Closed RP Parts and Recreation

This RP is currently closed.

illirica

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Vic's garage.

It wasn't her garage, as displayed by the sign out front, but Auraliese didn't have issues with that. Most people she met thought she would, which had always struck her as odd. Sure, they were technically competing businesses, but everyone had their specialties, and sometimes they sent work to each other, or sold each other parts at close to wholesale - sometimes it was worth it, if it meant that you could get the part you needed that day rather than waiting for it to get shipped.

She'd come over to pick up a slightly used timing belt, hopefully in decent enough condition that she could put it into the car she was working on and keep it running for a while. She'd pointed out to the owner that the cost of a new belt versus a used one wasn't really that much, given that most of the cost he was paying was for her to disassemble and reassemble everything, but he had some sort of complex about new parts being a scam. Sure, thing, buddy - hopefully he enjoyed replacing the belt in another two or three thousand miles, then.

Auraliese was paid to fix cars, though, not to educate people on comparative economics, so she'd asked around to see if any of the other garages had what she needed and organized a time to pick it up. Vic's was all right, as far as garages went. There were a few she wouldn't work with if she could avoid it; less because of the workmanship and more because of dealing with people telling her that little girls shouldn't fix cars or whatever 1960s crap they were spewing. Of course, you never knew what employee you'd be dealing with... she just had to roll the dice and hope for good luck.

She didn't know the guy at the counter, but walked up anyway.

"Hi. I'm here about a timing belt."
 
Vic’s Garage.

Todd wasn’t sure why he’d come in today. He should’ve quit as soon as he knew Sam knew what he was – it’d save Vik paperwork when he disappeared, at least. But he couldn’t make himself just leave, either. Maybe it was the familiarity. Maybe it was the fact that Henry needed to call in for end-of-term finals, and Todd wanted a few more tokens on the “good” end of his scales. Maybe he just wanted to forget everything else, everything with Sam, and get up to his elbows in an engine.

Maybe, he just didn’t know what else to do when Sam had a gym to run.

It was a slow day. Not a lot of appointments, not a lot of calls, almost no walk-ins. So when the blonde stepped in, Todd was alone in the shop.

At a glance, he knew she knew how to work an engine. Even before he caught the scents of motor oil and machinery, metal and grease, she just carried herself the right way. While the pink tips of her blonde pigtails weren’t what most people expected, Todd hardly spared them a glance, or her sweet blue eyes, or the fact that she looked to be about five years his junior. He caught the undertones of fresh-cut grass beneath the artificial scent of engine, and even deeper, something evergreen. He’d worked at enough shops to know not to judge a mechanic by her appearance, or scent, for that matter. Instead, he glanced at the list of appointments, and caught the name next to ‘timing belt’.

“Auralise?”

He hoped he was pronouncing that correctly – it was better than trying to get Koch right. He relaxed his shoulders, though, and shoved aside all thoughts of impending doom – and memories of the last tiny woman who came into Vik’s asking about a timing belt, smelling a little bit like spice – to meet her with his normal customer-service smile. The kind that usually got rid of the lingering sadness in his eyes.

He glanced back at the paper, and skimmed the notes, reading them softly out loud. “PittStop, timing belt, slightly used, there’s the cost… alright. Vik’s not here right now, so I don’t know your usual drill. Do you usually take a look first, or should I just bring it out?”
 





Oh, good, he wasn't weird.

Auraliese had a pretty high tolerance for weird, given that she occasionally hung out with people who named themselves after eating utensils - okay, just one person - but even so, you never knew what you were going to get with a new face.

"Auraliese, that's me." He'd seemed a little unsure about the pronunciation, so she might as well throw him a bone. It was a pretty common thing to trip up over, anyway - the -liese was German. The Aura- wasn't. That was her parents' weirdness, though, not the shop guy's.

"And I'd like to take a look at it. I know Vik's usually good with stuff, but I've got an image in my head and I want to make sure it'll work." This was mechanic-speak for I actually want to make sure it's not a piece of crap, but I'm going to say it in a way that isn't going to offend anyone. Vik was usually reliable, but sometimes things slipped through - you didn't spend as much time checking things over if you weren't going to install them, after all, and who knew how long the belt in question had been sitting on a shelf.

