actor: warren kole

fic:lead me home/BtVS, Walking Dead/Gen

Title: lead me home
Series Title: We Find Ourselves
Word Count: 4420
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Walking Dead
Prompt: #348 – papaya @ tamingthemuse
Warning: violence
Rating: FR13
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.

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A road trip that would have taken have a day previously was now heading well into its second and while, intellectually, Grayson knew why the SUV ahead of him was once again pulling into what appeared to be an abandoned gas station’s parking lot he still found it irksome. He pulled the truck over, Emma still fast asleep behind him and watched in the review as Sarah followed his lead and pulled the ambulance in behind him. He’d taken to driving Sarah’s truck since its cab housed a backseat that could fit Emma’s car-seat. They’d left Rebecca’s sedan behind after stripping it of any usable parts since it’d been the only vehicle that ran on gasoline which was harder to come by than diesel.

Grayson watched as Buffy pulled herself free of the vehicle before climbing onto the hood and then the roof. She moved in a slow circle, gaze intent on the area surrounding them, before she gave her version of an all clear signal that included a swirling of her right fist before she leapt to the ground mindless of the fact that it was a good ten feet below her. She landed gracefully, knees bent and arms slightly out to aid her balance and Grayson shook his head before turning to check on Emma.

Her head was lulled to the side, lips parted and he could hear her heavy breathing—he’d have called it snoring on an adult—as she slept her way through her afternoon nap. The braided pigtails that Buffy had pulled her hair into that morning were still holding strong and looked far better than the ponytail he’d attempted. Grayson turned off the truck and opened the driver’s door as Sarah came up alongside the truck bed.

She peaked in and smiled at his sleeping niece before turning back to him. “Think they’ll find anything of use this time?”

Their last two stops had been fruitless, but Grayson had seen their supplies in the backseat and knew they’d had better luck before so he offered Sarah a shrug before closing the door. While it was warm, it wasn’t nearly hot enough for him to consider cracking a window for Emma, not when there wasn’t a way to know where the biters were lurking. He stayed beside the truck and pulled the shotgun free of the leg holster that had once been Peter’s, his brother-in-law, and held it easily in his hands as Hank made his way towards them with Buffy only a few steps behind.

The older man was searching the tall grass, but not as thoroughly as his daughter, as he stopped at the hood of the truck and stated, “Would either of you mind going with Buffy? I’ve a mind to check the vehicle’s oil before we start out again.”

“That’s a good idea,” Sarah readily agreed, “I’ve done some work on my own truck, but if you don’t mind me watching over your shoulder I’d like to see you do the others.” Grayson felt his brows tug together with her statement and he glanced once more at Emma, but before he could comment Sarah offered, “I’ll keep an eye on her. You know I will.”

He nodded, since he did, and he looked back to Hank and then Buffy before stating, “I haven’t done much scavenging.”

“We know,” Buffy smiled up at him, “That’s the real reason my dad wants to look over the cars.”

“Buffy—”

“Please,” she scoffed interrupting Hank, “It’s not like you were even a bit subtle.”

He glanced over and caught the amused quirk to Sarah’s mouth before a hand rose to scratch at the back of his head. Nails raking against a scalp that didn’t itch before that hand dropped to the butt of his shotgun and he looked to Buffy and raised his brows. “Alright.”

Her smile softened and a hand rose to push her sunglasses up so that he could see her eyes as she looked up at him and Grayson was suddenly very aware of the fact that he had nearly half a foot on the petite teenager. “Don’t worry,” she assured him, “I’ll keep you safe.”

“Kid,” Hank cautioned, “Don’t patronize the person that’ll be watching your back.”

Grayson watched Buffy turn, meet her dad’s gaze and there was a silent communication before a shrug lifted her shoulder and she glanced back at him. “Walk around first?” She looked down and frowned at his shotgun. “Is that all you have weapon wise?”

“It’s all I’ve needed.”

He assured her and her frown deepened, but it was Sarah that offered, “He’s good with a shovel.”

Grayson glanced back at her and frowned as Buffy countered, “A shovel makes less noise, but it’s not so great for close quarters.” He redirected his attention to the teenager as she asked, “How are you with a parang?”

“Parang?” Grayson questioned.

“Think machete,” Buffy supplied and motioned him to follow as she made her way back towards their SUV while explaining, “We’ve got a Gerber Gear set. My dad’s partial to the axe and there’s an actual machete, but for downward swings a parang’s gonna do more damage.”

