2019-11-08 - The Magician and the Mechanic


Ford's efforts to swipe a part from an upscale garage are both thwarted and aided by Zatanna. Ford likes her.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Fri Nov 8 00:06:38 2019
Location: {$location}

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Theme Song



With the success of snagging something out from under the noses of three inconveniently timed super heroines, Ford was feeling a good deal more confident in his ability to steal. (At least, more so than he usually does.) Having swiped something for Ira, Ford decided to not only test his skills on something slightly riskier, but to treat himself as well. Being an avid mechanic and car devotee, Ford had long had his eyes on something of the more quality parts found in the uptown shops around New York, but without the budget, he could never afford them. And using his powers to take them by force was a good way to draw the ire of self-righteous vigilantes and superpowered lunatics.

But using them to trick his way into a shop and swipe them that way? That was another story.

It's with this plan in mind that Ford has come to one of those uptown all-in-one auto shops and garages, a place called The Wheel Well. Standing outside, already covering himself in an illusion to come across as a simple, innocent young Asian-American man admiring the shop, Ford stared inside the store proper, trying to guage just how often employees came in, left, what the ones who worked there looked like, and whatnot. Ford truthfully needed an excuse to distract the guy at the front desk, so he could slip past as a common employee undetected. He just needed something flashy and distracting to do just that…

Zatanna is neither flashy nor distracting. Wealthy, gorgeous celebrities who dress for attention, flirt compulsively, and are looking to spread around their money are a dime a dozen in okay yeah maybe she is a little distracting.

She's on the arm of the garage's owner, a man who is not, in fact, named Mr. Wheel. His name is Eric Sunderland. He's in his late forties, thinning on top and thickening in the middle but dressing well, and he's leading Zatanna through the garage slowly as he explains the kinds of custom jobs he's been asked to do in the past. Surely he's moving so slowly because Zatanna is asking him questions and not because he wants everyone to have a chance to see her arm through his. At the moment, she's explaining, "The magician's code says I can't be explicit about what I'm looking for, but it sounds like the kind of work you've done would up my alley. My main concern right now is making sure the modifications wouldn't render a vehicle undriveable. Would you be willing to talk to my crew and provide them instructions…?"

Zatanna was a perfect distraction… in fact, almost too good a distraction. Ford's senses were always a little more keen and refined when it came to sussing out humans, a fact he disliked thinking about too much. But in the case of the ladies, Ford's enhanced senses always locked on to those first (again, for reasons he didn't like to ponder too much), singling out Zatanna as she moved with the owner. And admittedly, his tactic was working; Ford detested seeing such a lovely lady on his arm like that.

'Focus, Ford.' He chastised quietly, recognizing that this made for a perfect opportunity to slip in with the fewest eyes on him, since they'd undoubtedly be on Zatanna. Leaning casually against the wall outside the garage, Ford began to subtly shift his personal illusion, steadily changing himself piece by piece until he looked like a mechanic he'd seen working in the back earlier. With his new disguise as "Mitch the Mechanic" complete, he sauntered inside cool as could be. He absolutely worked there, of course. No need for suspicion. He crossed right by the owner and Zatanna as he made his way steadily to the back, sussing out where good parts might be… as well as evesdropping a bit on Zatanna's conversation.

He couldn't help it. His hearing was already locked on to her dulcet tones anyways. Might as well enjoy them.

"Is everything alright?" Eric asks Zatanna, for he saw a wince cross her face for no reason, a slight blanching of her features. She wipes it off her face as best she can, and nods at Eric. "I'm fine. Just an old complaint acting up, a little pricking in my thumbs. It's already fading."

Eric is already nodding wisely. "Oh, sounds like a nerve thing," he diagnoses as he guides her toward the pits where the men (and it is mostly men, Zatanna observes resignedly) work on vehicles' undersides, where presumably the modifications she's asking for would be done. "Maybe you got diabetic pains from being so sweet?" Zatanna laughs, she can't help it, and squeezes Mitch's arm. While his employees are all turning aside with embarrassment at how bad that line is, Zatanna looks around. She knows what that feeling means.

