CU Means Closeup
Bonds Animaniacs Movie
Intro logos (still): Warner Bros Pictures, A24, Village Roadshow Pictures, Regency Enterprises, Amblin Entertainment
CU (x5): Yakko's chest, legs, elbow, feet, and belt
His chest, his legs, his elbows, his toes…his entire body felt tender and battered, as if he had just been in a blender and then spit back out again. His lips were cracked, and his tongue was so dry it felt like a wad of paper wedged in his mouth. It even hurt to breath. His ribs…were they broken? He tried to lift his hand to touch them, but pain shot up his arm. He gasped and the air rattled in his raw throat. Maybe it was better to remain still for now.
His head. Oh God, his head. It was like someone had taken a mallet to it. Repeatedly. A new note of pain was struck with each throb, the bulk of it gathering where his ears met his skull. There was something trickling down the side of his forehead.
What was that smell?
As he slowly swam back into consciousness, he realized he was on his back, lying on uneven ground. Gingerly, he stroked the floor with glove-less fingers. It was rough, but also covered in something sticky and warm. Was that ink? Was he bleeding?
He almost managed a snort. For how much pain he was in, it would be nothing short of a miracle if he wasn't bleeding.
Where was he?
The pain in his head was making his brain feel slow and dull, trying to formulate a thought was like swimming in thick mud. His breath was coming in short and shallow. It felt hot against his mouth. The smell was getting worse.
What was going on?
He couldn't see. As he slowly dragged his brain through the thought process, he decided that it was because his eyes were shut. He opened them, and his eyelids crackled.
It was still dark. But his eyes were open. He knew his eyes were open.
Panic blossomed in his chest. His heart began to race, coursing the ink through his veins and causing the pain to dance to a different beat. Oh God, he was blind –
But his brain forced him to acknowledge the heat around his mouth, and the rough fabric that chafed against his swollen nose. Lifting his trembling hand and hissing as the pain exploded in bursts, he touched his face. It was covered with something thick and coarse, like burlap. It was okay. He wasn't blind.
He dropped his hand to his chest, exhaling shakily through the fabric. He held his breath for a few moments, trying to avoid the stench, but the brief lack of oxygen made him dizzy.
Where am I how did I get here what happened what is going on why is there a sack over my head –
His brain was suddenly going into overdrive. Lost in the darkness, his thoughts became a blurred mess of confusion; question after question presented itself in his mind, and each was maddeningly impossible to answer. Nausea swelled in his stomach. Make it stop, make it stop –
And then a thought occurred to him in such an abrupt manner that all the other questions quickly fell silent. He felt the color drain from his face, and his body began to shake even worse.
Staring into the blackness with wide, frightened eyes, Yakko Warner choked out one word:
Opening Credits begin to the funeral music from American Sniper
One Year Earlier
It was noon on a Thursday. Time for Yakko's pre-show ritual.
CU: Yakko's feet as he got out of bed before panning up his body
He had already showered. Breakfast had been a bowl of cereal with lactaid milk. He had read the newspaper. Done the crossword. Now he was microwaving water in a coffee mug that had a large WB logo plastered on it. When the water came to a boil, Yakko carefully took it out of the microwave and dunked a teabag in it, over and over again, watching as the water turned into a murky greenish-brown. He curled his gloved hand around the mug, enjoying the warmth and aroma of green tea.
He carried the mug into the dining room and stood by the window. He had really lucked out with this apartment: his view of Manhattan was marvelous. Laid out in front of him was the New York City skyline. Below, the hustle of humans and toons along the sidewalk.
Yakko blew on his tea, waiting for it to cool. He wasn't looking forward to going outside – it had that gray, sharp look of being bitterly cold. He rolled his eyes. If this was New York in December, he hated to see what January had in store. But for now he was in his toasty apartment, kept at a nearly uncomfortable heat due to a certain Warner sister's demands, cradling a steaming mug of tea.
