A House Aflame
Disclaimer: I own nothing! No Buffy, no Avengers! I don't own them, I am just writing this for amusment.
I would like to thank all those who are tracking this and the read it! :D And to the reviewers, Mcspender, dreameralways, souldriven, Runewolf, dragondawn, Slow Mercury, Chan, cmdruhura, eriktheviking, AllenPitt and everyone!
And special thanks to the recs, Chan and souldriven.
FYI: This chapter had no manip, but next chapter there will be TWO for it will have TronTalk Cafe's card on it and I've selected two slogans submitted by Chan and another from cmdruhura.
Chan's slogan: The Battle For the Future Begins Today.
cmdruhura's slogan: Surf the Information Highway.
Note again, there will be no manip in this chapter, cuz there will be TWO in the next chapter with one of these two slogans on each manip.
A House Aflame"Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it."
~Reaper Man, Terry Pratchet
The door was slammed in by men (if any neighbors looked out, they would see SWAT teams, and be none the wiser) and three filed in, large guns drawn. The one ahead of the rest held up his hand as he maneuvered through the living room and into the kitchen. His eyes moved over two women lying in the giant pool of blood. He snorted, “Tell Mickey, he took out two birds with one stone.”
He tapped the young blonde haired woman’s face with his boot. Too bad she was dead, she was a looker…
The team moved forward, searching around. The leader gestured for one to go up the stairs, one down the hallway while he went towards his office. He started tearing through it, opening file cabinet, drawers, searching for the computer and documents to recover them when he saw something move out of the corner of his eye.
The wheelchair had rolled back a foot from where it had been. His eyes then were drawn to the bloody spot on the floor. Where only one body laid and the other missing. He pressed his earpiece, “We got a target mobile! Repeat, we’ve got a target mobile.”
Lizzie held her breath as the men came in. It was hard to keep her face painfully blank as the warm blood sunk into her clothes. It was hard to keep everything back as her mother only lied inches away dead. The men came walking in and the man had the audacity to snort, “Tell Mickey, he took out two birds with one stone.”
She wanted to launch up and rip his face off. But she didn’t. They had guns, she’d be dead before she even got an inch off the ground. She watched, unflinching as the boot nudged her face and the man stared down at her as if appraising her. Her stomach twisted violent, and she fought the sudden urge to throw up.
His foot pulled away letting her face slap back down into the blood, her throat violent twisted with the need to cry. Something deep inside her grabbed the pain pushing it down, out of her reach. And it gave her strength in that pains place.
She waited, waited until they all split up. All of them looking away from her, she had to move now. She looked at her mom, staring at her. Closing her tearful eyes, she pressed a kiss to her forehead before saying, "I'm so sorry, I'm sorry..." She pushed down the sobs, then shoved herself off the ground, but her leg slipped kicking her wheelchair sending it backward. She didn’t stick around to see if anyone say. Instead, she dashed up the stairs. A girl in a wheelchair, they’d never…
Except she came face to face with one of the gunmen as she clobbered up the last of the stairs. She watched him nearly jump back in shock, but instinctively she reached out. She grabbed him by the gun he held and twirled him around then shoved him down the stairs with all her might, he pulled the trigger, and Liz could feel the bullet pass right beside her. The gunfire stopped when he hit the bottom of the stairs with a sickening thud and didn’t get back up. Her body protested and she slumped slightly against the wall, staring down at him taking deep, deep breaths.
Then another one gunman appeared at the bottom of the stairs by his buddy. “Randy?” And he looked up.
Lizzie shoved herself off the wall and down the hallway, when gunfire broke out behind her. She stumbled down the hallway, hearing them shout after her and she threw herself into her parent’s bedroom, shutting the door quietly behind her. Pressing a hand to her pounding chest, she thought, We were supposed to be normal...we supposed to be safe...
A sob racketed her shoulder as she just wanted to curl up in a small ball and die.
But she couldn't...she just couldn't.
The door slammed opened, from the bedroom and the bathroom connected to it. The two men, one in each room looked around. The leader’s eyes moved around the green tile, and then stared at the shower. It was empty. And it was the only place to hide in here. He turned going into the bedroom and spotted something off right away, “Handler.”