Ford's ears perked slightly as her comment. She couldn't possibly be… no, no, she just has some pains of some kind. He's letting his own nerves get the better of him. He'd hop in to the back, get some parts, stroll out cool as you like. Simple as that. Ford hummed quietly as he walked around to the back of the pits, eyeing the shelves along the wall as his mechanic's savvy began to pick out which were old, which were new, and which ones he was after. Glass packs? Maybe. A nice thermal sink there. Ooooo, now /there's/ a prize! An intake manifold runner control! Ford's been dying to switch that out of his old engine.

Moseying on to the shelves, Ford pretended to browse through the shelves looking for the part he "needed" before grabbing the intake manifold and hefting it in hand, tucking it under his arm and turning to stroll right back out. However, his perfect heist is put in slight jeopardy. Zatanna might notice that the guy taking the manifold looks strangely familiar… in fact, she's probably recognizes him from the pits, as one of the mechanics looks like his spitting image! They could be twins!

Zatanna doesn't let the twin spook her. She's seen more upsetting things than that. She just chats with Eric, "So, the pits are interesting. I remember when I was a kid, mechanics didn't have pits to get beneath cars, they would put cars on hydraulic lifts and raise them with a levaer. I guess this is safer?"

"And costs less power and maintenance for equipment," Eric agrees, clearly pleased to be discussing his work. Most people love to be interviewed. He continues chattering on about how his garage is built on generations of innovation and therefore the best place for Zatanna, a speech she listens to with half an ear because she mostly asked such an awkward question to slip in a spell to open her ajna and look around for magical influence. Her third eye can see the prismatic ribbons of illusion…

Ford continues to walk to th exit of the garage he came through. So far, so good. He was getting better at this! Entirely unaware that Zatanna was opening her magical third eye, however, Ford's illusion gives him away. Zatanna can probably tell it's not an actual spell cast, but more a natural ability. And if magical auras could give off a scent, this one would sting the nose a bit. Overbearing might be a good way to describe it. It actually seems to lash a bit at being observed, as if angry that it's been caught. Not that Ford's even aware it's happening.

But whatever sense it tingles on Zatanna, it's definitely centering on the mechanic with the part under his arm, making his way out the door.

Malicious illusion.

Angry deception.

Violence and lies.

Zatanna is one hundred percent good with the source of that resonance walking out the door, because in her experience, there's only one category of being that broadcasts that kind of vibe; and that category of being usually enjoys collateral damage very much. She keeps her senses extended because she knows she'll need them, but first, she needs an out.

She takes one hand off Eric's arm and flattens it over her breast as if feeling something. "Eric, excuse me, that's my business line," she apologizes. He can't hear a phone buzzing, but in a garage, who would? He nods, smiling to mask his annoyance at his arm candy walking away, and she pulls her phone to her ear as she heads toward the door. "Hi, I'm in a garage right now, let me step out where I can hear you." And, while she's walking and talking, she adds, "Laiv fo yloh retaw ni ym tekcop." It's a bit of a deception, but no one said demons have a monopoly on manipulation, did they?

Ford blinks as he catches wind that Zatanna seems to have a call. With his back to her, he can't properly validate if she's following him, and with all the noise in the garage, it's hard to gauge if she really does have a call, or if that's just an excuse. Either way, she was off the owner's arms. Normal people would note this and start to worry. They'd probably panic a bit, wonder if they're being followed, or maybe if they've been caught.

Ford was not normal, however. Heck, he wasn't even a normal demon.

No, the first thing on Ford's mind was not if he'd been caught or if he should book it. His immediate thought process was to find a place to safely set down his prize, then double back and try to chat up the now available lovely lady. Because unlike normal demons, oni are driven by their passions. And Zatanna certainly sparked a few in Ford. Stepping outside and rounding the corner, Ford took a brief detour down an alleyway and found a convenient dumpster, setting the intake manifold on the ground behind it before quickly altering his appearance once more. Out of those greasy mechanic's overalls and into a much more comfortable looking set of blue jeans, black tanktop and unbuttoned blue flannel shirt. He hated to leave his perfect face disguised, but he at least still retained some sense… best to not use his real face during a heist, even if he thought he was successful.

Satisfied that he looked more presentable, Ford turned around to head back out into the street, taking Zatanna at her word and looking out for her.

