conflict and threat assessments
Title: conflict and threat assessments
Word Count: 926
Prompt: #372 driving in the dark
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all related characters are copyright of Joss Whedon and ME. The Walking Dead and all related characters are copyright of Robert Kirkman, Image Comics and AMC. No infringement intended.
Note: The prompt was interpreted by a passing knowledge of ‘Driving in the Dark: Ten Propositions and Predictions and National Security.’
Series Synopsis: Hank Summers is dealing with a dateable teenager daughter and the added stress of a zombie apocalypse. Hopefully he survives. Both.
Rain from the previous day made the morning around them a bearable temperature as the golf cart cut a path through the grass. The steady progress from their camp to the main compound of the base had Hank Summers giving an envious sigh. He’d made this trek on foot the previous day and it’d taken far longer. The rows of cars were still quiet due to the early hour, but he could hear some pots being placed on the gas-powered stoves and campfires being rekindled.
His daughter sat beside him. She had taken the seat on the passenger’s side of the cart, directly behind the Lance Corporal and on the side closest to the fencing. Buffy was slipping back into her threat assessment mindset—one that was both familiar and troubling to Hank—as her narrowed gaze remained trained on the field just beyond the fence. She’d been quiet since the cart had pulled away from their camp and he knew it had nothing to do with the base personal currently with them.
She trusted them, at least marginally, since all her focus was directed outside the cart, but she’d also ignored all of their attempts to include her in conversation. Under normal circumstances this would have thrilled Hank to no end, but his daughter liked to flirt, well, she’d liked to flirt before being forced to predict threats and formulate a strategic plan of escape at a moment’s notice.
Stress, Slayerdom (her word, not his) and the world taking a tumble, had put a damper on Buffy’s social life and while he did question her taste in men—Tyler had been a world class jackass and that punk Pike hadn’t been much better—he didn’t want his daughter to miss out on the few opportunities she still had.
He also didn’t want her dating. Period.
Hank was going to assume most fathers felt this way about their little girls, but conflicted or not he wanted her to at least be present in her life. Another sigh escaped him, but he forced up the arm closest to Buffy and slipped it along the back of their seats. He left it there a moment before his right hand caught a shoulder and Hank tugged her across the bench seat, settling her against his side.
Her gaze broke from searching the nearby field for threats to look up at him in confusion and he smiled down at her. After a moment’s hesitation she returned his smile, granted with far less enthusiasm, but Hank wasn’t going to let that deter him as he addressed the boy closest to his daughter’s age with the casual question, “Jacob, did you know Buffy here was quite the ice skater when she was younger?”
The cart slowed and Jacob turned to offer him a smile that widened when it landed on his daughter. “I did not, Mr. Summers.”
Hank quelled his instant dislike of that smile to refocus on embarrassing his kid in the hopes that the old Buffy would, at the very least, make a reappearance. “She did and
she got the Dorothy Hamill haircut to show her dedication.” He caught Buffy’s mouth opening in surprise and he quickly added, “Her mother has the photographic evidence to prove it.”
“Dad!” He smiled at her hiss.
“Who’s Dorothy Hamill?”
Jacob’s questioned stiffened his daughter’s spine as she sat up straighter. Her tone was defensive when she explained, “She’s a figure skater. She—”
“Won gold in the Olympics.” The Lance Corporal interrupted Buffy and turned around in his seat. He directed his gaze at Hank with a smile that told him the younger man had caught onto his game before looking at his daughter. “I think you looked lovely with short hair.”
Hank felt her tense before she laughed and shook her head. “I looked like a geek.”
“A cute geek.” Jacob cleared his throat after that counter-argument and Hank resisted the urge to glare at his ducked head.
“She was,” Hank squeezed Buffy’s a shoulder before clarifying, “Cute and a geek.”
“Dad!” Her outburst was less annoyed this time before she snapped, “You’re not supposed to tell your kid they’re a geek.”
“No, but I do hear geeks are in now.” Buffy turned her smile on the Lance Corporal. “They are in, right?”
“If you’re one of them, I’m certain they are.” Hank did frown at that comment and the guy offered him an easy smile before turning around in his seat and requesting, “So, Miss Summers, tell us a bit more about yourself.”
Hank shook his head before looking back to his daughter and felt himself relax at the smile on her face as she offered, almost shyly, “Well, I’m originally from Los Angeles.”
“Know any stars?”
“Just the ones on the sidewalk.”
“Tell me about it.”
“I thought I was the one asking.”
Hank’s smile slipped as the casual conversation turned flirty, but he stopped himself from interrupting it as his daughter laughed and seemed to enjoy herself. It’d been too long since she’d shared a conversation with a stranger that didn’t involve threats. Slayer or not, as far as Hank was concerned she was still a teenager, and was entitled to act like one from time to time. He settled himself back in the seat, but kept his arm around her shoulders.
She might be a teenager and he’d suffer through some flirting, but he wasn’t about to let them forget Buffy was his first and theirs, hopefully, never.
He sighed again. Conflicted sounded just about right.