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pray that my feet don't fail me now

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The pouring rain alters his vision and he sees things of his past. Things his mind would like to forget, but his conscience won't let go of, clinging like a child does his mother at the sight of an unfriendly stranger.


Gunn remembers Alonna in a dress of white (pieced together by their grandmother's crippled, but determined hands), and skipping toward church, showing off in front of their neighbors.

Gunn remembers Alonna in a shirt of fuchsia and magenta fusion (stolen from the Salvation Army because they were always too proud to ask for clothes), deteriorating into specks of dust as her own brother jabs a wooden stake into her back.


Gunn remembers praying to God that his 96 year-old great-grandfather (often too mentally far gone to know what was even going on) would survive his heart surgery to see Alonna's 13 th birthday. When he came out of the operation in good physical condition, Gunn went to the hospital's chapel and cried. Maybe it was selfish, not wanting to let go of an old ailing relative, but he was grateful for this little miracle. He wasn't ready to lose someone he loved yet.

Gunn remembers burning the body of his friend (brother, really, not by blood, but by the bond of trust) because he was found with two piercings in his throat and they just couldn't take the chance.

That night Gunn sits with his back against a wall, making a crucifix with two pieces of unburned wood, and wonders why the hell his prayers to keep his friends safe outside his presence went unanswered.


Gunn remembers Fred, full on pancakes and sleepy from watching a boring late-night flick, laying her head on his chest and asking, "Do ya believe in God, Charles?"

"Okay. Random," he recalls saying, chuckling. "I think I do. There's a helluva lotta bad in the world, but I gotta believe that there's someone up there that's making some of the good stuff happen." He pauses and adds: "How 'bout you?"

"Five years as a slave in a foreign land, hiding in caves and slowly losing my mind. I survived for as long as I did because of me, no one else. So, no, I don't really believe. In the end, it's all up to you."

Gunn remembers Wesley with anguish in his eyes and a scalpel in his hand twisted into Gunn's abdomen. Gunn remembers Knox's confession and a piece of paper signed with the name 'Charles Gunn,' sitting quietly on some Customs worker's desk, causing him the greatest pain he's ever known.

Guess it is all up to you. Fred had been right.


The truth is he's tired. Far too tired to think properly. Far too tired to feel anything but his blood pumping out of his gut; his hand a wet and slippery combination of faded brown and vivid red.

Gunn doesn't know if there's a God anymore.

But he does know that he's still around (even if it's only for ten minutes, as Illyria seems to believe).

And he knows he can do something (needs to do something – for all those people he's lost, for all those he doesn't want the rest of the world to be robbed of).

Gunn doesn't know if there's a God anymore … but he can't get his pastor's voice out of his head.

So he prays; not for a victory, not for his safety or the safety of his friends.

He lifts up his broken body as the demons approach (and what do ya know, there's even a dragon with this apocalypse; he's impressed), and he prays for endurance, prays for agile feet and forceful fists.

Prays – with the faint taste of Fred's lips on his mouth and the feel of Alonna's small hands on his shoulders – that he can give back all that he has taken.

Or at least die trying.