Written for the 2011 LJ Wishlist
Requested By: Blueyes
Fandoms: BtVS/Fast and Furious
Prompt: From Southern California to Cleveland, Buffy has to get there really, really fast.
Disclaimer: I own neither Buffy or Fast and Furious, I've written this purely for enjoyment.Shifting GearsLeticia Ortiz
“Like the bird,
pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight,
feels them give way beneath her,
and yet sings,
knowing that she hath wings.”
The words were imprinted on his eyes, staying there even when his lids fell closed, that’s how long he’d been staring at the tombstone in front of him. It wasn’t anything new. None of it. Not the smell of the grass, greener and more lush than anything he or Letty had ever had back home. Not the gentle brush of the leaves in the trees as a light breeze swept through. Not the words on the stone. Definitely not the feeling of loss. He’d been coming here for years and none of it ever changed.
Well, there was
one thing that was different - this time he wanted
something to change. All the other times he’d come, he’d been content to sit here with his self-recriminations. Even knowing it wasn’t what Letty would want. In fact, she’d hate it. She’d have kicked his ass. But she wasn’t there, so it didn’t matter.
This time it was different, though. He was ready for something new. But just being ready didn’t mean he knew what to do next, how to find that next quarter mile and the one after that. So he sat there, elbows resting on his knees and his eyes locked on the stone, just as he had a hundred times before.
“I don’t know what to do now,” he said, his voice hoarse from disuse. He’d never spoken here before, thought it would be stupid. But now that he started, it wasn’t so bad. “Help me out here, Letty. What should I do?”
He sat, staring at the familiar words Mia had picked out for Letty’s stone, waiting for an answer. There was none, of course. Just the wind in the trees and the faint chirp of a cricket. His mouth cocked in a humorless smile as he pushed himself to his feet, pausing to rest his hand on top of the cool stone.
“See ya next week, Letty.”
His eyes locked on his Charger, waiting for him like a slumbering beast at the bottom of the hill. Well, it wasn’t his
Charger, that one was too recognizable these days. This one was red and needed some work, and that’s where his mind went every time he looked at it - that ding in the left rear quarter panel, the tiny bit of resistance he was getting in 4th gear that needed adjusting, which lines might need replaced soon. It was easier than thinking about the past or the future. Just him, his car and the right now, that’s all he needed. At least that’s what he told himself.
Slipping behind the wheel was a relief. Thoughts and worries melted away. There was just “do”, just “now”, just being in control and moving forward. Even if it was just an illusion of those things, it was better than trying to figure out where he went wrong and what came next. Thoughts like that disappeared when he drove.
The car roared to life around him with a turn of a key and he felt himself relaxing. He slid the car into first, thought about burning out for Letty, but then decided he had a little too much respect for the dead to do that here. He hadn’t gone far, had just smoothly moved into second without even the slightest bark of rubber, when a light colored blur had him looking to his left.
It all happened so fast that his mind didn’t even register it as a person until after he’d already hit her. He’d tried to slam on his breaks, but it was too late, she hit the hood and rolled over to the far side as he finally got the car stopped. He was reaching for the door handle when she popped up and scrambled into his passenger seat.
“GO!” She said, pointing at something past him.
Before he even turned, he heard it - a strange combination of clicking and mewling that left him dreading what he was about to see. Turing to look out his open window, he resisted the urge to rub his eyes, not wanting to lose sight of what he was looking at for even a second. But there was no way…
More horrible than any kids imagination could come up with or any Hollywood production could replicate. Long spidery legs scurried over the ground, stabbing the grass with pointed ends. Human like torsos and waxen faces filled with jagged teeth jutting from too wide mouths. Swiveling black eyes on stalks and arms with pincers as well as hands with overly long fingers. There were at least fifty of the things and they were closing in fast.
“Okay, maybe if I say we should just stay here, you’ll actually move. Like, reverse psychology?” His passenger said in exasperation.
Dom rammed the car back in first and took off, previous respect for the dead gone as he burnt rubber on the narrow cemetery road. But either he’d waited too long or the things were ridiculously fast, because some of them had already reached the road. They bounced of the sides as he moved into second, giving him an up close and personal look he could’ve lived without. They were also flooding the road in front of them though, their chittering and mewling filling the air.
“Whatever you do, don’t stop.”
It wasn’t her words that surprised him, it was her tone. She wasn’t panicked in the least. Her words were calm and clinical. He risked a glance over at her to see she was digging through a bag he hadn’t even noticed her carrying. A second later she pulled out an axe.
He didn’t even have time to think “shit” before she was climbing out her own window. The whole situation was just fucking insane, so he decided to just roll with it. He pushed the car into third as she slid down the right side of the windshield and settled in a defensive position on the hood.
