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Running Out

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This story is No. 5 in the series "Above and Below". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: What we are and can never be.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Supernatural > Buffy-CenteredjezaeiriFR1836,4584456,41819 Dec 1024 Feb 11No

Chapter Two

Disclaimer: See Chapter one.

A/N: Many thanks to everyone who reviewed. They always mean a lot.

Now on to some kinda important stuff. This story is a bit of a transition piece. A transition for Buffy in character and in her introduction to the nasties and hunters of the SPN world. (though don't expect to see any winchesters any time soon) Just keep holding on people, we're eventually gonna end up on the road but Rome was NOT built in a day.




















He just stands there, like a movie put on pause. Hell, he's not even sure he's breathing. But his life has never been anything like a movie and he can hear his heart beat pounding in his ears. Maybe he's having a stroke, but then he doesn't know what a stroke feels like so its a possibility.

Only he knows he's not. And he's not on drugs and he's not drunk and if this is what his mind does if he's lost it then it might not be too bad. Because it's Buffy. The girl who changed him, who dumped his nineteen year old ass into the middle of a guerrilla war and he hadn't realized it yet. There'd been nights in his life since that he hated her for that. For sucker punching him with the bloody reality and then leaving. And then there'd been nights when his memories of her were all that had kept him from blowing his own damn head off.

“Buffy.” he doesn't even realize her name is out of his mouth till he hears it. Mind and mouth disconnected, things like that can get you killed.

The corner of her mouth twitches, not really a smile and its doesn't quite fit the look in her eyes. “You look good.” her voice is different, like there's layers and layers to it. Then his brain starts to catch up and he looks at her, actually looks.

Its not just her voice that's different. All of her is. So much different that if she'd been anyone else he hadn't seen in years he might not have recognized her. What the hell? His hand moves on its own, rubbing across the side of his face and then through his hair. “I need a drink.” he does, badly. Though not for his leg now, he hadn't even realized that it still hurt. He'd forgotten how good adrenaline was at getting you to ignore pain.

He turns, heads back to his office. Everything feels out of whack, off center. He hasn't felt so utterly ass dropped since he'd had the supernatural shoved into his face. There's a bottle of Jack in the bottom drawer of his desk and he goes for it, taking big gulps from the bottle and sitting down with his eyes closed.

Buffy. Buffy Summers. Buffy fucking Summers. Its been seven years since he saw her last. Seven god dammed years. Seven years since he'd seen her, heard from her. Separate ways, separate lives.

Only he hadn't been able to let it go.

And Buffy. He hadn't been able to find out much but he knew slayers didn't last long. Seven years was longer than he'd ever heard of a slayer surviving.

“You know I was kinda expecting a hello. But I guess getting drunk is another viable option.” he opened his eyes and found her leaning against the doorway. He hadn't even heard her move. Her head was tilted, watching. It reminded him of a predator watching amusing prey.

And then his brain finally stopped stalling, or maybe the whiskey was just making itself known. “I heard rumors about a slayer on the east coast.”

Her brow raised and she gave a slight shrug. “There was. She's in LA now.”

That didn't make any sense. One slayer dies and another got the job. Her lips twitched, a parody of a smile. “Yep, I did. Couple of times.”

He didn't know what disturbed him more-that she could read him and what he was thinking so well or that she'd just said she'd died like it was nothing. Like talking about the weather. What the hell had happened to her in seven years?

“Things haven't exactly been sunshine and roses since I saw you last Pike.” her eyes, he's seen eyes like that. Mostly in a run down bar filled with men who are broken and probably more than half crazy. Men who sleep with weapons and drink too much. He's been one of them more than a few times.

“Tell me.” he's not sure why he says it. Except that that's a lie and he knows exactly why he says it. It's Buffy.




*




Dream On is playing on an old jukebox in the corner of the bar, and she idly realizes that not only does she know the name of the song and the band who plays it but the words. Though she has no idea how or where she picked up the knowledge. Sure, she can identify a Sex Pistols or Ramones song now because of spending so much time around Spike but other old music?

She shakes her head, looks down into the empty shot glass between her hands. The sun's set and she and Pike have made it through a bottle of Jack Daniels and now they're drinking something she thinks is called Turkey but she's not drunk. Hello slayer metabolism. Pike isn't either and she's not sure if that's impressive or just kinda freaksome. Maybe both.

But Pike, he's different and she sees it like she can see the shot glass in her hands. He favors one leg carries two knives and a stake on him that she can tell and he checks all entrance and exit points the second he walks into a room just like she does. It tells her just how much he's left out in the twelve hours they've been parked at a table in the grubby biker bar.

Pike still fights the nasties, its the kind of surprise that isn't. Back at the beginning, in LA right after Merrick had died, he'd been the one who wanted to fight back. And he'd been right. And he'd saved her ass and had her back when she'd needed it.

Seven years later she still needed it.

She had no one else to go to. No one that she trusted. Her whole life had been in Sunnydale and anyone even remotely connected to her life there was out of the question.

“So what are you going to do?” she looked up from her shot glass. Funny, he seemed so much more confident now. And since the shock had worn off he'd just given her nods as she'd laid out the bare bones of what had happened since the night they'd parted ways.

“Stay under the radar of the Scoobies. Start a new life.” she shrugged. The plan was to get out, disappear. After that she didn't have a damn clue. And it wasn't like she had any skills besides dealing with demons and teenagers.

Pike nodded, expression way too thoughtful for someone who had been drinking all day. “You said you've got a fake ID.” it wasn't a question. She'd said as much not an hour before when she'd told him how she'd made it to Seattle. So all she did was nod.

“It's a start.” he picked up the mostly full bottle and poured them both fresh shots. “I can get you another ID. Something that can stand up to anyone who decides to look at you closely.”

