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The Truck

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‘The Truck’

By Indiana

 

Characters: Edward Nygma, Jonathan Crane [Scriddler] (nothing really shippy if you like their banter but not the ship)

Synopsis: The Riddlermobile isn’t the only car Edward has in the shop.

 

 

 

He was unsurprised that it was having problems.

Jonathan had driven this truck from Georgia to New Jersey many, many years ago.  He’d never put any effort into taking care of it, and it showed more and more as time went by. 

He’d forgotten the year by now and the model plaques had fallen off a while ago; the only indication he had of what type of vehicle it was was the faded Ford insignia attached to the grille.  It had once been some shade of royal blue – or so he thought it might have been – but was so thoroughly covered with dirt at this point and damaged with rust that it was now some vague shade of bluish-brown.  One of the rearview mirrors had a large piece missing, the metal there, too, smeared with rust.  The tailgate had gone missing some time ago and the bed of the truck had worn nearly through in some places.  The front bumper was more rust than metal by now and the rear one had been missing as far back as he could recall.

The interior of the truck had not fared much better.  He never really removed anything from it and so there was quite the collection of things scattered throughout.  Years-old receipts, parking tickets, and discarded clothes were just some of the more identifiable things he had piled on every available surface.  At some point the original owner had removed the seats and installed a bench that spanned the entirety of the cab – or perhaps it had been manufactured that way; Jonathan had never looked into it – and the leather had probably at one time been pristine but was now extensively cracked, the interior of the chair escaping in several places.  All in all, it rather looked as though he’d been living in it, rather than driving it. 

Jonathan was not the most attentive driver either, to say the least.  Driving was an autonomous, uninteresting task he did not care much for.  It had become even more unpleasant following the accident that had left his leg twisted and constantly painful.  He now avoided driving at all costs, but he could not always shunt his errands to other people.  It had come as no surprise to him at all, therefore, when he had been rudely jarred from a flurry of plan-related thoughts by the fact that he had directed the truck into the back of the building containing his penthouse.  He’d taken a cursory look at the damage: it didn’t look all that good, but it still ran fine.  Until the next week, that was.  That was when his engine started making a whirring noise.  He thought he should probably get that looked into.  He couldn’t have his truck detonating on him right now.  It would be terribly inconvenient.

There was only one person he could go to with this.  They were also the last person in the world who wanted him to do such a thing.  Jonathan was skilled at persuading others in his favour, and this person in particular had never been difficult for him to sway.  When he had a spare hour or so he made the trip across the city to their whereabouts that day: their own personal garage in which they were constructing some useless monstrosity or other.  He parked the truck near the front door and knocked on it.  If the occupant was not there, there would be some system in place to bring him forthwith.  He had a few minutes to wait.

The second Edward opened the door, his face paled and he stepped away from it, shaking his head.  His eyes were fixed behind Jonathan’s shoulder.

"No," he said immediately.  "Get that thing out of here.  I never wanted to see it again."

"Edward," Jonathan said, in as silken a tone as possible, "I only need a small favour."

"You have never asked a small favour in my life."  Edward pointed to the door.  "Get it out of here."

"Come now," Jonathan said, moving forward enough he could slide his hand around Edward's shoulders.  "Surely you have a little time to spare for an old friend."

"We aren't friends at the moment, and our friendship will remain tenuous until you get that thing out of my sight."

"You know why I came to you, don't you?"

"The cheap labour, no doubt."

That was true, but he couldn't convince Edward with a reason like that.  "You're the only one I trust to do it properly."  The primary reason, in all honesty.  Edward was not even trained to do such things and yet he would do a more outstanding job than any lifelong practitioner of the trade.   He simply could not have anyone else repair it.

“No.”

“All right,” Jonathan said, removing his arm.  Edward eyed him with suspicion.

“Really.”

“Just come and look at it, then.  It will only take a moment.”

Edward inhaled, a long-suffering sigh via his nose, but he did follow.  Jonathan smiled to himself.  Edward’s curiosity ran far too deep in his blood for him to be able to resist a puzzle, even if it was one he did not particularly want to solve.

The other man stopped abruptly in front of the vehicle and closed his eyes.  “Do I want to know what happened here?” he asked.  Jonathan realised he was asking about the recently damaged grille.

“Since you’re asking… no, I doubt you do.”

Edward whisked off his glasses and produced a handkerchief, which he used to vigorously clean the lenses with.  “Have you killed anybody with this monstrosity?”

“Not that I know of.”

Edward snorted.  “Never mind.  Turn it on.  Let’s see what you’ve done to it now.”

Jonathan opened the driver’s side and reached in, twisting the key in the ignition.  The engine immediately started whirring and Edward’s eyes went wide, his face seeming to drain entirely.

“No,” Edward said and he put his glasses back on and turned around.

“Where are you going?”  Jonathan closed the door and closed the distance between them.

“I’m not fixing that.  Get a new truck.”

