Heart of Hearts
By Rachel Helvey Gloess

Authors Note: Here, goes guys. I am finally attempting to post part of my little fic (the first 5 pages approx. of 32 unfinished ones) . . . please tell me what you think! I started working on this back in '99. Caution: it is a crossover with the NIMH universe, but nothing like "Out of Range." There's probably plenty of rough spots, but I thought I'd try it out on you. I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: Of course, the Rangers are copyrighted by Disney; Zinger is a creation of Matt Plotecher ("Swarm") and used with the utmost respect.


Chip stared solemnly at Gadget’s picture. He knew he had to say it, but it didn’t seem possible. All these cases, after all the years, he just knew that Gadget seemed to share his feelings. It was just so difficult to express his true feelings—especially his feelings of love. The tender kiss that they had shared before the last Christmas under the mistletoe—it just now seemed to make so much sense. The surge that felt as though it would overtake him when Gadget asked him to assist in the assisting with new products. That wonderful, dizzying flight that his heart took each and every time she looked at him. It all felt as though he were stuck in a Harlequin novel—a badly written one, at that. He sighed and replaced the picture on his nightstand. Dale didn’t mind it being out at all, since Dale had his own sweetie now. Chip smiled at this; Foxglove was coming around more lately, and Dale was obviously enjoying her affections more. Chip knew in his heart of hearts that the couple would soon consummate their feelings for one another. But it just took time. At that thought, Chip’s head dropped. “How much longer?” he whispered, just barely audible. He felt as though he were simply getting older, not wiser. He thought back to Dale and Foxglove. Not only would they one day be a beautiful family, they had also proved survival and staying power through the worst of times. Chip could only pray to God that he would have the same luck. His heart of hearts didn’t seem to be cooperating. At this point in time, it was one big confused mess.

Gadget fiddled with the rudder of the Rangerplane. It just didn’t seem to want to keep the plane in alignment; every time that they took the odd looking plane out, the whole body would shudder. Gadget, fed up, slapped the plane as hard as she could, earning herself a nasty red palm. She stared at her paw, surprised at herself. It was unlike her to get so uptight. Nervous and anxious yes, uptight—no. She was still staring at her paw as Monterey emerged from HQ.
“Gadget luv? Are you all right, lass?”
Gadget sighed. “I’m not sure, Monty. I mean, I thought that I had everything figured out. I mean, I do, but I don’t. I just don’t get it.”
“Ya mean the plane?” Monty was obviously confused.
“I mean everything!” Gadget sank down to the runway. Monty crouched down next to the inventor. “It’s just that . . . oh, shoot! I don’t know what it’s like. I just can’t explain it.”
Monty was stunned, to say the least. Gadget always had an explanation for anything and everything. Words had never escaped her. Well, until now. “Well, maybe ya should start at the very beginnin’.”
Gadget pondered this deeply before speaking. “We—e—e—ll, I’m not too good at this stuff. It’s just that . . . I guess I have a lot of feelings running around right here--’’ she pointed to her heart, “-and I’m not sure what they all mean.”
Monty scratched at a stray hair from his mustache. “Are they feelin’s toward someone? Or something?”
Gadget blushed a brilliant rose. She felt as though she was doing that a lot lately. “Well . . . I guess it would have to be a someone. But I’m not sure why.” She toyed with a strand of hair. Her heart of hearts was telling her something, but she just couldn’t grasp it. Why did everything have to be so complicated! Monty observed everything silently.

Dale was worried about Chip. Oh, he had no particular lasting affects from their cases, along with the rest of them, at least physically, unless you counted arthritis every time the weather changed. Dale couldn’t quite get a grasp on why exactly he was worried for Chip; he just knew that Chip was not happy. Foxglove snuggled against Dale as they watched Invasion of the Purse-Snatchers for the 426th time. She couldn’t help but notice that her cutie wasn’t as into the movie as he had been the last 425 times. They watched the rest of the movie in silence (except for the really scary parts where they knew to scream!), but Foxy made it a mental note to ask him what was troubling him after the movie.
As the credits finally rolled on the screen of the TV in HQ, Dale heaved a world-weary sigh. This was Foxy’s cue.
“Darling, what’s going on? You didn’t seem to enjoy our date tonight.” She adopted a pouty face that was proven to get results.
Dale smiled, in spite of himself. He had learned to give in when necessary, a trait Foxglove found charming. “It’s just that I’m worried about Chip. He seems kinda, I don’t know. Down in the dumps, I guess.”
“Do you think its stress?” Foxglove took Dale’s paws into the gentle grasp of her wings. “We just finished up one of the most important cases of our lives!”
Dale just shrugged. “It’s just one of those feelings that best friends get about each other, I guess. You know, like those things that twins do.”
“Almost like echolocation?”
“Sure, I guess. Whatever it is, I don’t think it’s good. He’s just . . .—”
“What’s that?” Dale wasn’t too familiar with serious adjectives.
“Like he’s got a lot on his mind. And he feels like he has to think about it all the time.”
“Yeah! That’s it. Pensive.” Dale tried to taste the word, learn its feel. He loved to learn new things from Foxy. Unlike most partners in relationships, Dale seemed to love Foxglove’s intelligence almost more than her beauty . . . but not as much as her devotion, of course. Down in his own heart of hearts, he could feel their strength as well as their love grow together. Foxy noticed his thoughtful look on his face and felt immediately compelled to kiss him. Instead, she gave him a loving hug.
“I know that Chip will snap out of it. Whatever’s troubling him shouldn’t bring him down too far—right?”
“I just hate seeing him so demessed!”
“You mean depressed?”
“Yeah. That.” Dale smiled, his buckteeth showing full force. Foxglove couldn’t hold back the kiss that time.