“How long will it take?” she'd rented the motel room for a week but if it was going to take longer she'd have to come up with some ideas about making it harder for the room to get broken into.

“Two or three weeks.” he shrugged then met her gaze. “But what after that?”

“No idea. Disappearing was as far as I've gotten.” it was the truth. Sad, but very true. What could she do? Wait tables again? Try and go back to college? Neither one felt like things she wanted to be doing long term.

“A job. Most people have a job. And the ID won't be cheap. Have you got the cash to cover it?”

A job? Well there was something she hadn't really thought of in more than the abstract. “I've got money.” she's got two whole duffel bags full of it. Nearly two million dollars actually. An ID can't cost that much.

Still she's gonna have other bills. Like food and the motel room and all the little crap you have to pay for all the time. “How am I supposed to get a job without an ID?”

Pike just smirks, turns his head and yells “Murphy!”

She just blinks, and then then blinks again when Pike shoots her with a knowing look. And she blinks yet again when a whipcord of sixty plus years of tattooed bartender walks over to their table in the corner. “Yeah?” the guy, Murphy, has a voice like gravel but she's seen the way he watches over the two waitresses since they came in. No one messes with the two waitresses like they did her back at the diner she worked at.

“You need another bartender right?”

Murphy nods, and then looks her way and she meets his eyes and forces a comment about the long gray streaked hair down. There's a lot of intelligence behind those eyes, like an old dog who learned all the tricks and can still do them despite his age. And for some reason she doesn't quite get besides how he watches over the waitresses she likes him. He's a survivor, like she is, like Faith.

She's not sure what he sees when he looks at her but he nods again. “You start tomorrow, noon. Five an hour plus any tips is your nightly take home.” she blinks, then gets it. Pay is in cash so its under the table and there's no taxes or paperwork she doesn't have the ID to deal with yet.

“Fair enough.” she gives him a nod. Bar tending can't be too hard. Especially after years on a hellmouth. It didn't seem like Willy ever worked that hard and he'd catered to demons.

Murphy gives another nod and then heads back to the bar. She looks back at Pike, not quite sure what she thinks about him just getting her a job in under five minutes. He raises his eyebrows. “What? You got any better ideas?”

She lets out a breath, picks up the shot glass and downs the contents. “No.” she grits her teeth a bit after the word is out, she liked the Jack Daniels better. Hard liqueur should not be named after Thanksgiving dinner thank you very much.

But she doesn't comment when he fills up her shot glass again. She isn't the one paying for the booze and it'd be rude to let an old friend drink alone. At least that's what she's telling herself as she knocks back another shot.



*



It's well past two in the morning and she's over three hundred dollars richer than when she left her hotel room. And she's in a surprisingly good mood. If she'd known bar tending was the kind of job it was she'd have started doing it instead of anything else. Put a bunch of drunk bikers and mechanics in a bar and they drank, a lot. And what was even better was that they tipped too.

Sure there'd been the potential for bar brawls, grabby hands and the general ass hat male but apparently Murphy didn't tolerate a lot of crap at his place. According to Tiffany, another waitress, all the regulars knew Murphy's rules. And anyone who didn't know them or broke them anyway got bounced faster than they could blink.

She cracked her neck as she unlocked her motel room door, it'd been a very long day of waiting tables, pouring drinks and getting a hang of things. They'd had her learning the ropes almost the entire day. How to do all the little stuff in the back that everyone needed to know on busy nights along with making sure she could wait tables, help with the food and manage behind the bar. She'd shown up at noon and worked till close, just like Murphy had.

She wasn't all that tired though, a long day on her feet was very different than a night spent slaying and she wasn't much of a sleep person any more.

Which was probably a good thing. She needed to get some things done.

None of it was as really physical labor, but it was still work. She'd picked up some envelopes on her way to the bar along with a couple of notebooks and pens. After she and Pike had left the bar the night before he'd dropped her off at her motel room and had given her his cell phone number, telling her to give him a call in the morning. She'd done it after spending nearly half an hour to get one of the pre paid cell phones she'd bought up and running.

He'd given her the amount his contact had asked for to provide her with a snoop proof new identity and it wasn't cheap.

Which had led her to leaving for her new job early so she could stop and pick up the stuff now in her messenger bag that she tossed on one of the motel beds as she headed for the bathroom. She liked the bar, she liked the job and people so far but she wasn't so fond of smelling like booze.

A long and hot shower later she moved through the motel room, gathering two of her duffel bags and dropping them on the bed with the messenger bag before double checking that the curtains were closed and the door was locked. Paranoia was her friend until she was sure she was clear of being found by her hodge podge family or some random demon stumbling though her path and letting word get out where she was.

Once she was sure she sat on the bed and started sorting through things.

Five hours later she's as done as she's gonna get for the night and finally ready for a couple of hours sleep. Her once empty notebooks are now written in with neat handwriting. One notebook has a complete count of all the money in the duffel bags before she pulled the ten thousand out to pay for her new identity and put it in an envelope. She also added two hundred and fifty to the count from the money she made her first day. Without a bank to keep the money in she's got to be careful in more ways than one, even with a job. Two million dollars might sound like a lot of money but it was all she had to last her the rest of her life. Whatever life that turned out to be.

The second notebook she's filled up a lot of pages in isn't nearly as neat as the first one, translating isn't her thing and probably never will be. Which is why she only made it through about ten pages of the first book she managed to sneak out of the collection in the Hyperion. She's got eleven total and at the rate she's going she's very aware that she's gonna need more notebooks.

But she's got time.

It's gonna take a month for her new identity to be done and after that she's still got to figure out what to do with herself.



*



*****Happy early New Year to all! Stay safe and have fun. Also, I love reviews!
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