C - G : A Romance
By Ronnie Rabbit
Part V: Big Finish
With the lights on, Chip could see Gadgets last-ditch weapon of attack was the most amazing dress hed ever seen in his life. Although he granted its effect may have been largely due to the mouse wearing it.
He didnt think they MADE mouse clothes like that. He was forced to conclude shed probably put it together herself, and knowing that, well if there were any imperfections in it, any overt displays that she knew as little about fashion as he did it made them that much easier to overlook. It was a rich, deep lavender, the exact shade of the gemstone shed snatched as a color model from the exploding jewelry store the day this all started. The dress was designed to expose the left shoulder, while on the right the fabric had a pink flower neatly pinned to it. Cinched in just a bit at the waist by a thick, slightly lighter color wrap of cloth, almost like a parody of her usual jumpsuit design. A long, magnificent skirt that ended just at the ankle, the better to show off the clear heels she had on like Cinderellas glass slippers.
Perched in her tied back, silky orange hair was a pair of white goggles.
Chip went to take off his hat, then remembered hed lost it in the crash.
She carefully made her way down the stairs, clearly adjusting a bit to the heels. Seeing the outfits effect on her guest, she beamed. Oh, good! I got it right, she squeaked happily as she reached the floor. Stepping closer, she waved her hand in front of the chipmunks face. Hello? You ok in there? she asked teasingly.
Chip rubbed a hand across his headfur, frizzing it. I dont think I understand, he said cautiously. He was sure there was a perfectly logical explanation, here, that Sheerluck Jones would chide him for not seeing, but his brain was apparently hiding in a corner right now.
Gadget told him, Its going to be a long, long time before I trust anyone else enough- and she gently took one of his hands, placing one on her hip. to touch me like this, she said quietly. And I always wanted to do it with- she bit her lip. With someone.
She gestured around. The place was a grand ballroom, complete with chandelier, the floor polished to mirror sheen; but somehow, like the other decorations throughout the place, there was a note of caution to it: understated, of a designer not entire sure what she was doing, and afraid of overindulgence.
Gadget smiled. Please dance with me?
What else could he do? He took her paw in his, and carefully neither of them completely sure of what they were doing they began to move across the floor together.
There were the soft sounds of orchestra music playing, Chip realized, and he wondered how long theyd been there.
Chip inhaled deeply, and had to suppress a giggle. A hint of cinnamon; the flowery, perfumy scent of yes- lavender, and motor oil.
It smelled just exactly like Gadget. It smelled wonderful.
It was hard to meet her eyes. He looked just off to the side, past her, incredibly happy and unspeakably miserable. *What am I doing here ?* he thought helplessly. There were only two choices, werent there? Declare her under arrest she was here, in his arms unarmed, defenseless. He could run. Run VERY fast. There- there would be other days, other chances to bring her in for what she had done, right? He was sure she wouldnt stop him.
But something in his head was trying to tell him a third choice he couldnt think. He couldnt think at all.
The music rose towards a dramatic crescendo. This was the time, he thought, if he was going to do anything he should do it now-
He suddenly grabbed her arms, fingers squeezing tight. Her contented, dreamy expression vanished instantly, and she just looked into his eyes, waiting expectantly.
Its not too late, Chip said quietly. Turn yourself in, Gadget youve done bad things, sure, but- but well think of something. Something. Ill- Ill visit you every day in jail no, five times a day- Ill make them put together a doggone mansion of a cell for you- he chattered, wishing he could just THINK. And youll get time off for good behavior, and, and youll come home and everything everything will be like it used to be and well live happily ever after, he finished lamely.
Gadgets expression crumbled, and Chip felt like hed been punched in the stomach.
She looked away, off to the side at nothing. I cant do that, she said quietly. I cant just go back to lying the rest of my life. Chip, I HATE lying. I may have realized I like an awful lot of terrible things, but I HATE lying. She looked back at him, her eyes watering. You were the only person I would have done it for after Dad passed away, she squeaked. But I- not like this. Not anymore.
He held her tighter. I cant just let you go, he said, trying to sound stern.
She nodded quietly. I know, Chip. Thats why Im going away I have everything set up. Ill move very far away, because I know if I stay here you wont be able to stop chasing me youll never be happy, ever again. I cant do that to you.
He blinked, then shook his head. No, thats not- his hands squeezed still harder into her delicate skin, his knuckles whitening, and he repeated, forcefully, I just cant let you GO although somehow the words sounded different to his ears, this time.
I know, Chip, Gadget said again. Thats why I had to drug you.
Chip blinked slowly. Wha ?
