A couple of weeks later, Buffy pouted in the back seat of the taxi. Even sensing that the end of her journey was near, the woman still continued her mental complaints to herself.
*A racing school?? Okay, okay, maybe they had a right to be the teeniest bit upset with me, but how come they had to send me here? It’s not like I’m totally obsessed with cars like some of the boys in Hemery and SHS. Those guys would have drooled into their car magazines they carried with them everywhere at the prospect of coming here.*
Buffy glowered out of the windows at the bare desert slipping by as the taxi went down the road, from her motel to her destination. The racing school was located in the Mojave Desert of California, with the nearest city being Palmdale, where she was staying. Fairly cheap, flat land, with no neighbors, good year-round weather, and nobody to care about what noise was made were all the reasons why Buffy had to fly all the way from Cleveland to the West Coast. There had been some mention about the reputation of the racing school and its founder, but the Slayer had ignored all that in frantically trying to come up with some reason to avoid being sent here.
In the taxi, Buffy shuddered, as she remembered being informed of the alternatives. A snappish Dawn had told her big sister that if Buffy didn’t want to go, she could stay at Cleveland to be reassigned for other duties. With utter precision, as the older Summers woman had brightened at this prospect, Dawn had slipped in the knife as she icily informed Buffy that Andrew -- who’d also been yelled at -- was quite willing for her assistance in helping him to file five hundred years of utterly-boring Watcher documents that nobody had even glanced at for the last couple of centuries and were buried under inch-thick dust in their warehouse-sized storage room at an ancient castle way, way to the north of Scotland. North, as in freezing-your-kilt-off-north.
The job itself was estimated to take, oh, about a couple of months lasting to the middle of winter of looking at documents goose-quill-penned in atrocious handwriting in the hopes of finding something interesting in several tons of rotting paper, despite the fact that the First Evil hadn’t even bothered to show up at that place during its terrorist campaign that had destroyed the previous Council and that organization’s main records.
There was only one answer Buffy could make to this.
“Can I at least fly business class to California?”
Stepping out of the halted cab in the front of the racing school, into a hot desert day and bright sunlight, Buffy winced and pulled down her sunglasses from the top of her head down to her nose. She then perked up a little, admitting to herself, *Hey, California girl, you’re back home. Yeah, it’s not your birthplace or the-town-that-shall-not-be-spoken-of, but even the high desert northeast of LA is part of you.* At these thoughts, Buffy became more cheerful, beginning to plot to herself.
*I promised the others I’d come here and go through whatever I’m supposed to, but it doesn’t mean I have to spend every second here. Let’s see, I show up, drive those little toys around that circle thingy a few times, and then complain to the big boss about a headache and bat my eyes at him. If that doesn’t work, I become Bitch Buffy. Either way, he signs the certificate saying I passed, and I’m out of here. Just like gym in high school, really.*
Buffy smirked, and continued in her head. *After that, I have a few days until I have to get back to Cleveland and its weather. Maybe find a nice spa here, with hot and cold running cabana boys, go through a complete cleansing, facial, mud packs -- what the heck, everything! You deserve a little pampering, girl.*
Her good mood continued through the next hour or so, only lessening with her going through lots of paperwork that she uncaringly signed, these basically saying that the racing school would not be responsible from anything bad happening to her, from acquiring a hangnail to actual decapitation. Finally, she and a couple of others also going through the racing program were led out to the racetrack, where they just stood around for a few minutes.
Buffy ignored the curious looks from the others, all of them guys (of course), who when she glanced over bore identical slightly outraged expressions of little boys having to suffer the entrance of cooties-covered girls into their own private, he-man, women-haters, Little Rascals clubhouse. The woman firmly told herself she was a mature, grown-up member of the feminine species, and that, moreover, it wouldn’t be polite for her to stick out her tongue at them all.
Shifting impatiently, Buffy suddenly winced at the abrupt roar of a nearby motor vehicle’s engine that painfully battered at her ears. She quickly fumbled at her neck for something Willow had made for her and all of the other Slayers soon after Sunnydale. Pulling out a small medallion hanging from a chain around her neck, Buffy pinched this several times, her fingertips pressing against the sides of the little disk.
The overpowering noise suddenly faded out of existence, with Buffy sighing in relief. While the heightened senses of a Slayer were necessary to deal with their vampire and demonic prey, there were times in the warrior women’s lives when having extremely sensitive sight, hearing, and smelling was an actual curse. For example, being stuck in a plane with a colicky baby with diarrhea in the next seat row over. Willow had been informed then by a foul-mouthed Slayer from the place that for decades had suffered from the curse of the Bambino, that if Faith ever had to go through that again, the brunette was actually going to plot the extirpation of the entire human race. Or at least those under the age of two.
