The Intellectual and the Idiot
Disclaimer: I do not own The Replacements or any of the characters there within.
Love. What a foolish pastime.
The reaction is simply an imbalance of hormones that reduces the afflicted to a dribbling mess of emotion and thoughtless blather. It's purpose? To attract and procreate among the species.
Humans, of all the species in the animal kingdom, have the oddest, if not most annoying way of sharing this inscrutable process that creates social relationships. Simple and at once complicated; and all around foolish.
C.A.R.T.E.R. waited impatiently for his partner in the street which yielded a better peripheral perspective than the driveway, deeply distressed at her choice of romantic interest this time 'round. This new gentleman caller was hardly anything in the way of a gentleman and the idiot of a man had already grated on CAR's nerves…and door frame from a clumsy, casual lean of the great lummox's diamond studded rear pockets. Now there was a ridiculous scratch where his paint used to be flawless. K had courted her share of intellectually challenged bipedal apes in the past, but this character surely swept all categories of "Idiot."
He had a duty to protect her from imbeciles like this and K was being…decidedly obstinate to his gentle warnings. Puh, more like outright rebellious with this man as they cuddled up to each other… CAR was becoming increasingly irritated with the nauseating display of affection.
Kate M. Cunningham leaned unreservedly against a wall of warm muscle that composed the mountain of a man whom she embraced. Daredevil and stuntman, Dick Daring, was his name and he smiled down at Kate.
The pair had just returned from a night on the town and stood on Dick's stoop, backlit by his porch light, they reminisced the evening they had shared.
"So, when can I see you again?" Dick asked, already raring and ready for their next date. Kate smiled and gazed up at him with half-lidded eyes.
"I can't say exactly, I don't know what my work schedule looks like."
"Yeah? It's so weird they don't tell you in advance. Where did you say you worked again?"
"You'll know soon enough." Kate brushed off the question casually and tactfully changed direction. "I had a wonderful time."
"Me too. Next time we'll do something even more exciting."
"Goodness, what could we do that would be more exciting than that bungee jump off the bridge?"
"I'm thinking a race. A car race." Dick looked admiringly over at the vehicle that waited patiently for its driver. The woman looked too, but with a faintly irresolute expression. "That sports car of yours is sure fire to rip up the track, even if the driver's wheel is on the wrong side. It will be fun!"
"Yes," she murmured without taking her eyes from the car. "I'm sure that would be an interesting time. "
When she added nothing more to the sentiment, Dick gave her a light squeeze that brought her attention away from the British made car.
"Well, you let me know when you're not working. We'll get together."
His lopsided smile, hesitant of a rejection to the idea, made Kate smile warmly in reassurance.
"I'd like that."
The two locked gazes and leaned closer together. Their lips were a mere breath apart when the car on the street blared its horn. The couple jarred apart from the screech. Dick's head whipped around to the empty vehicle and he looked stunned back at Kate.
"That was amazing, how did you do that?" his enthusiastic response to the car's rude interruption made Kate smile all the more affectionately. "You got some kind of switch or remote or something?"
"Let's just say my car has a mind of its own." She muttered, throwing a warning glance at the now placid vehicle.
"That is so cool. You'll have to let me drive it sometime."
Kate chuckled but made no promises. She slipped gently out of his arms.
"Well, I'd better be off." She strode down the drive to her ride. "I'll call you."
"Can't wait! Night, Kate. Heh heh, that rhymes. Can't wait, night Kate. Night Kate, can't wait." Dick watched the woman go in steadfast fascination as her car automatically started, its lights flashing on in the darkness, revving aggressively at her calm approach. Dick continued to watch in awe as the vehicle opened its driver side door to permit her entry and how fast it took off the instant she sat down. How Kate had wired her car to start at her very approach was astounding; that thing really did have a mind of its own. And it could go fast!
That date at the racetrack was going to be a fun one.
"What a woman." Dick breathed, the streaking red brake lights of her departing vehicle leaving twin red trails in his eyes.
"CAR, slow down. What's all the hurry for?"
Kate had been unceremoniously thrown back into the seat the instant her foot left the pavement and settled on the car floor. The vehicle did not respond.
"CAR." She said again, after buckling her seatbelt and reaching out to grip the steering wheel. It didn't budge. "CAR!" Kate tried the brake pedal, but this instrument too was locked.
"K, we need to talk."
The seatbelt over her torso tightened as the vehicle leapt sharply forward, ripping down the highway at dangerous speeds. Fortunately, the road was mostly empty of traffic and the car took full advantage of it. The vehicle whipped fiercely through one turn, throwing K to one side and the seatbelt tightened more as the woman fought against the wheel for control. Still the steering wheel did not give an inch into her demands and the brake pedal proved just as iron clad. K realized she was just along for the ride. C.A.R.T.E.R. was in complete control of where they were going next for the evening, and it obviously wasn't home as the vehicle tore past the designated exit ramp.
