Cobwebs of the Past
A Chip N' Dale's Rescue Rangers story by Morgan Kohl
Tiny drops of water collected on the still body of a young female bat on the cold wet floor of a dockside warehouse. The body was completely inert, giving off no signs of life whatsoever.
Until suddenly, it twitched.
With no apparent cause, a heart began to beat. Lungs began to fill with air. Neurons awakened in her brain and consciousness was suddenly bestowed upon Foxglove Fairmont once more.
Foxy felt a rush of energy ripple throughout her body. She could feel a powerful, yet gentle, tingle emanating through her from her footclaws to the tips of her ears. It was like she was being refilled with life. It even felt for a moment like she'd become a water balloon. 'My soul must be returning to my body,' she thought to herself.
But no, wait, that wasn't it. She really WAS filled with water!
Foxglove coughed hard, feeling a stream of water leave her lungs. Her back arched painfully and a gout of water arced up out of her mouth, splashing back down on her chest as if she'd been reborn as a park fountain.
She was unused to sensations of touch, sound, smell. The real world felt strange to her. She slowly turned herself over so that she was on all fours. She opened her mouth and relaxed her throat, letting the filthy-tasting water drain from her lungs and stomach and hearing it splatter onto the concrete below. Ah, precious sound. She was glad to have it back.
When Foxy was sure that her lungs were now filled only with air, she stilled her body, doing nothing but breathing deeply and gently, listening to the sound of it and feeling the air inside of her. She let her thoughts collect, remembering all that had happened to her so far this long night. She had no doubts about her heavenly encounter. Chip or Gadget, she thought, would surely have thought it had been just a dream, or a hallucination. But Foxglove _knew_ it was real. She had been searching all her life for that simple, beautiful, irreplicable feeling of being loved by her parents. And she had finally felt it. She knew there was no way a love like that could be copied.
But now she was alive again. And she had work to do. Foxglove braced herself to see what her surroundings were, and when in time she was now. She opened her eyes.
The warehouse was an absolute shambles. The scent of smoke lingered like a grease stain in the air. The floor was dark with dampness and sparkled from the hundreds of tiny glass shards everywhere. Foxglove looked up to the ceiling, wondering what that explosion she'd heard a second before her death had been. She noticed the smashed window, then gulped, seeing the utter mess the crane had been reduced to. It looked like it had been hit with a grenade. Most of it had been charred black by the blast and the smoke. Loops of chain hung limply underneath the beam like blunt stalactites. The crane's claws looked like their load had been ripped violently from their grasp by some invisible monster.
So where was the big water tank? Foxglove turned to see behind her, and let out a strangled shriek. The enormous tank, now dented and sagging like a melted candle, had completely obliterated the aquariums below it. The remnants of the aquariums' metal frames looked like spider legs poking out from underneath the tank. Foxy shuddered. How in the world had she survived _this_?
Suddenly, she flashed upon a very vague memory showing her being tossed through the glass by a giant wave before the tank had fallen. And she also somehow remembered Dale saving her too. She smiled. she knew he must have. Even if she couldn't remember it, she didn't have to. Her Cutie was her guardian. She knew she was safe as long as he was near.
But where *was* Dale? Foxglove scanned the warehouse, giving the room a thorough echolocating. She finally picked up a soft rodent whisper. She recognized Tammy's voice, but not her words. That meant the Rangers were here! Her spell must have really worked! Everything was okay now! Foxy made a little happy sound and jumped up to join them.
They were on the other side of the water tank wreckage, closer to the other half of the warehouse where most of the goods were stored and some of the floor was still dry. Foxy peered around a corner of the tank and saw them all huddled together in a circle. She didn't see her Cutie yet, probably just because Crisscross had his bulk pointed towards her, but she knew he was there. She could feel it!
"Guys! Over here! It's me, Foxglove!" Running was too slow for the happy little bat. She slipped into the air like a kite and landed like a feather before them.
Her reception was not as she'd planned. To her puzzlement, the Rangers just stared at her. A stare as if she was the strangest thing they had ever seen in their lives.
Foxy's smile fell. "Guys, it's me... Aren't you happy to see me?" she asked softly. None of them answered.
It was Gadget who first stepped forward. She slowly looked over the little pink bat as if she literally could not believe her eyes. Gadget reached out a trembling paw and lightly cupped Foxglove's cheek, as if she expected her hand to pass right through her.
The two girls looked into one another's eyes. Foxglove watched a tear roll down Gadget's face. The little bat was really worried now. What had happened while she was gone? "Gadget... It's me, Foxy. What's wrong?"