He took a sip. The hot liquid poured down his throat in a comforting, familiar way. It seemed to warm up his whole body. Yakko had started drinking tea months ago at the recommendation of one of his new cast mates. Apparently it helped prevent vocal nodes. But now it had become part of a routine for Yakko, despite the jibes from his brother about it being a "grandma habit" and that he'd be "knitting afghans next."
'Have yourself a merry little Christmas…let your heart be light…'
Yakko rolled his eyes again as music from his neighbor's radio wafted into his own apartment. That had also become routine. The guy had been playing Christmas music since September.
A few flurries drifted down in front of his window, and Yakko wrinkled his nose. He hoped it didn't snow, both for his siblings' sake, and for his. Well, mainly for his. He'd have to walk in it in about an hour. Maybe he'd just take a cab. Again. He could hear the laughs from his cast mates now about his inability to handle the elements ("Need a space heater, California boy?"). Or maybe he'd just suck it up and walk. It wasn't that far from his apartment to Broadway.
Yakko shivered and took another sip of tea. He didn't want to think about going outside now, especially since the flurries had turned into full on snow. For now he would just enjoy the warmth. And the silence, he thought as he glanced at the clock. They would be home in a few minutes, and his quiet little oasis of calm would burst like a soap bubble. One of them would be making snide comments, the other would resort to personal threats. Yakko would have to step in before pies were thrown, or mallets brought out, or some other brand of toon weaponry was unleashed. Just last week they had been fighting with live cats they had pulled from behind their backs. Cats.
Maybe they wouldn't be so bad today. One could hope, right?
"My head is not too big for my body! Take it back, numskull!"
"Only if you take back what you said about my ears, crapsack!"
Yakko nearly dropped his tea as the door swung open, revealing two skinny teenagers wrapped up in enough snow gear that they could go on an arctic expedition. He sighed. Oh well. It looked like today's theme was only shallow personal attacks.
"It's good to see that you two had a nice exchange of pleasantries on the walk home," he drawled, flicking off some tea that had sloshed onto his glove.
CU: Ground Level as Dot's feet entered view before slowly panning up her body.
"Hi Yakko," Dot said brightly, then turned back to her other brother so that they were nose to nose. "Yeah right, you started it!" she snapped
CU: Dot's feet as she clomped her boots before taking them off. Camera then pans up her body
Shaking a few flakes from her hair, she pranced into the dining room, even doing a pirouette before promptly grabbing Yakko's mug and taking a swig of his tea.
CU: Ground Level as two boots are thrown into the wall. Wakko's feet then stomp into view before panning up his body
"One of these days I'm going to push you into traffic," Wakko growled
Dot stuck her tongue out him. Yakko snatched the tea back out of her hands and ordered, "Would you two knock it off? You're worse than an episode of Jerry Springer. Once, just once, I'd like to have a nice lunch with my angelic little siblings before I went to work."
"Good luck trying to do anything nice with Katie Kaboom over here," Wakko grumbled, shrugging off his dark blue jacket and dropping it on the floor. He stormed past both of them and toward his room.
"Wakko, pick up your – " Yakko started, but Wakko had already turned around in a huff, seized his jacket roughly from the floor, and made the return trip to his room.
CU: Wakko's feet as he stomped toward his room
"And don't slam your door!" Yakko yelled after he heard the sharp slap. He turned to his sister with a sigh. "Don't you think you two are a little too old for this?"
Dot, having already peeled off her mittens and draped them across the heater, was unzipping her purple parka. She gave Yakko an indignant look. "He's older than me! And he started it, he didn't tell me there was ice on the stairs and then he just laughed like an idiot when I fell! And nooo, who cares if I was hurt so bad I probably can't dance tomorrow, definitely not Wakko."
"You seemed to do that little dance in the kitchen just fine, my little crippled sib."
"Yeah, well," Dot huffed, "I was just testing my ankle, I think it's weak."
CU: Dot's right foot as she twirls it around.
"Can't you guys just walk five blocks without it turning into the Battle of the Bulge?" Yakko implored.
