Now Leaving Sunnydale
Starts at the end of Becoming pt 2 (end of BtVS series 2). For HP the worlds cross in the summer between years 4 and 5. This may contain spoilers for events in BtVS series 1-3 and HP books 1-5.
I will not be following the canon introduced in HP books 6 and 7 or in later BtVS series (although some characters, ideas and/or back story may be used). Disclaimer:
I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer. All characters, locations and events from this show belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy Productions.
Neither do I own the Harry Potter Septology. The characters, locations and events from these stories belong to J.K.Rowling and Bloomsbury publishers.
On occasion I may use J.K.Rowling’s words from the books. These are entirely her own (and borrowed to prevent my fruitlessly rewriting them).
I have probably used themes/ideas which originated in other fiction/fan fiction, I read too much for this not to happen, no offence/infringement is intended by this (I usually don’t know where my ideas come from but I do know better than to claim them as original). If this refers to you, please accept my apologies and admiration - after all imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
The only thing I can claim as my own is the specific order of words which follows (mostly forming coherent sentences).Feedback:
Is always appreciated. Well considered theories, questions and especially criticisms keep the imps well fed (and me unable to sleep until I write down their ideas).A/N1 – Updates/Completion:
This story is currently unfinished and is updated as I complete chapters. It may be a while before this is completed (note: it's taken me years to get this far). If you do not enjoy reading unfinished works I would advise against continuing. Having said that, as I have always stated; barring unforeseeable incidents making me incapable of doing so, I will (eventually) finish this. In the mean time, I hope those of you who continue to read enjoy the ride as much as I have.A/N2 - Spelling/Grammar:
Much of this story has only ever been self edited (I am rather sporadic in my updates and so do not have a beta). This means that there are errors in there. I do keep reviewing it to catch them but I would be the first to admit that I’m fallible. I have, I admit, placed completing the story for my readers above completing detailed revisions of some older chapters, which may have left parts of the story lacking.
If you spot any errors, or are confused by anything in the story please don’t hesitate to let me know. Saying that, while I have no qualms about being corrected and aim to improve, this is difficult if the comments are not specific; please give me clear examples of what is wrong so that I can rectify the error and do better in future.
I am British, and this is reflected in my phrasing and spelling. Please be aware that some ‘errors’ may be due to the distinctions between British and American English. I apologise if this causes any confusion.
If anyone has the skill and will to go through the monstrosity this story has become noting errors, do let me know. I would be happy to grant you a copy of the current draft and forever grateful for any help offered.A/N3 – Acknowledgements:
Many people besides myself have assisted in creating what follows. I have been lucky enough to receive thoughtful comments in reviews and emails that have influenced the direction of the story, sparking ideas and keeping me flying true. I know that I would have dropped the ball on some aspects (straight into a plot hole) without reader’s questions and reminders keeping me aware of all the threads I leave lying about.
I have also had help from many sources in making my writing as comprehensible as I will permit it to be. The wonderful people who over the years have been generous enough to lend me their time to beta read chapters and reviewers who provided detailed descriptions of my errors have been essential in this respect and have, I believe, improved how I write.
My eternal gratitude goes to all those who have assisted me. Any mistakes remaining are entirely my own doing.A/N4:
I am sorry for the lengthy notes, the above will not be repeated. Now Leaving Sunnydale
Hurriedly stuffing the last of her clothing into the bag, Buffy half climbed out of the window she so frequently escaped through to complete her nightly duties. Before leaving, she took one final look around the room she had occupied for the past couple of years. It was a mess.
In her rush clothes had been randomly scattered over the furniture. Under a short skirt, thrown over her bedside table when it had been rejected as being useless in the life she planned to escape to, was a small wooden box. She hesitated; listening for any sounds within the house to indicate that her mother was moving around; that she might be caught. A tap began to run in the bathroom down the hall. Knowing there wasn’t much time; she moved back into the room and opened the box.
Silver and gold flashed in the light streaming through the open curtains before the hastily retrieved treasure was stuffed into her jacket pocket. She climbed once more through the window and jumped from the roof to the ground. Without a glance back, Buffy took off at a run down the street; her hand in her pocket, still fiercely clasped around its contents.
~ ~ ~
She hadn’t thought about where she was running to until the buildings of her school came into view. Buffy drew back from her former safe place as a tide of regret washed over her, there would be no more late night research sessions in the library; it was now off bounds to her, she had been expelled. She slowed her run to a quick jog, then a brisk walk, crossing the street so that her peers wouldn’t notice her.
The normal hustle and bustle of school life carried on, students greeting friends and discussing assignments with smiles and confusion respectively as if nothing had happened. For them nothing had, the previous night had been an insignificant passing of time, any memories of it soon to be lost in a sea of similar evenings. They wouldn’t learn about demons or vampires unless they became their victims, or until it was too late and the world was sucked into hell. Only finding out when she failed in her duty to protect them, never learning of the sacrifices she had been forced to make to keep them ignorant.