You werent hurt in the accident at all, she said helplessly. I knocked you out- I needed time to talk to you, try and explain and I hoped if I gave you enough time, youd- she bit her lip, and squeezed her eyes shut. I HATE lying she whispered desperately. And- and I did it again, this morning
Chips paws felt numb, and his thoughts still foggier. No no, no he mumbled. He staggered, and Gadget had to catch him, support him.
She squeezed him tightly in her arms. You remember this, Chip Maplewood, she whispered into his ear. By golly, if you dont remember anything else, you better remember this: I never asked you.
Chip felt himself slipping away- he could barely hold onto what she was saying, could barely keep from collapsing. I never, NEVER would have asked you to stop being a gosh darn detective to come with me, and see the world together, and have amazing incredible adventures and do new impossible things six times before breakfast because I had a mind-bashingly high IQ and bore easily! she said. I- I would have given you the chance to do it, okay, but- I never would have ASKED you, and I never EVER would have TOLD you you had to do it, cause I know that would hurt you so much
Unable to support Chips increasingly numb form, Gadget slipped to her knees with him, still trying to hold on.
Oh, Chip she said softly. If you hadnt asked me to I would have come with you.
And it might have been his imagination, but Chip thought he heard her breathe one last thing, so soft even if he had been fully awake he might not have heard it:
Im sorry, Chip. Im so sorry Im a monster.
He had the dream one last time that night, and maybe it was whatever Gadget knocked him out with, or the last things she said, or maybe she finally DID beat some sense into him, but this time he remembered it. He remembered it all.
Gadget, miserable, chained in her workshop, cringing as the awful monster in the black Indiana-Jones style fedora demanded everything and didnt give her anything in return made her be someone she wasnt, do things she didnt want to do and when she had the nerve, the NERVE to escape, to leave and be herself, the monster was hot on her heels, chasing, never giving her a moments peace, too stubborn to give up his toy, roaring as he reached for her, MINE! MINE! MINE!
And just as Chip the monster reached her, grabbed her, pulled her back, the chipmunk woke up in his bed in a cold sweat, shivering.
Chip stood at the window in his room at HQ, looking outside. Papers were scattered across his desk nearby, but one in particular was in his hand, that he couldnt put down.
Chip looked at the letter again, the one the guys had found with him when Chip had been left comfortably curled up right back in his bed here at base. Several pages of her usual wandering chatter; nothing important at all, nothing theyd talked about during that last week theyd had together, and that hed thrown away; greetings for Dale, Monterey Jack, Zipper. And there, at the very end:
P.S.: Stole your hat.
The guys had been awfully busy while hed been gone. They must have hit every file cabinet in the police department and city hall to get all the documentation. There, on his desk: forms showing how every building a theft had been made from, every building that had gone up in glorious beautiful explosions sometimes, but not always, the same business- had been fronts for human criminal organizations but they had other things in common.
For example, theyd all accepted the special offer for cheap fumigations by one Hackwrench Exterminators. The forms theyd had to fill out, and which had been duly filed with the proper authorities, listed in detail estimates of how many dozens or hundreds of mice and insects theyd wanted eliminated from the premises. The thefts and most especially, the explosions- had all occurred while the buildings had been closed for fumigating, and theyd only found one hospital report detailing a single injury at any of the crime scenes.
Monty tapped on the doorframe to Chips room. Heyo, Chippa. Glad to see you up and about, but didja have to get back ta the case already? You should still be restin.
Chip shook his head. Cant, Monty. Still something important to do. Although you guys did an amazing job the week I was gone.
Monterey grinned, twirling the tip of his moustache. Well, now, I couldnt get Dale ta go to bed, hardly. I think the whole bloomin criminal population fears is name now he was out on the streets every blessed day trackin down leads. Most of the papers are Zippas. Felt downright like a fifth wheel, I did, just taggin along an givin the occasional knock on the noggin if someone needed it bad.
Criminal noggins, or Dales? Chip said, wryly.
Why, both, natcheral! Monty stretched, and thumped his chest. Well now! Back on the streets, then? Im sure Gadget cant have gotten far, an-
No, Monty, Chip said, shaking his head. Shes left the city and were not going after her.
Monty stared at him for a long time. My sheilas left us for good, then? he said, doing his best to hide his emotion and only failing a little. An youre okay with that, lad? I mean, for months I was startin to think the Rangers didnt have but one bad guy ta be up against.
Chip shook his head again, and ran his hand back over his uncomfortably bare head. Nope. Like I said, more important things to do right now, Monty
Chip, leader of the Rescue Rangers, grinned for the first time he could remember in six months. Right now, I gotta buy me a new hat.
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