"You got time?"

 
Todd appreciated that she helped with the pronunciation. He also appreciated that she went through the motions of good manners – some of Vik’s long-standing associates would’ve been outright about ‘I want to make sure Vik isn’t selling me garbage, even if he’s never sold me garbage before.’ Todd had checked the belt himself this morning.

He glanced at the clock, then back at the appointments book. The garage was empty, no rush orders or walk-ins, and there was an hour before the next person was supposed to show up. “It looks like we’ve got about an hour. Long as nothing’s wrong with it, we’ll be long since done by then.”

He got up, set the book aside, and reached behind the desk for the “Sorry! We’ll be right back!” sign.

“So, I’m guessing Henry would recognize you, but I’m going to need to check your ID before bringing you out on the floor. Says here you should be good, but Vik’s pretty strict about letting customers near heavy machinery if they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Henry, the usual African-American grad student who worked for Vik most mornings because he’d miraculously landed all night classes, would almost definitely recognize a regular who’d bought from Vik before. Usually, Henry opened up as Todd was leaving from his overnight rush-orders. He didn’t see much of the day shift anymore.

But he needed to do something to take his mind off of things, these days. Not that that was any of Auralise’s business. And right now, he was spending his nights with Sam, so Mike had gone back to taking the rush orders.

They’d be fine without him.

He shoved that depressing thought back into its box. Obviously they’d be fine without him, but he had no idea when he’d be leaving, so he’d do the best he could before he disappeared on them. The least he could do for Vik and the others right now was his job, to the best of his ability.

And right now, that meant helping a customer with a timing belt.
 





"Yeah, no worries." Auraliese wasn't going to argue - she didn't like idiots on her shop floor, either, and everyone was an idiot until proven otherwise. She pulled her card holder out of a pocket - it was bubblegum pink, which was mostly because it made it really hard to misplace. The ID was just a standard PA driver's license, though it did have a class-M rider as well as the standard class-C. She might have worked on cars, but she hardly ever drove them. Motorcycles were easier, given that it was just her, and given that the motorcycle in question was her dad's and thus way more expensive than a car. By her count, he had ridden it about six times, maybe seven.

"Sorry, didn't catch your name, by the way." It was a question, even if it wasn't phrased as one. Sometimes there was a nameplate on the desk, but most of the time the workers didn't bother, especially since the only people who ever looked at them were the ones who wanted to speak to the manager. Auraliese had spent plenty of time working in garages before she'd gotten her own, so she was fairly familiar with that particular mechanic, pun fully intended.

"I don't think we've met?"

 
He took the ID, skimmed it, and handed it back with the same warm smile.The kind that said ‘this is a formality, I barely looked at it,’ and didn’t indicate that he’d caught everything it had to offer from her 2001 birthday to the Class-M. He’d heard the bike pull up – machinery like that didn’t get past his ears. Normally, he just tuned it out.

He did want to ask if the bike was pink, too, like her pink hair and her pink ID case, but that was more insensitive than some of his other desk talk. The better option would probably be, ‘Oh, you ride? I’ve been thinking about getting my class-M, do you have any tips?” or “My girlfriend rides!”

Except right now, that was just…something else he’d never get around to. And mentioning Sam would kill the customer service smile on the spot.

“Didn’t toss it out,” he teased instead, a bright spark lighting his blue eyes for just a second with a laugh that didn’t make it into his low voice. But as he stepped out from behind the counter, he offered his hand. “It’s Todd.”

The name was embroidered on cursive on his other shirt, the ill-fitting one he used to wear, but the current one was already custom made for him, and these days, he rarely saw front desk work. Midnight emergencies didn’t need to know his name was Todd. They just needed to know whether they could fix their truck.

“You probably talk to Vik or Henry most of the time,” he continued, as he led the way to the shop. “Lately I’ve been relegated to overnight rush orders. It’s good to meet you.”
 