"It's not my fault he's an annoying freak of nature – "
"Watch it," Yakko said in a warning tone. "Look, I don't want to hear it. You two better shape up your act or else. You're both old enough now that I shouldn't even be having this conversation with you. Don't give me that look, it's not like you don't know how to behave. Now c'mon, tell me about your day. How was class?"
"Good," Dot answered, sitting down at the table
CU: Dot's legs as she curled them.
"We talked about how Bernstein used Beethoven in West Side Story this morning, and then for dance we're still working on the dream sequence from Oklahoma!..."
Yakko beamed as his sister gave him the run down of her day. To his unending pride, both of his siblings had been accepted into Julliard's Junior Toon Apprenticeship Progam, JTAP. Not that he had any doubts, of course. While all three of them were talented in the performing arts, he felt that Wakko and Dot were especially gifted. Growing up, they had always been thrust into categories: Yakko was the singer, Wakko was the musician, and Dot , the dancer. But Yakko had encouraged them to be well rounded, and so did Julliard, apparently. He had been to plenty of their recitals in the last year, and they were easily the best two out of the whole very select bunch. Not that he was biased or anything.
Plus, it was nice to see his siblings excited about something since the move to New York. Even now Yakko still was not sure if bringing them here with him had been the best decision. But them being angry at him about a cross-country move was nothing compared to the thought of being apart from them for some indeterminate amount of time.
Yakko and Dot shared a lunch of sandwiches – roast beef for him, avocado and tomato for his newly vegetarian sister – and vegetable soup. He set aside a sandwich for Wakko, whenever his brother chose to resurface. Knowing Wakko's appetite, it wouldn't be too long. Grabbing his jacket from the closet, Yakko turned to Dot.
"Alright sister sib, I'm off. Don't come to the show tonight, because ooooh the weather outside is frightful," Yakko said with a glance in their next-door neighbor's direction. Dot snickered. "And try to play nice with your brother, okay? If you two do decide to kill each other, do it out in the hallway. I want my security deposit back."
Yakko leaned over and kissed Dot on the forehead. "Good luck!" he heard her call as he walked out the door. After taking the elevator to the lobby, Yakko looked through the glass doors and into a white wall of blustering snow. With a dramatic sigh, he zipped his jacket all the way up to his chin, steeled himself, and put on a brave face. He would walk to work. It was just a little snow. No big deal.
CU: Yakko's feet as he stepped outside
Three seconds later, he hailed a cab.
CU: Ground Level as Wakko's feet enter view.
Wakko flopped down onto his bed and patted his stomach. He loved the feeling of being full. Too bad it never lasted long; even after eating the sandwich Yakko made him, then eating another two that he made himself, he'd still be hungry in about an hour. Oh well. He was a growing boy after all. But he'd still keep his mouth shut next time Yakko wondered aloud about how they seemed to go through bread so fast.
Letting his tongue hang loosely out of his mouth, he sprawled out in a long, luxurious stretch, then glanced around his room. Dirty clothes were piled in one corner. Clothes that he had worn but weren't quite dirty yet were in another pile. Clothes that had been washed but he hadn't bothered to put away made up a third pile. There was a small desk along the opposite wall that was covered in sheet music, sketchbooks, issues of Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone, and empty chip bags. Pencils and pens littered the floor along with other general odds and ends. It was a mess. Yakko hated it. But Wakko adored it because it was his. It was his room. It was a luxury he'd never, ever take for granted. After years of sharing a room with Yakko, he finally had his own little space. Some semblance of privacy. Not that Yakko had ever been especially nosy, but sometimes Wakko just wanted to be by himself. Plus, he could throw his stuff around and not have to pick it up. What was the point of cleaning if it was just going to get messy again?
Wakko rolled over and gazed out the window. The snow was so thick he could barely make out the other buildings. There was no way he was going to Yakko's show tonight. Not that he had gone in awhile anyway – he had the thing so well memorized he could not only perform Yakko's part, but probably half the cast's. Just thinking about the music made him bored. Wakko sighed again. No, it was way too cold for that. The weather was never like this in Burbank.