"All right, CAR, all right. I know you, and you only get this way when you have something on your mind. It's not like I'm going to jump out, so please, ease up on the safety belt a bit." She shouted over the roar of the wind, her hair whipping around her face as the car continued at its relentless pace.
The car responded to this request at least, though it was only minimal as still they raced down the highway. But when Kate gripped the armrests to weather a particularly nasty turn taken at a reckless speed, the vehicle slowed down and released all the pressure on the seatbelt.
Hardly a minute later, CAR was rolling quickly over a quiet dirt road lined with softly rustling trees and slowed to a complete stop on a ridge that overlooked the city. Kate sighed and pushed her disheveled platinum blond hair from her face.
"Now CAR," she said as calmly as her voice would allow, her agitation well hidden by her years of experience as an agent of the British spy service, "what is this all about?"
The vehicle shut itself off, but a muted hum still resonated in the car body. Some part of it was still active. After a moments silence, the car spoke.
"I can't say I approve of your choice in men, K." The distinctly British voice spilled steadily from the speakers. The voice was proper, decisive, and firm, and more than a little sarcastic to boot. It was to this dry sarcasm that K reacted. She folded her arms over her chest.
"You sound like my mother."
"Well one of us has to be." The car said incredulously. "You know it's in my code to protect you from threats—"
"You think Dick is a threat?" K said, startled.
"No, he's much worse. He's an idiot."
"CAR!" K reprimanded with a backhanded buffet to the steering wheel, but the vehicle seemed totally unperturbed by the half-hearted strike.
"I'll try to be sensitive of your feelings and put this as delicately as possible," the car paused as though gathering his argument with the intake of a breath. "That Dick Daring fellow is a dim-witted, daftly obtuse, poor shoddy excuse of a man. His thick comprehension of the world around him is laughable and his dense behavior toward an astute representative of the Academy is inexcusable and unwarranted. In short, my dear, the man is an utter ignoramus."
K sat silently in the wake of the prickly outburst and forthright attack on her romantic interest. It took her a moment to gather her thoughts.
"I had no idea you felt so strongly, CAR."
"As your partner and friend, I would advise against your seeing that buffoon again. "
"Oh CAR," K sighed and unbuckled her seatbelt. The vehicle revved to life, lights flashing on as he sensed her departure from the cabin, but K lightly chided him. "Relax you silly knot of bolts, I'm not going anywhere. " But as if the vehicle was still suspicious, it did not shut off again, even as K let her hand trail along the car's body to the hood that she slid smoothly up onto. The heat emanating up through the striped white hood was pleasantly hot to the touch and it was as warm and welcoming as it had been when she was seventeen and a much younger spy. K laid the length of her body along it. As she relaxed, so did the vehicle and the engine powered down once more.
It had been years since K had taken this action, resting back against CAR's hood after an intense chase. CAR learned that K reveled in the warmth the engine produced after such a stint and that she enjoyed that quiet, relaxing time they shared together after a job well done. And though CAR would not have admitted it, he enjoyed those quiet times with K too. They had been unable to share these moments the past few months because it had been one mission after another, and downtime was comprised only for sleep, the occasional meal and none else. Heat worked well with exhaustion to loosen the knots that formed in the woman's muscles after those long days, but there had been no leisure for her to sit silently and reflect those experiences with CAR.
CAR was not finished with his argument, he had arranged several points of debate about Dick, but K had not been this relaxed in months and CAR did not dare to interject on her comfort. Normally, CAR would have been monitoring his partner for signs of stress, exhaustion, even her slipping into sleep, but these exclusive sensors lined the cabin, not his hood. The only thing he was sensitive to now was her weight, heat, and the gentle rise and fall of her chest as she breathed.
"I love him, CAR."
Static from the vehicles speakers seemed to voice the unspoken malcontent and staggering shock of her statement. Several moments passed in silence as the box that held the vehicle's brain whirred in the quiet. The British woman closed her eyes and patiently waited for her companion's reply.
"K," he said slowly, "your position as an agent will be compromised if you continue with this relationship. You leave yourself open to attack by enemy forces if you indulge this…association—your foes could threaten you with him. You not only endanger yourself, but the imbecile as well." CAR did not hide his enthusiasm for the latter half of the issue. "An agent cannot afford to be coupled. The life agent's live are solitary for a reason—for your safety."
"That's just it, CAR. Dick is a stuntman. He understands that every mission, or performance, is a risk, and it is a risk we willingly take, be it for homeland security or the entertainment of our fellow man. I respect him for his outlook on life." CAR felt his companion shudder lightly. "He's so…alive. I left Britain to get away from all that security, where all my troubles were mind-numbingly comfortable. I needed something different. Something…exciting and exotic. And Dick is all of that and more."
