boys, seeing as it was almost long enough to cover the skirt she had worn the night before. As Sarah watched, she used her skillet to smack Reid, who was perched on the counter next to her, on the fingers. The blond howled in faked agony, causing Tyler to laugh, drawing Sarah’s attention to his end of the table. He sat on one of the benches, sipping from a mug, looking sleepy but somehow content. Sated.
Caleb stood behind him, leaning against a fridge that looked like it was straight out of the sixties.
“I’m hungry!” Reid remarked indignantly, still cradling his injured hand to his chest.
“You can wait for your breakfast, just like everyone else,” Buffy scolded, without heat.
He grumbled, the other boys laughed lazily and then the door to the left opened and the last person Sarah expected to see stepped out, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, barefoot and clearly only half awake. “I heard someone mention breakfast?”
Pogue sat up straighter – but not in alarm, why weren’t they tensing, getting ready to fight? Why did they look like it was okay for Chase - Chase
to be standing in the middle of the room? – and warned, “Careful. We tend to let Reid try anything Buffy cooks before ingesting it ourselves.”
Reid kicked out uselessly with one foot, missing his friend by a good four feet. “Asshole,” he growled.
Buffy raised her skillet and added, “Seconded.”
Chase frowned and asked, “Why?”
Tyler came out of his coffee long enough to shrug and comment, “Let’s just say that she learned her potions before ever setting foot in a kitchen. And it shows.”
Why were they talking to Chase? Why were they not fighting him, not punishing him, not – wild laughter and crazy eyes that shone like diamonds in the dark, a glint of teeth and madness – not doing
anything. Just sitting there. Like it was okay.
But it wasn’t.
“No breakfast for Baby Boy,” the Buffy sing-songed and Chase laughed while Sarah stood in the doorway, still unnoticed, and stared at the boy that had tried to kill her less than twelve hours ago. She remembered his hands trailing down her face, clammy and cold with sweat, his hisspers in her ear, promising fire and loss, remembered how he had jeered and goaded about Caleb’s weakness, his human plaything. She remembered being called a pet and something inside of her tensed and clenched.
Chase flopped down next to the youngest of the boys and asked idly, “So, potions? Those actually exist?”
“Yep. Never saw the point, though. I mean, we can do anything. Why use cheap tricks?” Pogue shrugged and leaned back in his chair, yawning.
“Still. Sounds interesting. You gonna teach me?” Like he was making plans. Like he was going to stay. Like he belonged
here, with them, murdering, homicidal, fucked up, junkie killer, who kidnapped people, who put spiders in them and left their corpses in the woods to be found by whoever, who called her an animal, a dog.
And Sarah made a keening sort of noise at the back of her throat and six heads shot around in her direction, six sets of eyes widening in recognition.
“You said you’d deal with him?” The words bypassed her brain completely and slipped out without permission, flat and weak. Not angry, not accusing. Scared.
His face only inches above hers, eyes bright with anticipation as he flicked a finger and made her dance.
“I said we’d set him straight,” Caleb corrected, his voice just as flat, face blank. He didn’t move from where he was leaning, relaxed and remote.
“He tried to kill me. And Kate.” Made it so spiders crawled all over her, made them bite her and eat her in tiny, tiny bits.
“I know.” Calm. Why was he calm? Buffy turned the stove off and put the pan to the side, turning so she was leaning against the counter with one hip. The shirt she was wearing was Chase’s. Reid slid forward on his perch. Pogue straightened.
And Sarah finally found her nerve and said, some spine back in her words, “He should be gone.”
There was a long, long silence before Chase muttered something under his breath and pushed away from the table, not meeting anyone’s gaze, moving to stand. Sarah’s blood turned to lead and ice in her veins but he wasn’t coming for her, no, wasn’t cashing in on all those promises he made – fire and pain and toy and dog and worthless – but turning toward the back door. Leaving.
Good. Make him go away.
But Caleb and Tyler were there, the former laying a hand on the other teenager’s shoulder, the latter gripping his arm, both holding him in place. Buffy moved without hurry, slipping past Caleb, climbing over the bench and settling beside Chase, her legs in his lap. Pinning him. Making it very clear that he was not going anywhere.
