C - G : A Romance
By Ronnie Rabbit

Part III:

The bedroom was pretty classy, Chip thought… er, possibly, he added to himself.

You have to understand that the concept of ‘luxury’, of having more than you need to survive, is invented by human society – a society only vaguely understood by the vast majority of animals, even though it was often used as models for behavior. Chip, having to deal with its inexplicable intricacies quite often and having an eye for detail, knew more about the human world than most… but his experience with wealth usually involved either the very poor, the very wealthy, or thieving animals like Fat Cat. Being able to draw the line between ‘tastefully luxurious’ and ‘gratuitously overdone’ hadn’t been a pressing need, even if he HAD enough models of both to work with.

But the stuff in here was nice.

And it was carefully arranged: large mirror just so; bed just so; painting just so. Again, most animal thieves just heaped anything they took in piles around a room. Gadget, as usual, had apparently gone to some trouble to study the idea of anything that interested her at the moment. Whether she had succeeded – again, Chip could only guess.

Besides, there were much more pressing details to work out. The location of the hidden camera, for instance: behind the big mirror. Miss Hackwrench was brilliant, but the simple fact of her relative size always imposed limitations on what she could do with certain things – like a camera that needed to be hooked into an extensive security system. The wall-mounted mirror had pretty good coverage of the room, too. Definitely where it was.

Chip swung his legs out of bed gingerly; they seemed to bear his weight okay. Nothing broken. Very slightly light-headed when he moved, but nothing serious, like Gadget had said… good.

He got up, and walked over to the mirror. Waved cheerfully. Stuck out his tongue.

As long as he was there, he took a closer look at himself. No visible bruising, scars… no blurry vision. And someone had bathed him and combed his fur… ooog. He winced. New jacket. His hat was gone. He needed a hat.

Wandering casually around the room, examining everything, he carefully eyed the angle to the mirror.

The door could not possibly be in its view, nor the keypad next to it.

Chip sighed. It COULD be the way the room was set up, the electrical system – again, the mouse size limitations – made that kind of arrangement necessary… more likely, it was a trap.

Well… no time like the present.

He walked over, out of range of the hidden camera, and closely examined the device.

Simple keypad; 26 letters, digits 0-9, enter key. An exclamation point? Okay. He didn’t have the tools to do any of the old spy routine tricks – dusting it for fingerprints, infrared examination of the keys, or any of that, so… he’d just have to guess the code. He sighed again.

*Well… again, let’s get this over with,* he thought…* I need to know what I’m going to be dealing with before I make a serious escape attempt.*

It had at least four letters; that’s all he’d been able to tell from Gadget’s rapidly dancing fingers when she left. So…

Well, what the hey. Why not?

He carefully typed in G A D G E T, and hit the enter bu-



“… don’t fiddle around with the keypad, Chip. Please?” Gadget said anxiously, leaning over him.

She was in a different outfit that oddly reminded him of the jumpsuit. It was a rich charcoal color all over: blouse open at the neckline rather wide in a very distracting (and, he was sure, very intentional) fashion; snug slacks. The blouse, in another uncharacteristic touch, had ruffled lapels.

“…what did you HIT me with? The ceiling?” he mumbled, wincing as he gingerly felt the back of his head.

She frowned. “I COULD have put in one of the axes, if you prefer…” she reminded him. “You know a net’s not going to do much if it gets you – or one of my more usual ‘guests’, either. The point’s to slap you on the wrist so you don’t feel like trying again.”

“I feel a little more than slapped!” he mumbled, scrunching down on the bed where he once again found himself. *So much for progress…*

“You’ll be fine,” she said absently. “You konked yourself out most of a day, though. Really, Chip, I mean it! Don’t try it again. You’re already not in great shape from the fall.” She sighed. “We can’t really talk about stuff if you’re asleep all the time you’re here…”

“I’d sleep less if I had something to do besides lie in a bed,” he said pointedly. “Like… in another room? Not locked up?”

“There’s plenty of people who’d LOVE to be in my bed!” she snapped back, putting her hands on her hips as she scowled darkly. She held the pose for two long beats, then added rapidly, “Um, because, you know, it’s really a very nice expensive bed, and it’s very comfortable. And warm. And it has a nice pair of pillows… and…”

Chip casually leaned back, head leaning on his folded arms, nodding with a mischievous grin. “Go on! You’re doing great!” he said cheerfully.

He swore he could actually see smoke rising from her large ears. “You… you DARN chipmunk!” she snapped, then turned on her heel and stomped to the door. More furious typing, then she left, fuming.

Chip muttered. Even that upset- she hadn’t been trying to conceal what she was typing at all – he couldn’t tell a thing. At least four letters, that was all. She was just so fast, and the angle from the bed was awful.

He took a deep breath, and swung his legs out of bed… walked over to the door. He looked around… no, there was no way to tell where on earth the ‘gentle discouragement’ Gadget had installed on this thing was popping out of. No visible panels in the wall… heck, this was Gadget, maybe she WAS dropping the ceiling down onto his head.

He studied the keyboard, chin on his hand. He’d need to think more carefully before trying this next one… he was only going to be able to take getting konked so often, he thought wryly. About ten options popped into his mind immediately. He carefully considered, discarding about half after a minute, then thought harder. Everything he knew about Gadget. He ended up with the one he’d always thought most likely to begin with. Satisfied, he tensed – if he was lucky he’d have time to jump out of the way if this didn’t work – and swiftly tapped in


and moved to jump aside as he hit ret



Gadget siiighed, rubbing her temples as she sat on the side of the bed. “I’m SERIOUSLY considering the axe,” she muttered, looking at him intently. He vaguely felt for a moment like he’d very badly disappointed his mom.

Another dress, this one black: strapless. Heels? Yes, heels, for heavens sake, if small ones. She’d been out in this one, he could tell – very small smudges indicated it wasn’t fresh from the closet. Out stealing something else? Dinner date? He thought a bit woolenly, trying to shake off the latest noggin buster.

Rubbing his head, he decided he wasn’t in the mood for it. “Drop the act, Gadget,” he said quietly. “You don’t want me to stop trying.”

Chip realized he’d never felt the FULL force of her disapproval before this moment as her look intensified. Now he felt like he’d deeply disappointed his priest. “Are you out of your MIND? You think I ENJOY having you constantly beaten on the head and lying knocked out in my bedroom?” she snapped, standing. “Trying to get around MY security? Do you know how much damage you could do to my stuff- to YOURSELF, wandering around, poking at things in here?”

“I have no idea why you want me to! Maybe you DO enjoy it!” he shot right back, sitting up despite the brief wave of discomfort. “Look- I may be getting my head pounded into mush the past three days, but I’m still not dumb!”

His hand waved at the keypad. “You’ve got the key sitting INSIDE THE CELL, Gadget! Conveniently out of the range of your security cameras! For goodness sake, if you wanted me INSIDE, why wouldn’t the keypad be on the OUTSIDE? And if I wasn’t supposed to be able to guess the code, you’d have some random string of letters and numbers memorized in that amazing head of yours!” he shouted. “And you’d TELL me that, so I wouldn’t need to keep getting pounded unconscious, because you *care about me*!”

He stopped, breathing heavily. Gadget had taken a step back, hand to her mouth.

“…because you still care about me…” Chip mumbled, looking at her. He paused. “So… why DO you keep letting me get bonked on the head?”

She turned and quietly walked to the door, tapping the exit code.

“…I keep hoping it’ll knock some sense into you,” she said quietly as she stepped out. “Looks like it just might be starting to work.”

Next Part

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