Disclaimer: Bite me, DC comics. I paid to sit through 'Catwoman', you owe me. You owe me big.
This story is part of the CATverse, the story listing of which can be found at freewebs dot com slash catverse. It takes place in Arc Three, immediately after "The Smell of Victory" by Twinings.
It was times like this when Jonathan Crane could conceivably call his three hangers-on 'tolerable'.
Of course, he'd never go so far as to call them anything else (particularly not aloud), but when it was quiet like this, when they allowed him a modicum of peace, then he found them tolerable.
Granted, it wasn't silent (which he would have preferred) but at least the music coming from the stolen convertible's speaker system wasn't that horrible, fast-paced, eardrum shattering whatever it was that Al always played whenever she was behind the wheel.
That was the only redeeming thing about allowing Techie to drive. She could not drive while listening to something loud (and in his opinion irritating as hell) and tended to lean more towards softer (he would not say 'prettier') selections and the occasional piece of classical music.
Of course, as previously stated: that was the only redeeming thing about letting her drive.
It's not that she was a bad driver…she was just...jumpy. Hence her insistence on minimal racket as she drove because otherwise, she'd lose her focus and drive them into the nearest ditch.
Or concrete wall.
Or whatever was handy.
The woman wasn't picky.
At least, that's what she'd threatened.
Now ordinarily, the other two would have probably disregarded her wishes for quiet (like they did so often with his own), but either they were as worried about facing a wrathful Techie as the rest of the world was (Crane being the only exception, of course. He feared no one...least of all one of his own minions), or else they knew something he didn't and thought this to be one of those issues not to press.
Thusly, every once in a great while, when he or Al were too fatigued or injured to drive, the task fell to her and he was treated to relative quiet, interrupted only by the wailing of a Saxophone or the tinkling of a piano coming from the radio.
That he could handle. It wasn't overly annoying, it wasn't loud enough to give him a migraine, andit kept her calm.
Which seemed to be everyone's foremost concern when it came to giving her the keys.
As long as Techie was calm behind the wheel, she was perfectly fine-but if stressed, she tended to do a fair impression of Elwood Blues' highway antics; Something that Crane had experienced first hand once before and had no desire to experience again. His heart couldn't take that kind of stress without exploding out of his ribcage to do a little dance on the dashboard.
Somehow though, she'd managed to remain unbelievably calm throughout this particular drive. So much so that he was wondering if one of the others had slipped her a tranquilizer of some sort.
After all, that idea had crossed his mind more than once…surely they, who had been stuck with her for so much longer than he, had considered keeping a large supply of elephant tranquilizer on hand for just such occasions.
Or it could have just been the music. Whatever she currently had pumping out of the speakers was soporific…almost hypnotic.
Really, what other excuse was there for the fact he was finding himself nodding off?
Crane fought to keep his eyelids open as he stared straight ahead at the stretch of highway that seemed to go on forever. He would not fall asleep in the car. He still didn't like being vulnerable in their presence, regardless of the small grain of trust he found himself giving them for their continued unshakable loyalty-he would never trust them completely. The fact he trusted them at all was astounding in itself given their history together. Especially Al.
Of course…both she and the Captain were also dozing at the moment…and Techie was too engrossed in driving to be much of a threat. He could just rest his eyes for a minute or two…he was a light sleeper…nothing would go on without him being jarred awake immediately-
If he were to fall asleep, that is…which he wouldn't…he was just going to rest his eyes is all.
Yeah…rest his eyes…
An indeterminate amount of time later, something rattled loudly and woke the Scarecrow from his slumber. He thought he'd only been 'resting his eyes' for a few seconds, but the small clock in the dash told him he'd been out for close to forty minutes.
Strange the way sleep can claim someone so completely when they don't want it to and warp their perception of time.
A sleepy grumble came from the tiny backseat where the Captain and Al were huddled, "What was that?"
"I think our little metal death trap is about ready to give up the ghost," the woman behind the wheel answered, "These mid-life-crisis-mobiles are no good for going long distances unless you tune 'em up every twenty miles. I'm gonna have to pull in somewhere and have a look under the hood."
"Where are we?" Al popped up between the driver's seat and the passenger's seat, startling Techie to the point that the car veered off course momentarily before she righted it once again.
A long loud string of foreign curses sprang from Techie's mouth, some of them in languages that Crane couldn't even contemplate identifying before she managed to regain some semblance of control over her vocabulary and reverted to her native English and shouted, "Do you have a death wish? Are you trying to give me a heart attack? My God, woman! DON'T DO THAT!"
Al had the grace to look ashamed, but only temporarily, "So where are we?"
