DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is the property of Paramount, not that it makes much difference in this case, as these characters are mine. No money is being made from this and if it were I'd probably die of shock.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Car Shopping
By ralst

The car lot was empty, the bad weather having deterred all but the most desperate of shoppers. Red and white flags flopped dismally from the fencing surrounding the cars, the words 'Super Winter Sale' emblazoned in once cheerful letters for all the world to see.

"I don't see why we couldn't have waited until tomorrow," Isabel moaned. "This is cuddling up in front of the fire weather, not shopping for a beat up car weather."

Annie peeled her shirt away from her back, the raindrops squishing down her spine and bringing a frown to her lips. She'd just as soon be home, with a beautiful woman curled up in her lap and a glass of cognac warming in her hand. "The sale ends tomorrow." Taking Isabel's hand, she led them both towards a fire red mini. "And we need to get 'your' brother a decent car, before he goes out and squanders his inheritance on a penis with wheels."

"Hon, he's only twenty-eight, far too early for a mid-life-crisis-mobile." Running her hand along the shiny red paint, Isabel wondered if the whole outing hadn't been an excuse to avoid Annie's parents. Even after being together for more than three years, Mr and Mrs Hansen, as they liked to be called, still hadn't reconciled themselves to the fact their daughter was not only gay, but living with someone with Latino blood. Having them turn up for Christmas had put a downer on everyone's festivities and left Annie with a bad case of frustrated anger. "Maybe we should have invited Jimmy to come along? After all, he'll be the one who has to drive it."

Opening the car door, Annie slipped into the small car. "It would hardly be a surprise if he came with us." Letting her hands skim across the steering wheel, Annie got a gleam in her eye before making boop, boop noises at the imagined traffic. "I love these cars."

While Isabel admitted the small red car was kind of cute, it wasn't the kind of vehicle she associated with her tall and glamorous girlfriend. "Aren't you a little cramped in there?"

"A little," Annie admitted. Caressing the gear lever, the blonde once again let her mind wander. "Did you ever see the 'Italian Job'?"

"Michael Cain, right?"

"That's the one." Slipping out of the car, Annie ran her hands along the top, her other hand finding her girlfriend's. "I must have watched it a million times when I was younger, before my parents confiscated my only copy. Mind you, this was in the early eighties, when video tapes cost a small fortune." She closed the car door. "My brother James bought me a replacement copy, the year before he died, and let me watch it at his place all during Christmas." With a fond smile she placed a delicate kiss on Isabel's lips. "He thought I had a crush on Michael Cain, but the truth was I just loved these little cars."

Isabel enfolded her in a hug, knowing that remembrances of her brother always brought with them a touch of melancholy. "So, did you ever buy one?"

"Yeah, my first ever car was a ten year old mini cooper with a pair of fuzzy dice hanging from the rear view mirror. My parents hated it."

"Score one for the mini."

Annie chuckled. "But lovely though these cars are, they do have one distinct drawback."

"And what would that be?"

"Fooling around on the back seat is next to impossible," Annie paused to let her eyes travel the length of her lover's body, "unless you're a shorty, of course."

"Hey!" Isabel stretched to the very limit of her 5'4" frame. "I didn't hear you complaining last night."

"That's because last night my parents were sleeping in the next room and you wouldn't come near me in case I inadvertently breathed too heavy." Annie smirked. "And it's not even as if I'm the screamer in the family."

"I do not scream."

"Of course you don't." She waited a pause. "I'm sure Mr Johansen calls the police all the time for no apparent reason."

Ignoring the smirking blonde, Isabel continued her perusal of the mini. "They get pretty good mileage, so I hear." Squatting down on the floor, she started looking at the car's undercarriage and making odd little tutting noises.

"What are you doing?"

"Checking the mrumph," Isabel mumbled.

"The what?"

Dark brown eyes looked up at Annie sheepishly. "Erm, the thingie."

"The thingie? Is that like a technical expression?"

"Shut up."

"Okay, so how does the thingie look?" It always amazed Annie that her girlfriend could run and maintain one of the most complicated computer systems in the country, but when it came to everyday things like cars or toasters, she was totally out of her element. Not that she'd ever admit it. The three broken and 'in need of a little tweak' alarm clocks they had in the garage were testament to that.

Standing up straight, Isabel put on her most expert expression. "It looks dirty."

"Really?" Annie feigned shock. "The underside of a car actually looks dirty? I never would have thought it possible."

Ignoring the remark and hoping to shift the attention off her failed engineering attempt, Isabel thought back to Annie's earlier comment. "So who exactly were you trying to fool around with in the back of your mini?"

"Oh, no-one you know." There was no way she was admitting it had been her ex-husband. Not only did his name cause Isabel to come out in a rash, but the reminder that she actually used to sleep with the guy would probably lead to a month of forced celibacy, as her girlfriend tried to exorcise the image from her mind.

Isabel looked at her sceptically. "Another point for the mini then, although I'm not too sure Jimmy would appreciate it."

"Definitely not."

Reluctantly they moved on from the mini and towards the back of the car lot. The weather was getting worse and both women were thinking about the comfort of their own vehicle and escaping for a few hours to try out its back seat. "Hey, Is..."

"Look at that," Isabel interrupted. "It's Herbie."

The shorter woman rushed to the back of the lot and began a close examination of the off-white volks wagon beetle. Tiny sounds emanated from her lips as she began to quietly whisper to the car, while her hand gently patted its right fender. "Isn't it a beauty?"

Annie smiled. "It's a rust bucket that'll probably disintegrate before we got it halfway home, but other than that, it's positively charming."

"Don't listen to her," Isabel advised the car, "big bad Annie is just jealous."

"Let me guess. While I was sitting on my brother's floor absorbed in the tale of cockney robbers and their little minis, you were eating popcorn and watching a sentient bug win some stupid race or other." Her tone made it obvious which film she thought superior.

"It's perfect."

"It's a death-trap."

"So it needs a lick of paint, so what?"

"So what?" Annie thought about using reason but dismissed it. Appealing to Isabel's emotions always worked much better. "So you wouldn't mind Jimmy picking up Katie from school in this car?"

"Huh?" It didn't take long for the image of their daughter strapped into the crumbling wreckage of the bug to form in front of her eyes. "We should buy him a Volvo."

"A Volvo?"

"Yeah." Standing on tiptoes Isabel began searching the lot. "One of the older models, that kind of looks like a box on wheels."

"A box on wheels?" She couldn't quite see Isabel's brother driving around in something like that, but then she couldn't really imagine him in a mini or beetle either. "Hey, Is?"

"Yeah, hon."

"I'm soaked. What say we head back to the car and try again next weekend?"

"What about the sale?"

"If I don't get out of these wet clothes soon, I'm not sure my teeth will ever stop chattering." Seeing her girlfriend about to speak, Annie went in for the killer shot. "And we never did try out the back seat in our new car."

Isabel smiled, thoughts of beetles, minis and Volvos suddenly fleeing her head. "Let's go."

The End

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