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Third on the List

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Blue didn't know what she'd expected when Ronan Lynch, a nightmare dressed also like a nightmare, showed up at her front door and said, "I need your help."

Or, well, actually, she had never imagined a scenario in which Ronan Lynch would admit, firstly, to needing help at all with anything, and secondly, to needing her help, but here they were.

At a stretch, she definitely would not have imagined his problem to be that his car had been towed. The towing part, at least, he should have seen coming. The towing of Aglionby boys' cars parked a hair over the line, or in a handicapped zone, or in thirty minute parking for thirty-five was a booming income stream for the Henrietta police department.

"So when you say you need my help," she began once she'd clambered into the Suburban and they were back on the road, "you mean you just need me to drive home after you get your car out of hock, right?" The silence from the driver's seat was deafening. Not that she'd been looking forward to trying to steer a vehicle the size of the Suburban to begin with, but, "Ronan Lynch, you are not going to grand theft auto your own car."

"It doesn't have a VIN, okay? I need to get it out of there before they figure it out."

Blue seriously doubted the Henrietta police were going to check the BMW's VIN, but she guessed she could understand Ronan's anxiety. The car was evidence, yes, but more importantly, the car had been his father's. "Okay, but you're still not going to steal your car, that's ridiculous. For one thing a cop will see you driving it later and have a lot of questions." The muscle in his jaw jumped, which she guessed was like agreement. "Why don't you just--" she stopped. Reconsidered. Remembered it was Ronan Lynch she was dealing with here. "Okay, let me do all the talking, you just stand there and try not to look"

"This is a terrible plan."

"Did you even have a plan before?" Silence. "So there you go. A terrible plan is still a plan. And leave Chainsaw in the car." The bird, which was perched on Ronan's shoulder as he drove, turned to look at Blue at the mention of her name, which was more sign of understanding than Ronan gave. Then she admitted, "I would not have expected to be first on your list of people to rope into this."

"You were third," Ronan admitted, which was actually still a couple of notches above where she would have placed herself. Before she could say as much, he added, "Matthew can't drive yet."

She considered the remaining options. "Adam was first, obviously."

"Why obviously?" Ronan gritted out, his hands tightening on the steering wheel until his knuckles went white.

She thought it was obvious why it was obvious: "He knows about cars. I barely know what a VIN is."

Ronan relaxed a fraction. You could only really tell if you knew him, Blue thought; to an outsider he was always just a glowering wall of Ronan. "He's at work. And I imagine he probably has some kind of silly objection to getting arrested, where with you you're so far in the black with your mom right now that bailing you out of jail should barely put a dent in it."

"We are not," Blue said firmly, "getting arrested." Ronan sort of grunted. "If we get arrested it is going to put a serious damper on our ability to get your car out. And it might make them curious about why you didn't just pay the fine."

Ronan grunted again, then said, "I couldn't find Noah."

And thank goodness for that, Blue thought. Noah would probably be perfect for the car theft portion of the festivities, if they were stealing a car, which they were not. "What about Gansey?"

"I wasn't going to tell Gansey I let my car get towed, come on," he protested, incredulous, and Blue wondered what was so crazy about the question. Gansey's talents seemed like they should have come in handy here.

"Does Gansey know that you have his car?"

Ronan scoffed. "Gansey doesn't care what happens to the Suburban, come on."

This was, Blue had to admit, undeniably true. "Quick question, have you ever had your car towed before?"

"No," Ronan said, like the very idea offended him. Considering the way he drove, she didn't see why it should, but that was good. She could work with that.

"You need to take a left up here." He shot her a look, and she rolled her eyes. "I know this town, it's a left." The way he took said left was moderately terrifying, especially in a vehicle the size of the Suburban, but they survived it, and made it to the impound lot, where, miraculously, Ronan actually hung back and let Blue do the talking. He even left Chainsaw in the car.

"You see, my friend Ronan here," Blue explained to the desk clerk after the song and dance of 'yes-I'm-Maura's-girl-yes-from-that-house,' pouring on the Henrietta, "His car got towed, and it was his daddy's car, and his daddy's gone now, and so he's just real tore up about it..." at this, the desk clerk looked over at Ronan, who, to his credit, attempted to look 'real tore up' about it. He mostly managed to produce a glower that was slightly different from his normal glower, but he made the effort. Blue had a strange urge to pat him on the head and give him a 'You Tried' gold star. "And so what does he have to do to get it back?"

What Ronan had to do to get it back, it turned out, was pay a fine and fill out some forms, which he did while shooting inscrutable looks every few lines at Blue, who was chatting about town gossip with the desk clerk, who was pretty disappointed that Blue refused to give up information gained from people visiting psychics under 'professional confidentiality.' The idea, she would have explained to Ronan if she thought he would have listened, was to keep her distracted enough not to bring up, 'You know, funny thing, that car doesn't have a VIN?' if they'd noticed, and to make her feel familiar enough that she'd buy whatever line Blue fed her if she got around to it. You learned these things, growing up with people who ran a psychic hotline, even when they were actual psychics.

After Ronan had handed over his keys for them to bring the BMW around, and they'd gone outside to wait for it, Blue turned to him and said, "I should probably drive your car home." He opened his mouth to say something that was probably, 'Hell no,' and Blue wordlessly waved one hand at the hulk of the Suburban. Chainsaw pecked at the windshield from the inside.

"...point taken."

When they pulled into the parking lot at Monmouth Manufacturing, Gansey was leaning against the Pig, waiting. Blue got out of the BMW in time to hear Ronan saying, "...and Sargent was saying she needed more practice driving, so." He shrugged, and somehow managed to wrinkle his Aglionby blazer more in the process.

Gansey eyed him, as if considering beginning to list all of the things that didn't add up about this explanation, but Blue just handed Ronan back his keys and told Gansey, "You didn't think I was going to get in a car with Ronan, did you? He'd just put the squash song on again."

"Since when do you care what happens to the Suburban, anyway?" Ronan asked, making an accusation of it, and Gansey opened his mouth and then shut it, not willing to defend the Suburban even tangentially.

"Come inside," he finally said. "There's something very interesting I think you should see." Blue and Ronan high fived each other behind his back on their way up the stairs. "I saw that," Gansey said accusingly, but they ignored him.