A/N: This story was written for the Free For All Fic For All-or FFAFFA for short-over on the Ask the Squishykins tumblr, wherein Twinings and I offer ourselves up to fill as many fic prompts as humanly possible with stories ranging in length from 100 to 16,000 words. The current round runs until May 1st, 2014, so if you'd like a fic written to your custom specifications, please don't hesitate to drop by and ask for it! :)
Prompt: Killer Croc and Ice Cream
Notes: First, as always, my version of Killer Croc is a creature of blended continuities, traits cherry picked from a dozen different appearances for the most three dimensional portrayal possible. Second, this story would not have been finished if not for the help of about-faces when I bloody well got stuck on it. Yay.
In Gotham City, there were many ways for a heist to go wrong. For instance, the cops could be grabbing lunch at the diner across from the bank you were robbing. Your bag of stolen goods could spring a leak, dropping diamond by diamond behind you in a neat little trail for Batman to follow…
"Merde, merde, merde."
And, of course, your getaway car's engine could stall.
Killer Croc slammed his fists on the steering wheel of his stolen van in frustration. Then he did it a few more times just to make himself feel better. He stopped short of tearing it out of the steering column and hurling it through the windshield, but only just.
The back window shattered inward without warning, a bullet lodging itself into the headrest of the passenger seat beside him.
There had to be a less stressful way to make a living. Something involving gardening, maybe. Sure, he thought as he kicked open the door and dove for cover behind the nearest dumpster amidst a hail of bullets, he liked flowers. Flowers didn't try to shoot you. Well, flowers that weren't Poison Ivy's didn't—and even those could be talked out of it in certain cases.
Waylon tried not to think about the mushy, slimy substance that he'd stepped in upon taking refuge behind the dumpster. There were more pressing matters to attend to, chief among them his need to secure a new means of escape. The only thing in the alley other than a few dumpsters and the van was a fire escape and, he discovered upon giving the bottom rung the hardest tug he could muster, it was useless.
Bullets sparked off the metal of the dumpster, a cacophony of hollow tink, tink, tink sounds. Damn, the new GCPD training initiatives were doing some good: their aim was getting better. In the old days, they might not have hit the dumpster once, much less several times. The racket made it hard to think straight.
There had to be a way out of this. There just had to.
"Come out with your hands up, Croc!"
They were getting closer. He needed a diversion, but what? All he had was the clothes on his back, and he didn't think flinging them at the cops and running out naked would keep them from filling him full of lead. Anger got the better of him and he slammed his fist against the dumpster.
It rolled an inch, movement that should have been accompanied by a chorus of angels.
Of course! How could he be so stupid?
Waylon planted his feet, braced his back against the dumpster and pushed with all his might. It resisted, but not enough to keep him from getting it rolling. Once it was on its way to the mouth of the alley—where it would hopefully flatten the nearest cop—he did the same to a second and third dumpster, sending them careening past the van. The fourth and last dumpster he shoved sideways, lodging it between one brick wall and the van's driver's side door. It wasn't much, but it would buy him a little time and perhaps even save him from acquiring some new bullet holes to bleed from.
He sprinted for the other end of the alley, the sound of metal crashing into metal crashing into flesh serving as the soundtrack for his daring exit. It was a beautiful sound. Now, he just needed to find a means of getting far, far away.
The alley opened up to a block populated by shabby apartment buildings and small mom and pop corner stores. The few cars lining the street didn't look to be in much better shape than the van he had left behind—duct tape held side mirrors on, plastic bags covered broken car windows, tires neared flat—and he didn't dare risk another engine stall. If only there were a vehicle in motion…something he knew was capable of getting him to safety.
That was when he heard it: a simple, repetitive music-box tune. He knew that sound, and not just because it was a tinkling rendition of "The Entertainer." It struck a chord in him—primal, in an innocent, childish way—and his mind was flooded with fragmented memories of endless, humid summer days.
An ice cream truck.
Waylon's head snapped around toward the sound. A pastel pink truck puttered around the corner, a strangely cheerful spot in an otherwise dismal looking neighborhood. The driver didn't even see him coming until he was right up next to his window, peering in.
With as much respect was due to such a beloved institution as Good Rumor, Waylon very politely tore the door off its hinges. The driver squeaked in surprise when he lifted him out of his seat and took his hat.
"My apologies, bon garçon," he said, tossing him onto the sidewalk. "What I do, I do in the name of freedom!"
The Good Rumor man looked perplexed when a Strawberry Shortcake bar from his own stock landed in his lap. "For your trouble!"
After perching the purloined hat atop his head, Waylon picked up the door and settled it back into place, one hand on the steering wheel and the other keeping it from falling into the street. Though his every instinct screamed at him to punch the gas pedal right through the floor, he kept a deliberate pace and set off toward the outskirts of the city. It was a pace that he prayed said, "This vehicle has absolutely not been commandeered by a criminal."
He drove, trying hard to keep from panicking and picking up speed whenever a police cruiser screamed past, all flashing lights and blaring sirens. It wasn't easy to keep his cool, especially with the truck's tinkling music box melody slowly wearing away his sanity as the miles ticked past. The muscles of his shoulders were so tense from a combination of steering, holding the driver's side door on and stress that his whole back felt like it was made of steel cables stretched too tight.
