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a fuckin' shitty car

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Nobody understood why Faith didn’t just get a new car. Hers was a dingy, banged up beater that looked like it might have been painted a putrid gray/green color at one point. The outside was covered in hundreds of peeling off bumper stickers, some with cheesy motivational phrases like “I tried” or “There’s a light at the end of every tunnel” (Buffy wasn’t quite sure if they were ironic or not), others were single images of cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny, and Batman’s logo. One sticker was a very large, very trashy picture of Betty Boop in a red negligee that looked like it belonged on the side of a beer guzzling trucker’s 18 wheeler. One half of the car had painted words covering both doors in matte white paint that had chipped so much they were unreadable (but God forbid Faith do something to remove them, or at least repaint them.) The insides were ripped and stained, empty fast food containers littered the floor, all available surfaces were covered in cigarette butts, and the pine tree shaped fragrance things that Faith routinely bought at gas stations and hung over the dashboard did little to cover the smell of alcohol that had soaked into the upholstery, and the vague smell of mold and sour milk. It looked about a thousand years old and Faith had only had it for like, a fifth of that. It was an extremely shitty car.

Faith’s behavior toward the car was bizarre. She called it “D” and treated it like a person. She’d talk to it, thank it for doing a good job, put a cover over her at night so she wouldn’t get cold. She’d sometimes pat or rub the dashboard or the hood when she thought no one was looking, and Buffy swore one time she had heard Faith singing to it when she went out to the garage to look for her missing girlfriend. And she just would not give the damn thing up.

Buffy was not a fan of the car. She hated sitting on the smelly cushions. She greatly disliked being seen around town in it. A few times she’d thought of...tampering with the car, which would result in an unfortunate and permanent breakage of said vehicle, but ultimately she just couldn’t do it. Her girlfriend loved this freaking car almost as much as she loved Buffy. Not that Buffy was jealous or anything.

She’d tried persuasion, she’d tried bribery. Nothing had worked. Not even Faith crashing it a few times would take the damn thing out. The car was ugly as hell, but it was miraculous in that it would never stop running.

Buffy stood on the sidewalk waiting for her girlfriend to pick her up.

Stay strong! Buffy thought. Don’t let her win you over. Just...don’t get in the car. In fact, don’t do anything with her. Eventually she’ll cave and the hunk of junk will head over to a land fill where it belongs.

Faith’s atrocity, blaring some awful emo rock, rounded the corner and parked in front of Buffy. Faith stuck her head out of the window and grinned.

“Sup, B? Get in.”

“...No.”

Faith raised her eyebrows. “No?”

“I’m not getting in that death trap ever again. I mean, look at it Faith, I’m surprised it’s even running still.”

Faith smiled. “I know. D’s been around for a lotta years. She’s a trustworthy old girl. Stickin’ with me.” She thumped the steering wheel affectionately.

Buffy just managed to stop herself from rolling her eyes at her girlfriend’s sappy looking grin and nearing creepy levels of devotion. “Be that as it may, it looks about ready to kill us both at any given moment. There’s no way I’m getting in there.”

“C’mon, B, we’re Slayers! Even if she does crash with us in it, we’ll be fine. I should know, I’ve done it enough.” She wiggled her eyebrows.

For some reason Buffy couldn’t think of a sufficient argument. “Faith. Buy a new car. You could get a cool convertible or something, we have some money now. Or I’ll even let you get a motorcycle. Just...get rid of this thing.”

Faith frowned, looking hurt. “I’m not getting rid of my car, B! She’s been good to me and I’m not gonna abandon her. What would I want another car for? And she’s not a thing.” She drove off in a huff.

Yeah, so that hadn’t worked. For some reason that Buffy didn’t understand, the car was a sore spot for Faith.

There had been a time when the car started wheezing and making a loud grinding noise, and everyone thought it was done for. Buffy was (secretly) excited, but Faith didn’t take it too well. She moped around for days, and everyone was panicky and walked on eggshells around her, refraining from mentioning any form of vehicular transportation. Despite the car being on death’s door, Faith still made people ride in it, claiming “I don’t want her to know she’s dying! How fuckin’ sick would that be? Or what if we jinx it by acting all weird?” Luckily for everyone the car bounced back, and was as good (read: not good) as new. Faith bounced back just as quickly and retained her usual cool, claiming that she’d never lost her faith in D and had known that her car would be fine all along. Her attachment grew.

