Author: Rebelcat

Rating: G, unless you’re really stringent about taking the Lord’s name in vain.

Category: Smarm. Vignette. Missing Scene.

Disclaimer: They ain’t mine.

Feedback/Critique: Yes, please!

Beta: EH! Who tackled this fic first thing in the morning, when she'd just got out of bed and no doubt would rather have had breakfast, a cup of tea, and a little time to wake up. But she graciously put up with me hanging over her shoulder and demanding to know what she thought about each and every line. Thank you!


Bedside Manner

What fools indeed we mortals are
To lavish care upon a Car,
With ne'er a bit of time to see
About our own machinery!
John Kendrick Bangs

This chair is killing my back, and I'm getting ink all over my fingers from these circulars. I don't like the ones with the shiny pages. Least little bit of humidity and the colors coming off on everything.

You're mumbling in your sleep. I can't make out any words, but I think I know what you're going to say when you wake up.

"My car?"

It was the first thing you said when you opened your eyes.

Not, "What happened?"

Not, "Hey, it's great to be alive."

Not even, "Where the hell were you when I was getting shot to pieces?"

All you wanted to know about was that damn car.

I told you, you know. I told she didn't make it. I thought you understood, but the next time you opened your eyes...

"My car?"

So, I told you again. I said the engine's shot up worse than you. There's not going to be any miracle comeback on the operating table.

You even nodded that time, before you fell asleep.

"My car?"

That question was really getting old. I wanted to tell you about the case. I wanted to tell you how I brought down one of the biggest slimeballs in the country, and I wanted to tell you I did it for you.

"What happen'd my car?"

"Will you shut up about the car!"

Oh, man.

"Okay look, I'm sorry."

I don't know if you heard me apologize. I think you were already asleep.

The last time you woke up you didn't ask about the car. You asked about me, about the case, about what's for lunch. You didn't ask about your car at all.

So, maybe I'm wrong about what you'll say when you open your eyes this time.

Goddamned car.

Hey, are you going to wake up? I've got something I want to show you. I would have made it a surprise, but I can't remember. I need you to tell me.

Was it Sunrise Red? Mornings balancing coffee and donuts in my lap, trying not to spill anything as you tear out of the parking lot. Don't know why you're always in a hurry.

Venetian Red? Evenings at my place, football, chess, monopoly... I know you cheat. Don't try to deny it.

Rangoon Red? That's somewhere in Africa. Maybe we'll go someday. You and me, we'll buy a boat and be smugglers on the Ivory Coast. It's further away from this dump than Bolivia.

Bittersweet? That doesn't look like your kind of color. More my sort of thing, if I was looking for a new car. Which I'm not.

"Was it Medium Copper? Blood doesn't taste like copper, but I guess you know that. It has more of that bitter aftertaste adrenaline leaves in your mouth when...

"Wasn't... copper."

"It's about time you woke up, Starsk. I'm going out of my mind here, trying to figure out what color that damn car of yours was. I hate to break it to you, buddy, but it turns out they've discontinued the Gran Torino line. Replaced it with, get this, the Ford LTD II."

I can see the accusation in your eyes.

"Okay, maybe I do think it's a little funny. But I got you some magazines. See? I thought as long as you weren't busy, we could look at cars. There's a whole article here on the new Mercury Cougar."

One of these days you've got to learn to stop mumbling. "What was that?"

Now I'm worried you'll hurt yourself, pop your stitches or something. You shouldn't be getting this worked up, especially not over a rundown old deathtrap of a striped tomato. I'm trying to understand, really I am.

"Okay, okay, I got it! She was Candy Apple Red. And you don't want a new car."

Yeah, I hear you.

I don't think I want a new car, either.

You're right. The old one was perfect.

~the end~

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Five Things that Never Happened in "Bedside Manner"