"Exotic? Huh!" K could feel the indignant whir as the voice box compartment vibrated angrily beneath her. "The only exotic thing about this country is how they drive on the wrong side of the road. Crazy, backwards society." K laughed and CAR sighed dubiously. "What would your parents think about your courting a Yank?"
"I'm sure they'll find Dick charming." The woman said with a dreamy stare up at the stars overhead, clearly visible in the night sky. Gracious knows such a sight was almost always cloudily hindered in Britain.
K didn't respond to the quip and the conversation lapsed into another silence. It was not long before CAR felt his partner begin to shiver slightly in the steadily chilling night air and started the engine. K did not flinch at the eruption of sound, but instead indulged in a genuine smile. The hood was beginning to feel warm again.
"K, I beg you to reconsider." CAR said into the quiet.
"I should ask the same of you," the woman murmured. "I truly care about Dick, can't you be a little more accommodating, or at least happy for me?"
CAR was becoming impatient with the entire dilemma. K was being overly stubborn protecting that crass moron.
"What do you possibly see in him, K?"
The woman shifted one arm to rest over her stomach and the other stretched along the hood. She idly moved her hand over the smooth surface as though stroking a cat, and though it may not have achieved the same pleasure, she knew he felt it.
"I couldn't say exactly. He's adventurous, he makes me laugh and…he has that hilarious way of talking." The woman fell silent to allow the breeze its own monologue as it rustled through the leaves of the trees above her. "I'm sure I wasn't the most promising agent joining the force at seventeen, but I think you've grown used to me since then, haven't you?" The static noise changed in pitch and K smiled. CAR never was easily goaded into displays of affection. The earthy smell of approaching rain wafted around her. She looked up to see storm clouds rolling in and she distractedly wondered how much more time she had to converse with CAR like this. Certainly the issue would not be resolved in this single sitting; perhaps not for a long while as CAR expressed again and again his smoldering hatred for Dick. K shifted her shoulders slightly on the hood, seeking to warm her lower back. "He respects me. I didn't have to tell him I'm an international spy to gain his trust or his respect like I had to for my other boyfriends."
"Yes, I made many an acquaintance and forced exile with your old beaus. But this one takes the cake. What makes him any different?"
The palm stroking the hood stopped moving, and like a scorned cat, CAR shut off his engine.
"Even without knowing my profession, he treats me as his equal."
The vehicle jerked slightly beneath her again and the voice that spoke was highly agitated.
"He's not K. He's leagues behind you—not worthy of you and your intellect. He probably wouldn't know how to treat you once he discovers your vocation."
K smiled again, one corner of her mouth twisted deviously.
"Isn't that rather to the point?" she said softly. The car fell silent, at a rare loss for words. K was aware that she chose idiots as romantic partners? As though reading his mind, K spoke. "On the topic of intellect: The less Dick knows or rather understands about my profession, the better. For both of us."
A moment passed when the vehicle rumbled lowly like he was running in fourth gear. He was laughing.
"Ah, I see. Very clever, K. Brilliant even. You choose your men carefully when looking for that potential mate; a blathering idiot would be less of a problem sabotaging a mission as opposed to another intellectual who may become too curious. Now that explains your terrible choice of men all these years."
K sighed quietly to herself, CAR was still a step behind the well laid plans.
"I didn't choose Dick because of his intellect—"
"Or lack thereof."
K cleared her throat for the rude interjection and pressed on.
"I chose him because he is kind, caring, and affectionate; and we both share similar views on life. We live on that precipice that warrants the most exhilarating feeling imaginable, be them stunts or spy maneuvers. And…I love him for it."
"But the man doesn't know your line of work. He'll be just like the others you became involved with; made cowards, fearful of your involvement with the government when in the presence of a super spy. Your," the car coughed, "love for him will be your weakness. A weakness that will be exploited by your enemies."
K exhaled sharply and sat up.
"Must you be like my mother?" She muttered under her breath and abruptly pushed herself to the edge of the car, slipping deftly off its side.
"You don't understand CAR." The woman stopped a short distance away from the vehicle, clasping her arms at the elbows over her abdomen, already missing the heat of the hood as the cold air raked the warmth from her back in breezing waves. "I've been alone for so long. I miss being held for no reason other than to be close to another. Strong arms and soft words. Strolls on a sunset beach. Candlelit dinners. There's a void in me that's starved of affection. And I…I can't go on pretending that it's not there anymore." Her voice dropped to a barely audible murmur, but with CAR's enhanced hearing he caught every word. "I've been so lonely CAR."
"K," the vehicle murmured. "You've never been alone."
The woman turned slowly back to the British car, her blue eyes shimmering lightly in the cool night air.
"I may just be a hunk of metal and mechanical parts, but…I've come to care and respect you as a partner. You've really grown as an agent, K. Your skills are unparalleled. I can only hope that my abilities continue to match yours before I become obsolete and am…replaced by another."