Underneath the edge of the bed, was a bloody shoe picking out from the sheets. Handler nodded, moving away from the open closet and knelt down. He reached out slowly before snatching the shoe…that wasn’t connected to anything. It was just a bloody shoe. The leader suddenly cried out as box hit him across the face sending him stumbling back and by the time Handler got to his feet he almost missed the blond blur dashing out the door. “There! She’s there!”
She went down the steps three at a time and almost face planted into the ground, if she hadn’t grabbed the stair rail at the last moment. She swung around, and saw into her father’s office. It hit her. They were looking for something. Idiot, why didn’t you think of it?
Her eyes drifted over to the body before she gave herself a shake. She couldn’t just stand here mourning, not right now. What are they looking for…the computer!
She made a dash for the hallway, but paused glancing at the gas stove. Biting her lip, she turned everything on and wrinkled her nose at the smell fill up the air. Now, weapon, need a weapon…
Her eyes landed on the knife setting on the counter and she snatched it, sliding up her shirt sleeve before ducking behind the counter as the steps creaked ominously.
Slowly she made her way to the edge of the counter and peered around through the doorway. The two guards were at the bottom of the stairs…directly in her way to her room. She had to get them to move…she had to get them to move…she turned to the cabinets. Pulling one open, all she found were pans, then she pulled open another, it was just tub wear. Third time was the charm; she found it full of junk.
Papers, candles, card, dice…she grabbed the dice and closed the cabinet behind her as quietly as she could. Licking her lips, she paused to hear them getting closer and closer. In second, they could peer around her and see her. She glanced towards her father’s office across the kitchen and the living room before holding up a di and threw it.
It soared through the air, hitting the office door with a loud pop. The footsteps had paused before they started heading away from the kitchen and towards the office. Lizzie slowly rose, ignoring the burning and the way her legs almost went slack and made a mad dash toward her room. She slid through the door, her eyes around anxiously searching around as her mind raced. Where was it? Where was it?
There! She jumped forward, pulling the computer bag towards her and looked through it. The computer and the flashdrive were safely in there. Looking at her window, she climbed onto the bed looking over it. But it wasn’t one that opened. She couldn’t get out this way.
Lizzie whirled around and leaped off the bed, hiding behind the door. She held her breath, keeping her eyes on the door until the barrel of a gun peeked through. She pushed all her weight onto the door, and the unsuspected guard cried out. She pulled the door open, jumping over the guard, but he reached out catching her leg. She fell to the ground, and looked back. The guard spat out, “You bitch!”
Glaring at him, she used her other leg and kicked him right in the face. His nose cracked underneath her foot and he cried out, letting her go. She hastily pushed herself up, slinging the bag over her shoulder and ran down the hallway. Closest exit…back door in kitchen…
, as soon as she stepped out from the hallway, her eyes locked onto to it. And she tried sprinting for it, but she made it only halfway across the kitchen when arms wrapped around her. She let out a scream, her feet not finding any traction against the bloody kitchen floor and she fought against her capture.
“Looks like when finally caught a mouse,” the man snarled.
“Let me go!” She kicked, tried to claw out of his arms, but nothing could break his hold.
“That…that bitch kicked me!” The leader of the team snapped.
Handler laughed, which made Lizzie tense. “You such a wussy.”
Lizzie steeled herself and glared. “Wussy? What are you like five? And seriously, caught a mouse? You’re like a cheesy comic book villain but without the freeze ray! Or actually scary!”
“You little…” Handler stated moving toward her when the team leader said, “Hold on…well, look at this…how much you want to bet me this is laptop with the files we’re supposed to recover?” He tugged at the computer bag. “Looks like the little mouse came with a present.”
Lizzie looked down into her mother’s eyes, rage building once more. “That isn’t the only present.” The knife slid out of her sleeve and right into her hand. She buried the blade right into the man’s thigh and he let her go, stumbling over her mother’s body and right into the stove.
The next moment happened way to fast, Handler raised his gun and pointed it at Lizzie who retched the kitchen door open...and gas fumes filled the team leader’s nose and he realized what was going to happen. “Handler, NO!”
But it was too late the trigger was pulled and the spark shot into the air, and Lizzie felt heat rush towards her back shoving her forward into the rainy night. She slammed into the muddy ground. She coughed, spitting out the muddy water she gasped in and rolled over to see her house, in flames.
