No Room at the Inn
Summary: It’s not the first Christmas, Holy, he’s not, and he knows he isn’t wise. A traveller’s tale.
Sunrise was an hour away and he hadn’t found a place to rest. He sighed, and his hands clenched about the steering wheel when he thought about another day spent in the trunk of his car. It had been his bed a day or two, and it would be nice not to be curled up tight with a tyre iron for company. A shower would also be welcome. The road disappeared under his wheels and ran behind him into the chasing dawn. He ignored the wind as it whistled past his ears. It played with hair too gelled to give a damn and whipped away in disgust.
The horizon stretched into infinity and for hours the Milky Way had sat bright before him, its carpet of light so close, he felt if he lifted his hand he could touch its heavenly weave. He listened to the car purring its delight as its tyres caressed the concrete ribbon. The road he travelled was long, and it ran through a desert deep. There wasn’t another soul for miles. It was lonely out here in the crisp cool night, and yet, even alone, he didn’t feel so. There was beauty all around if one bothered to look. He took the time and savoured the emptiness of the stark countryside. He was used to the bright lights of the city, had come to terms with the teeming mass of humanity, but he came from a time and a place that had no technology, that counted people in their hundreds, and nature was a part of everyday life.
The stars were beginning to fade and a purple hue had begun colour the night sky. It was time to bed down for the day. And just when he was beginning to think about pulling off the road, a brightness shone in the near distance. Neon blue, it drew him onwards, leading him as if he were one of the Three Wise Men and it was the star of Bethlehem. Only he wasn’t a man, or wise. He caught sight of the sign, The Stellar Motel. The roadhouse sat desolate and isolated by the side of the road. Peeling paint and pitted doors told of a harsh life spent in the desert: sand, wind, and sun scouring the landscape and everything in it. Vehicles of all shapes and sizes stood silent outside the small row of rooms. It looked as if the decrepit motel was brimming with travellers.
He pulled in and parked outside the reception area. He wrestled the top on to shelter the leather from the coming sun, and hurried inside.
A dry husk of a man sat behind the desk and when he rapped on the counter, the old man’s rheumy eyes glanced away from the television and looked up at him.
His voice was as dry and as thin as his skin. “Full up. You have to find another place to stay.”
“I need to sleep, been driving all night,” the vampire said, adding just the right touch of pleading to entice the greed in the man.
Avarice flickered to life in the old man’s eyes. His tongue tried in vain to work moisture into his weathered lips as he considered how much he could charge this weary traveller.
“The workshop is empty. You can kip down in there. Twenty bucks.”
With no time to haggle, Angel dropped a twenty on the counter and made his way back to his car. He drove down to the gas pumps beside which a garage sat. It too was peeling and weathered, and when he opened the doors he found another old classic taking all the room inside. Sighing, he abandoned his car to the rising sun and closed the doors behind him with just a few minutes to spare. The old Chevy needed paint, and wheels, and most likely everything else, but what it did have was a good wide seat across the back. Oh good, he thought, another day in a car. The leather seat looked comfier by far than the oil-stained floor, so he settled down and was soon asleep.
He opened his eyes to the sight of tanned fingers wrapped around a polystyrene cup.
It was Buffy peering in through the car door.
He grunted, not quite believing his eyes.
She waggled the cup at him, offering it. He unfurled and sat upright to take the coffee.
“Thanks,” he managed to mumble.
He saw her golden head turn to survey the surrounds. Her smile was dazzling when she turned it on him.
“No room at the inn,” she chuckled.
He ignored her inference. He wasn’t that old, or Holy.
“How?” was what he said.
“When you didn’t show, I got worried. “ She frowned then. “Would it kill you to use your phone?”
He shrugged. “No signal.”
She disappeared from his sight. He heard a click and then the hum of a dial tone.
“This works,” she scolded out of view.
“Sorry.” He hadn’t thought to look for a phone. Hadn’t expected anything to work in this sorry place.
She came back and leaned her elbows on a door that no longer had glass for the window.
“So I came looking. Saw your boat of a car outside, and here I am.”
“I’m sorry,” he said again.
“Don’t be, and drink your coffee,” she ordered.
He decided caffeine would help him wake up, and in dealing with Buffy he needed his wits about him, so he did as he was told. She finished her drink and threw the empty cup into a rusty bin.
She said, “So, what do we do now?”
Angel didn’t know it but the quirk of his lips set her heart a flutter. He was her Angel but when that smirk graced his mouth, the devil in him drew her like a moth to a flame. A fire ignited low in her belly. She climbed into the back and sat on his lap. She ground herself against him hard, as he was.
“I’ve never made out in the back seat of a Chevy,” she breathed, her lips grazing his, her eyes green pools of desire.
His dark eyes mirrored the lust in hers. Angel devoured her lips and just when she thought she would pass out from lack of air, he released her mouth and started peppering soft kisses down her neck.
“There’s a first time for everything,” she heard him murmur. The movement of his mouth against the furnace of her skin drove all other thoughts from her mind.
This was as good a place as any to start the holiday season.