They hit the things with a screech of metal, their hard, pointed legs scrambling to get purchase on the body of the Charger. But that wasn’t where his attention was - it was on the scene playing out on the hood. Blond hair whipping around her, the girl moved like a well-oiled engine, her axe a blur as she cut down any that tried to jump on the car as they plowed through. She spun, sliced and rolled on the hood of a moving car as if she were born to do it. Dom found himself actually disappointed when they were through the mass and flying down the remainder of the cemetery road. He slowed down, intending to stop outside the gates and let her back in, but she waved him on, her face obscured as she faced behind them, axe still in hand. He couldn’t help but to crack a smile at the thought of passing a cop like this.
He went four more blocks before she waved him over. He parked near the curb and got out as she hopped down, letting him get his first good look at her. Studying her now, he said the first thing that came to his mind.
“I thought you were bigger.”
She grinned at him, pushing wild, wind-blown blond hair out of her face. “I get that a lot.”
His eyes followed her as she walked around to the passenger side. Her steps were even and fluid, no sign of any injury. But he had hit her with his fucking car, so he had to ask…
“You all right?”
“I’m tougher than I look,” she said, opening the door. “Good thing you showed up though. Those things must breed like bunnies. …and eww at the mental picture I just created…”
She grabbed her duffle from the floorboard and threw the axe inside like it weighed nothing. Watching her move somehow became more important than any other questions he had at that second. She was all speed and power hidden away beneath a deceptive exterior, just like a street racer. An RX8 with its sleek lines and curves hiding an upgraded engine with eight-hundred horses. Something everyday made extraordinary.
“This thing as fast as it looks?” She asked, zipping up the bag and giving him her attention.
“Wanna make some quick cash?”
“Wanna tell me what the hell just happened?”
“The Globril demons part or the demons in general part?”
“How ’bout both,” he said with a shrug. Demons, huh?
“Okay, but can we be driving in the meantime? I’m kinda on a tight schedule here.”
“Where we headed?”
“I need to get to be in Cleveland in thirty-six hours or the world’s gonna end.”
“Sounds like my kinda job.”*******
A few hours later, they were flying down a desert highway, cool wind in her hair, warm smell of- Oh, wait, that’s Hotel California. The desert highway part was right, but the air was hotter than hell. No doubt they were making good time, but why couldn’t she conveniently run into a guy that had a fast car with
Actually, despite the sweat factor, she’d gotten really lucky. Things had definitely been of the dire earlier. She’d been in those tunnels hunting the Globril demons for way longer than she’d planned on - she’d had no idea there were so many or them or that their underground lair was more like a freaking ant hill than a nest. And when she’d finally gotten her hands on that thingamajig that they worshiped, they freaked to the tenth degree. There were so many of them and they were so crazed that she’d had to just make a run for it. If Dom hadn’t been there… Well, she’d seen what she’d look like with no limbs courtesy of the Buffy bot - it wasn’t a good look for her and not one she was looking to try out.
Then there was the fact that she had to get the thing back to Cleveland to stop an apocalypse, but couldn’t take it on a plane because it was crazy and dangerous looking and had some bad mojo that leaked off of it if anyone removed it from the bag. Faith had taken the private plane to Sarajevo last week and managed to get it burnt to a crisp, so that had left Buffy planning the road trip from hell. It had been bad enough getting there, she’d been dreading the trip back. But then she was in that demonic ant hill for six more hours than she’d planned, leaving her with a time frame that she was sure neither her driving skills nor rental car were up for.
But again, there had been Dom - her speed-demon knight in shining muscle car. Whisking her out of there and saying he could get her to Cleveland before the world ended. She briefly thought about asking what he’d been doing in the cemetery at all, but decided that the answer was too obvious and none of her business anyway.
This was way better than a boring old flight anyway. The roar of the engine, the rush of speed, plus…
She glanced over at him, eyes taking in the muscles in his arm as it rested on the shifter and the sweat that gleamed off of him.
“What?” He rumbled.
And that voice… Way better than a plane.
“Just thinking that you’re taking all this really well,” Buffy said, trying to cover the fact that she’d just been oogling him. “Most people find out demons, vampires and all the other stuff that goes bump in the night are real and they either freak or deny and force themselves to forget about it. You’re just all, ‘hmm’ with the acceptance.”
“I don’t ‘freak’,” he said.
“I noticed,” she grinned. “But still, it’s a lot to take in.”
He shrugged. “Can’t ignore what I saw with my own eyes.”
“You’d be surprised how many people actually do just that.”
He fell silent again after that, much to her disappointment.
“You don’t talk much.”
“You talk enough for both of us.”
“Hey, are you saying I talk too much?”
He didn’t say anything, but she was sure she caught the corner of his mouth twitching slightly.