Her gaze trailed along the street until it was captured by a group of people loitering near the steps around a wheelchair. She felt a twinge of remorse for what she was about to do to them, to those few individuals who were acquainted with the terrors of the night; her friends. Buffy edged closer, as she watched them, hiding in the shade of the trees.
They were waiting for her, expecting Buffy to go up to them full of smiles in the summer sun and complaints about the upcoming exams. To joke and laugh, to regale them with the tale of how she had, once again, saved the world. They looked about as they talked, hoping to catch a glimpse of golden hair bouncing towards them, hoping nothing had changed.
Her first instinct despite everything was to go to them; to let them know the world was safe. She stopped herself acting on that urge, the sight of them also reminding Buffy that nothing would be the same again. Her two closest friends were badly injured; Willow in a wheelchair, Xander with his cast. Giles had cuts and bruises on his face, and the awkward gestures made as he spoke, a stark contrast to his previously smooth movements, confirmed her suspicions that there were more unseen beneath his tweed suit. He raised his hand to his glasses and she saw that his fingers were broken. She only caused him, all of them, pain and disappointment.
Buffy closed her eyes and once again relived a memory that haunted her, her mother throwing her out of their home. They were all better off without her. Without the calling that made death and pain follow in her wake.
She took one final long look at the group that had helped her through so much over the past two years. Finally relenting, they gave up their silent inspection of the crowds flowing past, disappointedly turned and slowly, painfully moved into the school. After watching them disappear into the shadowy doorway, Buffy made her way slowly back down the street. She no longer had the energy to run. She didn’t have anywhere to run to.
~ ~ ~
Half an hour later Buffy was sitting in a bus headed towards LA. She stared aimlessly out of the window hoping for anything to take her mind off thoughts of what she was leaving behind. Finally hitting the road out of town, her eyes alighted on a sign at the roadside
“Now Leaving Sunnydale, come back soon!”
That was it then. She had abandoned her friends and Watcher on the Hellmouth. She wouldn’t, couldn’t come back.
Buffy turned her face away from the window and shut her eyes, listening to the quiet chatter going on around her, the rhythmic rattle of the engine preventing her from hearing words without an effort she had no incentive to make. After weeks of all night patrols in search of her soulless lover and stress at the thought of destroying the demon who looked out of eyes that had once been so full of love, it had ended. The relief at it all being over brought about a feeling of calm and she slowly began to doze, the gentle vibration of the bus’s movement helping her drift off.Angel’s face appeared out of the darkness, his mouth open in horror as his eyes glowed and soul was restored. When the light faded, his gaze fell upon her filled with love that overcame any confusion as to where they were and why there was a blade, lowered but ready, in Buffy’s hand. She found herself once more falling into the soulful depths of his dark eyes. They swallowed her up and she was floating in the beautiful void that contained only their love, pure and untainted. Then his strained voice reached her through the blissful haze.
She awoke with a start, grateful that her mind had made her wake up when her subconscious was about to relive the most painful part of that memory. Forcing her eyes to stay open she looked out the window. They were still rumbling along the road just out of Sunnydale, she had only slept for a moment. As they travelled on the landscape flew by, the earth baked dry and dusty in the summer heat.
~ ~ ~
When the bus jolted to a halt at a vandalised bus-stop, Buffy grabbed her bag and followed the trickle of people getting off the bus. Most of the passengers were waiting to alight in a more reputable area, where they could ignore the dangers of staying in a major city just as easily as their eyes slid over all indications of Sunnydale’s deadly underworld.
The bus driver called out a warning as she walked past him to the steps down from the bus, encouraging her to wait for a later stop where it was less dangerous for young girls to wander alone. She threw what she hoped was a reassuring smile at the kindly man, but continued her decent off the bus. Buffy didn’t want to enter the area she had lived in before being called as a slayer. Running into any old friends would bring back too many painful memories, raise too many questions. Risk her being found.
Buffy wandered aimlessly through the streets, her bag bouncing against her leg as she meandered along, shoulders hunched over to protect from the cold emptiness in her soul. Something even the summer sun beating down on the city couldn’t seem to warm. Not paying attention, she was startled when a figure knocked against her, only her innate sense of balance stopping her from stumbling.
The man had pushed passed her closer than was necessary, even in the crowded streets. It could have easily been an accident, and most would have dismissed it as such with a grumble, but Buffy had felt the hand that swiftly thrust into her pocket, taking its contents away. She turned and searched the street for the thief, her keen eyesight spotting the man as he ducked into an alleyway, hiding in the shadows and opening a clenched fist to examine the trinket he had acquired.
In a flash of anger she was upon him. Buffy gripped his wrist, his bones creaking as they complained about the pressure being applied to them. The man looked up at his attacker, pain and anger clearly written on his features.
Before him was the slight girl who had seemed like such an easy target, her eyes lost and painfully unaware of her surroundings as she walked.
