God is in the details (and so is the Devil)
Warnings/notes: Tannim, oocness.
Disclaimer: The wonderful world of the SERRAted edge was created by Mercedes Lackey a.o.
written at 18th march 2005, by Misura, inspired by a meme-challenge made in my livejournal by bardicsidhe which offered the character of Tannim and the line: "As if the Bane-Sidhe wasn't bad enough...!"
As every person who's fond of his car and has a bit of mechanical knowledge to boot -or thinks to do so, at least- Tannim had made a couple of changes to his Mustang over the years. Mundane changes, that was; little improvements that he'd either come up with on his own or that had been suggested to him by people in whose expertise he trusted.
Naturally, nothing too big had needed any improvements; if the original design and engine hadn't been about the best that was available already, Tannim wouldn't have bothered to buy the Mach One at all. True, there still wasn't a single car on the market that could compare to an elven steed -and Tannim very much doubted that there ever would be- but when it came to man-made, -normal- cars that you could drive without being worried about someone wanting to take a peek under the hood, the Mustang was about as good as it could get, in Tannim's opinion.
Its looks, obviously, weren't too shabby either. Naturally, the desire to buy a flashy car merely for something as juvenile as to impress girls was fully alien to Tannim, only, well ... what was -wrong- with picking a car that didn't only drive great but also looked it?
During the four years that Tannim had owned it now, he estimated he'd made about as many changes or replacements of parts as an average car-owner would have had made for him in the garage -depending on the integrity of the workers there, of course; Tannim had heard enough horror-stories to be glad to know that if there ever was a thing he couldn't immediately figure out how to fix himself, he could always call on the experts at Fairgrove.
Of course, right this moment, calling on them might get a little bit problematic, seeing how they were parted by about three states ...
Considering he'd never needed their aid though, even if Tannim had occasionally asked for a second opinion, he wasn't too worried about that. He'd been away from the place that some people might call his home nowadays (even if Tannim himself might not) before, under much less pleasant circumstances and for much more pressing reasons, and he'd never gotten into any trouble.
At least, not the kind of trouble that had made him wish for a fellow-mechanic at his side.
To solve some of the less-mundane trouble he'd run into more often than he'd liked -and not infrequently more often than the people who'd sent him to deal with it had told him to count on too- it might have been nice to have someone to protect his back. And more than his back, in some situations.
However, even though most of the humans with the mage-gift were spotted by elves sooner or later, and offered training -if only enough to make sure they wouldn't accidentally hurt anyone- human mages were stil rare. Too rare to ask one of them to leave his or her home and hearth (and whatever projects they might have been working on, magical or otherwise) behind just so that Tannim would have some extra protection in case he encountered someting too big and bad for him to handle.
Thus, Tannim went solo on most of his voluntary side-jobs -because it wasn't as if anyone -ordered- him to do them, but rather that he had once made the mistake to entrust to Keighvin Silverhair that he liked to travel, which Keighvin had taken to mean that Tannim, basically, liked to travel. Which was true, of course, only since most mages -didn't-, this meant that every time Keighvin came with a request from God-knows-where for a little magical assistance, Tannim felt more or less obliged to agree to go.
On his first trip, that had seemed pretty bad at the time, even if looking back, it had actually been a piece of cake, hardly involving any true danger, Tannim had concluded that he needed some place to relax, a place that was well-protected but also not too obvious to those on the look-out for spots like that. He'd experimented a little with shielding, yet the efforts seemed hardly worth the results.
It had been Chinthliss who, casually, had dropped the suggestion that Tannim put a spell on his cherished car. Tannim suspected that Chinthliss had actually done quite some thinking in advance on the subject, especially when his few practical questions had been answered in the same breath.
Still, the idea had been a good one, especially since he had little desire to go around to look for a new car any time one of his opponents decided to do something about his mobility -or to strike while he was traveling and might be expected to be a little less alert.
And so, bit by bit, by means both worldly and not-so-worldly, Tannim's Mustang had slowly been transformed from a good, fast car into an excellently-protected and faster car.
Any enemy who tried to put some nasty spell on the Mach One -provided the Cold Iron didn't bother him too much to even think about it- would find that to be far from as easy as expected. (Tannim would like to think it was absolutely impossible, but he had learnt to be cautious in such beliefs. What he -was- practically certain of though, was that nobody would be able to mess with his car without him finding out. Hopefully, that would be enough.)
On top of that -because why stop at defenses against magical attacks, when any idiot with a knife or baseball-bat could accomplish the same result as a spell?- the Mustang's tires as well as its windows were protected by a neat little spell that reminded the vandal-to-be that there were regular police-patrols in this area (and that one was about to come by any second now).