One week before his older brother had turned seventeen, Yakko had been cast as Marius in the first production of Les Misérables with an all-toon cast. He and Dot had been excited until they learned that the show was set to open off-Broadway in New York City. Wakko could remember the first time his brother had told him and Dot about it. That they might be moving. At that point it had been about two years since Animaniacs was over. They were still living on the lot, attending their toon education classes and just being kids. Wakko's first reaction had been disbelief. For some reason he had always assumed that they would never leave Burbank. He could barely imagine living somewhere besides the lot, let alone on the opposite coast. His life, their lives – it was all in California.
Dot had been outraged.
CU: Ground Level as Dot's right foot stomps into view
"What about all my friends? What about Skippy, and Randy Beaman? Who else would appreciate my girlish charm but beyond-my-age wit?" she had cried. Yakko told her that she could still keep in touch with them, that they'd be back to visit, that she'd make new friends…Dot wasn't having any of it. She cried. She threw tantrums. She refused to talk to Yakko for a week.
While he hadn't quite reached the level of fury that Dot had, Wakko told Yakko flat out that he didn't want to do it. What he didn't tell his brother was that the thought of the move terrified him. A strange place where they didn't know anyone, a place where there was no Toontown, where there was no safety of the lot? No way. Yakko had let it drop, but the look of disappoint on his brother's face had made it difficult for Wakko to sleep that night.
A week later, they celebrated Yakko's seventeenth birthday and the end of Dot's silent treatment. It was a great time, all of their friends had come over. As Wakko watched Yakko laughing with Buster Bunny over a can of soda, he secretly hoped that Yakko would realize that all of this was too much to leave behind. Didn't he see how much fun he was having? Wouldn't he miss this?
But by the next week, Yakko was at it again. He calmly told them about what the move would entail. It wouldn't be permanent. Two, maybe three years. What was more, there was a chance that he and Dot could attend JTAP. Despite her attempts to hide it, even Dot had perked up at this. JTAP was a big deal to young toons everywhere. You didn't get better training than that. All the best toon performers came out of JTAP. Wakko had to admit that Yakko knew how to make a bargain.
But even JTAP couldn't sway Dot. Just as she was about to descend into another vow of silence, Wakko made his own bargain: Yakko could go to New York while he and Dot stayed in California. This, apparently, had been the wrong suggestion. Yakko and Dot both reacted violently: Yakko looked as though he had been slapped, while Dot shrieked that if she lived with just Wakko they'd both be dead in less than five minutes.
CU: Ground Level as both of Dot's feet stomp into view.
It had been Wakko's turn to get mad then. He wasn't stupid, he could take care of both of them, he wouldn't let either of them get killed. They'd at least live longer than five freaking minutes. Just because Yakko was the responsible, parental one didn't mean he couldn't step up when need be. Why couldn't Dot trust him like she did Yakko?
But Yakko ended the ensuing argument, stating that he would not even consider leaving either one of them behind. They either went together, or not at all. This seemed to be the only thing that all three of them could agree on.
They had argued like this for a long time until Wakko spoke up again.
"Yakko, why do you want to do this so bad?"
Everyone had gotten quiet at that point. Yakko was looking away from them, his brow furrowed. He was collecting his thoughts; usually he was spitting out words faster than he could think them, so Wakko and Dot had long since realized that if Yakko paused, it usually meant he was going to say something of relative importance.
"I really, really want to do this," he had said, finally. "It's hard to explain, but I just feel like I can't give this up. I want to try new things, guys. I want to have new experiences, I want to see someplace different. I'm seventeen, and I have the means and the ability to travel the world if I want to. I don't want to stick around here, year after year, until I'm some has-been begging for autographs and trying to relive the glory days. I want to get on with my life. But you guys are my number one priority – I can't do this if you don't have my back."
Wakko hadn't said anything at first, shocked into silence over the fact that his brother had just kind of bared his soul and admitted to needing reassurance. That was a first. Dot seemed just as surprised as he was, staring at her oldest brother with a strange look on her face.
