Disclaimer: See Chapter One
A/N: Ok, so this is the last chapter of this segment of the Above and Below series. Hopefully I'll have the next story (a one shot) up soon. Followed by a longer story.
Many heartfelt thanks to everyone for the reviews. The feedback has given me a lot of food for thought so thank you.
Also remember that this is set in 2003 and SPN doesn't begin until 2005. And well....Buffy and the boys aren't gonna be meeting for a good long while. That doesn't mean she's not gonna meet SPN characters though. Just not any of the Winchesters.
June 27, 2003
They say that no plan survives contact with the enemy.
She was willing to challenge that. Because so far no one had begun to suspect even the slightest thing. She wasn't sure if that was because she was thinking and planning ahead for once or because she'd gotten so good at hiding behind masks and lying and that everyone was too distracted still to pay any attention to her.
Six of one and half a dozen of the other was what she was thinking.
But her trip to the tattoo parlor the night before had brought her another thing that she had to consider in her day to day until she had made her escape. The tattoos had to be kept hidden, out of sight. And while the one on her back wasn't too much of an issue the other ones were. But she'd known for weeks that the tattoos were coming and planned ahead. Had started to subtly change her sense of style to accommodate what she knew was coming.
It didn't stop the tattoos from itching though. Which wouldn't be an issue in a few hours but was still driving her crazy. But about twelve hours of healing beat a normal persons days for the tattoos to heal so she was not going to complain. Even if she did want to scratch her back, neck and wrists badly.
Thankfully after nearly ten minutes of fighting the urge distraction came in the form of her finally making it to the counter of bank. The tattoos were done, she had two duffel bags full of clothes and one of weapons and other necessities waiting at the train station and now she was walking through the home stretch.
“Good morning ma'am. How may I help you today?” she handed the teller the withdrawal slip and smiled.
“I'm good. I just need to make a withdrawal.”
The woman smiled and nodded. “Of course ma'am.” before beginning to process the little slip of paper. Which turned into her putting many many slip of paper in the form of cash into her purse not ten minutes later and walking out the door.
As the bright morning sunshine of a Californian summer hit her she smiled and put on her overpriced and designer sunglasses. One week left and now she was upping the ante. More than quadrupling the amounts she withdrew every day. She still and a few items she needed to get and a couple of shopping bags of stuff she wouldn't, more than enough to keep everyone thinking she was still trying to shop herself back into being alright.
And so long as she played her cards right they'd keep on thinking just what she wanted them to right until she left.
June 29, 2003
Mondays were days when you always had to do things you didn't like, it was a rule. Just like the fact that Dawn always got into trouble on Tuesdays and the yearly apocalypse happened in May. So she was doing something she didn't want to do. She was buying a laptop. Not because she wanted one but because she needed one. Just like she'd needed the cellphones stuffed into one of the duffel bags she had hidden at the train station.
Computers weren't her thing, she'd thought it and said it before and the truth hadn't changed but she did need one. She had no delusions on that score. She was about to leave the Scoobies behind and when she did there wouldn't be any more Willow to do her computer type work for her.
Which meant biting the bullet and getting herself one. A desktop computer was out of the question. She wouldn't have a desk to put it on. But a laptop she would. And she'd chosen the one store she'd passed in all her shopping escapades of the last month that looked like it was the best bet.
“Would you like some help?” the sales person was young, male, good looking and she was betting could charm any idiot girl out of her clothes in ten minutes flat. Just the type of guy that she didn't want selling her stuff, especially a computer. Because if it was one thing she'd learned from dealing with Andrew and his buddies and having Willow for a friend it was that the hot and charming guys were not geeks.
They were pretty faces that were used to sucker in rich California girls using their daddy's credit cards into spending way too much money. So she smiled at the guy and let the most of blonde ditz fall away. “No thanks.” she spotted the geek guy in glasses that looked like he cared more about the computers than being charming “But if you could go get that gentleman over there and tell him I'd like his help I'd appreciate it.” she pointed to the geek in question.
The cute guy looked taken aback for a moment and then the smile was back with extra strength. “I'm sure I can help you. What are you looking for today?”
Apparently the guy didn't have a clue and it irritated her. She wasn't sixteen and stupid and now she was annoyed. So annoyed that she let all her masks go and just left the slayer in her come to front. “Bring me the other guy and go away or I go tell your boss you tried to sexually harass me. Now.”
Mr. Cute took a step back, pale. Maybe she'd overdone it a bit. But then he abruptly tuned on his heel and walked off, heading straight for Mr. Geek. Not two minutes later the little guy walked up, looking more than a little scared. Possibly because he wasn't a people person or maybe because Mr. Cute had warned him about her. Either way it didn't matter as she smiled brightly at him. “Hi. I need your help.”
