Title: Charge, or In Charge?
Fandom: Crazy Taxi
Rating: PG-13 for mild cussing
Timeline: Five years after Crazy Taxi
Summary: When the Crazy Cabbies buy the Crazy Taxi company from their boss, who's going to be in charge...?
They had done it.
It took a few months, and Gus had to beam at himself, recalling how all four of them had pushed the envelope. Rushing through the streets of San Fransisco, taking to the air and dodging nimbly through oncoming traffic to increase the size of their fare and tips. An elegant, dangerous dance at which he, Axel, B.D. Joe and Gena had spent years perfecting in their own ways. Working the West Coast with the other three Crazy Cabbies had been a truly thrilling during their entire five-year run, but they had made enough money, and finalized the deal to buy the company out.
Their boss--a short, greasy man of constantly declining health--put the offer on the table when he realized his time was short. "I'll sell the entire business to you four," he explained (almost six months ago), sitting forward in his office chair, leaning over his desk. His face had become ashen and dark bags rested under his eyes. "Of all the Cabbies I've employed, you four have been here the longest and produced the best results." And he'd named the fee, one that seemed unimaginably steep at first...but they saw the opportunity and had decided, in a diner shortly after the meeting.
The four agreed, unanimously, that keeping the Crazy Taxi company under their care was better than letting somebody else--somebody less in tune with the nigh-lethal way they all drove, providing a transportation service and a thrill at the same time--take over and call the shots for them.
And here they were again, in the same diner they had made their choice, sitting in the very same booth. Gus held the slip of unfolded paper between his callused, tan fingers--the one that declared the quartet as new company owners.
"So," Gena said, leaning over a plate of runny eggs and bacon, "now what?"
"What do you mean?" Joe replied. He laid back in his seat, his Hawaiian-patterned bucket hat pulled down over his sunglasses, one hand behind his head. His characteristic ear-to-ear grin was missing, his mouth curled instead into a tired frown. "We did it. Burned rubber, kicked ass. We just keep doin' what we always do, right?"
"It's not that simple," the redhead said, shaking her head and pointing at the paper Gus held. "There's more to owning a business than that. We'll need a book-keeper and someone to keep all our routes straight."
"Are you crazy?" Axel shot over his own plate, a Caeser's Salad with Balsamic dressing. "Wait, scratch that, we're all a little crazy."
"Else we wouldn't be working...owning this thing." Gus slapped the paper with the back of a hand and grinned a little wider.
"My point is--and I've looked at our finances, Gena--we simply don't have the cash to handle that right now. And we probably won't for a while. The boss did all that for us before, so he never had to worry about it. Plus, you gotta take into account the repairs we invest in the cabs, and the other Cabbies we now employ; it's not cheap. And then if some rookie bangs up somebody's personal property..." He let the sentence hang.
"We're our own bosses now." Gena's voice was firm. "And we know how to manage cash. We know how to organize routes."
"We'd damn well better," Gus shot. The older man speared a pancake with his fork and brought it up to his mouth, munching on an edge, taking in the sweetness. "We'd be horrible Crazy Cabbies if we didn't."
"But you get what I'm saying, right?" Gena gestured at him with her own fork. "Until we make the cash, one of us is gonna have to hang up their checkers."
"I ain't doin' it," Joe mumbled. "I'm much too sexy to be reduced to number crunching and mapwork all day."
Axel frowned at the man, sweeping a hand through his spiky, green hair. "I don't like the sound of it either...but Gena's right. If we can't afford to hire people to do our bookwork for us..."
"Then who's gonna do it?" Gus asked, glancing around at the other three. "It'll take us another set of months to get it right. Not appearing on your route for that length of time...it'll be bad for business and make you rusty."
Joe lifted the brim of his hat, and the four friends, Cabbies and co-owners exchanged worried glances.
"Whoever takes the time out to do this...you might as well retire permanently." Joe mumbled, rubbing the side of his head.
Suddenly, Gus' pancakes no longer tasted so sweet. They seemed bitter...and he reviled at the sensation, setting his fork down with a clatter.
"We never thought of this when we agreed to buy out," Gus said, casting his gaze down at the half-finished flapjacks before him. Their lethal, beautiful dance was drawing to a close...and one of them would have to step off the floor, probably for good. "To charge, or to be in charge...? Guys...what are we gonna do?"