He fell in step beside her, easily catching up to her shorter stride as Grayson took off his own sunglasses and tucked them into the top button of his shirt. The sun was already making the tank top he wore beneath it slightly uncomfortable, but he kept the extra layer in place just in case there were biters present. Buffy reached the backdoor on the passenger’s side and opened it, Grayson stopping a few feet behind her and he looked away from the sight of her bending at the waist to reach across the seat as her top rode up.

The leggings she wore hugged certain parts of her anatomy that would probably lead to Hank using that Gerber axe on him if he caught Grayson admiring his daughter’s backside. A backside that would be worth look or two if it belonged to someone older, but it didn’t and Grayson liked his head firmly attached. He caught Sarah smirking at him from across the way and he frowned in her general direction before the sound a zipper releasing drew his attention back to the SUV and Buffy.

Who had, thankfully, straightened from her bent over position and Grayson stepped forward, placing himself beside her as she flipped open the nylon bag and presented him with an array of weaponry that he found oddly encouraging. Buffy shifted, placing her back against the opened door before looking up at him and she put her hand in the only open space in the set. “Looks like Dad already stole the axe.” She pulled out two deadly and similar looking long-edged blades and explained, “Machete and parang,” her hands moved in time with the blade’s titles, showing him the difference before she placed them on top.

“And you recommend the parang?”

He looked over the more curved blade with a wider tip as Buffy nodded and a shoulder lifted beneath the loose-knit top she wore over her leggings. “Why not give it a few test swings?”

Grayson picked up the parang and found it surprisingly light for such a long weapon and he stepped back, away from Buffy and the SUV. The first few swings were hesitant, but after a few more the tightness in his shoulders let up and he felt competent enough to attempt a downward stroke that felt strong enough to cleave a skull. His mouth tightened with the thought and he paused, arm falling to his side before looking back to Buffy and her careful perusal of him.

She met his gaze and he found hers to be oddly measuring before she inclined her head. “Ready?”

“As I’ll ever be?” His reply came out as more of a question than a declaration, as he’d intended, and that soft smile of hers was back.

She stepped forward, elbow catching the door’s edge and she used it to push the door closed before making her way towards him. The strap of a shoulder bag now cut across her chest and Grayson assumed the bag was settled against her back as her hands went to work freeing the crowbar, which seemed to never leave her side, from the shoulder holster she wore. Sarah had helped her the groups’ first night together adjust the holster, that had once belonged to a man, so that it fit Buffy’s far more petite frame and she’d worn it ever since. One side held her Glock and the other looked suspiciously like a spangled-scrunchie had been wedged inside to keep the crowbar at ready.

“Walk around first?” She questioned even as she started off past him towards the gas station.

He fell in step behind her and a little in her shadow, but rather than take offense Grayson attempted to learn from her. “Why are we walking around?”

“We’re checking for open entrances.”

“That we can use?”

“That deadites might’ve used.”

She corrected his assumption and Grayson nodded, tightening his grip on the parang and feeling the lanyard tap at his wrist he wondered if he should have attached it, but Buffy was already several feet ahead of him and he hurried to catch up. The gas station looked as if it had already been rundown before the dead started rising and being abandoned to the elements hadn’t helped it any. The linoleum siding, made to look like wood, was just barely holding onto the sides of the building and the bars lining the windows of the establishment didn’t help the death trap ambiance any. Grayson followed Buffy’s example of peering in the windows as they made their way through the tall grass and around the building once.

Buffy stopped at the gravel drive that lead up to the pumps and looked back at him. “Want to try the front or the back door?”

“Don’t you usually do the back?” Grayson questioned.

“We do,” Buffy nodded, “Mostly because the front doors are glass filled and it’s safer to use the crowbar on solid doors.”

“Makes sense,” he agreed even though he wasn’t entirely sure it did.

That smile was back, as if she guessed at his complacency, but she merely motioned him forward and allowed him to take lead around the building. He took the time to look in each window again and while he didn’t see anything stir that didn’t mean it was empty. Most biters didn’t react unless given stimulation and they relied on what was left of their senses to guide them. Grayson didn’t think they were making enough noise, yet, to draw the attention of a biter.