Then, Yakko added, "Also, I really like show tunes."
Wakko wasn't sure if that was to lighten the mood or just the truth.
At that point, Dot had straightened up,
CU: Dot's feet as she straightened both of them before walking away into her room.
"I'll think about it," and disappeared into her room.
Shortly after, both he and Dot agreed to Yakko's request. The Warners were moving to New York City. They packed their bags. Said goodbye to their friends. Boarded the plane to JFK. Wakko remembered Yakko stroking Dot's hair as she burst into tears when the plane took off.
A shrill giggle shook Wakko from his thoughts. He rolled his eyes. Even in his own room he could hear Dot on the phone with one of her friends. For all her whining about leaving her friends in Burbank, she had the least trouble out of all of them when it came to making friends in New York. After about one hour into her first class at JTAP, Dot had burst from her cocoon of awkward preteen-dom and blossomed into the world's most zealous social butterfly. Within weeks she had her own gossiping hoard of girls to travel with in the hallways. And now, just less than two years since their move, Dot was essentially the queen bee of the youth division at JTAP.
Yakko hadn't suffered socially either. Les Misér-Toons was a smash hit and quickly moved to Broadway, where it was an even bigger success. Humans and toons alike flocked to the sold-out theater every night. Yakko had made quick friends with his cast mates, especially the female ones. According to him, it was wonderful being a guy in musical theater. For the first time in his life, it seemed to Wakko that his brother was enjoying acting his age.
He and Dot had gone to see the show more times than he could count. Dot adored it, and lamented repeatedly that she was in some horrible middle stage where she was too old to play young Cosette and too young to play adult Cosette. Wakko had to admit that he enjoyed the musical too – looking back on it, it made that one Rita and Runt sketch suddenly make a lot more sense. Plus, it was a hoot to watch Yakko, even though it was boring and gross to watch him get kissy-face with that one duck actress over and over again. He really looked like he was having fun up there.
Sometimes, when he sat in the darkness and watched his brother sing up on stage, Wakko wondered if he would do that one day. Yakko always looked so confident, so in control – performing was effortless for him. Even offstage, Yakko handled everything with a smirking self-confidence and charisma that seemed to carry him through life on easy wings. Wakko rarely felt confident or assured. Most of the time he just felt awkward and self-conscious, never knowing what to say or do that wouldn't make him look weird. He wished he could be just like Yakko.
But then again, sometimes he didn't. Sometimes, Wakko didn't want to be like Yakko at all. He was sick of constantly being lumped into the same category as his brother, or worse, compared to him. He just wanted to be Wakko, even though, when he really thought about it, he didn't even know what that would be. But still, he wasn't just "the other Warner brother." Didn't people realize they were different? That Yakko wasn't always the best and brightest?
"I'm good at stuff too!" Wakko burst out suddenly. Whoops. He hadn't meant to say that out loud.
"Sure you are," came Dot's muffled reply from her bedroom.
"Shut up," Wakko yapped, ignoring her giggling. It was true. He was good at stuff. He just didn't shove it in everyone's faces. He was top in his class at JTAP. And he'd be eighteen in less than three years, at which point he'd take his already guaranteed and coveted spot in the undergraduate class at Julliard.
This fact had been met to the general consternation of his classmates. Wakko shoved his face into his pillow at the thought: out of the three Warners, why did he have to be the loser when it came to making friends? If his classmates were ever nice to him, it was for their own gain. They either wanted an autograph or some magic formula for getting their own TV show. Whenever someone asked him about that, Wakko just shrugged and said to do what he did: have a talent scout spot you when your smart-aleck older brother's big mouth almost gets him beat up on the playground of an orphanage.