Gadget suddenly burst into a smile and gave Foxglove an incredible hug. "Oh Foxy! It's you! It's really you!!" Foxy was surprised, but also glad to see her mouse friend finally smiling. One by one, the other Rangers gathered around them, all of them looking as Gadget did; a mixture of disbelief and joy on their faces.
Gadget let go to give the others a turn at hugging the confused but happy batfemme. Everyone hugged her as if they hadn't seen her in years. Crisscross even gave her a few nuzzles with his snout and a big friendly lick.
Foxglove noticed however, that both Chip and Dale were conspicuous in their absence. Where were they? And just as importantly, where was Victoria?
Tammy hugged Foxy like they were sisters. "Oh Foxglove! We thought we'd lost you b-" She had been about to say something more, then abruptly stopped, which Foxglove noted with a bit of worry. "We thought we'd lost you," Tammy repeated.
"We thought you'd died," Zipper said quietly.
"Well, yeah, I guess I did," Foxy replied.
"Really, luv?" asked Monterey, intrigued. "Did you have one a' them auto-body experiences?"
Foxy giggled. "No, I didn't turn into a car, Monty!"
This got a little laugh out of the others too. Foxy was glad; they'd all looked so somber before. But it still seemed as if there was something dark weighing down on their happiness.
"I think Monterey meant 'out-of-body experience'," Crisscross clarified.
Foxglove nodded. "I know. And I did! I went up to Heaven, or someplace near it at least, and I got to finally see my parents! It was wonderful! They hugged me, and told me all sorts of things I'd been wondering about all my life. They told me I'd have to make an important decision when I came back, but I don't know what it is yet. I guess I must have been dead down here for as long as I was up there. I can see why you might think I was a ghost or something."
She saw the others fidget uncomfortably. "What, did something else happen?"
Monterey Jack took off his aviator's helmet and wrung it between his hands. "Um, luv, it wasn't just that we thought you were dead because you were out for a while. You were..." He couldn't say the words. He couldn't place words to the awful thing he'd seen.
"What happened?" Foxy pleaded.
Crisscross padded forward a step and gave her a soft nuzzle. "Foxy, when we found you... You were beyond hope." Foxglove gasped. "We don't know just what happened, but it looked like all of the bones in your wings were shattered. I mean _shattered_. Most of your other bones too. I looked up a site on bat biology on my internal internet, and when I compared it to the state you were in... I knew there wasn't a single thing we could do."
Gadget came over to give Chris a pat, then she put her hand on Foxglove's shoulder. With her other hand, she felt along the bat's wing. She shook her head and let out a 'golly!' of amazed disbelief. "When I saw you flying towards us... I don't really believe in miracles, but I don't know what else to call this!"
Foxy looked herself over. Could she really have been hurt that badly? She knew her vampirism helped her heal more quickly than a normal bat would, and since she and Dale had begun sharing their blood, her recuperative abilities had grown even stronger. But what they were saying had happened was still impossible! She had watched little cuts and bruises go away before, but there was no way she could repair broken bones on her own! She remembered Dale's last birthday, when the tree had been hit by lightning and she'd dislocated her shoulder. It had healed pretty fast, but not in a matter of minutes!
Was it a miracle? It had to be. There was no other explanation. She looked down at her wings. She realized that not only were all her bones intact, but she also didn't have a single cut, scrape, bruise or bump on her. She seemed to be in perfect health. She looked up, seeing past the warehouse's ceiling to the sky above. "Thanks, Mom and Dad," she whispered up to Heaven. She felt a warmth in her heart, and knew for certain that it was them that had mended her broken body.
"Never seen anything like it," Monty said, scratching his head. "And that's sayin' something, considerin' all the things I *have* seen! You're one lucky sheila, Foxy!"
Tammy quietly hugged her again. "I'm glad you're okay."
Foxglove beamed at all the attention she was getting as all the Rangers crowded around her again, giving her hugs and words of love. Ever since she had become a Rescue Ranger, she had worried if she really was a part of the team or just someone who had fluttered in. A sixth wheel, in a way. But in this moment, she knew without a doubt that they accepted her fully as one of them. She knew down to her soul that she really did have a family in her friends.
But the one who loved her most, she still didn't see. She looked to all the Rangers at once and asked "Where's Dale?"
A dark hush fell over them, as if a switch had been flipped to turn off their happiness. Foxglove did not need their words to know something bad had happened. Something very bad. "Where is he," she repeated.
"Maybe it's best if you don't see him yet. You've been through a lot already, luv," Monty said.
She knew he was only trying to protect her from something she knew would hurt like an icicle through her heart. But she loved Dale more than life itself. She had to know and she had to know now. "Where is he?!"