Zatanna's hand slips into her coat pocket to grab the vial of water in it, the round bulge of glass with its odd, brass tip. She steps out into the street, telling the no one on the other side of the phone, "Alright, I'm just outside, let me get a little distance and I can hear you better. Yeah, sorry, I know it's paranoid but I hate being where people can hear me talk business." She turns the corner around the building toward the alley, following the thinning strands of illusion, fist closed tightly around her new weapon, breath drawn to cast a spell at any moment. As she enters the garbage-filled side alley (god, New York City really is a gas station toilet: looks clean in the front, but never check the back), she scans around and muses, "I should be clear. Go ahead."

Every word a lie, but Zatanna lies for a living.

As Zatanna closes in on the alleyway, the strands of illusory magic start to grow stronger again, until finally, the source itself appears, though admittedly a little easier on the eyes. Certainly a sight better out of those dingy mechanic's overalls. Ford blinks as he is confronted by the stage magician, but his smile clearly indicates he has nooooo problems with it… and his powerful hearing already tells him that she's lying. There's not even the silent static of a quiet line coming from the phone.

However, he doesn't immediately call her out on it. No, instead, he plays along, stuffing his hands in his pockets and leaning against the alley wall, waiting for her to either "hang up" or address him directly. In the meantime, his eyes rove appreciatively over her figure, before trailing back up to her face and smiling. It's not a smug smile or a challenging one. Just quietly admiring what he sees. Letting her make the first move.

And there it is, the source of the aura, wavering in her third eye's vision like a some celestial TV censor is blurring his face for her mind's eye's camera. Well, it wouldn't be an illusion spell if it could be seen through easily, would it? Zatanna drops the subterfuge of the phone and slides it back into her coat's inner pocket.

"Nothing like being checked out by a demon," she informs him boldly, wryly, andperhaps oddlyhonestly. What? "So what's the next step, Mitch from the oil change pit?"

That caught Ford offguard. How in the blazes did she figure out he was a demon! Now Ford was internally starting to panic a little, but okay, okay… he was still hidden by his illusion, right? She couldn't see his true face… he still had some shielding. "I… know I'm devilishly handsome, but I don't think that's meant to be taken literally, gorgeous." Ford replied, trying to play off her accusation. After all, she had no real proof. Right?

"Well, typically, this is where you share your name, if I'm lucky, your number, and we make a date out of things." Ford added, shifting along the side of the wall. "Perhaps we can talk about what prompted that astounding leap in logic, because I think you have the wrong guy."

Wow, that's the sloppiest denial she's ever heard. Zatanna almost feels sorry for the demon who has to ask so blatantly for help to avoid being detected, but not quite; and anyway, a magician never reveals her secrets. "Ancient thing, though I am young, the wisdom of ages is in me, imparted by generations gone except for their lives in my heart," she informs him (getting Gandalfian with the speeches usually makes things easier) as she stalks forward, head high, eyes bright. Her hair is beginning to darken, to become less hair than strands of darkness in which stars sparkle. "You speak to an heir of Solomon, who bound your betters in chains of laws to his service. My time and my patience are short. Speak or be returned, screaming, to the darkness from which you crawled!"

Okay, maybe that was laying it on a little thick.

Ford leaned back along the wall as Zatanna approached, blinking as he watched her physique change ever so slightly. He didn't interrupt, hands still in his pockets, listening to her speak so high and mighty as she talked about her lineage, her wisdom, and sending him back screaming and kicking to the darkness. Finally, leaning aaaaaall the way back, Ford paused, looked off to the side, before finally responding.

"…first, I don't think 24 years old is ancient… unless you're, like, 4 years old. Second, I… was born just like everyone else, and my mom is passed away, so you're gonna have a hard doing that." His expression grew a bit sterner, pulling out a hand and pointing a finger at her. "Unless you plan on defiling her body, in which case, you and I are /really/ gonna have a problem, lady." Having said his piece on that, he placed his hand at his side. "And thirdly… your hair is gorgeous. I don't know how you make it do that whole darkness thing? But even before that, it was nice. Lilac shampoo?"

Stilled leaned back, Ford lifted his hand and offered it as a handshake. A very pleasent demon, apparently. "Alright, I'll be the gentleman here. Name's… Ford. It's a pleasure to meet you, miss…?"

