This is it.
Disclaimer: I own neither BTVS nor Supernatural. They belong to Whedon and Kirpike. I make no profit from this in any way.
A/N: Another story started. This one will have two or possibly three parts (not sure yet).
Many thanks for all the reviews on the first two stories and to my wonderful muse boosters at the Rooftop. You guys are my shining stars.
Now on we go.
May 22, 2003
The strongest smell in the cafe was coffee. Not that it's a surprise, its a coffee house after all. And though its the strongest smell its not the only one she picks up. Flavored syrups, steaming milk, sugars, baked goods, other food and smells that don't quite belong and yet do fill the air. For her at least. Normal people would never pick up on the smell of the perfume coming from the manager in the back room on the phone, of the smell copper wires or the waitress standing just outside the back entrance smoking a cigarette, but she does. Its a sensory overload to anyone not used to it. But then she's used to it, has had far far too long to get used to it.
Its something that the mini slayers back at the Hyperion are still adjusting to. Among other things.
And not having to deal with them adjusting was just one more reason she had to get out. To a little internet cafe halfway across the sprawl of LA near the UCLA campus. Though random choice was far from what brought her into the place. No, she had a purpose. One that had led her to take two different cabs and walk almost half a mile in between the two in order to get to the cafe.
To anyone on the outside it might have looked like she was being paranoid. Especially if they saw the difference in how she looked. Hair pulled up and tucked into a baseball hat, plain and cheap jeans and t-shirt with sneakers. She didn't look like herself at all.
That was the point after all. She wasn't being paranoid, she was being cautious. The last time she'd disappeared she'd been a teenager and vastly inexperienced about a lot of things. But she'd learned. And so had her friends. And where Willow had once lacked the skills to track her things had changed a lot in five years. They had all changed a lot.
Just getting on a bus or plane wasn't an option. No, this time around she needed a plan. Needed to be cautious and prepared and plan and use her brain. This time around she wasn't a broken and unprepared teenager. Now she was a broken but much smarter and jaded adult. Broken but not beaten, never beaten. All the years she spent playing hero have left a mark, forced her to be smarter and colder and look at the bigger picture.
Halfway down that stretch of highway between Sunnydale and LA they'd been met by a small army of emergency people. Military and city and state personnel crashing down at them like a wave the way it always happened after some natural disaster. Only Sunnydale had been empty when it sank and all they'd needed was medical help.
Hospitals, places that sat in spaces in between. Life and death. Despair and joy. Endings and beginnings. Where hours could pass in seconds and where seconds felt like lifetimes. Oddly fitting, she thought, that a hospital was where she'd made the list that she pulled out of her pocket and sat next to the keyboard of the computer she'd reserved for two hours.
Such a small and easily overlooked thing, a single sheet of white printer paper folded up into a neat little square. And yet it was her north star, giving her direction and hope. The writing on it lacked the usual slope her writing held, the letters blocky and without personality in case it was found. It was a simple looking list that would be anything but simple. A list that would set her free of her past and that had led her to taking two different cabs to get to a little cafe far away from where anyone would look to find her.
There was no worry that anyone would notice she was gone, none. Things had been so insane over the last week that all she would have to do was bring food back when she returned to the hotel and inevitably something would work as a distraction if anyone asked. Pulling out a pen from another pocket it joined the sheet of paper next to the keyboard.
Paper and pen, it really was going to be mightier than a sword for once.
Computers had never been one of her strengths but she wasn't a complete idiot about them either. Friend and enemy, that was what they were going to be. Pulling up the searches she needed didn't take long. She knew exactly what she was looking for and where to find it. The street address got written down underneath the first item on her list. No city or name given, just the street address, she didn't need anything else. The next search was just as simple, numbers dates and times written down in a neat row beneath another item on the list.
Two things down. Three to go.
They would be more difficult and complex than a simple internet search. Require more work, pain and careful approach.
“Food! Gimmie!” the plastic bag full of things from the little gas station down the street was snatched out of her hand by Dawn in a way that told her that once again Dawn had ended up on the short end stick for lunch. Food was something that the non slayer types at the hotel had started to hide from the pack of piranhas that the mini slayers became at meal times.
She let the food go, content to let it go into the hands of her sister. She wasn't hungry anyway, had stopped and had a burger in between the three different buses she'd had to take in order to just make it back across town. “You're welcome.” she didn't even bother raising an eyebrow as Dawn pulled out a pack of Twinkies from the bag and started opening them.
Not that Dawn was paying much attention as one yellow pastry got shoved into the teenagers mouth whole. “I'm gonna go take a nap.” she headed past Dawn. “Don't bother waking me up for dinner.”
“Buffy? You alright?” the words came out funny from the Twinkie still being eaten.
“I'm fine, Dawnie. Just tired.” it wasn't a lie. She was tired, just not the kind of tired sleep could help.
She could hear everyone downstairs fighting over food, a swarm of locusts descending. Shouting and fighting and the perfect distraction she needed. There was a book she needed to find.
Getting down to the ground floor was simple, easy. But it was only the first step. And a step that needed to be taken sooner rather than later. Before the new slayers adjusted to their abilities. Before the chaos had abated enough for everyone to start paying attention to every move she made again.
Getting into the 'library' that Wesley had built during his time with Angel wasn't much of a challenge. The former Watcher had been around even less than Angel had since they'd taken over the Hyperion. Closing the door with a barely a sound a sigh of relief left her. Now to find the book.
Memory was a funny thing, some things so easily forgotten. What was in the book she was looking for was one of the things she'd forgotten. At least until she'd had an entire night spent at the hospital for it to be remembered. She kept the light off and moved over to the first shelf.
Nearly an hour later she found the book. Old leather and weathered pages showing its age clearly. “About time” it was a mutter, anything louder would have caused unwanted attention. Carefully she moved to the door, book in hand.
One more thing down.
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