"Are you sure you-" Zipper started.
"I'm sure! Now tell me where he is!" She was beginning to panic from worry. What was wrong? What had happened to her darling? He couldn't be dead... Could he? No! No, she wouldn't let him be dead!
The Rangers exchanged worried glances. Then they slowly parted like double doors, allowing Foxglove to see what they had been huddled around earlier.
Foxglove rushed to his side. "DALE!!!" He was lying on his back, eyes wide open, unmoving, yet still twitching slightly all over. It was like he'd gone into some kind of catatonic shock. She listened for his heartbeat and breathing. Both were erratic and weak. She didn't know what the cause was, but she did know Dale was dying.
Foxglove swiveled around to the other Rangers. "What happened to him?!?" she shouted, tears already beginning to flow from her eyes.
Gadget came over and knelt by her side. "When we got here, you were already, um, gone. We saw Victoria and Dale. They were fighting, and Dale was... I've never seen him fight like that. It's like he was trying to kill her."
Foxy paused. 'Would he really?' she thought. 'If he thought I was dead, would my Cute Stuff really try to kill Victoria out of vengeance?' Could hate have clouded Dale's heart enough to make him want to kill? Looking down at Dale, she didn't know herself if she would be able to stop herself from doing something really bad to that mean spider if he died. She didn't need Gadget to tell her this was Victoria's handiwork.
"Dale was winning," Gadget said, "but then, before we could stop her..."
"She bit him, didn't she?" Foxglove asked, knowing the answer already. She now noticed the deep wound near his throat was encircled with several clear teethmarks.
Gadget nodded. "She didn't just bite, she kept biting. She wanted to put as much of her venom into Dale as she could. Black widow venom has been known to kill humans. I don't know how in the world Dale's held out this long with so much of it in him," the mousette said softly and sadly. It was clear from her tone that she had given up hope.
But Foxglove certainly hadn't. She knew Dale's vampiric blood was working to its limits to fight the poison in his body. But she could tell it was losing. Foxglove knew there was only one thing to do to save his life. She would have to give Dale some of her own blood so it could join in the battle to rid his body of Victoria's toxin. Foxy was not certain, but she had a strong feeling that their mixed life essence would be able to keep Dale from going to the same place she had been.
But then Foxglove looked up and saw all the Rangers gathered around her. If she was to save Dale, they would all see. And they would all know what she was then. What she and Dale were. She had wanted to tell all the Rangers sooner or later about her vampirism, but she'd always been scared of how they might react. Dale had helped to assure her that she was loved by all of them; that they might be uncomfortable at first, yes, but he knew they wouldn't shun her as a monster. She now knew as well, but it didn't help any. She was a worrier at heart and she didn't know if anything could soothe the sight of her feeding her own blood to her lover. How would they react? She couldn't imagine the response being positive. She only hoped that she'd be able to regain their love someday.
And then she suddenly realized; this was it. This was the choice she'd been told about by her parents. She had to choose between saving Dale's life, or keeping her secret hidden from the Rangers.
But when she really thought about it with her heart as well as her mind, she knew it was really no choice at all. Darn the consequences, she HAD to save Dale! Even if they ran her out of town with pitchforks and torches, it would be worth it to have Dale alive and by her side. Her choice was made before she was even aware of it.
Now she understood. By letting her think the decision would be difficult and terrible, her mother and father had used her worrying nature to her advantage. By thinking the choice would be much, much worse, it was almost a relief when she finally saw what it truly was. Without their dire warning, she might have wasted precious time worrying on and on about what the Rangers would do when they found out she was a vampire. Her parents had used her nature to help her see what was truly important. Mentally, she thanked them again. And again she felt their warmth. It felt so good to know they were so close.
The time for worrying was finally and utterly over. Foxglove resolved then and there to work as hard as she could to keep her worries from overwhelming her common sense ever again. She knew she was strong and knew she was loved. It was time for Foxglove to become the bat she had always hoped she'd be able to become.
All these thoughts flew through Foxglove's head in a matter of seconds, instead of the matter of minutes they might have been without her parents' warning. The Rangers were about to step in; Foxglove had been sitting so absolutely still, they worried that she had gone into shock too. But suddenly she sat up and looked directly at them. She scanned their faces and felt in her soul that, as much as she loved all of them, she was loved back just as much.
Gathering her courage, she addressed them. "I'm going to save Dale's life now. But I have to do it in a way that you won't understand. You might be disgusted, or even horrified, but please trust me. If you want him to live as much as I do, please don't try to stop me. I know what I'm doing." She spoke her words with a braveness and certainty in her voice that the others had never heard from her before. "Please guys, you're my very best friends. Promise me."