It was in this short confession that K realized the true root of CAR's discontent. He was jealous of Dick. CAR felt as though he was losing his spy partner to another and his valid points for severing all ties to the civilian world were linked directly to the removal of anyone she became too close to. And in this instance, the immediate threat was Dick.
CAR was silent so long under her watchful gaze that she could swear she felt an embarrassed charge in the air. His dripping sarcasm she could handle, understand, even revere, but that heartfelt address? Her car—her stoic, cynical, sarcastic car—was being genuinely sensitive? That was all too preposterous.
A splash of cool moisture struck K's brow and several more of its kind followed. She did not shift as the rain began to fall down in sheets. The woman stood silently by as she watched her car deploy its canopy.
"Come on then, K," he said, almost sounding glad for the distraction and a reason to be off again—he really had said to much this time. Now she was going to hold it against him, mocking him that his sport-tuned suspension and aluminum frame was really copper and cotton candy. "I won't let you on these leather seats soaking wet."
K smiled again. There was CAR, his care hidden in his sarcasm. He was truly more concerned for her health than his interior.
K returned to her vehicle and placed her hands lovingly on his fender.
"Oh CAR, no one could ever replace you." She said softly.
CAR remained silent, unconvinced by her words and automatically popped open the car door, a quiet invitation to enter before she caught cold. K walked back to the door and slipped into the driver's seat, permitting the vehicle to monitor her vital signs, to know that she spoke the truth as he asked her that end-all question.
"You truly care for him, don't you?"
CAR could feel it; K's temperature rose minutely, her muscles tensed slightly, and a very fine sheen of sweat rose on the hand that touched his door handle. She didn't need to answer. There was no doubt in CAR's mind now that K was infatuated; smitten with the ruddy twit. Dash it all.
But suddenly K surprised him by changing the subject to something a little more close to home.
"Do you remember that day my father drove you to our house and presented you to me with the biggest red bow over your windshield? I must have squealed so loudly our neighbors a stone's throw away could have heard me." She giggled. "I was so thrilled."
"Yes, there's nothing more dangerous than a teenaged driver behind the wheel of a highly intelligent machine." If CAR had eyes, K imagined him rolling them at that instant. "Brilliant idea from that father of yours. I had to break in a greenie."
"Huh!" She exhaled, insulted. "I worked hard for that promotion; surely you concede I deserved a gift for it?"
"A puppy dog? Of course. But Britain's most advanced, cutting edge technology coupled with a freshly licensed teen was not my cup of tea."
"You weren't all flowers and sunshine either starting out. You always did find something to badger me on, but a pull on the reins and suddenly we're all docile. You're really just a big teddy bear."
"With these?" CAR whipped out a screaming buzz saw and an array of rockets from under the hood K had been lying so carelessly on only moments ago. "I think not."
"Oh, put those away." The woman said, unfazed by the menacing display.
"You see?" the vehicle cried in frustration. "You never let me have any fun anymore. When you were younger you wanted missiles set off every other mission! Now who's the one subdued?" The car huffed. "Why would you ever want to be married?"
Agent K blushed furiously, made even more embarrassed that CAR knew it.
"I-I-I never said I was going to get married." She stuttered.
"Not you, I mean me." He corrected impatiently. "You're not the only one getting married here you know. Soon it will be: 'Let's take CAR for a night on the town and leave him sitting in a parking garage,' 'Let's use CAR to go to the grocery store,' 'Let's use CAR to carpool the children.'"
"Children?" K echoed, but not without an unsettling intensity to her voice. CAR groaned loudly.
"Oh no, K. You're giving me one right good headache. No children. I forbid it! Do you know how destructive those little monkeys are? And you're dating the ape so you're sure to get monkeys."
Agent K laughed heartily.
"You think I'm joking, do you?"
The woman put the vehicle into gear and the pedals and steering wheel did not resist her this time.
"You don't think monkeys become of monkeys?"
K reversed from the ridge, letting CAR continue with his rant as she drove them both home.
I love CAR! He's got that dry wit about him that's just so hilarious, and he and K make a great team. Kath Soucie does a wonderful job as the British spy and hats off to David McCallum as C.A.R.T.E.R. I figured since CAR hates Dick so much in the series, that he would give his two cents before K does anything crazy, like tying the knot. So this story before the story became of it. I think I may have taken a lot of liberties with CAR and his wild array of sensors and abilities, but this vehicle proves quite agile on the series, so I thought what I wrote here was fairly tame.
Anyway, I doubt this story is going to get a lot of reader traffic (the Replacements being such a popular series)--so if you did read it--please leave a review! As one of the few Replacement stories out there, I'll deeply appreciate anything you have to say, do your good deed for the day! (Should take less than two minutes of your time!)
Hope you liked!