The Plot to Runaway
A/N: AU; mentions of abuse
“You’ll tell Xander goodbye for me?” Buffy took another look over her shoulder, fingering the strap of her carryon luggage as she looked for the brunette in the midst of the other passengers milling about the airport.
Her smile faltered when she failed to make out his familiar form amidst the masses. She wondered, not for the first time since their five o’clock rendezvous had come and gone, what could have possibly happened to detain her friend from seeing her off to Sunnydale. Her mom wanted to spend the remaining week of Spring break with her daughter, which had the teen rolling her eyes and cutting the trip to New York with Willow and Xander short.
Willow nodded in response to Buffy’s question, worrying her bottom lip between her teeth. She too looked around the crowded airport, hoping to espy her best friend, wishing, not for the first time, that all three of them had a cell phone.
“Promise me that you’ll call your aunt,” Buffy said, squeezing Willow’s hand.
“I promise,” Willow assured the worried slayer.
She’d been intending to call her aunt, but was a little worried that her mother’s estranged sister would want nothing to do with her as they’d never actually met and she wondered if Sheila had ever told her sister that she had married let alone had a daughter. She wasn’t entirely certain what had happened between her mother and aunt to cause the falling out, but the two had not spoken since before Willow was born. Willow was surprised that her mother had even mentioned her younger sister to her at all, but, as her only other living relative, Sheila had felt it imperative that Willow be informed of Olivia’s existence should anything happen which might require the younger woman to take custody of her.
“I didn’t really like lying to my mom,” Buffy spoke hesitantly, knowing that it was a sore subject for her friend, “and I really don’t like the thought of you and Xander here all by yourselves.” She was the slayer; she could take care of herself in a big city and worried for her friends in her absence.
“I know,” Willow replied, sighing, “I’ll call her as soon as I get back to the hotel.”
“Good, it’s just,” Buffy paused, “I worry about you being here, in such a big city, all alone.”
“I’ve got Xander,” Willow answered, holding her chin up defiantly.
Buffy smiled. “Willow, you know what I mean; I worry about the both of you being out here alone. It’s a big city, anything could happen. Just call your aunt, tonight.” There was a commanding tone in Buffy’s voice.
Willow blushed and nodded, silently vowing to work up the courage to call her aunt later that night, after Xander returned to the hotel. She would need her friend for moral support. If anyone could understand how she felt, it would be him, and he wouldn’t judge her for it. Not that she thought Buffy would, but she didn’t know if the blonde could really, truly understand what it was like for her, growing up with the parents she had.
“I’ll call, scout’s honor,” she said, holding two fingers up, smiling with a confidence she did not feel.
“Good.” Buffy nodded, fully trusting that Willow would do as she had promised.
“You’d better get going or your flight is going to go without you,” Willow urged her friend as she heard the announcement for her flight. She knew that Buffy would be able to sprint through the airport in no time flat, but didn’t want her to have to rush.
“See you in a week.” Buffy waved a quick goodbye, turning once more to look for Xander and frowning slightly in disappointment when she couldn’t find him. She clutched her carryon close and, taking a deep breath, jogged toward her
Willow watched Buffy leave, whispering, “Bye Buffy, don’t worry about Xander or me, we’ll be fine.” She hadn’t fully disclosed her plan to the slayer, hadn’t told her that she didn’t plan on returning to Sunnydale, and, neither would Xander if she had anything to say about it.
She knew that his parents had not stopped drinking, that his father had not stopped beating him as he’d pretended. She’d seen some of the bruises, though he’d hidden them well, and was determined to keep him safe from his family and the dangers of living on the Hellmouth.
Since they’d met Buffy, he’d almost been killed a number of times as had she. She didn’t want that kind of life for Xander or herself and had taken matters into her own hands, deceiving first her parents, then Buffy and her mom, Giles, and finally Xander and his parents, they’d been the easiest to deceive, not really having paid that much attention to what she’d been saying.
According to the airline tickets that she’d purchased, and what she’d told Buffy and Giles, she and Xander, as well as her ‘parents’ still had another week left in the Big Apple. But, if things worked out the way that Willow hoped they would, they wouldn’t be returning to Sunnydale in another week, if ever.
