There’s no ship so they’re going old school. Which means an honest to god roadtrip because the damn Time Couriers are fickle and, the last time they trusted them, Behrad got left behind for a week at a frat house in 2004. He had been fine, of course, but it was the last time they trusted them to work accurately.
Gideon says that they’re easy enough to fix but they don’t have any of the right tools to do it. Their best bet is somewhere on the East Coast because someone can help them there. Which is great. Except for the fact that Star City is on the West Coast. Nate is the only one with money but Astra and Gwyn don’t have IDs, Behrad and Zari are still technically children, and taking Gideon on a plane seems like a terrible idea. So they figure it out and Nate rents them two RVs and they’re off.
It’s around hour six that Astra goes from quietly irritated with everything to vocally upset. Spooner lets Astra yell and kick things behind a gas station because it’s so stupid . Spooner agrees, of course. She can feel the frustration coming off of Astra in waves and she knows Astra feels better once it’s over. They’re in what Behrad dubbed the “mom van” which Spooner is incredibly grateful for.
Nate is in charge of the second RV and he has Gwyn with him. Behrad is there with Gary and maybe there’s more room over there but Gary’s anxiety gives her a headache if she’s too close to him for too long.
Day three lands them at a gas station in Ohio and Gideon, who never seems to tire of looking at things, eagerly explores as they wait for the RV to refuel. They’re about ten minutes ahead of the boys, anyways, so they have time. The Captains are still in the van, Zari is at the organic vegan grocery store a block away so she can pick up some “real” food, and Astra is reluctantly following Gideon around as she talks excitedly about everything in the store.
“I’ve never understood these things!” Gideon says as she cautiously reaches out and firmly pushes on the wire rack. It rotates as she does so, revealing a second array of little fake license plates with names on them. “Why bother have your name on a fake license plate?”
“You usually give them as gifts,” Astra says, her tone surprisingly soft. “I used to search these every single time I saw one. I’ve never found my name on one of these before and I always hated that other kids got to have this kind of thing on their backpacks.”
Gideon spins the rack again, searching for something. She rotates the rack once more before her shoulders slump. “I’m afraid I can’t locate your name either, Astra,” she says.
Spooner rests her hand on Gideon’s shoulder. “No one wants one of those dumb things anyways.”
Gideon points to “Sarah” and “Ava” and “Nate” and there’s even Gary.
“Maybe we should buy Sara that one,” Astra says as she picks up the “Sarah” keychain.
“But that’s the incorrect spelling,” Gideon points out.
Spooner can see the affectionate frustration on Astra’s face before she smiles. “That’s kind of the point,” Spooner tells her. “Sometimes it’s fun to give people gifts that you know will make them mad since it’s seen as impolite to refuse a present.”
“That is delightfully evil,” Gideon says brightly.
Astra practically glows with pride when Gideon goes to the next rack of overpriced souvenirs, searching for something that will irritate someone else, maybe. Those ones are little leather straps with names embossed on them. They’re tacky and pointless but Gideon looks practically gleeful as she pulls one that says “Nathan” off of the hook.
“You’ve really taught her well,” Spooner tells Astra.
“I’ve really missed having minions.” Astra probably means to sound tough but she’s smiling too much for it to work. Spooner nudges her as Gideon tackles the souvenir section with fervor.
“Let’s go see if we can find your name,” she suggests. “For old times sake.”
Astra narrows her eyes just a little in suspicion but she lets Spooner take her hand and pull her to a wall lined with various keychains. There are dolphins which don’t make any sense because they’re nowhere near the ocean and there are tiny Ohio-shaped (or, maybe Ohio-shaped? Spooner honestly isn’t sure which midwestern state is Ohio because they all kind of look the same) ones and ones that are just metal letters and then–
It’s on a tiny heart that looks almost like something you’d put on a dog collar. It’s terrible and it’s bright pink but Spooner scoops it up anyways because Astra is written across it in cursive and it’s attached to a cheap metal chain. “Jackpot,” she says as she hands it to Astra.
Astra is smiling and laughing and shaking her head in disgust. “Seriously?”
“Oh!” Gideon is jumping up and down a few feet over in front of a row of mugs. “I found one!”
Astra has to go help her since Gideon is on the top shelf. Gideon takes the mug and holds it tightly to her chest and she’s smiling so much that Spooner can feel it even without having to try to sense her. “Now all we need is one that says Spooner.”
“Good luck with that one. Pretty sure it’s not even a name.”
“Fine.” Astra turns to the hideous license plate ones and pulls off one generically labeled “S.” “You need one, too.”
Gideon insists that Astra wear the necklace out and Spooner hooks her new keychain onto her belt loop as Gideon cradles her mug in her hands like it’s the most precious thing she’s ever felt. She rushes into the RV, already calling for the captains to show off her newest possession.
“It’s kind of nice,” Astra admits when they’re alone.
“What’s nice?” Spooner asks but she already knows the answer.
“The necklace. The mug. Like I said, I never found one before.”
They’re both smiling, bright and happy despite the fact that they’re exhausted and in need of a real shower and not just whatever passes for one in the RV. “It’s a good look on you,” Spooner tells her and she isn’t sure who moved first or last because they’re standing so close together that she has to tilt her head back to look at her. “It clashes with the rest of you and it’s so bad.”
And then Astra ducks her head and presses the briefest of kisses against Spooner’s lips. She pulls back only a few inches before Spooner manages to gently tug on a handful of her wild curls and then they’re kissing again, tentatively, softly, carefully.
“Sara hates her keychain!” Gideon says as she jumps out of the RV, interrupting their kiss. She’s grinning from ear to ear and Spooner lets go of Astra as Astra laughs.
“I think you finally got the hang of this,” Astra tells her before she tugs on Spooner’s belt loop where the keychain is secured and she kisses her again and Spooner can’t stop smiling.
“Ew, get a room!” Sara calls from somewhere in the RV.
“Like you’re one to talk!” Spooner calls back.
Astra rests her forehead against hers as the other RV pulls up and all Spooner can see are Astra’s tangled curls as they fall around her face.