Sarah’s gaze automatically returned to Caleb, who gave Chase’s shoulder one last squeeze before releasing him. “Let’s talk outside,” he said and led the way to the backdoor without waiting to see if Sarah would follow.
There was no way she was staying in the same room as Chase and a bunch of people who suddenly looked at her like she was an interesting specimen of some long lost race of man. A bug. Not useful, not worth anything, but amusing.
Caleb held the door for her but the motion wasn’t the gentlemanly charm he usually exhibited. It was simply automatic. His gaze went to each of the kitchen’s occupants, receiving either shrugs or nods from every one of them.
Like he was asking permission to talk to his girlfriend. In a flash of hindsight, Sarah understood Gorman’s slick expression as he’d directed her toward the kitchen. He’d known this would happen. He’d known and enjoyed the idea of it.
She followed Caleb to a dilapidated wooden bench, half hidden behind the overgrown flower beds. He touched it with a single digit, eyes flashing, and it was suddenly dry and clean enough to sit on. Sarah jerked, her gaze fixing on his eyes that still held a trace of darkness. He bared his teeth for a moment, face scrunched up in concentration. The blackness faded.
She flinched in fear and covered it up by commenting, “It’s going to kill you.”
“Exactly,” he said with a shrug and a grin that belonged on Reid’s, or maybe Chase’s face. “So why fight it?”
This Caleb was very different from the one she knew. Too different. The potential for violence hung about him like the threat of rain.
“Chase tried to kill me,” she reiterated. Because there was nothing else to say. Because she remembered all that he had done and planned to do and no-one else seemed to.
“He did,” Caleb confirmed, slouching on the bench, too comfortable by far.
“Then why is he here?”
Family? Family? Family did not try to kill each other? Family did not murder random people, did not… did not… “He’s a monster.” She almost choked on the words.
“So am I.”
Sarah stood abruptly, feeling dizzy and too small in her skin. She took two steps forward, one back, turned to look at Caleb. The added height over him did not help her shaky nerves at all. “I can’t accept that. He killed his parents. He killed that kid you went to school with. I can’t pretend that he’s like everyone else. He belongs in a cage.”
Away from her. Away from them. So they could be safe.
Caleb threw his head back to rest on the back of the bench, mouth open, the picture of sin and despite herself, she felt the need to touch him. “Cages don’t hold people like us, Sarah. Chase is Covenant. That’s all there is to it.”
And the ground just dropped away. “I can’t… I can’t accept that.”
He nodded and she felt the numbness seep into her bones, turning her to rock and tears. He didn’t even try to fight for her. Just nodded. Just let her go. Smooth, like a predator on the prowl, Caleb pushed to his feet and stepped around her, back toward the open kitchen door, where Reid and Pogue stood, watching.
He stopped halfway between here and there, between her and the people he loved so much more.
“I’m sorry it had to turn out like this,” he said, not looking at her.
She looked at his back long and hard, looked at his friends – his family, his everything – lurking in the doorway. Beyond them, in the dimness of the old house, she could make out Buffy, still clinging to the murderer like he was not a vile and tainted thing. Like he belonged to them.
Worse, like they belonged to him.
She looked at all of them and then her turned her gaze to Caleb, who stood, still and strong and unbowed. He felt none of the grieffearpanicdespairpain that was digging its trenches deep into her heart. None of the terror that melted her spine at the sight of Chase.
“No,” she whispered, “You’re not.”
Her only answer was to resume walking, his path unerring. Pogue patted him on the shoulder and followed him inside, leaving only Reid in the doorway.
“Run,” the blond said, his voice curiously empty for once, “Run.”
Like a dog.
(aka, what Faith’s ipod was repeating endlessly while she wrote this story)
Guilty – Gravity Kills
The Beginning is the End is the Beginning – Smashing Pumpkins
Protect Me – Placebo
Planet Hell - Nightwish
Without You I’m Nothing – Placebo
Vampire Heart – Tom McRae
Eden – Sarah Brightman
Sola Sistim – Underworld
Sun and Moon – Black Lab
Ease My Pain – Declan Flynn
This Night – Black Lab
Okay, so Ease My Pain is pretty much standard for all writing that’s going on around here, as is Sola Sistim, but they need to be acknowledged. It’s kind of hard to find music that inspires you but still leaves room in your head for the actual writing. And yes, you may comment on the utter eccentricity of my taste in music.