Zatanna's eyes narrow at Ford (and even her brows are getting in on the 'portal to an alien sky' thing), but her tightly pressed lips are trembling and she's not doing her best at suppressing a laugh. "Yeah, yeah, alright," she relents, dropping the act for now. She really does need to work on her demonology, it seems. She crosses her arms over her chest, not accepting the offered hand, and asks, "Okay, Keyser Soze, I mean Ford." What? You can't blame her for thinking it's an alias under these circumstances. "Why don't you tell me what you're out here throwing illusions all over the place for?"

Ford was all too happy to let her think his name was an alias. Made things easier for him, at least. "To your credit, I was buying at least half of that. I would at the very least keep that 'heir of Solomon' bit. That part sounds believable." He encouraged, before returning his hand to his pocket. That hair to the dark beyond was also really cool… Ford wondered if he could learn to do that. "I wanted something in that garage." Ford replied honestly. Hey, it seemed to be working so far! "And throwing things around is how you draw the costumed nutjobs out in droves. So I opted for the more sutble approach. You were a fantastic distraction, by the way. I can tell when a guy is wrapped around a lady's finger, and that guy could not have been wound around you any tighter."

Ford shrugged his shoulders and shook his head. "But, hey, it was working. Had me jealous enough that when I heard you leaving, I had to come back and toss my hat in the ring now that he was out of the picture."


Type "+thelp" for help.

My, grandma, what big eyes you have.

Yeah. Zatanna ain't falling for this. "Okay. What did you need in the garage?" she asks, one eyebrow cocked in an exasperated 'this is gonna be good' expression.

"Parts. Car parts. I'm a mechanic by trade and choice, but our shop never has anything as high end as all that stuff. A lot of it is, fluff, but there's a few pieces in there that I thought would make for a good addition to my own little pride and joy." Ford answered honestly. Frankly, that seemed to be working wonders for him. Why not keep it up. "The better question is, what's a pretty thing like you doing in there?"

"Apparently I'm buying your car parts for you so you don't have to steal them." Zatanna holds out her right hand, palm up, and curls her fingers twice in a gesture that would be very come-hither if not for the disappointed impatience behind it. "Hand them over, I'll go get them rung out."

That… was not what Ford was anticipating. His head, heck, his whole posture tilted back a bit in surprise and confusion. He eyed her hand with a careful gaze before glancing back up at her. "…why? What's the catch?" His arms folded over his chest. "I'm nobody's charity case. I don't like handouts… or being in somebody's debt."

Zatanna stands there, hand out, like a teacher waiting for a naughty student to turn over a paper. "You are determined to steal from people. I can fight you, but that doesn't mean I can stop you. Best case scenario, you go to jail, break out, and just steal again. More likely, I fight you, you run away, and either get away with your robbery or you don't and you steal from somewhere else. So fine, the only way to stop you from stealing is to pay for what you want. That's how it has to be. Now hand it over."

The look of sheer, dumbfounded confusion on Ford's face was a sight to behold. Once can almost see the wheels in his head spinning as he processes what he's hearing. It's not that he disagrees with her… he just wasn't expecting such a logical response, much less from who he suspected was a vigilante on the sly. "…uh… I… guess?"

Ford turned and moved around the dumpster to retrieve the part he'd taken, hefting it up and bringing it back, before realizing that it might be a bit heavy for her if she lacked super strength like him. "Hold up, you have a way to carry this? It's pretty-" He paused in his handing, before withdrawing it and staring for a moment. "…you know? No… not like this. I don't want to owe you one. You do this for me? I do something for you. Trading favors and all that. Must be something I can do for you to even things out."

Zatanna Zatara, whose life has been ruled by Kharma since before she was born, can understand not wanting to owe, but… "It doesn't matter if you want to owe. You can owe me or you can owe the garage, so pick the one you want better." She smiles wryly. "As hard as you're hitting on me, I think we both know who you'd rather have an excuse to be visited by."

To be fair, Ford didn't mind owing the garage, because if not for Zatanna, they'd have never known he was in and out with their parts. But as it stood, she was. And her comment about visiting only made him realize he was up against a very fun foe, pushing his pressure points. He rather enjoyed being matched. A smirk crossed his face as he spoke. "…you're right. You know, I like the way you think." And shockingly, not implying a double meaning on that one! "Been a while since I've had a good challenge like this."