The pouring rain doing nothing to stop the raging inferno as smoke rose into the sky as a beacon. Shouts came from all around her, Lizzie made to push up but her legs were useless. Reaching out, she pulled herself into the rose bushes her mother had been so proud stating, “We’ll beat Missus Winslow’s in the best garden at the fair this year.Sorry, mom…they ain’t going to be looking at any roses.
She tried to pretend the tears gathering in her eyes was because of the smoke, but the hole in her chest said otherwise. She hid under the roses just in time because when she glanced out at the flooded yard, she saw multiple pairs of feet rush into the back yard. Some of the people were cursing, someone were panicking. “We’ve gotta move.”
“No one would have survived that…and if they did, we’ll find them.”
Lizzie eyes closed, the exhaustion catching up to her and the world went black…but not for long as sirens roused her from her brief slumber. Red and white lights flashed through the night like lightning and she saw firemen had replaced the others. Groaning, she rolled out from the bushes and a fireman paused then rushed over to her, “Dear God, you’re alive.”
“I…If this is living,” Lizzie choked out, “I don’t particularly want to.”
The fireman stared down at her with pity, and helped her to her feet. She leaned on him and limped all the way to the ambulance when a familiar face stood there examining the bodies. She let go of the fireman and started towards the man. When she reached him, she asked, “Dr. Bowlin?” The doctor hummed and turned around, he almost jumped back grabbing his heart at the sight of her. “Dr. Bowlin what are you doing here?”
“You’re…you’re alive…” Dr. Bowlin said, surprised.
She supposed it was a normal thing to say when assuming one was dead, but the way he said it. The surprise behind it, something was wrong with that. She wasn’t sure how, but it was. Narrowing her eyes, she tilted her head, “Why do you sound so surprised?”
“The…the explosion, I didn’t think anyone could survive…” He put on a smile. “You are very lucky.”
“I think people who lose their mother’s to explosions aren’t very lucky,” Lizzie said, her lips twisting up bitterly.
“Oh…oh, yes,” he glanced back at the body, “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
He said the words, sounding sincere, but there was something boiling in Lizzie stomach. She nodded her thanks, but never took her eyes off of the man. “Me, too.” She repeated her earlier question, “What are you doing here?”
“I…they called me to identify the body,” Dr. Bowlin explained.
“Don’t they traditional do that at the morgue?” She didn’t like it. She didn’t like how matter of fact she was acting in this moment.
“Well, yes, but with this…they wanted answers quickly.”
It was like a web of lies, Lizzie realized, it was almost as if every word, every lie coming out of his mouth, she could see it exactly for what it was. Blinking rapidly, she watched as the light lines faded away leaving her staring at the doctor. “Of course,” she stated, hoping her voice didn’t sound too deadpanned. “I completely understand.” She shifted the bag on her shoulder.
His eyes were drawn to it and lit up. He looked up at her, “Child, let’s get you some help.”
Lizzie shoulders tensed as he tried to usher her to the ambulance. She took a step out of his reach, “I think I’ve had enough help from you.”
Dr. Bowlin blinked owlishly. “You must have hit your head child. Come let’s get you sat down and get that bag off your shoulders…” He tried reaching for her again, but once again Lizzie side stepped.
Anger boiled to the surface and Lizzie said, “I don’t know why I didn’t see it. I saw the van, I saw the joggers, I saw everything else, but somehow in my mind it didn’t connect. A doctor…who just happens to move into town, a doctor specialized in exactly what I needed for my recovery…tell me, who did you report to? Was it Hank being a jealous lover…no, Hank didn’t give two shits. No, you must work for the same guy Hank does…Von Sucker?”
“Strucker!” The man snapped, outing himself.
“Whatever.” Lizzie replied, tartly. The lid on her bottle of anger and hatred was off and there was no way of putting it back on. “Point is…your boss sent men to my home,” each word her voice got darker and meaner until she was right up in his face, “and had my mother killed and tried to do the same to me, over a laptop…and you know for some reason, I find hard to believe those men were actual police. I wonder if I went over to those nice gentlemen in uniform and handed this over what they would do to you and your boss.”
“If you think an LA police force can take down Hydra than you are blonder than I thought,” he snorted, arrogantly.