The red-haired Wiccan had hastily come up with something in the form of little metal disks worn on a chain around the neck, or if the Slayers preferred, anywhere else on their body. All it took was for these women to press these disks several times for unpleasant smells or sounds to be magically cancelled out for them, for about an hour or so. Willow had refused to make this action permanent, pointing out that the Slayers could just do this again if needed, and that in the future, it might be necessary to endure the annoying assaults on their senses, for whatever reason. Plus, other sounds and smells not actually bothering the Slayers would be allowed to pass through the spell cast by the medallion, so the women could hear someone speak even during an explosion in a fireworks factory.
In the racetrack, Buffy shrugged. She didn’t plan to be staying here all that long to touch the medallion again to cause the sound to disappear. Her thoughts were abruptly distracted by the sudden appearance of a fantastic machine that had materialized in front of the group, being driven with blazing speed from the far end of the racetrack to skiddingly stop on that section by the people waiting there.
All of the guys promptly clapped their hands over their ears, only then followed by Buffy as she realized that not doing so might make people suspicious. Still, even though she couldn’t hear the overpowering noise that she was sure was coming from the stopped machine, she could feel it. The rumbling through the air and also through the ground itself that shivered her feet and moved up her body, finished its journey at her open mouth, making her teeth vibrate as the Slayer gaped at the strangest motor vehicle she’d ever seen.
Big, fat, cartoon-style exposed wheels were attached to the rest of the car by delicate rods and struts. The body of the car itself was pure speed itself frozen in metal, from the pointed nose, with jutting wings on the sides of this, leading back to a narrow driver’s section, continuing to the engine compartment, which was overhung by another, more massive wing.
The driver of this incredible car turned his head in his helmet to look at the group. An instant later, the rumble running through Buffy’s body vanished, as the engine of the car was evidently turned off. The others of their group now took their hands away from their ears, as did Buffy, with the woman watching in fascination as the driver got out of the car, pushing against the tops of the side of the body structure and stepping onto the racetrack, in a smooth, well-practiced motion that spoke of long experience. Buffy now had a specific reaction to this and everything else that had suddenly been revealed to her of a male in superb physical condition:
The tall man in his skin-tight racing costume now came towards the group in long strides, with his hands reaching up to remove his helmet on the way. As the man stopped in front of the group, he finished taking off his helmet and looked at everyone with his revealed face.
Buffy actually went weak at the knees at that exact moment.
For some reason, the rest of the guys in their group had the same reaction, though in a more manly fashion, with one of them choking out, “Michel Vaillant! OH MY GOD!” Buffy was in too much of a daze to wonder why they were so excited.
The extremely handsome man with a totally sexy strand of black hair falling over his forehead who was standing before them had mild amusement pass over his features, until he nodded politely at them all, and uttered a greeting, “Bonjour, messieurs.” The man now looked at Buffy, and respectfully said in the most masculine voice she’d ever heard, “Mademoiselle.”
At that moment, Buffy was desperately hoping the next words out of the mouth of this dream man was, “Shall we retire to my chambers to populate the earth with our children?” Unfortunately, this didn’t come to pass (it never does), as the man instead gracefully waved his left hand at the car behind him and keeping his gaze in Buffy’s direction, he inquired, “Are you ready for your first lesson?”
Buffy just gaped at the man, her feelings of joyful shock at who would presumably be teaching her to drive that incredible machine intermixing with her crushing disappointment at what she’d just noticed when the race car driver had pointed at his car. The it’s-not-fair-dammit-why-him man had on his ring finger a golden wedding ring.
Staying frozen long enough for the man to look concerned, Buffy finally mumbled, “Uh, yeah. I guess.” Her face turned red at hearing her own awkward words, and also how the man kindly smiled at her.
Mr. Married-Dreamboat then nodded at a small building by the racetrack and told Buffy, “Your clothing is ready for you in the changing room, Mademoiselle. It is only polite for you to be the first, and then we can get started.” He then looked expectantly at Buffy, who hesitated, and then the woman turned and headed for the building, marveling on how quickly her mood had improved over being forced to come here.
In the building, which was indeed a place to change attire, Buffy found on a table a stack of neatly folded racing apparel, including boots and gloves, that was evidently supposed to be her costume, as indicated by the small piece of paper with her name of ‘Elizabeth Summers’ on top of the stack. Buffy quickly changed to her new clothes, her eyebrows rising at how it all perfectly fitted her, and she put away her old clothes in a locker provided for such tasks. Buffy uncertainly eyed the full helmet that had also been placed on the table next to her racing costume, and picked it up. Apparently, she was supposed to wear that. She then left the changing room, brushing past the others of her group that were waiting outside for her to leave, and walked to where that scrumptious Frenchman was watching her approach.
As she stopped in front of the man, Buffy gave him her most brilliant smile, and asked, “Say, how’d you know my clothes size? I don’t think you have all that many women coming here, anyway.”
