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Gaud's Grinch x Tony Fix-it Fic

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Tony the Tiger was known and adored 

By children and parents all over the world

But when a career ended in quick calamity 

It cost him not just a job but a family

It was when Tony found himself stuck in this pinch

That he happened to first stumble into the Grinch



“I’m confused,” Tony admitted. 

The Grinch made a sort of snarling noise, which meant they were lost in thought. 

“See, the thing is,” Tony continued, “By your own admission the thing is, you still don’t actually like the c word. You still, in fact, refer to it as ‘the c word.’ Which for most people has a rather different connotation, I may add.” 

There was a yelping sound, and then a lot of rustling.

“So you get on with the Whos now. You’re a—you’re active in the community. Not in an actively-antagonizing-the-local-villagers kind of way. No, you’re a sort of—a beloved old curmudgeon. A local character, a landmark, whatever. Am I getting this right?”

There was a concerning, rusty sound.

“But. But! You still won’t even let me say the word Chr—”

BANG!

“Oof. Oh, ouch. That had to hurt.”

The Grinch had tried to sit up suddenly, which was not a well-chosen decision, given how they were currently wedged beneath several thousand pounds of Santa’s motorized sleigh. The Grinch had a few selective, overly colorful words to say about the present situation. Tony waited until they had to stop for air. 

“Anything I can do?”

The Grinch poked their head out from beneath the vehicle. Their face was obscured by an impressive pair of aviator goggles. “The wrench. Hand me the wrench.”

“Er.” Tony glanced down at a pile of tools, which seemed organized by most to even more dangerous. “Which wrench?”

“Which wr—the Nonagonal, the Nonagonalish Wrench.” The Grinch said it like it was obvious, and as if they absolutely had not made up that word on the spot. Nonagonal was not a word that real people used.

Tony took a guess and picked up one of the more lethal-looking objects from the tool pile. The Grinch grabbed it with a nod and disappeared back under the sleigh. 

“So what I’m wondering,” Tony continued, ignoring the sudden plumes of black smoke rising from the misshapen lump that resembled an engine. “If you don’t like the c word, and you don’t celebrate the c word, and you won’t let me say the c word.…”

The Grinch’s voice was muffled by several tons of machinery.  “Tony, spit it out or I swear I’m making myself that tiger skin rug I always wanted.”

“Oh, we’re threatening to turn me into a rug again. That’s nice.”

“Tony.”

There was a furious revving noise, and a puff of smoke hit him directly on the whiskers. He batted it away. The Grinch was perfectly happy using diesel as body wash, but their tastes never did rub off on Tony in that regard. It was for the best; he didn’t think anyone else could survive having the Grinch’s tastes. In personal hygiene or in much else, for that matter. 

“What I’m wondering is how you of all people end up being in charge of a C—a holiday marching band. And the holiday light show. And the holiday sleigh, for fuck’s sake. When you infamously hate the holidays.”

“That,” the Grinch mumbled, “is patently untrue.” They wiggled their overstuffed body out from under the sled, overalls now covered in an impressive layer of muck. Then they slipped off the overalls, revealing fur that was somehow covered in a more impressive, even muckier layer of muck.

“You astound me,” Tony said.

The Grinch flapped a hand, and leaned down to inspect the engine. “I like some holidays. Just not Whoville holidays. Or commercial holidays. Or religious holidays. Oh, and definitely not federal holidays.”

“What,” Tony said patiently, because the Grinch required a lot of patience, “is left?”

The Grinch waved their other hand in a gesture that implied it was obvious, surely, and wasn’t Tony being a bit thick?

“Grinch Day.”

Tony thought he might have to sit down. Mostly because the engine fumes were getting to him. He crouched down on a workbench with a wonky leg.

“Grinchy, you’re going to have to explain that one to me.” 

The Grinch looked up triumphantly from the engine, eyebrows waggling. “Grinch Day. How have you never heard of Grinch Day? I’m sure I’ve told you. Grinch Day, my favorite holiday, the best holiday, my holiday. Grinch Day.”

“Repeating the phrase ‘Grinch Day’ isn’t actually going to get me any closer to understanding what we’re talking about.”

The Grinch rolled their eyes, because the Grinch was a fundamentally unreasonable person who no one should hold a conversation with ever. “Grinch Day is my birthday. I am the Grinch. It is my day. A day to celebrate the wondrousness that is me.”

For someone who was covered in six feet of matted fur and fleas, the Grinch had a terrific amount of self-esteem. Tony quite liked that.

“Wait.” He had to think about it. “I don’t actually know when your birthday is. Why don’t I know that? I should know that.”

“It’s December the twenty-fourth, for your information,” the Grinch said, in a very mild tone.

Tony didn’t say anything, because he didn’t trust himself to say anything. The Grinch turned away to examine a mound of deadly objects pretending to be screwdrivers.

