All I have
Disclaimer: See chapter one.
A/N: Sorry for the delay but RL gets in the way.
Thanks to everyone for the reviews. They push me to write even when I really don't want to or should be sleeping.
May 23, 2003
The smell of old books, worn leather and ink and aged paper, they had become an odd sense of comfort to her over the years. They told her what she was fighting. How to kill the baddies. She'd spent more time pouring over old musty books over the years than she'd spent going to classes in high school. It was an education all by itself. Just not one that was practical in the real world.
Or had been.
The last year had brought home a basic truth to her, balance was inescapable. She could see it everywhere in her life, look back over the years with a clearer perspective. The memory she'd dredged up about the book in her hands was only further proof.
Four or five hundred years old, the book was a compilation of bindings, exorcisms and concealment symbols. The copy she'd looked at after Tara had brought it to their attention had been in better condition but the information inside was the same. They'd considered using one of the symbols inside to conceal Dawn from Glory's sight but decided not to when the side effects listed seemed too dangerous.
But there were other things in the book, other pages she'd looked at but had known weren't powerful enough to conceal Dawn from a Hell Goddess. Other symbols, other talismans if someone could find them. If they were willing to use them.
The symbols were what she was looking for. Page after page, the yellowed light from the lamp beside the the hotel bed giving the aged pages an even more worn look, she searched. First one symbol, to hide auras. Then forty pages later one to conceal magical signatures. Then another twenty six pages later hide a human soul.
She didn't like the thought of using a different sheet of paper than the one her list was one but she had little choice. The sketches of the symbols had to be exact and large enough to be seen clearly. To be exact enough for someone to etch on skin. Reading through and making sure she had the locations that they would need to be took even more time but it was well spent. After just over a week in the hospital Robin was among them again, still wounded but healing fast. The former principal's return coupled with Willow and Giles' distraction about gaining access to the Watchers Council's funds and Xander and Faith's attempts dealing with the new slayers left everyone looking somewhere else but at her.
Kid gloves, that was the treatment she was getting. She knew why. Kicking her out. Spike's sacrifice. Getting run through with a sword. They thought she needed space and time. She did, just not the way they thought. And she was only too willing to use their distractions and their own misconceptions about what she needed to her advantage.
May 25, 2003
It had been five years since she'd walked down the dark and dirty streets of the part of LA she was currently in. Five years that felt like and were lifetimes. And though the area hadn't changed much save for new graffiti and a more wear she had. Which was probably why the new ID in her jacket pocket hadn't cost her as much as the one she'd gotten from the dreg of humanity the last time she'd been walking the same streets.
New guy, different Buffy. One that hadn't just accepted the price he'd named up front for the new ID. Who'd looked the guy in the eyes and had him crack without even saying a word. The thought of it made her lips twitch slightly as she ghosted her way through occupied but dark streets. Apparently she had the ability to scare the crap out of little weasel criminals just as much as she did demons. But it was only a twitch of the lips. Now things would be harder, more complicated.
May 26, 2003
You'll get all sleep you need when you're dead.
The words made her want to laugh. All the sleep. If only.
Sleep, she'd never gotten enough of it, never would. And when she looked at her reflection in the mirror she knew she was the only one who could tell. No rest for the wicked. No reprieve for good little soldiers. Almost absently she pulled her hair back into a simple ponytail. She didn't bother with makeup, she didn't have any and no money to buy any. She had less than fifty dollars left to her name after getting the new ID the day before and she considered it worth the trade off.
She'd find a way to get more money. Find a job that paid cash or resort to some less nice ways to get the cash she'd need to get out of LA without being tracked. On her way back to the Hyperion the night before she'd stopped by the train station and double checked what she'd remembered from a train ride with her mother to San Francisco. Long term lockers. Rented by the week and big enough to hold two duffel bags easily, they were perfect for what she had in mind.
“Yo B!” Faith didn't bother knocking on her door, just came in. Another reason she had to be especially careful about every move she made. Anything she couldn't keep on her body for her plans needed to be kept not just out of her room but out of the hotel to keep it from prying eyes.
“Yeah?” mask on, everything all peachy keen. She stepped out of the ensuite bathroom and headed for where she'd left her boots next to the bed.
“Watcher man wants us all downstairs.” Faith leaned against the door frame, absently playing with her lighter.
Sitting down on the bed and picking up one of her boots she kept her mask on. “What's the what?”
“I'll be down in a minute.” lacing up one boot she absently noted Faith rolling around the door frame and hearing the other slayer head down the hall.
Ten minutes later she was sitting at the large conference table that Giles and Willow had taken over when they'd arrived at the Hyperion. She didn't say much, content to let everyone think that she was still withdrawn and broken and instead watched everyone else. Dawnie and Xander were bickering over a bag of chips, Faith was still playing with her lighter and Giles and Willow were talking quietly as they both shuffled through a stack of large manilla envelopes.
“As I'm certain all of you know Willow and I have been attempting to secure access to the accounts of the Watchers Council so that we are able to begin the process of gathering and training the new slayers.” and unsurprisingly the glasses came off and Giles began to clean them. “I'm pleased to say that two days ago Willow and I were successful.” the glasses went back on. “Willow.”
“Yeah, we did it. I, we, got control of all the Council's old accounts. Those poopy heads! They had so...” Giles cleared his throat and cut Willow off before a rant began. Though Willow's face clearly said that their resident witch wasn't happy.