As they flew by a billboard, her eyes caught sight of a police car lurking in its shadow. She saw Dom’s head turn slightly - he’d seen it, too. He pressed the gas harder. The sudden sound of a siren was faint and quickly faded.
Buffy’s eyes widened in alarm. “You’re not going to stop?”
“I’m doing a hundred and thirty. No, I’m not going to stop.”
“You want to get to Cleveland in time or not?”
Okay, he had a point. But still… “Won’t he chase us? Call in back up or something?”
She digested that for a moment. She’d been wanted by the police before, and probably would be again in the future - that wasn’t what bothered her. It was the fact that she’d dragged Dom into this. They might not ever even know she was there, but this was Dom’s car, if they called in his plates…
“I’m so sorry about this,” she said, shaking her head. “Maybe you should just stop. I’ll pay the ticket and court costs or whatever, but I don’t want you getting into any trouble because of me. I can find another way to Cleveland.”
“I don’t stop for cops.”
“I can think of a way you can make it up to me though,” he said, turning those dark eyes on her.
Heat rushed through her at his suggestive gaze and her breath caught. He grinned slowly, then turned to look back at the road.
“You’re blushing. I was talking money, did you have something more interesting in mind?”
“Tease,” she said under her breath, trying to hide a smile as he let out a surprised laugh. *******
They were just outside St. Louis and the chopper was hot on their tail. The wail of sirens was closing in from all sides, but that was okay - he’d been in worse positions. He angled the Charger toward the airport and watched as the chopper fell back. It wouldn’t take long for it to get clearance to enter, but those precious few minutes would be more than enough.
He glanced at Buffy, who’d been quiet since seeing the first wreck where a pursuing police car had lost control and sideswiped a concrete barrier before spinning out of control off the road. He’d wondered if maybe she was scared and decided to let her deal with it - him asking about it wouldn’t help any. But as she turned and watched the chopper fall back, she once again surprised him.
“Is it bad that I’m enjoying this? I mean, those guys in that car could be hurt but…” She paused then looked at him, a big grin breaking out on her face. “This is so cool!”
“An adrenaline junky, huh?” He asked, angling the car toward their destination now that they weren’t being tailed any more.
“I just didn’t know cars could be so much fun…”
He looked at her with a raised brow, it wasn’t often he spent any time with anyone that didn’t
know how much fun cars were.
She shrugged at his expression of disbelief. “I fight monsters - not a lot of car chases involved in the slayage.”
“Now you’re just tempting me to corrupt you,” he said as they turned into a warren of deserted streets in an old warehouse district.
“I save the world, fight evil - I’m completely uncorruptable.”
“You just said running from the cops was ‘cool’.”
“Just because you’re a bad influence.”
“You’re damned right I am.”
The car waiting for them in the warehouse was a silver Skyline. The mods on the outside were minimal, but inside was a whole other story. An easily overlooked powerhouse - just what he’d needed. He’d have to remember to thank Tej for whatever favors he’d called in to get this here in time.
“This one looks boring,” Buffy pouted, hauling her bag out of the Charger. “I like the other one better. It’s all big and rumble-y.”
“That’s because you have good taste,” he said, giving her a slow smile over the hood of the car. “‘Big and rumble-y’ is always the best choice.”
He didn’t wait to see her reaction before sliding in the driver’s seat.*******
They arrived in Cleveland after two more car chases with fifteen minutes to spare before the scheduled apocalypse. He pulled up to the cemetery gates with an odd feeling of déjà vu. Funny how this had all started at a place that almost looked identical, even though it was on the other side of the country. Well, identical except for the big plume of smoke coming from it…
Buffy jumped out of the car just as a group of people came walking out of the cemetery gates.
“I got it!” She yelled as Dom got out after her and leaned on the roof of the car to watch.
“It’s already over, Buffy,” a redhead said as they approached.
“What?! But I got the thingy! The anti-apocalypse pointy mojo’d thing from the crazy ant-spider demons!”
Everyone paused at that, then a dark haired chick at the head of the pack shook her head. “Thanks, B, but we found something else that did the job just as well - C4.”
Buffy threw out her hands in disbelief and watched them go with her mouth hanging open before turning back to Dom.
“Well, come on. You probably want some food and somewhere to sleep before you go. Oh, and your money,” she said, shoulders slumped with what he hoped was more than just disappointment that her “anti-apocalypse thingy” hadn’t been useful.
“I think I’ll stay for a while. You should shelter me,” he said. “You made me into a fugitive, after all.”
She straightened up and cocked her head to the side, eyebrows raised.
“Shelter you, hmm?” She asked, her lips curving into a small smile as she walked closer. She stopped just short of touching him and looked up. “I think I can handle that.”
She grabbed the front of his t-shirt and pulled him down into a kiss that promised many things - being naked and sweaty for one, but what Dom tasted the most on her lips was the promise of a new beginning.