“What do you think, Zip me lad?”
Zipper concentrated for a moment on the question. /Well, it’s clear that there should be some kind of relationship going on; but why isn’t it? /
It was Monty’s turn to think. He stirred his cheese fondue steadily. “That’s what I can’t figure out. If Gadget can’t stop thinkin’ about Chip, and Chip can’t stop thinkin’ about Gadget, then . . .”
“Hi, guys!”
“Oh, hi, Gadget luv.” Monty grinned and gave Zipper a knowing look.
“Is that fondue for tomorrow, Monty?” Gadget peeked into the saucepan.
“Shore enough. I’m just doing a little pre-preparin’ for lunch.”
Gadget checked the clock on the wall. “It’s getting a little late, Monty. You guys had better leave that be ‘till the morning.”
Monty shrugged casually. “A little night cookin’ never hurt nobody, luv!” Zipper and Gadget exchanged looks. Monty caught it out of the corner of his green eyes. “Now, don’t go bringin’ up that incident again!” He huffed indignantly. “I get no appreciation around here.”
Gadget giggled as she threw her slender arms around Monterey’s rounded form. “You know we love you.” Zipper buzzed his assent, patting his oldest friend on the shoulder.
Since Zinger moved in, she’s done nothing but praise your cooking!
Monty harrumphed again, but much more gently. He knew, down in his heart of hearts, that he had all the family he ever needed right here in HQ. Sure, his mum and dad were dear, but never near. He had always thought that he would stay a wandering soul, just as they had . . . until he met his new family. And that was what they would always be. At least, if he had anything to say about it!

Zipper settled down in his fly sized hammock. In the cubbyhole next to him, he heard Zinger’s gentle feminine snores. It made him smile. He felt a bit more complete, now that he had found genuine family—or rather, she had found him. His mind still whirled when he thought about their joyous reunion. It was thrilling to realize that there was a part of him that he thought was lost forever, but had actually found him. It was odd to think that before, he was the one who was lost. The elusive thought of Queenie sprang to his sleepy mind. He hugged himself, feeling his hammock sway lazily with his adjusting weight. Perhaps, one day, he would feel himself worthy to profess his love. Right now, though, he was still content to keep those feelings to himself, for him alone to treasure. Before drifting off to sleep, he stored his dearest thoughts of Zinger and Queenie deep into his heart of hearts.

Chip was openly pacing the floor. Dale stirred and heard his troubled footsteps. “Chip? What’s up?”
“I am.” His curt response troubled Dale. There was pain in that voice.
“Is it your arthritis?”
That almost made Chip smile. Almost. “No. No, Dale, not exactly.” His voice caught on his words. The pain . . . it was squeezing in.
Dale, though still half-asleep, was able to pick up on the near terror that laced Chip’s speech. He forced himself to slide down to the floor to where Chip was rabidly pacing.
Before Dale could ask, Chip started to explain. “I had the nightmare again. I thought it was over! But there she was, falling . . . again. And again. And I could do nothing about it! It was all my fault. All my fault. What if it happens again? What if? I just don’t understand.” Tears were flowing. Streams. Rivers. It seemed as though it could wash whatever pain was left clean away. “Dale, I just can’t go through with it. I can’t tell her.”
Dale desperately tried to follow Chip’s fragmented speech. Falling? Who was falling? “What? Tell who? Gadget? Chip, you know that she loves you.” As soon as the words slipped out of Dale’s mouth, he wanted to be kind and rewind. Too late.
“She’s never told me that. How am I supposed to know that? For all I know, she loves me as much as she loves you, or Monty, or Zipper. Or Zinger, for that matter.” Chip knew that he was talking nonsense, but he couldn’t stop himself. His words began to run together. “I love her, Dale. More than anything. I would give my life for her. I would give it all—whatever it would take to make her happy. She has my heart, Dale. In that blasted workshop of hers. In every invention. My heart, my soul is shut up tight and only she can let it out. I just wish that I could explain that to her!” Chip was starting to get loud. Dale glanced outside the door to see if anyone had heard. No one had noticed. Yet.
“Well, uh, maybe me or Monty could tell her.” Dale tried to keep his eyelids from gluing themselves shut.
“No, thank you, Dale. She’s got to find out for herself. She needs to let me know what’s going on in her own heart!” Louder still. Dale was starting to feel uneasy. Chip was going to wake everyone up with his tirade. As if his pacing wasn’t enough. Perhaps some acorn ale would allow him to sleep. Dale kept his smile to himself; he was the only one who noticed when Chip would mix an occasional nightcap. Unfortunately, he now realized why Chip had started depending on the alcohol for a sleep aid. His nightmares were apparently horrific. The smile in his brain melted away with his hopes of calming Chip down enough to go back to bed. A glance at the clock on the wall told him that it was about 2:40 a.m.; it was not a nice time to be awake for a chipmunk who flourished in the sunshine—especially when he had just gotten to bed around 1 a.m. Dale knew it was the horror movie’s fault when he caught sight of Chip’s glazed sadness filled eyes—he felt as though he was looking at one crazed chipmunk. It chilled him, down to the very core. He felt very alone as he watched Chip’s terrible eyes. Dale knew that neither of them would get much sleep that night.

To Be Continued

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