“After securing access to the Council's accounts Willow and I began the process of determining the best and most effective courses of action in order to begin rebuilding the Council.” he picked up one of the manila envelopes. “Unfortunately there is still quite a bit of red tape that will be involved before we can begin properly. However, in the interim Willow was able to see several of our most pressing needs.” he began to pass out the envelops, each one scrawled with Willow's distinctive handwriting bearing their names. When Giles reached her she took the envelope without comment and looked inside.
Lots of sheets of paper and other things, all very official looking met her gaze.
“What's all this Giles?” she looked back up at her former Watcher as he handed Xander an envelope.
“Ah, yes. Inside you'll find all of your personal necessities-birth certificates, school records, passports and most importantly banking information.” he returned to the end of the table.
“Banking?” Dawn had apparently forgotten her battle for the bag of chips.
“Yes, well, as we are all too aware our years on the Hellmouth have not been spent living normal or safe lives. To that end I have seen to it that reimbursement retroactive from the time you first joined the battle be placed into bank accounts in your names. The funds are your own to do with as you choose.”
The clamor of voices started immediately but she wasn't one of them. Instead she found herself looking down at the envelope in her hands as her mind began to run a mile a minute. Money, the one thing that could make or break her plans to leave was now within reach. Available to her.
And then her mind stopped for a moment as the reality set in and she ignored the conversation going on around her. Yes, she had money now but it was in a bank account that Willow or Giles had set up. That they could track if she used after she left. That meant she'd have to use her brain and get creative.
She didn't pay much attention to the rest of the meeting, only vaguely hearing about the account that Giles had given them all access to in order to allow them to provide the things the new slayers needed. And at the moment they needed a lot. She felt a smile threaten to creep over her features as a plan came to mind. Yes, she'd have to be very careful so that Willow couldn't ever trace her intentions and find her once she was gone but it was doable.
One more thing down.
June 17, 2003
Slowly and surely her room at the Hyperion was being taken over by clothes, shoes, accessories, weapons and other assorted things she'd been buying over the last three weeks. Dawn was calling it her shopping therapy and in a way it was but all her spending had been done with great care. Almost every day she went out on her own shopping, stopping at the bank at some point to withdraw cash from the account that held her 'its about time the Council was good for something' money.
A couple grand a day withdrawn at least. Then less than half of it spent in stores. Some of the shops were appropriately high end to warrant needing that kind of cash and they served a purpose. Go in to an overpriced lingerie shop and buy two little things and you got a huge bag. Do it five or six times at stores that did the same thing and then go to a shop where things were much much cheaper and buy the things she really needed. Things that didn't look excessively expensive and that could survive more than one run in with the demonic.
Then go disappear into a public bathroom with the fifteen or sixteen bags and come out with everything shoved into the four or five from the expensive shops. Toss the left over bags. Then take a walk to the train station where she'd rented herself two lockers and go into the bathroom again and put what she intended to take with her into the bags.
Rinse and repeat. And after she'd bought herself a large purse on the second day things got even easier because she could fold up the bags and take them back out with her. Rotate through the dozen or so and only need to go to one or two expensive shops every day.
Take the left over cash and stop at any gas station or little shop that saw a lot of business and exchange all the small bills and change for larger bills. The people at those places loved having the smaller denominations in order to make change.
She even made trades with a few waitresses when she stopped at places for lunch or a snack.
And after three weeks she had over twenty thousand dollars in cash and it hadn't even begun to put a dent in the bank account that Giles and Willow had set up for her. And now it was time to take another step along in her plans to disappear. She'd spotted the prepaid cell phones during one of her trips into a gas station and now at another gas station she'd gotten herself three of them.
Now all she had to do was add them to her growing collection of things waiting in her duffel bags at the train station.
June 26, 2003
The streets were still full of people, Friday night party goers showing just how happy they pretended to be. And to anyone looking she might have been one of them. The tight leather pants and exposed back of her shirt were both black along with the over sized purse she'd picked up just for the trip she was making. Inside the purse were four very important things-a long sleeved shirt, cash, her fake ID and the drawings she'd made of the symbols she'd spent so much time hunting for.
The neon lights of the tattoo shop were stark and abrasive to her slayer enhanced vision but she wasn't heading there for the joy of company or picking up a new lifestyle. She was on a mission and had been for over a month.
There was a chime on the door that went off as she came through, a tall and skinny guy covered in bright ink and piercings giving her a nod as she made her way in.
“Steel or ink princess?” he left the other half dozen customers who were either waiting in line or looking at what they wanted to mark their skin forever to walk over to where she stood on the other side of the counter.
He gave her a nod. “Anything in particular?”
“Yeah.” she pulled the sheet out of the purse and unfolded it before putting it on the glass topped counter in between the them. “This one on each of my wrists.” she pointed to the first symbol. “This one on the back of my neck.” her finger went to the second one. “And this one on my back between my shoulder blades.”
The guy gave her a look. “That's a lot of ink for one sitting, princess. You sure?”
She gave him a level look. “Yeah.”
He nodded his head, looking at the symbols on the paper. “You got it.” he looked up. “It's gonna cost you eight hundred and I'm gonna need ID.”
She reached into the purse again and pulled out the cash and her fake ID.
*****Review pretty please. I need to know what people would like to see pairing wise or plot wise so I can take it into account.