“And you’re stupider than you look.” Lizzie smiled. “Thanks for the info.”
“Info?” He blinked.
“Hydra. I was wondering what a mythical creature had to do with super soldiers. But thanks to you I know its your name, probably some kinda of government or terrorist thing since a LA police force can’t handle it,” Lizzie stated, smugly. “Normally, I would say something about overcompensating, but I’m not witty mood.”
“And what do you think you are going to do? Stop us?” He spat.
“Oh, no,” Lizzie shook her head, a sense of righteous anger filling her as she leaned in, as if confiding something, “I’m going to…destroy you. I’m going to find every single one of you and won’t stop until you dead, and I’m going to do it with a song in my heart and dance in my step laughing all the way.”
She pulled back sending him a glare that would send Angelus running for the hills. “Please, tell me that your boss didn’t think that you would come in, take away everything that meant something to me and get away with it?” She turned to walk off.
“If you don’t hand over the bag, we’ll kill you before you take another step.”
Lizzie slowly twirled back around. Tilting her head, she said, “You know…when bluffing, you need to actually be able to back it up.”
His face scrunched up in confusion. She put her hands on her hips and with attitude her momma gave her stated, “The whole neighbor, plus cops, firemen, even a tv crew is just on the other side of this ambulance is here. Someone getting shot and by a sniper…” Lizzie put on a fake surprised and earnest expression. “Geez, I don’t know doc, but that seems to me would draw some serious attention…like world wide news special.” She sent him a not so sincere smile. “You get a C for effort though.”
“You will die,” Dr. Bowlin growled.
“No,” Lizzie growled, marching up to him. “You…” She pointed her finger and said, “Are going to die. And I’m going to be the one to do it.”
The fireman who had tried to carry her to ambulance, while out of earshot, watched the tense confrontation and walked over to Lizzie. “Is everything alright?”
“This…this man…is bothering me,” Lizzie told the fireman quickly, choking up, “and he is a doctor! Shouldn’t a doctor know when a person is in shock? I’m in shock, look they gave me a blanket!”
“This girl was released from a mental facility a few months ago,” Dr. Bowlin stated, quickly. “It is my opinion that she may have started the fire.”
Lizzie resisted tearing him to pieces, something deep inside her chest welling up to do so. Instead, she swayed on her feet and the fireman caught her. She whimpered, “This doctor…he’s…he’s my father…he wasn’t a nice person so my mother and I, so we ran away…please don’t let him take me away!”
The fireman looked at her, frowning before looking at the doctor, “Henry!” Another fireman walked over.
“Can you escort this man behind the police line?”
Fireman Henry nodded before grabbing Dr. Bowlin’s arm. “Come on, sir!”
“You don’t know what you are doing!” When the good doctor’s pleads fell flat he sent a look straight at Lizzie. “You don’t know what you have done, little girl! Cut off one head...two more shall take its place.”
Her eyebrow shot up at the vague and strange threat. Fireman Henry just snorted and shouted at one of the cops, “Frank, I think we have one more for the fun house.”
Lizzie felt a vague smirk of satisfaction settle itself on her lips as she watched them throw him in the back of the car as the fireman led her back to the ambulance. She sat down on the edge of it, listening to the paramedic checking her vitals. Her head woozy, her eye lids felt heavy and she wanted nothing more to rest. But those men…they wouldn’t rest…her threat to doctor lingered in the forefront of her mind. Could she really go to that level? Buffy didn’t it. Buffy’s moral compass was so strong…Then Lizzie’s eyes fell on her mother’s body being zipped up in the body bag.
Her jaw locked. “I’m not Buffy.”
“What was that?” The paramedic asked.
“I…” Lizzie looked up at them. “I need a moment alone.”
The paramedic followed her gaze and nodded, “You're all good, apart from bruising and scrapes. You’re very lucky.”
“So people keep saying…” She let her voice fade away and the paramedic left her alone while getting something out of the front of the vehicle. By the time he got back, Lizzie would be gone.
A few minutes later, a few blocks away, Lizzie stole from fresh clothes hanging out on a line and used the hose to clean herself off.I am not Buffy. And I will not only go that far…I will go farther.
Next chapter: Confrontation, allies, and grief will made and addressed.
RRs are appreciated.