Buffy moved in front of him when they reached the backdoor that, while rusted, it still looked as if to be in decent shape and more than able to stand up to her crowbar. He was about to offer his help when she brought the curved edge down on the door and the resulting metallic bang had him flinching and stepping back.

“Why—”

She shushed him before he could finish the question and Grayson frowned as he watched her place her ear to the door and close her eyes. He turned, keeping an eye on the field at their back and the biters her knocking could have attracted.

“Something’s in there.”

Her statement brought him back around. “And now they know we’re coming.”

“Breaking the door down would have done the same thing,” he frowned at her logic, mostly because he couldn’t argue with it, and she rolled her eyes at him. “I’ll try the doorknob.”

“Shouldn’t you have done that first?”

“Again, no.” She stopped and turned so that she faced him. “If there was a person, a regular non-cannibalistic person, behind that door knocking lets them know we’re not of the flesh-eating. Not knocking could get us shot or worse.”

“Worse?”

Her mouth thinned and she turned back to the door before muttering, “You really don’t want to know.”

She switched the crowbar to her left hand and grasped the doorknob in her right. He watched the tension build in her shoulders, pulling them up and back before she tried the knob and it turned easily in her hand. She glanced back at him and mouthed, one, two, three, at him before yanking the door open and stepping back in one smooth motion. A biter stumbled forward into the sunshine and the scent of rotting was suddenly overwhelming, but Grayson stepped forward, taking Buffy’s place in front of the thing that had once been a person and brought the parang down and into his forehead.

A meaty thwack accompanied the impact and the blade split his skull, dropping the biter to his knees and Grayson stepped back, tugging the parang free as he fell forward to the gravel walkway. Grayson finally noticed his attire after the fact; blue coveralls, stained with blood and torn at the shoulder told the simple parts of the story of how the poor bastard had become a biter.

He glanced at Buffy who was also looking over the corpse at their feet before he questioned, “Think there’s another?”

“Possibly,” she admitted with a shrug, “He could have been bit outside or in. No way to know,” she looked up at him and he could see the humor in her gaze as she completed the thought, “And only one way to find out.”

“Is this where I say ladies first?”

“A gentleman,” she retorted dryly before stepping over the corpse and past the threshold.

Grayson cast one more glance at the field behind them before following her into the gas station and found the only light piercing the darkness of the backroom was from the open door at his back. His nose wrinkled with the horrendous smell that permeated the overly warm air and he wondered if was because of the biter or if the biter had been polluted by the rotting drinks and food in the coolers of the gas station or the third option; both combined to create this god-awful stench.

Buffy’s head shook and he wondered if she was trying to shake off the smell as she made her way forward, crowbar in the ready position and Grayson followed her example, lifting the parang higher. The backroom had been the station’s office area and was filled with an old looking desk and older looking filing cabinets that Buffy took a moment to search before making her way to the narrow hallway leading into darker areas of the station. Her crowbar was switched into her right hand and Grayson frowned as she fumbled with her holster, the side reserved for her crowbar, a moment before producing a penlight.

His brows rose. “Where did you get that?”

“Weren’t you ever a boy scout?” She replied, clicking on the penlight and sweeping the hallway before heading down it.

Grayson glanced once more behind them, contemplated closing the door to stop any surprises, but refrained since Buffy hadn’t requested it and it still offered them some light. He turned, following her down the hallway and found Buffy opening the door to the men’s bathroom and his frown was back. “What are you doing?”

“Bathrooms tend to have dispensers with all sorts of goodies in them,” she explained before ordering, “Keep the door open for me.”

He stepped forward and caught the door with the edge of his foot before turning to keep it at his back so he could watch the hallway as she rummaged. He heard the bending of metal and then a pop that drew his gaze. He found Buffy swinging the bag she wore to her front and removing the condoms that filled the dispenser. “You really need all those?”

She glanced back at him and grinned at his question. “I don’t.” Her head shook as she further explained, “Big dateless monster here, but I can trade them with those that do.”

“Smart.”

“I also horde toilet paper,” she stated before going back to the condoms.

Grayson felt a grin tugging at the corners of his mouth and he gave into it before offering, “Even smarter.”

“Gotta be.” Buffy agreed while nodding sagely as she finished with the condoms and made her way past him to tackle the women’s bathroom.

He fell into step behind her and held the door, searching the hallway as she searched the bathroom before the same metallic pop filled this bathroom. “Oh! Jackpot!”