“Edward,” Jonathan said, attempting to be cloying.  It must have worked because Edward didn’t enter the building.  “You know I can’t do that.”

“You need to.”

“Why can’t you fix it?”

“I can fix it!”  Edward turned around completely, and Jonathan saw with slight alarm that his fists were clenched.  He hadn’t meant to push him that far.  “You don’t know what’s wrong with it, do you?”

He wasn’t a mechanic.  “I believed it to be some issue with the engine.”

Edward’s laugh was short and bitter.  “No.  It isn’t the engine, Jonathan.  It’s the transmission.  To fix it I am going to have to remove the transmission, disassemble it, and replace the part that’s causing the problem, and then I will have to put it all back together again.  Do you understand how much work that’s going to be for me?  I don’t even have a hoist to get the transmission out with!”

Jonathan had no idea what he was talking about.  “Can’t you just find a replacement transmission altogether?”

Edward groaned and pressed his face into his arms, folded atop the hood.  "No.  Believe you me, Jonathan, there aren’t any transmissions for this specific make and model of truck lying around for me to liberate.  This thing isn’t going to last much longer anyway.  It’s almost as old as you are.  Just relieve someone else of theirs and save us all a great deal of trouble.  And by ‘us’ I mean the person who has to do all the labour here.  Namely me.”

"Don't be silly," Jonathan admonished falsely.  "You know very well I am over one hundred years old by now.  This vehicle is brand-new in comparison."

He did not miss the fact that Edward pressed his face away from Jonathan's view in an attempt to disguise his amusement.  He almost had him now.  Edward began rubbing at his eyes beneath his glasses.

"Regardless.  This is a badly-maintained truck from 1984.  I can only do so much more for it before it dissolves into a pile of rust as you attempt to force it through your errands.  Your transmission needs rebuilt and your shocks probably aren't actually doing anything at the moment.  And must I get started on the inside?  Really.  Would it be so hard to clean it out once a decade?  I believe it still has the original hay inside it from the farm you stole it from."

"So you'll do it."

Edward ran his hands down his face.  “I hate you.”

Jonathan put a hand on his shoulder momentarily.  “I’m aware of that.”

Edward turned towards him, sighing and pocketing his hands.  He leaned against what remained of the front bumper.  "Yes.  But not in any timely fashion.  You're going to have to find another vehicle in the meantime.  I don't know how many hours I'm going to be able to squeeze out of my schedule to take care of this."

"Take as long as you need," Jonathan said, not at all affected by this news.  Once Edward had had time to think about it he would be unable to resist the call of what was, in effect, a physical conundrum waiting for him.  After he had disassembled the transmission it would be unlikely if he left the garage before seeing it repaired.  He set about leaving, their business concluded, until a thought occurred to him.  "Edward?"

"I won't throw anything out," Edward droned resentfully.  That was thoughtful of him, but not associated with what he'd been about to say.

"I actually wanted to say thank you."

Edward said nothing to this, merely nodded at the ground as though it required all of his attention.  Before Jonathan had quite made his exit Edward called out, "Jon."

He looked behind him.

"It's a long walk back to Chinatown."  He was doing his best to sound casual.  Jonathan nodded.

"Yes."

"Take one of the cars out back if you want," Edward told him, looking at the truck.  "None of them are quite your style - nor mine, for that matter - but it will be better than nothing."

"That's quite generous," Jonathan responded politely.

Edward shrugged and turned to the robot who had been watching the whole conversation.  It may have been Alan.  Jonathan couldn't tell from this far away.  “Go find Nikola,” Edward said to – it must have been Alan, then.  “We’re going to need him on this mess.”

Jonathan took one of the cars back to the penthouse without incident and in fact when he got upstairs he wondered how on earth he was going to know which car was his, given that he hadn’t taken note of the one he’d driven.  Oh well.  He’d figure it out when the time came.  It didn’t matter.  Edward had probably written the car off by now in the doubts he’d ever get it back the way he’d lent it out. 

He wasn’t wrong.

 

 

Author’s note

Jonathan has a 1984 Ford F-150.  A Tumblr user named yellowcandy had Jonathan have a pickup truck in one of her fics and I ran wildly into the distance with this idea.  I still haven’t come back with it.

I used to have a 2002 Ford Escape.  One day I turned it on and it started making this high-pitched whirring, squealing noise, and I was like ‘oh my god the engine is gonna explode’.  When I tried to show it to someone it of course didn’t make the noise at all.  I took it to a mechanic and they told me my transmission was shot and it would be three grand to get a used one, and that was before installing it.  Because I didn’t happen to have any genius supervillain BFFs that would reluctantly do me a favour (still don’t) and I had just paid for university and didn’t have enough to fix it, I just kept driving it like that (I was only really driving down the main street to work and back; I lived in a small town at the time).  One day I lost the ability to reverse (luckily, when I was parked somewhat in front of my house).  I never drove it again and had to scrap it shortly after.