Title: Florida Oranges
Word Count: 1620
Prompt: #342 - foodist
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.
Synopsis: Apparently, regardless of the world’s future or their place in it, some things didn’t change.
Sunlight speared through the clouds and brought the rain covered highway to glistening life. Hank felt the tightness in his chest ease at the sight, the first they’d caught of the sun in nearly three days, since he wasn’t entirely sure how’d they’d survive a hurricane without warning or shelter. The SUV he and his daughter had been living out of for the better part of a month worked well against the common elements, but pitting it against all the force Mother Nature could muster seemed futile.
Humanity was barely holding on as it was after the sickness spread like wildfire across the continent, across the globe, leaving only the fittest to survive. A survival that seemed to be wrought with dangers his daughter adapted to with an ease that unnerved him one moment and saved his life the next. He’d begun to grow accustomed to his daughter’s ever vigilant stare and the way she took charge of those situations where the outcome looked most dire. She’d fit in with the mostly military group at Camp Blanding when they’d stumbled across the facility as they fled the Ocala campgrounds after it was overrun with the infected. Which his daughter had taken to referring to as deadites because of some movie she’d watched with her friends the weekend before she’d come to Los Angeles.
She’d joined them in weapons training long before convincing him to do the same. Buffy now ensured he was armed at all times with the Mossberg the leader of the military brigade had offered to them on their way out—a polite way to refer to fleeing for their lives. It was currently resting against the windshield of the SUV as they sat atop the hood and enjoyed a moment’s quiet. His daughter had removed her boots, the ones she’d convinced him to buy for her before the world went to hell while in New Orleans, and the thick leather had suited her well in the last few weeks on the road.
Her legs were stretched out in front of her as she leaned against the windshield and bared her face to the sunlight and Hank wasn’t fooled by the fact that she’d placed herself within easy reach of the Mossberg. Her own gun, a Glock that was small, black and looked vaguely plastic like, was in her lap, but the recurve bow and it’s arrows were tucked away between the front seats of the SUV. While she preferred the bow to the dinner bell—her words to describe the Glock, not his own—the gun offered a quicker reaction time when they were out in the open.
That gun was just one of many instances where his misspent youth had come in handy as of late. A youth in which the Jimmy Pry Bar he’d used to break into the police car, that had housed the Glock before it became his daughter’s, had been a staple of his car’s trunk. When Buffy had inquired about his aptitude with the Jimmy he’d merely smiled and informed her he’d tell her about it when she was older. Apparently, regardless of the world’s future or their place in it, some things didn’t change Hank mused as he watched her eat.
The oranges Buffy had commandeered from the field to their right sat bundled between them on her jacket. She’d rolled the leather into a basket shape and nestled the fruit in the center to keep them from sliding off the hood as they enjoyed their first bit of fresh sustenance in nearly a month. The last few groves they’d past had suffered from the drought that had ended last night, but this farm had a sprinkler system setup that still seemed to be in functioning order.
Buffy had grabbed only ten oranges, as if still worried the farmer would suffer from the loss, but was currently in the process of tearing the flesh from her third. The juices dripped down onto her leggings and while Hank wasn’t entirely comfortable with his daughter in skintight attire he couldn’t find fault with her logic in wearing them. Nylon was far more difficult to grab onto than jean and since his daughter tended to kick her opponent away before dispatching of them the leggings were more of a protection and they did
take up less space in her suitcase. Though as Hank watched Buffy bite into another slice of orange he supposed, at least to himself, what his daughter did to the infected was less of a dispatching and more of a slaughter.
She’d explained what a Vampire Slayer was and how it worked and Hank had raged at the thought of his little girl being sent to her possible death each night. His first conversation with Rupert Giles had ended up as a rather intense debate with neither side willing to back down and there was still a part of him that wished it’d been in person so he could strangle the son of a bitch—regardless of his role, or lack thereof, in his daughter being chosen. He hadn’t, and still didn’t, give a damn about destiny. He did however give a damn about his daughter and the fact that she’d wept after her portion of the conversation with Rupert.
He’d held her in his arms after she’d learned of the death of her two newest friends and the disappearance of someone with the terrible nickname of Angel. Their communication with Sunnydale and Joyce had been spotty, at best, but in recent days Hank had been struggling to find ways to keep them connected with his ex-wife and his daughter’s Watcher after the cell towers died. Their last conversation had been an assurance that Rupert would remain in the Summers’ household and help fortify it against the infected. Joyce had told him that they’d torn down the stairs and were using a ladder to get to the second floor. They pulled it up with them each night in case the infected made it past a barricaded door or window.
Hank had to admit that had been a clever idea on Rupert’s part, but he also knew how very angry Joyce still was with the man and wasn’t in the mood to be impressed or coddled. He was also certain he’d heard a smack when he’d told Joyce the truth about their daughter and her calling. Since Rupert had been present for that conversation it gave Hank some sense of satisfaction that he’d suffered the blow—though he might still wish it’d been him to deliver it, but with a closed fist.
His daughter’s hesitant voice drew him out of his internal musings and he accepted her offer of an orange wedge with a tired smile and a, “Thank you.”
Her brows were drawn low and she was studying him with the same intensity she usually reserved for the area they were most likely to spend the night in. “You went all cease-fire on the verbal.”
“Lost in thought,” was his explanation, even as he smiled at her words and Buffy’s unique take on the English language that was now peppered with random military verbiage. Something he was certain she’d inherited from Joyce and as he eyed the white eyelet dress she wore over her very dark leggings he supposed she got her urge to fashionable in the face of adversary from Joyce as well. Since his ex-wife had always dressed up for her tests in college—granted the world today was far more extreme than exams—but he found the concept similar and highly endearing.
“I can see that.” Her tone of voice implied the ‘duh’ and Hank merely held out his hand for another piece of orange. She complied and continued with, “I just wish you wouldn’t do it so often.”
“You’re not overly fond of the quiet moments,” Hank observed.
“Not hardly,” she scoffed and sank her teeth into another piece of orange. Buffy chewed for a moment and then sighed before directing her gaze towards the road ahead of them. “I don’t mind quiet, but it’s the moments where I know you’re thinking thoughts that are better remained un-thunk.” She frowned, head cocking before she glanced up at him and corrected herself, “Not thunk?”
“Not thunk,” he agreed and snagged another slice of orange. Instead of allowing themselves to fall back into the silence his daughter seemed so adverse to Hank offered, “I’m also thinking tomorrow we should go in search of gas.”
Buffy’s head lifted, her shoulders rolling back as she glanced behind them to towards the trunk and the several full canisters still present there before she shrugged. “As good a plan as any. I doubt we’d make it to California with that supply.”
“And you’d be right.” Hank ignored the nagging voice telling him they’d never make it that far regardless and instead offered, “Maybe we can find a working landline too.”
She perked up at the mention of a phone and where those possibilities led. “How do you think mom’s doing?”
“Driving Rupert up the wall I’d imagine.” He smiled, “Your mother was never one for being cooped up.”
Buffy inquired as she sat forward, legs coming up to cross beneath her as she gave him her full attention and Hank switched his train of thought to what he’d been doing best the last few weeks. Keeping his daughter entertained with stories of his college and newlywed days with Joyce and while he did it mostly for Buffy; there was always a sense of normalcy that slid over them when he explained the ins and outs of living with an artistic personality.
“Well, you see. The first time I took your mother camping…”