Only when the police sirens started to fade into the distance did he dare relax even a little bit. By then, he had entered the poorer residential areas of Gotham, where children perked up as the truck passed by, but few ran to catch up with it. Their hopeful, delighted shouts of "Ice Cream Man!" got the better of him and, though it was ill advised, he stopped the truck just long enough to duck in the back and toss a dozen boxes of ice cream bars out the side. He took off again, the sounds of gleeful children giving him a warm fuzzy feeling that lasted a few seconds before the sudden nerve-wracking realization that this small act of kindness might seem strange enough to alert the police. After all, what kind of ice cream man just gave the stuff away?
No, he rationalized to himself, fighting a rising panic in his chest. The kids probably wouldn't even tell their parents about the free ice cream, and if they did, would the parents be suspicious enough to call the police? Well, okay, yes, they would, but surely the cops wouldn't be savvy enough to link free surprise ice cream to Killer Croc! Of course they wouldn't!
Waylon drove faster.
The poverty stricken areas of the city gradually gave way to the more middle class neighborhoods. The kids there clustered on the sidewalks as he passed, waving at him, but he didn't stop, passing right into the part of town populated by upscale apartment buildings and private schools. The few children on the sidewalks there were accompanied by nannies and admonished for even thinking about so pedestrian a thing as an ice cream truck.
Though he didn't give away any more ice cream, he was still drawing too much attention for his liking. When he came to a stop sign, he paused long enough to take his hand off the steering wheel and punch his fist through the dashboard where the music control box was housed. He ripped out the wiring there amidst a shower of white sparks until the speaker on the roof of the truck squealed its last few notes and then cut out.
That cut down on the number of children poking their heads out of their houses considerably, but still not enough. Even without its siren song, the pink truck was a munchkin magnet. It wasn't until he made it to the city limits that he stopped being swamped by kids coming from every available direction. At first, he thought this might provide a perfect opportunity to ditch the truck, but the glimpse of a highway patrol car waiting in the weeds behind a billboard put an end to that line of thinking.
There had to be somewhere he could go that was deserted enough to let him get out of the damn ice cream truck, but close enough to Gotham to let him get back to his lair. He didn't want to have to drive all the way out to the country, abandon the vehicle and walk back under cover of darkness…that would take days.
Inspiration struck him like lightning and he spun the wheel, pulling a U-turn and heading back toward the city. Bristol! The wealthiest neighborhood in Gotham. The children there were so rich they could afford a whole fleet of ice cream trucks. They would ignore him for sure, maybe even turn their noses up at him. As an added bonus, police presence would be minimal. The wealthy had as much disdain for the cops as he did, and they funded their own private security force to patrol the area. A security force who conveniently had no real authority or, for that matter, guns.
Best of all, the neighborhood was settled along the picturesque cliff-side area of the city, leading directly into the harbor. All Waylon had to do was to get near the edge, ditch the truck, and dive in. He'd be home free.
He drove on, houses appearing on the horizon. They got bigger and bigger the closer he got to the water's edge, and there was nary a child in sight. Waylon dared to let himself feel so pleased with his brilliant plan that he was nearing downright smug.
At last he could see the cliff's edge coming into view, just a few more houses to pass and he could make his escape.
The last few houses before the wide expanse of green that separated him from the water were large and imposing. Only one had a child in its driveway, a little girl—maybe five or six years old—with a pink bow in her hair, running toward the wrought iron gates of her parents' estate. She must have seen him from one of the mansion's windows miles earlier to have made it to the gates in time to catch him. She waved and smiled but he stubbornly passed her anyway.
Against his better judgment, he glanced in the rear view mirror. What he saw was the little girl, standing in the middle of the road…sobbing.
Despite his occasional moments of generosity, Waylon was called Killer Croc for a good reason. It was a nickname he earned. He had killed more men than he could count and never lost a wink of sleep over it; he had left pieces of his enemies strewn all over Gotham City; he was a man to be feared and respected!
But even he couldn't bring himself to make a little girl think that the ice cream man hated her enough to drive right past her. A child of wealth and privilege was still a child.
Without so much as tapping the brakes, he swung the truck around, sending boxes and bars flying in the cabin. He roared towards the girl and screeched to a halt right in front of her, to hear a joyful shout of, "Yay! Ice cream!"
This was about as good as it was going to get. He could give the girl an ice cream bar, assuage his conscience and make a run for the cliffs. It wasn't all that far. He was only a quarter of a mile inland; that was a short, brisk jog away from freedom.
Waylon jumped out of his seat and grabbed the nearest frozen treat. He stumbled into the back of the truck and handed the ice cream bar out the side. "Don't cry, petit."
The girl was so happy she didn't seem the least bit fazed by the fact that man under the Good Rumor hat was a large green lizard. "Thank you, Mister Ice Cream Man!"
His good deed done, he threw off his hat and flung open the doors to the back of the truck. To his shock, the path was blocked by a small boy in a costume that Waylon knew—and hated—all too well.
"Reptile. Prepare to be taken into immediate custody and delivered to the authorities. Do not resist." Robin's expression went from fierce to fierce and thoughtful. "Also, I will take one of your frozen chocolate eclairs. I have been told they are exquisite, a claim I would like to investigate myself."
Sirens wailed in the distance, getting closer and—if that weren't bad enough—the Batmobile screeched into view. Waylon sighed and sat down, his legs swinging from the bumper of the truck. With Batman nearby and the police on the way, there was no point fighting the kid. He'd been in enough scraps to know he didn't have a chance of getting away without at least one broken bone, and swimming with fractures wasn't an appealing prospect. He put his chin in one hand, rifled through the freezer with the other and dispassionately handed a chocolate eclair to brat.
After his hands were cuffed, he reached for an ice cream bar of his own and tore it open. Orange Creamsicle. His favorite.
Well, at least the day wasn't a total loss.