"Todd, right." Auraliese gave him a smile, even if what she was smiling at was more the fact that most people just claimed they'd forgotten to introduce themselves and weren't just all nope, I didn't. Maybe he cosplayed as tall, dark, and mysterious on weekends or something. He certainly had the height for it. "I mean, I'm going to forget it anyway, probably, but at least that means next time I see you I'll be the one feeling weird about it and debating whether I should ask you again or if I should just avoid the subject and pretend I remember and let it get really awkward and hope someone else mentions it in passing some time in the next six months. So... on a completely unrelated topic, Henry's the usual college guy?"

This didn't seem like it was a question so much as an admission, but she was good-natured about it and followed him back to the shop floor with the familiarity of someone who knew exactly where they were going and was just being polite and letting the other person go ahead anyway.

"Do you do a lot of overnight stuff? I've been keeping strict eight-to-eight." This was not, on saying it out loud, particularly strict, but she did take Tuesdays off. Maybe she should take more time off, actually... and do what, though? And it wasn't like she had enough customers to fill that time anyway, so mostly it was just those are my hours and bring it in sometime in there and if I don't have any cars to work on I will go do something else for a while.

But really, even the hours she worked were kind of crazy. Maybe she ought to hire someone. Except then she'd have to manage people, and she did not want to do that.

 
Todd laughed warmly on cue, sliding easily into place in the conversation. This was one of the things he missed at night. The quiet, the dark, the room to work, those were all good for him, but he couldn’t help but feel like he was losing more and more of his human connections. When was the last time he’d talked to Kosuke? Before the hunt with Ethan, he was pretty sure. And he’d been avoiding Ethan, aside from accepting an invitation to the Slate Christmas party. And Sam was a whole different animal.

“That’s the one.” Even with his own thoughts, Auraliese still had most of his attention. He moved at her pace, as easy as it would be to get a long head-start with his lanky build. He felt the pang of loss when she asked if he liked overnights, but kept his shrug casual. “When we’ve got night work, it’s nice. I spent a couple years on the road myself. Fucked my sleep schedule a bit, but since Vik has a full day staff and I’m mostly nocturnal anyway, we’ve figured something out. I do a lot of rush orders and weird shifts.”

And without rent to pay (thanks to Sammy) and a nonexistent grocery bill, part-time was working out just fine for him. It made Vik less dependent on him, and let the others make a real living. With the arrangements they had in place, fewer people would be affected if – when – something happened to Todd. That was for the best.
 





"Sounds all right, actually. I mean, not for me - I am not a night person. I'd have made a great Cinderella, because I'd have been out of that party by nine thirty. But, you know, the idea of just... being there in the shop, getting stuff done, no one to come in and ask you inane questions... that part would be nice, I think. Where'd you go when you were on the road? Any little hidden gems you discovered?"

Auraliese didn't ask why he'd been on the road, because sometimes the answer was I decided to get away from society and sometimes it was I was fucking broke and got kicked out, and that was the sort of thing you didn't pry into. If he wanted to tell her, he could do that, and if not, she could keep the topic away from the heavy stuff.

 
The Cinderella comment got another laugh from Todd.

“Eh, inane questions aren’t so bad as long as you know who you're talking to.” Maybe not everyone found it that easy, but Todd was quite literally built for adaptation, so he let himself be an outlier there. “Anyway, there’s a lot between the West Coast and Pittsburgh. I won’t bore you with the nature stuff I’m into, but any natural science museum or hiking trail that had a freeway sign was something I’d check out.”

He didn’t address the scent of evergreen on her, or the clinging grass from someone who liked taking long hikes through fielded areas. If she wanted to tell him that, it’d be different. No use coming off as too weird.
 





Oh, he didn't mind the idiot questions? Well, more power to him, Auraliese supposed. Then again, he probably didn't get Isn't there, you know, someone more... 'qualified'...? She didn't expect everyone to be a mechanic, she just would have liked it if everyone could admit that she was.

"You won't bore me. I like the nature stuff. My mom used to take me, um, emphatically camping when I was a kid. The you get what you can carry, and that includes snacks sort of camping. Not so bad if there's somewhere you can fish, but..." Auraliese shrugged, and decided that maybe asking if he'd ever eaten a raccoon would not go over well in polite conversation.

