Title: The Only Way is OUT
Disclaimer: This is purely for entertainment; none of the characters are mine.
Rating: PG-13
Note: This is the sequel to 'Oh, How We Grow.' Thanks for waiting for it.Hope you enjoy it.

Chapter 1 – You Can Run

Panic-stricken. Apprehensive. Distressed. Just a couple of words that crossed my mind as every limb and inch of her failed to keep still in an effort to contain herself. I'd never seen her this way.

I never thought we'd end up here. I didn't think we'd end up. But out of the corner of my mind, I remembered that this place would be safe.

She wanted to run; so we did. The bus numbers were a blur to her and she didn't even understand the words coming from her mouth. So I did the talking, I did the walking. I did the thinking. There was no time to be sloppy.

Why are you running? I asked myself. There was only one answer. Because I'm good at it. So we left. Two duffels, four hundred dollars, two of us. Just one mind. One of us, in their right mind. The other…well I don't know.

She…she wasn't her. She was someone else. She didn't make sense, she was decrepit. A mess. And I couldn't put her back together.

Her voice was shaky, and black tears stained her face, where the make up had been upon each of her eyelashes. A hand wiped the tear away, the stains still on her hands, forever on her hands. 'Wh-what do I do?' she muttered, so solemnly, reclusively that it was scary.

I couldn't approach her. I didn't know how. So I didn't. but I had the answers. Long shot came to mind. 'We leave.'

She panicked. So much so that I had to do all the thinking, all the doing. I just had to grab her, and take her to the bus station. Nearest bus we could find, we hopped on. Anywhere we ended up was better than here.

Strange. She wouldn't let go of my hand. Held it ever so tight. So, so tight. She sat, sandwiched between the window and me in my seat, and clutched it, grasped my hand. Perhaps it was those warm tingles that gave her a sense of security.

I'll keep you safe, B. Don't you worry.

The night was endless. Moonlight was fictional; it didn't exist. Somehow I wished the same for this situation. Because instead of the warmth I felt from her home, her bed, her, I felt this tremendous cold, numbing, invasive. And it ran through me, right to the core.

The tears had been flowing ever since…you know, and so I thought that by now she'd have had to have cried herself to dehydration. But still they were falling, streaming down her cheeks as if there were no tomorrow. In truth, for her, there was a possibility that tomorrow wouldn't exist. Now that everything that had happened, happened.

She leant her face into my shoulder, and I cupped the base of her neck in my hand, allowing her to let it all out. And at first they were heavy, disturbing, chilling sobs, as if her closest relative had passed. But then…then it was sniffles, less frequent than the sobs. She was becoming tired, it was evident in her entire self. Her head lolled back and here eyes lay emotionlessly shut. A certain peace spread across her, and graced my ears. Silence. Not that I didn't wanna comfort her when she was down and all, but it was hard to listen to. I didn't really know how to react. Only one of us was allowed to panic, and seeing as she had that all under control, it was my responsibility to stay focussed.

I didn't dare close my eyes once. Something told me that I should remain alert for as long as possible. I couldn't sleep anyway. Let my head rest on B's, but didn't let my eyes slip. Instead, listened to the silence surrounding me, the soft purr of the engine, the rumble of the bus on the road, and thought.

Yeah, Faith. It's really time to start usin' that head of yours. Cos hell knows you're gonna need it.

I drew in a nervous breath as I watched the forthcoming signpost. The words 'You Are Entering' were far too familiar in my book. The place? Not so familiar.

But it didn't matter. Any town was better than Sunnydale.

But it didn't occur to me that you could leave, and that the trouble you left behind could follow.

Just a crappy motel situated on the outskirts of LA. Nothing fancy, but it was enough.

I made sure to lock the door behind me when we came in. Never know what could be on the other side.

You could tell just by looking at her that she barely knew what was going on. Even when I carried her into the bathroom and began to peel clothes from her shocked body piece by piece.

I tried to make eye-contact with her as I unbuttoned the pastel blue shirt from her body, but no. There was nothing. Her eyes were downcast, still, far away, glazed over.

Even as I placed my forehead against hers, and wrapped my arms around her waist, and muttered a few reassuring words, she remained the same. No reaction. Like a potted plant. With less colour.

'We're gonna get through this, B. You and me.' Just when I thought she'd gone completely catatonic, she moved her gaze to mine. 'Just relax, B,' I whispered, happy now that she was aware of me.

She let her eyelids fall, and a tear escaped the corner of her eye. I raised my thumb to it, and wiped it away, and my hand soon followed her hair through and came to caress the back of her neck. I gazed intently into her eyes, my brows furrowed my lips pursed, serious.

'We WILL get through this. I promise-'

'Don't,' she began, her words choked by her restricted throat. She shook her head, and my seriousness turned to concern when her eyes clamped even further shut, as if she were in pain. 'Don't make promises you can't keep.'

I moved in closer to her and spoke up. 'Hey…I don't make promises I can't keep, B,' I told her solemnly. 'So just, allow this to be one of these things you let happen, and…just…let me…' I struggled to finish my sentence. 'Let me take care of you, huh.'

Had to reinforce my last words cos it seemed she followed that catatonic route again.

'Let me take care of you, B,' I mumbled many times, and my actions followed through as I crossed the room to the shower and turned on the taps, allowing the warm fluid to dissipate.

I returned to her, and just as I had been doing before, removed the remainder of her clothes. It was only then that I was reminded of why she was dressed the way she was. We'd been to the Bronze. Oh, crap…of course.

I left the bathroom, giving her some alone time, and headed for the small duffel bag I'd packed. Four hundred dollars. That'd keep us for a little while. At least until I could figure out what we would do.

Her voice was so gentle, I didn't realise she was speaking. It wasn't until minutes later, a confused me, coupled with curious, stepped into the room.

'I need you, Faith,' she said, her voice shaky, her arms hugging herself, her head hung. The water was merciless, and reinforced the vulnerability engulfing her.

I didn't need to be told twice, but even so, my ears stung as she repeated the words, over, and over.

I slid the shower door closed and wrapped my arms around her immediately, hugging her head to my shoulder. It was as if she only permitted herself to cry in my presence, because now, the tears wouldn't stop. She shook from forcing air out of her lungs so often, and sobbed.

I didn't say anything. I imagined words of reassurance were the last thing on her mind. And I was never one for saying the right thing.

'It's alright, baby; I'm here,' I told her as we held each other, her hands clutching to me somewhat tighter than they ever had. But then again…perhaps this was her way of letting me know that she needed me.

I slid beneath the duvet shortly after her, turning the side lamp off as I did. When all the time questions were circling my mind, worry was circling hers. I could feel it. She was AWOL. Though on the outside she remained this stationary echo of herself. A shell.

I wrapped my arm around her, and planted a kiss in the dip of her neck. And a whisper escaped my lips. 'I love you, baby.'

And just like that, her eyes were open. And they would remain that way for a good ten hours.