Team: Angel (crossover with BtVS/AtS)
Prompt: checkpoint #1
Angel had mapped every scar on her body. He’d never seen her unclothed, not fully, but he had seen enough in bits and pieces to put together a mental atlas of every faint white line and every tiny imperfection. She’d hated them, thought they made her look like some ugly old man who’d been in a bunch of wars. But he thought they gave her character. He’d told her that, once, and she’d simply smiled and touched his hand. Even now, years after her death, he still remembered the warmth her fingers lent his icy skin. He missed her. Buffy had been his first true love, but she’d been his rock. He was lost without her.
“This weather’s sticky. And I can’t read the map with the top down. Everything’s blowing all over the place.”
Angel glanced at the gas gauge. They were going to have to stop soon.
“Would it be too difficult to put the top down?” his companion complained. “I mean, sure, ex-vampire, all happy to be catching a few rays, but for godsake…” She let out a tiny squeal as he made a hard right off the highway. “That was my latte, Angel! My almond mocha decaf latte with whipped cream! All over my skirt!”
He ignored her.
Knowing that he was deliberately paying no attention, she stuck her tongue out at him and began ineffectually wiping the coffee off her skirt with the map. Finally, realizing the futility of the situation, she opted for payback, pouring the dregs of the coffee on the floor of his precious convertible, earning herself an annoyed glare. She merely pulled a magazine from the glove compartment and began to flip through it.
As soon as they were safely in park at the gas station, the former vampire leapt gracefully over the door of convertible, landing on his feet like a cat. He turned to his partner for accolades, but her eyes were glued to the magazine.
“Do something for me,” he said to her, grabbing the pump and starting to refill the convertible’s tank.
With a sigh, she flipped a page of the magazine. “Would I have to get up?”
“Yes, Anya, you’d have to get up,” he informed her. He realized his knuckles were turning white. Slowly, he let go of the gas pump and let it do its work on its own. “We need food. Go in the store, buy something to eat, pay the man behind the counter for the gas. Then you can go into the bathroom and change your skirt while I clean the car.”
“But I’m so tired!” she groaned. “You can’t expect me to move after a very difficult week of being you-know-whated from the you-know-what.”
“Just go!” he snapped.
“Fine.” Anya stood, pulled a clean skirt from the trunk, and huffed her way into the store.
By the time Anya returned, everything was more or less coffee-free. She had to admit, her partner was unnecessarily rude at times, but handy with Windex, napkins, and a squeegee.
“Where are we?” Angel asked, throwing a glance over at the former vengeance demon settling herself back into her seat. He pulled out of the gas station, back onto the road.
She shrugged. “Someplace called Riceville. I expect they make rice.”
“Have you figured out the clue yet?” he demanded impatiently, tapping the race phone.
“Geez, Mr. Walking Hair Care Products Commercial. Gimme a break.”
Slowly, Angel took in a deep breath, then blew it out again. He knew that he was just going to have to
figure out how to get along with Anya if they wanted to win. And they had to win. If these people, these “Sponsors,” could do what they claimed they could do… and they had proved that they could… They had to win. “I… apologize. If I was… snippy.”
“Well, yeah,” was her reply. She took the magazine out of the glove compartment and began to flip through it again.
Angel gritted his teeth. Of all the people they could have resurrected from the dead… why not Fred? Or Wes or Gunn? Or even Spike? Why not anybody except Anya? “Do you want me to throw you out of this car?” he demanded angrily. “I’m just trying to facilitate a little cooperation. I’m not doing this race for my health, you know.”
The magazine pages stilled. “That’s obvious. You don’t look so good.” Anya glanced over at him. “Hey, I’m not exactly doing this for my health, either. If I had a choice, do you think I’d be driving around Georgia with a guy whose got a stake shoved really far up his ass? No, I’d be in a hot tub with Xander. And bubbles. But I don’t have Xander, and I haven’t got any bubbles, so…” She trailed off, staring out at the landscape flashing by.
“Why are you doing this?”
“What?” she snapped, glancing over at him.
“If you’d rather be in a hot tub with Xander, why aren’t you?” The thought of Xander in a hot tub made Angel shudder. There was no accounting for some people’s taste.
“I don’t see how that’s any of your business,” Anya sniffed. Angel fell silent. Finally, after several minutes, Anya sighed. “The clue means Appomattox. In Virginia. Lee surrendered America to Grant.” She raised one eyebrow. “I was there. It really wasn’t that exciting. One of the soldier’s wives found out he was cheating on her, with his sergeant no less, and she wished he’d turn into a rabid goat. I don’t think goats usually carry rabies, but this one did. I found it most entertaining. He gored several other soldiers, including the sergeant.”
Angel’s brows lowered. “That’s terrible.”
“Yes,” Anya agreed casually, with a self-satisfied grin.
Gravel crunched beneath the tires of the ’67 Plymouth GTX convertible as it made its way into the parking lot in front of the Appomattox Court House.
“We’re not last,” Anya pointed out optimistically.
“No, Miss Jenkins!” the voice of Mr. Bright agreed. Angel swiveled around in his seat to see the Race coordinator approaching from behind. “You are, indeed, not last. I suggest you freshen up a bit and catch some sleep if you can. Your phone will ring as soon as everyone arrives.”
“Anya?” Angel called from outside the bathroom. “We need to go. The phone’s gonna ring soon.”
“Give me a minute,” she responded, sounding irritable. When she finally did emerge, she looked pretty much the same as she always did, but he could tell she’d been crying.