“What? Toilet paper?” He glanced back into the bathroom and found her showing him two handfuls of small square packages and his brows rose as he corrected himself, “Aspirin. Toss me one.”

“Got a headache?” She questioned even as she did as requested.

He caught the square package with his left, the parang still held at ready in his right, and turned it over in his hand so he could read the ingredients. It was a generic brand, but that didn’t make them any less potent and he smiled at the fact that it was ibuprofen and not aspirin which meant it would help with inflammation and was less likely to thin the blood. He wouldn’t have turned down aspirin, but as pain relievers went he was more likely to choose ibuprofen since it treated more symptoms.

“Anything interesting?”

Buffy was suddenly in front of him and Grayson flinched, gaze sliding past her to look down the hallway as she retrieved the two pack of ibuprofen from him. He shook his head and hastily explained, “Its ibuprofen, not aspirin.”

“And that’s a good?”

He nodded and watched make her way through doorway and head further down the hallway. She didn’t wait for an explanation so Grayson didn’t offer one as he trailed behind her. They passed the metal door that looked as if it led in the freezer area of the store and she hesitated at the door that looked as if it led into the actual store. Grayson stiffened with her hesitation and his grip on the parang tightened as he waited for Buffy’s signal and spared one more glance behind them.

He turned back to see Buffy raise her crowbar and rap it against the door in front of her. Several tense, quiet moments passed before she inclined her head and clicked off the penlight. It was stored back in her holster and shifted her crowbar to her left hand before placing her right on the doorknob. She glanced back over her shoulder and order, “Back up a few.”

His footfalls were suddenly incredibly loud, but he did as requested and Buffy yanked the door open. She followed him in his retreat, giving the door enough room to open all the way and herself enough room to maneuver. Nothing but quiet greeted them and the barred windows offered more than enough light which explained why she’d tucked the penlight away. Grayson shifted, suddenly anxious to search the store, but Buffy remained motionless in front of him and he resisted the urge to hurry her along.

Instead he stilled all movement as he attempted to mimic Buffy and just listened. His head cocked, but he didn’t close his eyes, didn’t dare to lose his strongest sense, but he willed himself to hear past the rushing fear that filled his head with cotton and the pounding of his heart. The foul scent of the store reacquainted itself with him and his nose wrinkled, but the sudden shuffle of steps halted his next breath.

Buffy stepped forward, closer to the opened doorway and she raised her right hand, fingers counting down to from three to one before she suddenly started whistling. The sound of it made him jump, regardless of the warning, but he followed her into the store regardless. Her whistling continued as she switched the crowbar to her right hand and Grayson reached the doorway as Buffy took out the biter closet to her and Grayson could see two more making their way along the aisles.

He glanced down, careful of the floor since he’d run into a few of them that could only crawl, as he made his way closer to the biter nearest him. She had once been pretty, brown hair now matted and blood-soaked and she was missing a flesh from her throat and chest, but the face was remarkable untouched and held very little decay. She’d been dead less than forty-eight hours would be his guess and he sent her a silent apology before dodging her reaching arms and nearly cleaving that pretty face in two.

She was heavier than he’d expected as she stumbled, falling to her knees and he nearly lost his weapon to her. Grayson brought his boot up and placed it against her shoulder, grip tightening on the hilt of his weapon before he shoved her away. He’d seen Buffy do much the same previous night with a wayward biter that had stumbled across their camp and the motioned worked just as well for him, if not as smoothly, as it had for her.

He looked up and saw Buffy taking on the last biter with a viciousness that didn’t surprise him much these days. The body fell to the ground and she stepped back and walked along the far back wall, searching each aisle meticulously before making her way towards him and then past. She reached the cashier’s counter and hopped on top of it, looking back behind it and then turned to sweep her gaze across the store once more before announcing, “Free'n'clear,” she said it quickly, making it all one word as she leapt down.

Now that the coast was clear Grayson took the time to question, “Were you whistling the song from Snow White?”

“No,” Buffy denied, but off his raised eye brow she conceded, “Maybe,” before she made her way back to Grayson and asked, “Which side do you want to take?”

His gaze turned to the contents, or lack thereof, on the shelves and he frowned before offering, “I’ll start closest to the freezers and we meet in the middle?”

“A sound plan.” She turned to make her way to the front of the store.