With grave apprehension Buffy reached over and grabbed the seat belt, buckling herself into the seat of Shit Car, as she liked to call it, and ensuring her doom at the hands of her girlfriend, the person who was supposed to love and want to protect her the most. Just Buffy’s luck that her girlfriend was insane. Buffy marveled that the car even had seat belts.

Faith sauntered out from her apartment carrying a bottle of Coke and a bag of Doritos. She opened the car door, sat down, and slammed it shut behind her.

“Hey, babe. Snacks for the road.” She leaned over and gave Buffy a sloppy kiss on the cheek. “Here,” she said, dumping the food in Buffy’s lap.

“Oh so I’m your food holder?” Buffy asked cheekily, smirking cutely at her girlfriend.

Faith grinned quickly at her. “For life.” She started up the engine and backed out of her parking spot. They were soon barreling down the highway at eighty five miles an hour (Buffy checked) when Buffy noticed the gas meter.

“Faith! The tank is empty; we have to get to a gas station.”

“Relax, B. This car needs barely any gas. I can run her for days on one tank. She’s still got a while to go.”

“What?! Faith that’s crazy. And impossible.”

“Nah, B. Trust me, I know. I know this car as well as I know myself, okay?”

Buffy shook her head. “Faith--”.

Faith continued on in a steady voice, looking straight ahead to the road. “I am the car. The car is me.”

Extremely confused, Buffy decided to drop it. Had Faith turned into some zenned out hippie all of a sudden? And what she was saying didn’t reassure Buffy, as she thought Faith actually didn’t know herself as well as she thought she did.

The truth was, for Faith the car was somewhat of a metaphor for her life. Banged up, used by many, shit on by its owners, worse for the wear, yet somehow still carrying on. Always carrying on; close to death several times but never stopping. Breaking down slowly but still wanting to go in the fast lane for as long as she could, making it over the hill and into the horizon on half a tank of gas… She felt silly, but she’d found something of a kindred spirit in her car the night she’d bought it with five hundred dollars, the only money she’d had at the time, when she had been young and scared and all alone, and she wasn’t about to give it up, wasn’t about to abandon it like everyone else had. What kind of person would she be if she just moved on as soon as she could get another one, a prettier, better one, one free of damage (of course you could expect more from that type of car, how could you not)? Nope, as far as she was concerned she and the car were one and the same and loyalty meant a lot. She was gonna show that car that some people stayed, some people stuck around. She had learned that by now and she was going to teach it. And she wasn’t just loyal, she was grateful to the car for being her only companion and comfort for a good stretch of her life.

And honestly Faith was nervous, which wasn’t a word she would normally use to describe herself, at least not willingly, of the day the car eventually did die, her glory faded (because obviously it would someday, she wasn’t delusional). What lesson was she supposed to take from her metaphor then? That all things (her too) must end? That the car had never been her in the first place, and that she was fine, really fine, and she should accept that and didn’t need to keep looking for signs where there weren’t any? That she was the car and should be on the look out for impending disasters? She wasn’t ready to be confronted with the fact that this idea of hers, as stupid as it was, could have been false comfort all along.

Faith drove behind the wheel of D, speeding down a softly sloping hill. A warm breeze caressed her face and blew her hair around, and she smiled softly. God, she loved driving her. But she knew she would be okay, whether in this car or another. She felt Buffy’s hand twine in her own and glanced over to the occupied passenger seat, smiling at her. Buffy grinned back. Someday this car would be gone, but Buffy would stay. And maybe she didn’t need cars to go to for comfort, or learn her lessons from anymore. She had the real thing now. She’d told Buffy parts of what the car meant to her, and she could tell she understood. Faith loved Buffy more than anything. She gripped Buffy’s hand harder, and floored D, grabbing a cigarette off a dirty seat and sticking it in her mouth, lighting it as she grinned into the wind, content.