Unsure what Foxglove meant, but swayed by her assertiveness, the Rangers all nodded their agreeance. They promised without needing words. The five Rangers stood where they were, holding each other for strength, and watched Foxglove and Dale, trying to feel hope that none of them would have to die this night.
Foxglove took in a deep breath, trying to calm her whole body. She knew she would have to be brave for this. She knew their eyes would be on her as she did what had to be done. But she reassured herself that there were no others in the world she would trust her secret with more. Foxglove leaned over Dale's body. She held him down with her wings, trying to stop him from twitching so much. He seemed to settle down a bit. She gently closed his eyes with a wingtip. He looked like he was asleep. A small smile crossed her face. He was always so cute when he was asleep.
The batfemme looked over Victoria's bite. This was not going to be easy. Knowing the extent of Victoria's cruelty, Foxy had no doubts about what Gadget had said about the spider trying to fill Dale with as much venom as she could. She gave her lover a soft kiss on his cute red nose. "It's going to be okay, sweetie. Foxy's here for you.
Bracing herself on the concrete, Foxy leaned in closer and bit deeply into Dale's wound. She heard more than a few sharp gasps from the Rangers, but she couldn't let that bother her now. She had to start his blood flowing smoothly again. She began to drink from him, licking at the slick, exposed flesh to draw out his precious red fluid. She wished this was happening under better circumstances. She loved being able to drink from Dale. She loved the strong feelings of love and trust he gave her when they shared blood. She adored his taste as well. Aside from just her vampiric thirst, she found Dale's flavor to be wonderfully delicious. Knowing it was *Dale's*, and knowing he was giving it to her freely because he loved her, made it taste even better. Sometimes she'd even daydream of shrinking herself so tiny that she could slip into Dale's body and swim in his yummy blood, feeling it flowing all around her and loving every second.
His taste was different now. Being a vampire had heightened her senses, including taste, and she could definitely sense the venom present in his blood just from the slight change in flavor. It wasn't much at all in terms of volume, but it was devastating in its toxicity. "Oh my poor Dale. I know you're fighting as hard as you can. Don't you worry. I'm here to help." She had read in a book about vampires (supposedly written by one; it was the most accurate book she had ever read about her condition), that being a vampire allowed her to ingest poisons in blood, and they would be passed out of her system without causing harm. Trusting the book, she sucked deeply on Dale's wound, gulping his rich sanguine, knowing the less venom he had inside him, the better his chances to fight it off. Foxy wished there was some way to filter out the venom, knowing it could harm Dale if she took too much blood from him.
On the other hand, his blood, tainted as it was, charged her up with energy. She had already fed once tonight, and this extra helping was a wonderful treat. She could feel her body gaining strength from the blood. The energy flowed into her so strongly she could actually feel it in her veins, tingling through her body in the most electrifying way. She felt more than healthy now. She felt fantastic, recharged, almost like a superhero! Wonderbat! 'Boy, Vicky better watch out now! I'll kick her butt!' she thought with a naughty grin.
But now came phase two of saving Dale. This might deplete her strength some, but it couldn't be helped. She tried not to dwell upon what the others would think as she took her wing in her mouth, found a nice fat artery, and bit into it.
She groaned at the sudden pain, but it quickly eased. She used her other wing to gently open Dale's mouth. She held her blood in with her tongue until she had her bite aimed directly over her Cutie's jaws. Then she let her blood flow into him. It poured out in a little spurting stream, splashing on his tongue and sprinkling his white muzzlefur with tiny red dots. Foxy pressed his throat to make him swallow and gave him a second mouthful, and then a third. She watched him carefully for signs of improvement. She could already feel the toll the bloodletting was taking on herself, but it wasn't nearly as bad as she'd thought it would be. She'd never given Dale this much blood before, but she only felt a little bit weaker. The surge of Dale's blood had definitely helped keep her strength up for this.
Dale's twitching had slowly eased, and had now stopped entirely. Foxy listened as his heartbeat and breathing stabilized. She felt a wonderful warmth of hope. Dale was getting better right before her eyes! She was saving his life!
Foxy put her mouth over her wingwound, cutting off the bloodflow, then covered it with her thumbclaw to let it close up. She had noticed before that her body now followed her mind's orders much better since she and Dale had started sharing blood. She felt her bloodflow to the wound stop almost immediately, and she watched the scab starting to form right away.