In short, Tannim had once sourly joked to Donal, his car was nearly better protected than Tannim himself. There was practically no way anything could happen to it.
Thus, there was no reason why he'd feel slightly uneasy as an unfamiliar song started playing on the radio. Especially not considering the song seemed to be aimed at people who had some unexciting, nine-to-five office-job and drove to their work every morning.
Until the singer reached the chorus, Tannim was able to assure himself everything'd be fine.
"Have you ever had car-trouble?" Adam Ant asked.
As the Mach One's engine died with a soft, sputtering sound, Tannim was forced to admit that the reply to that question was 'yes'.
"Have you ever had to push?" was the next, uplifting inquiry.
Tannim snorted, got out of the car and made sure that the doors were all locked and the shielding spells were all in place, before he set out in the direction of the nearest town, praying that perhaps some kind stranger would pass by and offer him a ride.
"You know, mucking about with cars is really something you should leave to the -experts-," the owner of a small garage -the only one in this town that Tannim had found open- told him with a reproachful look. Tannim had told the man he was a mechanic himself only oh five times in the last fifteen minutes, but apparently, the message hadn't come through.
"I'll remember that," he sighed.
"You do that, youngling. This car's a real beauty. You should take good care of her." The admiring expression on the man's face as he polished the Mustang's hood mollified Tannim a little, even if the rag with which the man did his polishing was more likely to -apply- dirt than to remove any.
"I will," Tannim assured him.
The man nodded, his face showing that he wasn't really convinced of Tannim's sincerity, but not about to waste more breath on trying to press the importance of his point.
"You're lucky I was still open, you know. Normally, this time of day, I've closed down already, because of the heat. Not many people go out in this kind of weather." The man chatted on pleasantly as he scribbled down a serie of numbers, that Tannim assumed to be the costs of the repairs.
As he heard the total sum, he assumed the chatting was also meant to lure customers into a pleasant, relaxed mood, so that they wouldn't protest too much at being heavily overcharged. Still, he doubted if arguing would do him any good, and at least the man hadn't insisted on replacing anything else or running a complete check-up on the Mustang.
He'd simply sought out the cause of the problem and fixed it, while Tannim gracefully recovered in the man's office from his first, traumatic experience with hiking by listening to the local music-station where they mostly played seventies' and eighties' hits. He'd needed that, after half an hour's exposure to ... whatever it was the three young men who'd offered him a ride had been listening to. Tannim neither knew nor cared what it was called, really; if he hadn't known better, he'd have thought the music in question had been produced by a mangled set of synthesizers, a set of drums and a chorus of Bane-Sidhe.
For that, and for the man's quick work, Tannim supposed he ought not to complain too much about the bill, also because all his expenses would be paid by Fairgrove.
"What was wrong anyway?" Tannim asked, counting out the money.
"Well, like I said, you really shouldn't mess around under the hood if you don't know what you're doing." The man shrugged. "Your fuel-meter was malfunctioning, because of a loose wire. Easy enough to patch up, but damn inconvenient if you aren't aware of it."
"That's for sure," Tannim agreed, managing to refrain from saying out loud that it was especially inconvenient if the only availalble garage was owned by a first-class swindler. He could only hope that the man's skills at fixing cars were as good as his skills at maths. "Thanks for your help."
"You're welcome." The man nodded pleasantly. "Always willing to help."
"I guess I'll be on my way now." Tannim managed not to sound too pleased at the prospect of leaving this town and its inhabitants behind.
"Actually, you might want to get some gas in the tank first. That's why her engine stopped in the first place, you know. Out of fuel, only you didn't know it, 'cause your meter wasn't working." The man smiled, all friendly and paternal. Tannim had to remind himself that he was one of the Good Guys, and that Good Guys didn't go around hitting people, no matter how much they overcharged or how much they tried your patience. "The gas-station's closed right now, but it just so happens that I have a couple of cannisters in the back that might get you to the next town, at the very least. They're just standing in the way at the moment, so I'll sell them to you for a special price."
"Lucky me," Tannim muttered.
Chinthliss, when Tannim told him the serie of events that had led him to decide to never return to that particular area ever again, had sniffed disdainfully and informed Tannim that he ought to be thankful for the lesson he'd learned, and to be more careful in reattaching wires the next time.
Tannim had retorted that he -had- been careful, that he was -always- careful and that he had no idea how that meter could have gotten broken.
Chinthliss had sniffed some more, and quoted an ancient adage at Tannim that seemed to have no relevance to the situation at all.
x- the end -x
Extra disclaimer: The song 'Car-trouble' belongs to Adam Ant, whom you might know better from songs like 'Stand and Deliver' and 'Prince Charming'.