Huh. Tony was trying carefully not to be gobsmacked. It would be rude, he thought, to be gobsmacked. Well. So the Grinch’s birthday was Christmas Eve. Oh, they must have hated that as a kid. Did this explain some things? Was Tony getting a glimpse of a backstory? Neither he nor the Grinch were the sort of people comfortable with sharing their backstories. Easier to pretend they’d both sprung up fully-formed from the earth, already middle-aged with bad knees and greying fur. 

Tony patted the back of his head self-consciously. Every year there was more white mixed in with the stripes.

“We never talked about how long I’d be staying,” Tony said conversationally. He was trying very hard not to be a coward. “I assumed you wouldn’t have holiday plans, but I really should have asked. Should I get out of your hair, er, fur then, for Grinch Day? I don’t actually know how one celebrates Grinch Day,” he finished apologetically. 

“Don’t be silly, tiger.” The Grinch wasn’t looking at him, but their voice was slow and steady. For someone who sounded like they ate nails for breakfast (on account of they rather enjoyed eating nails for breakfast), the Grinch could speak in surprisingly soothing tones. Well, Tony found it soothing. 

The Grinch kept speaking, using that low and normal tone they used when they were trying to be careful with Tony. Tony hated the Grinch felt they had to do that. But, it helped. 

“I assumed you’d have plans to be with family—with your kids, for the holidays. That’s why I didn’t mention it earlier. But you’re very welcome, if you want to stay. I dare say,” they added dryly, “the old biddies will be falling over themselves. Whoville hospitality, you know.”

Tony forgot sometimes that the Grinch was raised by Whos. He was curious to meet the ladies whose co-parenting style could produce, well, this. 

“I don’t have plans,” Tony said in an equally careful tone. “The kids are with their mom this year, actually. I’m seeing them for New Year’s, which is good.” Theoretically, he was seeing them. Junior—Anthony, he wanted to be called Anthony now—had seemed at least vaguely enthusiastic, if only because Tony was bribing him with a ski trip. Antoinette was less pleased, the way she so often was these days. It was fifty-fifty she’d end up going back to her dorm early, citing the stress of finals and the start of baseball season. 

There must have been a look on Tony’s face, or more likely the Grinch just guessed it was a tender subject; when they spoke they had moved on to an airy, imperious tone, like everything had been decided. Tony always enjoyed when the Grinch was bossy. It was comforting.

“You’ll be staying then, obviously.” The Grinch waved their hand officiously. “At least until Grinch Day, or longer if you like. It’s all settled then. You’ll meet the old biddies at lunch—we’re having lunch, that’s how you celebrate Grinch Day, just so you know.”

“With lunch.”

The Grinch nodded seriously. “With lunch. It will even be edible, probably.” They looked quite put out about this. “That’s how I celebrate Grinch Day. I putter around in my workshop all morning, take the dogs for a walk, and have lunch with family and friends. Oh, and everyone tells me how marvelous I am, obviously.”

“Obviously.” Tony smiled. “But isn’t that just a normal day for you? Minus all the flattery and adoration?”

“Including, you mean. And yes, it’s fairly quiet I suppose.” 

“You like quiet.”

“I do. It will be quiet, and the few people on this planet I truly like will be there, and there will be cake afterwards. That’s all that matters.”

“You make it sound so simple.”

“Good things can be simple,” the Grinch said sagely. They nodded their head like they had decided something. “I like things without noise and without fuss, so that’s exactly what Grinch Day is. A holiday without noise and without fuss.” They paused. “And of course afterwards we’re going to go up in the sleigh for some good old Grinch Day aerial bombing.” 

 

They were half-joking about the aerial bombing. The Grinch was in charge of the Christmas Eve Fireworks Show (“Grinch Day Fireworks!”). The reason they were in charge seemed to be a mixture of snobbiness on their part (“I’m much better at doing these things. All that inventive genius, you know,”) and sheer practicality—it was a good idea all around not to put the Whos in charge of incendiary devices. There had been accidental property damage three years running.

(The Grinch only ever damaged property on purpose. It was a talent.)

That, and the fact the Grinch, for reasons Tony didn’t want to get into, had gone and invented a flying sleigh. Something to do with a midnight burglary. It turned out flying sleighs were actually quite useful for light shows. 

They had also gone and invented their own line of Unnoisy Fireworks. 

Tony, who remembered from experience exactly how ear-splitting Whoville celebrations tended to be, decided this was an improvement. The Whos got their fireworks. The Grinch got to be a mad genius and blow things up on their birthday. Anyone with the ability to hear soundwaves and the desire to stay sane got a temporary reprieve. They should have started doing this years ago.

Also, the Grinch had been experimenting with fireworks that spelled dirty words. Tony wisely didn’t comment.

After a morning spent in the workshop, the two of them had lunch together: rancid vegetables, grub made of actual grubs, and something that might have been a stalactite. Tony swallowed what he could, and thought fondly of the meal bars waiting in his suitcase. After a short tour of the new Mount Crumpit Power Plant (the Grinch had repurposed the section of cavern they once used as a boudoir), Tony reluctantly decided to get to work. He was here for a reason, after all. Perhaps more than one.