His eyes widened a bit and she just kept smiling because it was both funny and cute. What could she say, Andrew had grown her like a fungus. “What, what do you need?”
“I need a laptop. But not just any laptop. I need the best laptop you've got. The one you'd get if money wasn't an issue.” she kept her smile on. Ten to one the sales people at the store worked on commission and ten to one the Mr. Geek couldn't compete with Mr. Charming even on a good day.
And it seemed like she said the magic words because his eyes lit up and he smiled. At least she was making sure someone else had a good Monday.
July 3, 2003
She was back at the bank again. Her last trip. The Fourth of July was a holiday and it was going to be one for her. Her independence was going to come before the sun rose on the fifth of July.
She just had a few more things to do.
According to what she'd told everyone she was out getting supplies for the BBQ they were going to throw at the Hyperion. Not the food, Andrew would have had kittens if she'd even tired to mess with his rule of the kitchen. So she'd offered to go get the last of the decorations that Xander and Molly had forgotten. No big deal, she had the list in her purse.
But what it had done was give her an excuse to get out, not that she needed much of one. As long as she was around to patrol at night with the girls and Faith no one paid any attention to what she did. And she'd been keeping up appearances perfectly since before Sunnydale had sunk.
But she hadn't gone to get the stuff on the list yet. She still had things to do on her own list first. And one of them required her to go to the bank yet again. To make one final withdrawal. And she'd picked her timing perfectly. The bank had just over a half hour before closing and with the holiday the next day it'd be closed. No chance of a big flaring red flag to show up and warn Willow and Giles about what she was about to do.
She stepped up to the counter and handed the teller her slip. “I'd like to make a withdrawal.”
The pretty brunette on the other side of the counter looked down at the slip and then back up at her, then back at the slip. “I'm sorry ma'am but for a withdrawal this size I need the managers approval.”
She gave the teller a sunny smile. “Sure.”
“I'll be right back.” the teller hurried off, around a corner and through a door.
And not a minute later a tall man with dark hair and average features in a gray suit came out with the teller on his heels. “You're making a withdrawal Miss Summers? For one million five hundred thousand dollars?”
She smiled at him, mask in place. “Yes, I am. I'm going to surprise my sister with a new house.”
The lie was so easy, and it didn't even feel wrong. When had she become such a good liar? She gave a mental shrug. It didn't matter. Not any more.
Half an hour later she was walking out of the bank and stepping into a cab with two duffel bags full of cash.
“Where to miss?”
“The train station.”
July 5, 2003
The hotel was something it rarely was, quiet. For once everyone was asleep. All the slayers sleeping off a night full of hunting the nasties after a day full of food and excessively energetic fun and all the non slayer types trying to sleep off trying to keep up with the slayers. It was the perfect time. And one she'd planned for for over a month.
She had her window of escape time and she was going to use it.
Carefully she headed for the window of her room, Xander and Dawn might have had the rooms next to hers but anyone who'd spent time on the Hellmouth learned to be a light sleeper out of sheer survival instinct. The window came open easily, she'd tested it more than once claiming that her room was too hot to establish the pattern of her leaving the second story window open. She shifted the duffel bag on her shoulders, making sure it'd survive the jump without falling off and waking someone.
Everything was set, all her work ready for her to just make the last leap. Just jump out the window and go.
She'd already laid several trails, buying plane tickets to six different countries and New York. She'd bought two different train tickets and seven bus tickets all under the name of Buffy Summers. All in ways that could be traced back to her.
She wasn't using any of those methods.
She'd used her new ID to rent a car two days before and had left it in the train station's parking garage with all her things locked inside. All she had to do was get it and just go. Hit the road and make the drive to her destination. To the one place she knew no one would look for her. For the one person who knew what she was and that had no ties to Sunnydale.
Just get in the car and drive.
That was all that was left. And then she'd be free of it. Of too many years of wearing one another away until nothing was left but small stones in the river of their insane lives.
She just had to jump.
She looked back at the room, filled with things that had never been hers. That she'd used to hide behind and let out a breath. Just go. Everything was prepped, waiting. She'd been so careful and finally decided to use her brain for once.
The only thing left in the room that was really any part of her was a single letter sitting on the dresser. Everything else that had even the smallest importance was either already in the car or, in the case of the Scythe and a few other things, in the duffel bag she was carrying.
She took a breath and turned around. No going back. She spent the last seven years having her life, of being the slayer break her. Now it was time to move on. To become someone else, to try something else. She'd always be the slayer, it wasn't something she could escape in any life, but she could try and find out who she really was again.
She smiled and jumped out the window. Falling. Falling. Falling. Then dirt, earth, her feet on the ground. Yes, time to go. Time to live.
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