The man smiled back a little puzzedly, causing shivers to run down Buffy’s spine, and answered, “In your application, your sizes were given. It is also true that we have more hommes than femmes wishing to learn how to race, though that is changing with Mademoiselle Patrick’s entrée into professional racing.”
Buffy said blankly, “Who?”
“Danica Patrick, your countrywoman.”
The woman stared at the tall man in utter disbelief. “You mean, the little girl from the Wonder Years? Wow, I’ve got to pay more attention to what the baby S--, my students, are saying in class.”
Now it was Michel Vaillant’s turn to stare in absolute bewilderment at the small woman before him. Shaking his head to bring his thoughts back to his duty, the man cleared his throat, and motioned to the racecar that was waiting for them. “Shall we begin?”
“Okay,” cheerfully said Buffy, walking over to where the man indicated. She interestedly noted the second open seat in the body of the car directly behind the driver, and giving the man her helmet, she carefully stepped into this seat and sat down, and Buffy then allowed the man now crouching down beside her to gently place the helmet over her head. The Slayer felt a thrill inside her as the man looked directly in her eyes and his inquiring look silently asked if the helmet was comfortable. Buffy nodded, the unfamiliar added weight of the helmet dragging her head down further than usual.
Satisfied, the man began to buckle her into the seat, pulling down half a seat belt from over her shoulders, and then reaching down between her legs to lift up the other half of the seat belt from the floor. Both halves were connected with a buckle directly in the middle of her chest, and the man then pulled the end of the belt straps to make sure the belt was holding her snugly.
Buffy had enjoyed every moment of this man fussing over her, and her pleasure only increased as the man still in his crouching position reached into his own seat to pick up his helmet. As the man straightened up, standing at the side of the racecar to put on his helmet, Buffy was given the chance of staring at close range at a truly magnificent male butt.
*Yippieeee!* Buffy silently cheered.
As the man expertly slipped into his own seat, Buffy had to wait only a few seconds for him to put on his own seatbelt, and then as the man’s arms dipped back into the cockpit, the car’s engine came on.
The medallion was still working, preventing the roar of the engine from battering her ears, though the helmet’s soundproofing and the earplugs provided with her racing costume would have also done this, though not as well. Once again, Buffy could directly feel the pulsing sound, but now that she was actually inside the car, the vibrating of every bit of her body was even more intense. All of her organs were actually shivering, with her eyeballs jiggling in the strangest sensation she’d ever experienced.
Buffy was abruptly distracted from how she felt when the man sitting in front lifted up his right hand, holding an extended index finger in a gesture of warning. This finger was now jabbed horizontally forward, and the next moment, the car shot down the racetrack.
The woman in the rear of the racecar was slammed back in her seat, and continued being held there, as the engine’s rumble massively increased as more power was demanded, and Buffy now actually felt all her facial muscles and skin being pushed back by g-forces and windblast. As the car went even faster down the racetrack, the view of the land at the car’s sides now blurred, with buildings, fences and other objects changing into undistinguishable streaks of bits and pieces.
Buffy Summers, the Vampire Slayer, warrior woman, defender of humanity, whose life had brought her all too much sadness and sorrow, now shrieked with glee at the top of her lungs in absolute and unlimited joy.
A few minutes later, after the car returned to the point of the racetrack where it had started, coming to another skidding stop, a small feminine figure erupted from the vehicle’s passenger seat, to land on her feet by the car and started skipping and dancing in pure ecstasy around the machine, tearing off her helmet during her gyrations. As the driver got out of his own seat, to stand by the car and remove his helmet, the smaller figure rushed right at him, to stand face-to-face, as Buffy babbled, “Can we do that again, please, please, please?! Can we? Please, can we?”
Michel Vaillant looked down into the eagerly begging features of the excited woman and let a wide grin appear on his own face. This was exactly why he sometimes showed up at his racing school without warning, to show a novice to racing how wonderful sheer speed could be.
Chuckling, the Frenchman said, “I regret that the others must have their turn first,” as he waved at a position of the track where several racecars were rumbling away, clearly carrying the other members of the group learning about racing.
Buffy’s face went into full-pout in a millisecond, and then became more cheerful as Vaillant went on, “We will go again, soon. But for now, we shall look at what you will be driving later on. Come, let us see your vehicle, and you will learn all about it.”
As the man turned to walk to another building at the racetrack, Buffy was quickly at his side, occasionally letting out her exuberance in an happy skip. As they went along, the woman managed to find a moment to discreetly check her costume, relieved to find that she hadn’t totally embarrassed herself, no matter how her lower half felt. As Faith would have crudely expressed it, “Ya mighta not have come, but ya had….leakage.”
Buffy grinned widely into thin air, amused about her excessive high spirits. It didn’t matter, she’d just had a perfectly thrilling time, and she was looking forward to more driving. Even if she didn’t actually think she could sneak out that racecar back to her motel bedroom. For one, the maids would probably protest about the motor oil on the bedsheets.