Grayson turned, stepping over his biter and retraced his steps to the back of the store. He gave the glass doors a quick once over, but the thought of opening one of them and making the stench that much worse turned his stomach. Deciding to the save those for last he turned the first row and shelves and found them bare except for bag of beef jerky that had been wedged between the grating and the shelving units. He tugged it free and held onto it, suddenly aware of the fact that he lacked a bag to stuff items in and promised himself on his next excursion he wouldn’t be so careless.

The next aisle house signage that claimed it held pastries and sweets, but he found nothing of the sort so he made his way, almost dejectedly, to the next aisle and paused at the entry to it. He blinked, frowned and blinked again, but lo and behold the aisle’s contents didn’t change and he hurriedly called to Buffy, “I think we’ll need your bag over here!”

There was a shuffle of steps and a petite shadow descended upon him and Buffy laughed as she too saw the cans that sporadically lined the shelves of the row in front of them and Grayson further explained. “Someone raided the snack aisles but left these mostly untouched.”

“Their stupidity is our incredible gain!” Buffy’s excited reply had him smiling as she slipped past him and crouched down, reading the labels of a few of the cans as she tossed them into her bag. “We’ve got soup! Chicken noodle, cream of mushroom, which I’d never thought I’d be happy to see, and,” she grabbed a few more, “Oh! Broccoli cheese!”

Her enthusiasm was contagious as Grayson looked at the row above hers and collected the cans on the top shelf that appeared to be mostly vegetables, but his eyes widened when he saw a fruit salad. “Emma will love this,” Buffy looked up and smiled at the can he presented her with before going back to collecting her own.

He added those cans to his growing collection and hesitated on the next batch, fingers slipping away from the can when he caught sight of the predominately red label. His hand clenched into a fist as he glared at the can of papaya, Rebecca’s favorite fruit, which would be wasted on the rest of them. She’d loved it, all of it, even the damn seeds that she’d grind up and add into different recipes since they had a peppery kick to them.

“Grayson?” Buffy’s hesitant calling of his name drew his frustrated gaze from the can of fruit to her and she looked up at him from her crouched position. “Something the matter?”

“Papaya,” he retorted as if it should explain everything. She frowned and rose, studying the can at his fingertips before she looked at him questioningly and he sighed. “Rebecca loved it.”

Her eyes widened in understanding and she returned her gaze to the can and her careful study. They stood there a moment, maybe longer, just watching it before she offered, voice soft and nearly hesitant, “I bet Emma would love it too,” Grayson frowned and Buffy turned her gaze on him as she further explained, “I’m sure she’d enjoy stories about how much her mom liked it as well. I know I like when my dad…”

She trailed off and he suddenly felt, overwhelmingly, like an ass. He wasn’t entirely sure why he felt like one, but he did and he attempted to rectify the situation by moving past it. “Thanks.” He reached out and added the few cans to his collection before meeting her gaze and adding, “I will. Tell Emma that is.”

“Good,” her smile was small, but soon widened as she finished, “And you did good as well, rookie.”

“Rookie?” She nodded and crouched back down to complete her scavenging. Grayson frowned at the top of her head as he reiterated, “Rookie?”

He continued to spare a glare or two in her general direction as he gathered, completely unaware that her teasing had refocused him on the task at hand and not the memories that threatened to overtake most survivors at any given time as he questioned, once more for good measure, “Rookie?”

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The end.
  • Current Mood: sick sick
  • Current Music: let me home - jamie n commons
*bounces* Yay more Walking Dead verse!!!

I love that buffy and Hank are making sure that Grayson is just as able as the rest for checking for supplies and looking out for danger. Buffy, ever the protector, teaching him how to test for the deadites in the abandoned station.

Love the interaction at the end surrounding his thoughts on his sister and Buffy's sudden vulnerablity in missing her own mother.

And three whole months for you! *twirls*
Grayson is growing on me. I hope that's a good thing.

I think Hank is acting like a dad in this situation and it was kinda fun to have him fully in that role of trying to protect/teach those with them. My zombie a day calendar from last year is being super helpful in this series. Nylon and knocking on doors were just a few of their suggestions. :D

I attempting to build a believable relationship between Buffy and Grayson. Where that relationship leads in anyone's guess.

Holy crap! Really?
Rookie just felt right. Hopefully, for Grayson, it doesn't stick around. ;)

Thank you! I'm having fun thinking of different ways to handle the undead and my zombie a day calendar from last year has come in mighty handy with this series.