But for the most part, his classmates avoided him. Or glared at him. Or made stupid comments, like that he bought his way into JTAP, that he got his undergraduate scholarship because Bugs Bunny gave them a call. That was stupid: not only was it completely untrue, but as Wakko pointed out, he barely knew Bugs Bunny. They'd spoken to him, sure. Bugs Bunny at least knew who they were. But they weren't close enough for Bugs to pull any kind of strings, or for the rabbit to know that Yakko not so secretly idolized him. No, Wakko knew that he had gotten where he was because of talent alone, but no one seemed to want to acknowledge that.
Yakko told him that his classmates were just jealous. Part of Wakko believed that. It was with a great amount of grace that he managed not to laugh in their faces when he bested them every week in grades or rehearsals. But the other, larger, louder part of Wakko believed that it was because he was inherently weird, that he had never quite grasped how to successfully act with the outside world.
Wakko glanced at the clock. 4:32 pm. He didn't have any evening classes today, and Yakko wouldn't be home until around midnight. And it wasn't like he was going to get a phone call from some classmate asking him to hang out, like Dot did every five seconds. He was caught up on all his homework. The whole rest of the day was his to do with what he wished. Grinning, Wakko rolled over and pulled a thin, worn comic book from beneath his pillow. He traced the bent cover with a gloved finger.
'Mickey Mouse Outwits the Phantom Blot.'
One of Wakko's first stops upon reaching New York was the comic book store. He had started reading comic books when he was twelve; it was a hobby he rarely spoke of to anyone. He'd even drawn a few of his own, which was a hobby he absolutely did not speak of to anyone. He didn't want to get laughed at. But he couldn't help it: he loved the stories, the illustrations, the fact that he could disappear into their world for hours on end…
The classics were his favorites, like old school Warner Brothers, Disney, and Marvel. So when he walked into the store and found this gem, he had been over the moon. At this point he'd lost track of how many times he'd read it. In fact, he wasn't quite sure why he liked it so much. It was pretty obnoxiously Disney. Mickey Mouse was permanently stuck in optimism-mode, and only made it out of the adventure alive due to repeated instances of sheer luck. But still, this story was actually exciting, and there was some stuff that happened that really made Wakko think –
"Oh my God Patti, ask him, ask him ask him ask him! Or wait, no, I know, sing it! Sing it to him Patti, I'll die – "
Dot's shrill squeal from her bedroom broke up Wakko's thoughts. Looking up from his comic book, he yelled, "Yeah Patti, you sing and we'll all die!"
"Shut up Wakko!" Dot screamed, "You didn't hear that, did you Patti? Oh God, no, ignore it, it was just my idiot turd of a brother, he was dropped on his head as a child…"
Stuffing pillows into his ears, Wakko flipped to the next page.
"Great show tonight Yakko!"
"Way to work those golden pipes a' yours, bucko!"
"Catch ya tomorrow night, good job man!"
Yakko walked into his dressing room, waving to his friends and cast mates. "G'night everybody!" he shouted. A second later he realized that used to be a catchphrase of his and felt like an idiot. Hopefully no one noticed.
"Haven't you used that line before?"
So much for that.
Yakko turned around with an embarrassed grin. A gorgeous duck toon with a powder white face and blonde curls was leaning against his doorframe. She was still in her Cosette costume, with a white skirt that fell chastely to her ankles, but a bold red corset that, Yakko noticed, barely contained two of her assets.
CU: The toon's feet as the camera pans up her body
"Oh, maybe once or twice. You know, whenever a situation got a bit too…adult," Yakko replied, and waggled his eyebrows.
God, he loved musical theater. Maybe a little too much. If Wakko or Dot ever decided to perform, he was chaperoning their every show. Luckily, neither of his siblings seemed to be having these types of encounters yet.
"Speaking of which," the woman said, stepping into his room and closing the door behind her, "I seem to be having some trouble taking off my costume. Do you think you could help me?"
Yakko grinned, a chuckle forming somewhere deep in his throat.
"For you, Rebecca, I'd be happy to."
Blondes. They were so much fun.
Boys. They were so much fun.
Especially when they were thirteen and could be wrapped around your little finger so tight it had to hurt.