Keeping the parentals in the dark was all a part of her plan and everything had gone exceedingly well thus far. It was actually a part of the same plan she, Xander and Jesse had come up with to run away from their respective homes when they were five years old. It was just much more sophisticated now that they were older and had access to things like credit cards without a limit and cellphones, not to mention shady Seniors who had access to cameras and equipment which they could use to create fake IDs.
Her parent’s had left a credit card for her to use in case of emergencies, and of course some cash, as was customary for when they left on extended tours. They were supposed to be out of town for a month. Her mother had a new book out which she was promoting, involving the power of positive thinking or something inane like that. Willow had been armed with emergency contact numbers and stern warnings not to have boys over and was summarily deemed old enough to be left home alone without a caretaker. Her parents trusted her. For all of their combined PhDs, they could be really dumb sometimes.
Before they’d left Sunnydale, Willow had switched Xander’s state ID with the fake she’d paid Bernie, a Sunnydale High Senior, to make with the digital yearbook pictures that had been taken earlier that year. She’d also paid him to make one for her. She hadn’t wanted to make them out to be too much older than they actually were, just wanted their ‘licenses’ to make them old enough to find a somewhat decent job. Of course, if things worked out the way she hoped they would, neither of them would have to go out looking for a job anytime soon.
After making sure that Buffy was well on her way and would make her plane, Willow turned and left the airport to hail a taxi. She hoped that Xander would be waiting for her at the hotel. She had something else important to tell him, but wasn’t sure whether or not she’d chicken out again as she had for the past month while she’d been scheming to get them both to New York. She hoped that he’d be happy about the secret that she had to share with him, not about her keeping the secret from him, but about what the secret itself entailed.
Ten years earlier:
“Okay, so this is how we’re gonna do it,” Willow spoke with utmost sincerity, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear. Her tongue stuck out of the corner of her mouth as she stabbed the center of the map Jess had drawn with red and black crayon. “We sneak out of our houses after our parents are asleep and then we…”
Xander absentmindedly played with the hem of his Scooby Doo tee-shirt as he listened to Willow plan their escape. His brow furrowed as he looked at the meticulously drawn map. He was in awe of his best friend’s map drawing abilities. He was the bestest of the best and had been chosen by the three in a landslide vote.
Willow’s map, though pretty with its little red and pink hearts and flowers, was impractical. It only went to the other side of town and would not get them out of Sunndydale at all. Their parents would be sure to find them before a day had passed and Xander shuddered at the thought of the punishment that would follow being caught running away from home.
Xander was proud of his map. He’d used purple, green and orange to draw it. The lines were almost straight as an arrow; he’d practiced lots with drawing straight lines, even without a ruler and knew that he’d made vast improvements. But, he had to agree with his best friends that it was confusing. Though it made an excellent maze, it would not lead them out of Sunnydale. It wouldn’t lead them to safety.
Jesse’s map, however, was one which could not be rivaled, except for maybe by Columbus’ map. And, it led them from each of their front doors to a faraway place that Jesse had heard his parents talking about one night, called New York.
Xander nodded at the appropriate places, agreeing with his red-haired friend’s plans, eager to go off on this great adventure with the two people he loved most in the world. Eager to get away from his father’s anger and his mother’s unhappiness, he paid particular attention to his role in their great escape.
“Got it Xander?” Willow asked and he bobbed his head up and down emphatically. He knew what to do and wouldn’t fail his friends.
“It’s got to be tonight,” Jesse emphasized, biting his lower lip.
“Okay,” Xander agreed wondering why it had to be that night, but not wanting to go against his friends. They always seemed to know more than he did and he trusted them. If they said it had to be tonight, he was certain they were right.
Unfortunately, that night didn’t work out the way it should have and the three children did not escape Sunnydale. Xander had ended up falling down the stairs due to a combination of his inherent ‘clumsiness’(at least that is what the doctors were told) and his father’s heavy-handed affection.
He felt guilty for a good week afterwards, but his friends forgave him. And, although they spoke of running away from time to time, it hadn’t been as pressing as it had that summer and they’d all but forgotten of their promise to leave Sunndydale and strike out on their own.
Willow, though, hadn’t forgotten. She’d plotted and planned and spent hours daydreaming of their eventual escape from the horrors of less than ideal home lives and the dullness that was life in Sunnydale.