Foxglove scooped Dale up in her wings, leaning his head back onto her soft chest ruff. She lovingly ran her wingtips through his fur. She whispered softly in his ear, words of encouragement and her boundless love. "Come on, sweetiekins, you can do it. You're a strong vampire, just like me. Believe in your blood. Let it fix you up all better. I'm inside you, my love. Can you feel my blood in your heart? I'm helping you fight off all that yucky stuff. We'll do it together, my red-nosed romeo. You're going to get better. you're going to be just fine."
Foxglove had no idea how long this would take. But she could see how strenuous the process was on Dale's body. She could almost see the battle going on inside him. She pictured little red blood cells shaped like her and Dale, fighting against nasty drops of venom with Victoria's face. She imagined the Dale and Foxy cells popping the Vicky venom like balloons and then hugging each other in celebration. Her imagination had definitely benefitted from being around Dale!
It seemed like Dale should have woken up by now. But since she'd never done anything like this before, she really had no idea how it would work. Dale might be out for another day, or even a week. Yet Foxy nonetheless clung to the belief that any moment now his eyes would pop open and he'd be as good as new. She started to worry if it was working at all, but quickly scolded herself. "No more worrying, Foxglove! Dale's gonna be allright!" She then leaned over and kissed him, sending love vibrations through him with all her heart.
And then suddenly, incredibly, he was kissing back!
She felt his lips move in sync with hers, felt him reach around to hug her, felt him giving love vibrations back to her with all of HIS heart!
A tear ran down Foxy's face. It had worked! It had worked! Dale was okay! She had saved him! Dale was alive!!!
And then they were looking into each others' beautiful eyes, seeing all the way to each other's souls to all the love held there. "Oh Dale, Darling! Are you okay?" asked Foxy, almost not believing that she was really in his strong, furry arms.
Dale grinned. "If I pretend I'm not, will you give me another kiss like that?"
Simultaneously, they pounced on one another, kissing, hugging, cuddling and laughing so much they thought they'd never stop. It was if they were alone in the whole universe; only the two of them and their love surrounding them like warm sunlight on a sandy beach. Pink and red cartoon hearts popped like popcorn all around them and rainbow fireworks exploded joyfully, filling the air with gorgeous color. There was nothing in the world but love and happiness, togetherness, joy, trust, understanding and laughter. Foxy was alive. Dale was alive. And they were both alive together. They felt like they'd lived a lifetime in that one moment; that one wonderful kiss.
And suddenly the moment was gone, shattered by one tiny sound.
The sound had been an annoyed grunt, an expression of anger at Dale and Foxglove's continued existence. Foxy's ears both swiveled around. Foxy didn't know how she'd heard such a tiny sound amidst all the other noises in the warehouse and outside, but she knew perfectly well to whom it belonged. Instantly, her entire attention was focused on one tiny, shadowed spot all the way across the warehouse. She focused on that point with all her echolocation skill and 'saw' with her ears exactly who she most wanted to have a little chat with at that moment.
Foxglove turned back to Dale and gave him a quick peck on the nose. "Sweetie, there aren't words to express how glad I am that you're okay, but right now I have something very important to do," she told him, her tone letting him know just how reluctant she was to leave his side.
"Whuzzat, Foxycakes?" Dale asked as he reached up to lovingly rustle her rusty-orange headfur.
Foxy giggled. "I'm going to go whale the tar out of Victoria!" she said with a gleefulness that surprised even her. She was not normally a violent bat. Heck, she was usually downright timid. But right now she knew that the time had come to teach Vicky a little lesson about what happens when you try to hurt cute red-nosed chipmunks. And knowing that her beloved goofball was okay, Foxy's heart couldn't have felt any happier. She knew she could go after Victoria now with no danger at all of hate clouding her heart.
"Right on, Foxy!" Dale responded enthusiastically. "I'll be right at your side and we'll clobber her good!"
Foxglove put a wingtip to his lips. "No no no, Sweetie. Victoria put a lot of poison in you, and until Dr. Foxglove is sure you're in tip-top condition, you're to stay right here and rest. The other Rescue Rangers are right here and they'll take care of you."
Dale playfully nibbled her wingtip. "Aw, okay. I really wanted to hang a good beatin' on her, but I'm sure you'll do just as good a job. You go let her know that no one tries to snuff my Beautybat without gettin' whomped!"
She chuckled and kissed his forehead. She stood up, a part of her never wanting to end their hug, and gave his headfur a tussle. "Don't worry, Cutie. When I get done with her, she'll look like an inkstain!"
Dale cheered her on. "Yeah! Go get 'er Foxy! Knock that hourglass right off her butt!"
She giggled again, blew him a kiss, and took off.
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