"I am on my way to having a stroke, thankyouverymuch," the driver replied, glaring at the road since she couldn't turn her head to glare at the source of her panic attack, "The car seems to be in the middle of nowhere at the moment."
The Captain stayed put in the backseat, but her hand managed to make it's way up front so that she could gesture at a sign that was coming up which read 'O'Hara Overhang', "That sounds like a good place to pull in."
"Oh, excellent plan…let's get the car close to a cliff," Techie said in the tone that was usually accompanied by a good deal of eye rolling.
"It's probably the local Make-Out Point," Al supplied, "And if this car goes up in flames-" she cast a meaningful glance at Techie, which was pointedly ignored, "Then there'll most likely be another one handy."
The fact that the Captain's eyes lit at the mention of 'Make-Out Point' didn't go unnoticed by the man in the front seat. Neither did the fact she flashed him 'The Eyes' in the rearview mirror.
The last thing he needed was her all over him in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere…
Having to defend his honor from the Captain was not something he was in the mood for tonight.
Or any other night, for that matter…
Well, best to nip this in the bud before she got carried away with any notions of cuddling up together whilst Al and Techie busied themselves with the innards of the finicky automobile.
The moment the car came to a complete stop, he practically leapt from it, giving the excuse that he'd been sitting still for too long and needed a bit of a walk to stretch his legs.
This escape plan might have worked better if the Captain hadn't volunteered to accompany him on his little jaunt about the area 'For his own protection'.
Al and Techie merely glanced at each other before shrugging and popping the hood to take a look at the engine, while he was left to walk away and feign he was immensely interested in the local underbrush and not aware of the henchgirl who was strolling next to him.
Sadly, there was very little plant life to pretend to look at in fascination so that tactic wore thin rather rapidly.
And the Captain seemed to be in a talkative mood…apparently, while he didn't find anything interesting to look at, she did.
"Look, Squishykins," she pointed eagerly at a beaten up white Dodge Challenger that was so covered in rust it could have conceivably been described as white and red, "It really is a Make-Out Point..."
He spared the fogged up car an ill tempered glare.
"It'd be a shame to waste the opportunity, you know," the Captain said with a giggle as she wrapped a hand around his arm, "C'mon, Jonathan…all the cool kids are doin' it."
Appalled, Crane wrenched his arm free of her grasp, stalked up to the Challenger and yanked open the door. A small capsule filled with fear toxin was thrown inside and he slammed the door before the screaming started.
He turned back to the Captain, "Not anymore they're not."
Both the wayward villain and his escort turned towards the source of the sudden eruption and saw a rather filthy henchgirl heading their direction.
"How's the car, grease monkey?" The Captain asked Techie conversationally, as if her hair wasn't smoking at all.
"Well, you would have been proud of Number One, Mon Capitan…"
"I blew up the engine," Al shouted, almost proudly as she emerged from the billowing smoke that was coming from beneath the hood looking none the worse for wear.
Techie nodded in the direction of the beaten up Challenger, "Guess it's a good thing there's a car nearby. We've just gotta get rid of it's occupants and we can head out."
Crane tipped his head just enough so that he could glare at the Captain, "That particular vehicle is…not available for use at the moment."
"Why not?" Al asked with confusion, "We just yank out the owners, gas 'em and hit the road."
"The 'gassing' part is already taken care of."
Techie looked at her villainous master oddly, "But the car is…closed. The fear toxin is…"
"Still inside," Crane replied, glancing at his fingernails nonchalantly.
"And it'll take several hours to air it out. Great." Techie looked at the Captain severely, "Nice going…he just filled the only working car in sight with fear toxin because you wanted to get frisky."
"We're so buying you a chastity belt," Al added reproachfully, "Shame on you! You ought to know better by now!"
"How did you-"
"Hello? We know you. You wandered off with Squishykins in the dark at a Make-Out Point…it's not that much of a stretch to figure out what you had in mind."
"So, what do we do to kill time until the other car is safe to use?"
The Captain frowned for a minute before a grin spread on her face, "I think we have a bag of marshmallows in the trunk of the convertible…we can camp out and roast them!"
"NO!" The Captain's three companions screeched in unison, "NO FIRE!"
O'Hara Overhang quickly gained national notoriety for being the scene of one of the largest unexplained paranormal events in recent history. Two teens were found wandering away from the place, completely out of their minds and mumbling about the Sackcloth Man, their car vanished into thin air, and the surrounding area burned to a crisp without any kind of known accelerant detectable.
Publicly, the events of August fifteenth at O'Hara Overhang were considered to be a total mystery.
Privately, and only to four people on the entire planet who were privy to what actually happened there, it was considered to be one of the Captain's crowning arson achievements.
Wanna keep reading? The hijinks of CAT continue in my story "Moose Tracks and Thankful Men."