She had transformed, all innocence gone as she snarled at him, eyes full of anger. There was no fear in her gaze despite his height and robust build making her seem childlike in comparison. The girl was well aware of her superior strength, showing no signs of effort in subduing him. For a strangely prolonged second, his arm strained beyond anything natural by the force she was inflicting, the pain cleared and he wondered what this girl, this demon, could do if she tried. The bones finally broke with a snap that seemed to echo in his ears, the pain that rushed through his nervous system sending him crashing to his knees.
He missed her recoiling, stepping back, away from the sensation of living flesh tearing beneath her hand. The bones of the undead were somehow both stronger and more brittle, their skin less supple. Damaging them didn’t leave Buffy sickened by the burning heat of a body’s reaction to injury. By the time he looked up her shocked gaze had travelled up the wounded arm to his hand, the reminder of his transgressions slightly easing her thoughts of remorse. She forced the guilt away, allowing it to be swallowed by anger at what he had done.
His hand had clenched into a tight fist around his prize in his body’s attempts to cope with the pain, forcing Buffy to pry it open. She ignored the gasps of pain, taking back the thing that held so much more value than the gold that he had coveted. Dropping his wrist the moment she had it back in her possession, Buffy slipped the silver chain over her head, tucking the heavy gold pendant under her top to hide it from any others who might attempt to take it, comforted as she felt it safe against her skin.
As Buffy adjusted its position she felt another necklace slide beneath it. Pulling it out, she lightly caressed the silver cross in a gesture that spoke more of fond memories than any religious leanings, and then reached back to undo the clasp. Buffy didn’t want to have this constant reminder of her lost love, this symbol of a promise which would never again be fulfilled.
She was about to shove it into her pocket, switching it’s place with the chain now hanging around her neck, when her attention was brought to the man whimpering at her feet as he cradled his arm. Buffy frowned, and took out her purse, placing the cross safely among the loose coins. She looked up guiltily at the thief’s pain ridden face and took out some small change. He flinched away from her as she held out her hand to him, but greed soon overcame fear and he grabbed the cash.
“Call yourself an ambulance.” She started out of the alley into the sunlight, then paused and glanced back “Oh, and be careful who’s pocket you pick next time” she smirked at the man; his wistful looks at the zipped pocket of the bag in which she had stored her purse and his lack of remorse somewhat alleviating the guilt she felt at the pain she had caused him.
~ ~ ~
She stepped out onto the street squinting up at the midday sun, momentarily blinded by the sudden change, before taking in her surroundings. Each side was lined with rundown shops, paint peeling on most signs, the only windows that looked clean were those of the occasional shop from better known chains which were dotted along the street.
Some of the people walking past sent her calculating looks, assessing the difficulty of taking her bag, her gullibility. She slipped it off her shoulder and gripped the handle, unwilling to give the impression again of being an easy target. It would be hard, if not impossible, for anyone to wrench it out of a slayer's grasp.
Across the street she noticed a sign in a grocery store window ‘Apartment to Rent, enquire within’. It wasn’t the nicest area, but that was nothing a slayer couldn’t handle. Besides, it would be cheap, and she needed to stretch out the time she could spend living off her savings. Buffy crossed the street and, after minimal questions, was taken up to the apartment by the manager.
Looking about the compact space, she half listened to the landlord’s mocking story of the tenant who’d just moved out; yet another kid in search of stardom. The previous girl had left after finally understanding that she wasn’t going to be spotted working 12 hour shifts at a cheap cafe. The man looked Buffy up and down, leering despite her unflattering clothes, taking her to be yet another small-town hopeful.
The apartment was shabby to say the least, with paint peeling off the walls in places where the damp had gotten too bad. When tested, the shower groaned for a while then finally spurted out water, mostly at the ceiling and walls. The door looked like it had been kicked in at least once, the cracks in the frame obvious to Buffy despite the paint covering them. Two years of slaying in Sunnydale had made her well aware of the effects of breaking a lock. It would take a major clean before it was habitable, but the price mentioned was reasonable enough, and would leave her enough to live on while she searched for work.
Buffy got out her purse as the manager went over the rent and charges. When he saw its contents his eyes lit up at the wad of cash; she had taken out all of her savings before leaving Sunnydale so that her mother wouldn’t be able to track her through bank statements. He smoothly changed the required upfront rent from one to two months and suddenly mentioned a cleaning deposit.
She glanced cynically around the room at that, it didn’t look as if it had been cleaned properly in years, but knew that there was no point arguing now that he knew how much money she had on her. She should have separated out the cash when she got it, hiding most in pockets of her bag, but at that point she’d been in no state to think straight and had just shoved it all in her purse. Remembering to take the money out was about as much forethought as she’d been able to manage. As soon as she agreed to his price, he scurried off to get the paperwork, not wanting to lose a potential tenant who would give him so much in advance.
She looked after him with eyes filled by bitter humour; he expected her to give up and go home before the rent was used up and leave him with more cash in hand. Buffy wandered through the dingy rooms, noting the things she would have to search for to make it liveable. There was no going back. She had to make this her home.