"Have you been in Pittsburgh long?" There, that was a much more appropriate conversational avenue, wasn't it? So much better. "Because the hiking mostly sucks, but there's a few places that I've found that are all right, so if you want any pointers or to trade spots, I'd be interested to hear what you've found. I doubt I'll make it out as far as the west coast, though - too much going on around here to keep me busy, you know?"

 
He hmmed for a second as they got to the storage room, thinking. “Six-ish months, I think? And yeah, there’s a lot going on locally. And Vik’s note said you own PittStop, right? That’s the new place like, twenty minutes from here? I’ve been meaning to stop in. I get a discount here for stuff for my Malibu, but I’m always open to checking out other places.”

He flipped a light on, and led the way over to where the timing belt had been set aside. “Point is, you probably know a lot more than I do about the area. I’m not picky when it comes to outdoorsy stuff. If you’ve got suggestions on the spots you think are good, I’ll definitely take my girlfriend and check them out. She loves that kind of thing, too.”

They’d been talking about a hike for his birthday in a few days. Maybe, if Auraliese listed somewhere he hadn’t been yet, he’d bring it up to Sam. Checking it out might be a good distraction from the lingering weight between them. Nothing like some fresh air to clear up the fact that he ate people.
 





"McConnell's Mill is nice," Auraliese offered. "Or, um, Oil Creek if you like overnights, since so many places are closes at dusk now, you know." That annoyed her - too much safety. It was probably to stop people from getting drunk and falling off the cliffs, but people were going to do stupid stuff somewhere, and at least maybe that kept them out of their cars. Poor cars. They deserved so much better.

"Ohiopyle is pretty, but there's not a whole lot of longer trails and there tend to be a lot of kids and families there, so it gets pretty crowded. I don't know if that's your vibe or not." He'd mentioned a girlfriend. "Easy for beginners, though." Just in case the girlfriend was Not A Hiker and was just saying she was because she thought T- Tim? Tad? Shit. Todd! Ha, it was still in there. Anyway, in case she was just saying she was because she thought he was cute.

"Is your girlfriend from around here? She might have some ideas, too."

 
“She’s from Columbus, actually,” he said, and his smile softened as he remembered all the little hiking trips he and Sam had taken. He stopped himself before the sigh could escape his lips – he didn’t need Auraliese thinking that he’d need relationship advice. Way too many people offered that unprompted. “Maybe we’ll hit up Oil Creek together sometime when I get off work early. She doesn’t sleep much, either.”

That was a good way to respond to the implication that Sam might be Not-A-Hiker. The night trail would appeal to her, he was pretty sure, as long as he stayed under control. Which he would. His skin tingled at the memory of the hunt with Ethan, of the pain of coming down. He’d have to keep it together. Especially now that he was sure Sammy knew.

Would she even agree to a night hike, knowing what she did?

“Kids aren’t really my vibe,” he said, changing the subject. “I usually hike to get away from the noise and the crowds, y’know? Ohiopyle probably isn’t our speed.”
 





Columbus wasn't too far, less than a couple hours. "Up near Allegheny National Forest?" Or... maybe not? "Or the one in Ohio?" The better known Columbus. Probably not her business, anyway. Better to stop asking, before people started thinking she was about to give unsolicited relationship advice, and Auraliese was about the least qualified on that account. "Well, I hope you enjoy it, if you do go. And feel free to come by the shop any time. I don't actually mind talking to people, as long as they don't try to stick their fingers where they don't belong."

Presumably another mechanic would understand that, but there was definitely a reason that Auraliese had neon colored duct tape down on the shop floor to indicate where Thou Shalt Not Go for customers. It was surprisingly effective, most of the time. For the times when it wasn't, she was pretty sure that nothing would have worked. Some people were like that, though.

"You working on anything interesting, lately?"

 
“Ohio,” he clarified, with another easy laugh. “Though I’ve been meaning to go up to Alleghany myself.”

He pulled the timing belt out of the box Vik had set it aside in and set it down on the table, uncoiled. Then he stepped back to let her take a look while they changed the subject back to something more… professional.