 

Tony grew up in a large family. The thing about large families was they tended to be loud. And the thing about loud families was—you grew up struggling to hear yourself think. That was alright with Tony; there were a lot of things he didn’t want to think about, even as a child. He would much rather spend his time playing; and in the Tony household, there was always someone to play with. They were a sports family, pure and simple, forever kicking or throwing or swinging something around in the backyard. Tony had plenty of other kids to practice with and against. Older siblings and cousins to teach him, until he eventually outpaced them all. Younger siblings to teach and tease in turn. Tony grew up with baseball and basketball and football and hockey, and a house full of trophies his older siblings had already won. He grew up thinking he would never be the best at anything. And if he couldn’t be the best in a household full of people like him, all vying for attention, if he couldn’t distinguish himself by being better —well, at least he could be well-liked. Tony learned to get on with people from a young age, mostly by not needing things from them, and by not rocking the boat. 

It was only later he realized how much this had stayed with him, and the ways he had robbed himself.

It was a pleasant surprise when he received a full sports scholarship at 18, and something of a shock when he signed with the NHL just a few years later. A few years after that he was on the front of what seemed like every brand of cereal box. He was in a new commercial every month, practically a household name. It was a lot to reconcile with for someone who still fundamentally thought of themselves as a middle child, one of several. 

It was more responsibility than it should have been. Tony was the most successful of his siblings, against all odds, but he was still the peacekeeper, still the boy who wanted to be liked by everyone. Only now he was also, inconceivably, the one people looked up to, and a sorry excuse for the head of the family after his father died. And then he got married and became a father, the way he always assumed he would. And everything was just more difficult after that. 

Something about growing up in a large family meant Tony always knew he would have kids. He just assumed he would be better at being a father and a husband. He assumed he would know how. 

More than a decade of unprecedented success was followed by a series of blows. His first knee surgery, and another one just a year later. He went back on the ice too soon. He had two children at home and he was traveling too much. He wasn’t present in the marriage, he was a visitor in his own home. And then—then his mother died. Mama Tony, the immovable matriarch, an institution in and of herself. She was supposed to live forever. Tony had expected her to live forever. It was unfathomable. 

Patricia stayed with him for two years after that. She would have left sooner, Tony now realized, but his knee had finally needed a full replacement. His career was over. He’d needed his wife and family more than ever, in a way that wasn’t fair to them. They had already learned not to need him. 

Patricia left less than a year after he was off his crutches. The kids stayed with her during the school year. When they came back to visit for the summers, there was always a bit of awkwardness as they learned to be family again, for a few short weeks. 

The first Christmas after his divorce, Tony visited Mount Crumpit.

 

It was worse than he’d imagined. 

The Mount Crumpit caverns were winding and twisting and filled with echoes. They had been empty when the Grinch found them and set up shop all those years ago. They weren’t empty anymore. Most of them were filled with contraptions and experiments and doodads, but there was still enough space for it to feel cozy but not cramped. Except for in the trophy room. When Tony had moved in briefly all those years ago, his sports paraphernalia had ended up in a pleasant, only vaguely moist section of cave. That was a decade ago, and Tony never did get around to retrieving it all after he moved out. 

It seemed to have multiplied in his absence.  

To be fair, he’d made a half-hearted effort to organize the trophy room on his last visit. Or maybe it was the visit before that. Actually, it was probably going on five years now since he’d taken more than a glance at the wreckage. So it was understandable if he’d forgotten how, well, how very wrecked it was. 

Not that anything in it was damaged, necessarily. Alright, some of the trophies could use a shine and a dusting. A little rust removal. And someone should definitely be vacuuming. But mostly it was just the chaos of magnitude.

Tony had never been a hoarder, per se. He’d had certain hoarder tendencies, for a few years there. It was only natural when you grew up in a house crammed full of other children—you learned to be territorial about your space and your things. His first few apartments after he moved away from home had been—well, it didn’t bear thinking about. That had mostly stopped after he married Patricia; she put up with a lot, but she drew the line at messiness. (The Grinch’s line began somewhere in between messiness and hazardous materials.) During their marriage, Tony’s tendency to stockpile had been limited to his sports room, which he filled with every trophy, award, certificate, memento, and keepsake that came his way, going back all the way to Pee Wee baseball. He had kept it more or less organized, back then. But then there was the divorce, and his first post-divorce apartment, and the storage unit, and the move to Mount Crumpit—it all got a bit messy, was the point. So all the keepsakes of his career (some of them quite valuable, all of them sentimental) sat moldering in a wet mountaintop just north of Whoville. 

And now the Grinch wanted the space back, probably to fit in another nuclear power plant, or marching band. That was fine. Honestly, most people would have tossed it all years ago. But then, the Grinch was used to putting up with other people’s messiness. 

Fueled by that ugly thought, Tony got to work. He’d already left it much too long.