He held out the part for her to take, partly intrigued to see if she could lift it herself. It had to weigh at least 100 pounds, by his measure. "Tell you what? You promise to visit, with any car you need wrenching, and I'll have it purring like kitty in no time. I'd like to chat you up a bit more."

Zatanna's hair fades back into being, well, hair, which is good timing because as she drops her gaze to the part, she has to look up through her lashes at Ford's comment, which would be terribly distracting if even her eyelashes were a void. "Most men do," she replies with a little smirk. She widens her stance to accept the thing without toppling, and grunts as it enters her arms. Fortunately, she doesn't need to hold it for long.

"Rab edoc raet ffo," she commands the packaging. Obligingly, the thin carboard tears itself up into a flap, then pulls off entirely, raggedly but completely. She shoves the burden back into Ford's arms and snags the torn barcode from the box, tucking it into her coat pocket. "Right. I'm going to go pay for this, Ford." There's still an ironic twist on his name, a tone that becomes even more pronounced as she continues teasingly. "Enjoy your car, which I now own part of. I'm going to go inside and conclude my business."

Ford's brows raised, impressed she could keep it held up for so long, before quickly taking it back in his hands as she got what she needed. "With good reason." Ford assured her. But as she turned on heel to head back inside, Ford set the part down quickly and raised a hand after her. "Hey, wait, wait! What's your name? Or your number? You never told me… and meeting again is gonna be kinda hard if I don't have either of those."

"Meeting on your terms is," Zatanna replies, lips twisted in a playful little smirk; but she relents. "My name is Zatanna Zatara. You may contact me at this number." She produces her hand from her left pocket, then produces a business card from her left hand in an unnecessary but fun bit of flair. She grips it between first and second fingers, no thumb, as she extends it to Ford. It's her business manager's number.

Ford knew she was playing at him, but he could not help smirking in response. She enjoyed twisting the knife a bit. "Zatanna… lyrical." he replied, taking hold of the card and studying it. He stared at it a bit, putting the pieces together. Business manager. Sleights of hand. Money to spare. "You're a big shot stage name, aren't ya?" he asked. He was hardly one to go see shows or keep up with performances, but all the clues pointed to her being a big shot… and frankly, it put things a bit more into perspective. His posture noticably relaxed a bit, studying the card a bit more before pocketing it. "Haven't got a lot of time to see many shows, nor the money for it… but I'm guessing you've got a pretty good gig going, don't ya?"

Zatanna snorts, barely holding in a laugh. "Oh, yeah, magicians are all the rage. Show 'em the cup and balls, and you'll open every door and—"

'—and every pair of legs,' she was about to say, which even for her is damned uncharacteristic. Where did THAT come from? Is the demon corrupting her? Influencing her?

"—and own the Hollywood mechanism, believe me," she recovers instead. "Why? Looking for someone to rob? Gonna steal the coins from my coin matrix? Because I hate to break it to you, they aren't actually gold."

If Ford is corrupting her, he is entirely unaware of it. It could just be his demeanor steadily disarming her. Then again, Ford has rarely dived too deep into what he can do. "Hey, you obviously can do magic. Unless that 'hair into the dark void' is one hell of a stage trick. Not something I can do." Ford shifted his weight, shaking his head. "No, I'd say you're off the heist list. It just helps to know where I stand and how good my odds are, and from the sound of it? I'm likely not even in your ballpark." Which, strangely, was just the tiniest bit alleviating. "Besides, you're obviously doing better than me. Should've gone into stage shows, clearly."

Zatanna smiles wryly. "Get ready to learn to hate magic, then. You have to practice until you stop failing, then practice until you're good, then practice until you're bored, then practice until you're the best and can do the trick despite being sick of it. I guess you could take shortcuts, but enjoy having the Inquisition on you if you do that."

"I feel like they would be on me even if I didn't. I don't imagine demons are smiled upon in magical circles." Ford replied, shaking his head before music quietly to himself. "…not that I couldn't do with a bit of magic, now that I think about it. So many threats out there can't be outdone by brute force… but it's clearly paying off quite well. Better than mechanics, anyways."

"Right," Zatanna says, oddly reticent in that New England way to discuss financial matters. "Anyway, get out of here. I'm going to go pay for what you stole." She almost adds 'have a good day' but can't quite bring herself to as she strolls back inside with a story about how she saw a thief in the alley and won't turn them in but will pay for what they took.



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