“Actually, I had a buddy of mine bring in this super fucked Range Rover – no idea what he did to it, but I’m getting him a new car and using this thing as a personal project for the experience, if nothing else. Gotta build her back from the ground up, almost, though I’m making good headway on it.”

For a car he’d had for two weeks, actually. He’d gotten it cleaned and made a list of everything he’d need to actually make the repairs he needed on the damn machine, and– then just kind of stopped. Because what was the point, really, now that Sammy knew? He couldn’t bring himself to look at the SUV again. Not knowing he’d have to leave it behind.

Unless he could find someone willing to take interest in that kinda thing. Maybe Henry would want it. The kid needed a hobby, maybe this would scratch that itch.
 





Todd set the belt on a table, and Auraliese stepped in to look it over, picking it up and making sure to inspect it properly, giving it a few little tugs at various places to see how it stretched and whether it was, in professional terms, already fucked up.

"Sounds like kind of a fun project, if you have the time for it." And the funds - rebuilding cars was not exactly a cheap hobby, though working in a repair shop would mean he could at least source the parts wholesale or close to it, and if he did his own work... well, it wasn't too bad, but it'd still add up. Auraliese had thought about getting a project car, but she didn't really want to keep one, and then she'd just have to go through the trouble of selling it. She'd rather work on other people's project cars, especially the ones that they'd tried to DIY for a while and then finally caved and called a mechanic. Those were always fun, because you never knew what you were going to find.

"How long have you been working on that?" No judgment - some of those projects were a little bit at a time over several years, some of them got done in a weekend. Sometimes it was about the journey, sometimes it was about the journey you were going to take after you fixed the freakin' car.

 
Todd watched with professional distance as she examined the belt. It never hurt to double check your sources – something he was trying to get through to Nat. Just the thought of the kid sent a pang through him. When was the last time they’d talked? Two weeks? A month?

Would they talk again?

Between that and thinking of Connor’s Rover, he felt his spirits fall. But he bounced back, his smile returning with a vengeance as he laughed in a way he hoped was casual.

“Only a couple weeks. Still on the pricing phase– and getting everything cleaned. That thing’s been through so much off-roading, plus he’s lived out of it, and you can tell –” coming from the guy who’d admitted to living out of the Malibu, though that at least had been a minimalist lifestyle – “and I think he said it’s been five? years since it’s been to a mechanic, at least. There’s so much grime that I can’t even tell what’s still intact.”

It was fixable, though. Cars usually were. A little attention, a bit of money, and it’d be right as rain.

Unlike other things.
 





"Oh, dear." There was something about the way he said the words you can tell that brought to mind the scent of stale Burger King wrappers with little dried-on bits of condiments still smeared on them, with an undercurrent of greasy fried chicken that permeated the upholstery. Add in laundry that had been worn more often than it should have and not washed nearly enough, and the overwhelming vestige of Axe Body Spray - it was always Axe Body Spray - and, as a treat, Spring Clean Febreze doing its very best and not nearly enough. Yeah. She'd worked on those cars before.

And five years since a mechanic... "Did he... at least change the oil?" She had a terrified feeling that the answer was going to be either no or that he'd stopped in at one of those Speedster Lube places and paid twenty bucks for the privilege of having someone screw something else up while they drained about half of the old oil and put in some new stuff that was sort of close to what they were supposed to be using, maybe, on a good day.

That poor Range Rover. Surely it must have deserved better than this.

 
She asked the first question he had, desperate for some confirmation the old truck had gotten love. There was a hollow look in his eyes as he shook his head, though the spark of humor never actually disappeared.

“When I asked him, he looked like he’d never heard the phrase before.”

Given it was Connor, he almost certainly hadn’t. He’d made the big dog promise to bring any new vehicle to Todd directly going forward for biweekly check-ups, given the shit he seemed to put his vehicle through. At the very least, he could do preventative maintenance – or get someone here to do it. Mike, maybe. Mike would like Connor a lot. Henry would be intimidated. Vik would like him, but wouldn’t know how to handle him, not really. But Mike seemed like a dog person.
 
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