CU: Dot's feet as they kicked the air back and forth
"Oh Razzy, I don't know why you don't do more solos, you're clearly the most talented boy in class," Dot cooed into the phone, rolling her eyes.
"Ya think so?"
This was too easy. Tracing the patterns on her pink and purple bedsheets, Dot replied, "Oh yeah, definitely. I wish my solos could be as good as yours…"
Yeah right. It was more like the other way around. Dot knew she was the best in her class, hands down. If anyone else was half as good, they should be counting their lucky stars.
CU: Dot's feet as they kicked the air back and forth
"Geez Dot, I dunno. You're like, really good. Everyone says you're the best."
Dot smirked. A nice ego stroke was good for you every now and then. But she couldn't get too caught up in it, it was getting late. Dot glanced at the clock. It was close to midnight. Yakko would be home soon, and God help her if he caught her up past her bedtime and on the phone, with a boy no less.
"I don't know Razzy, I could really use some he-elp…" Dot said in a sing-song voice.
CU: Dot's feet as they kicked the air back and forth
"Well there's a lot of tutors at JTAP, I think Webber is free on Wednesdays."
Dot rolled her eyes. Boys were so stupid. Sometimes you practically had to shove their nose in it.
"I don't like Webber, he's cranky and smells like an old man. I need help from someone in my class, like, a really talented boy who I may or may not be speaking to. Right now."
C'mon, it wasn't that hard…
CU: Dot's feet as they kicked the air back and forth
"Oh, well, maybe I could help you!"
There you go.
"Razzy, that's so thoughtful of you! I mean, if you insist, maybe we could meet – "
CU: Dot's ears as they began twitching
CU: Dot's feet as they stopped kicking the air back and forth
picking up the sound of keys fumbling against the lock on the front door. After months of practice, she practically had a sixth sense about Yakko coming home.
CU: Ground Level as Yakko's foot enters frame
"Crap, I have to go, bye!" she blurted into the phone. In one fluid motion, she pressed the off button, shoved the phone under the pillow, flicked off her lamp, flung herself down onto her bed, and threw the covers over her body. Less than a second later Dot could hear Yakko enter the apartment and throw his keys and wallet onto the kitchen counter.
CU: Ground level as Yakko's feet walk by
She knew she had to be quick, because the first thing Yakko would do was –
Right on cue, Dot heard her bedroom door open. She kept her eyes squeezed shut, feigning sleep. Yakko always peeked into her room first before he moved onto Wakko's. It had only taken Dot being caught by her older brother once before she became a pro at anticipating his little nighttime checkups.
Hearing her door shut with a soft click, Dot sighed with relief. Another close call, another successful deception. She'd talk to Razzy in class tomorrow and explain what happened.
And then the phone rang.
Dot's heart stopped.
CU: Dot's feet as they clenched tightly
No. Razzy couldn't be that stupid. He wouldn't call her back.
The phone rang again.
CU: Ground Level as Yakko's feet walk by.
Crap. Crap crap crap. Who else could it possibly be this late at night? God, Razzy was such a freaking moron. Leave it to a boy to be so damn clueless. If Yakko answered the phone, he'd figure out that she had been up to something she shouldn't. And it would probably lead to a boy talk. Again. She couldn't take it, she had to do something. Disconnect the phone line? No, it was in the kitchen, where Yakko was. Tackle her brother, and say she thought he as a burglar? No, he'd probably give her crap about how she should've called 911 instead, or asked her why she thought a burglar would be trying to answer their phone.
CU: Ground level as Dot's feet land into view
Dot made up her mind. She had to get to the phone before Yakko. Otherwise she was toast. She'd make up some excuse as to why she suddenly woke up to answer it – maybe she could say she was sleepwalking or something -
CU (cont'd): Dot's feet clenched before running to the left.
CU: Dot's feet as she ran through the hallway
Yakko was in the kitchen, only a few feet from the phone.
"I GOT IT!" Dot screamed.
Yakko only got out a "What the – " before she elbowed him out of the way, sending him sprawling to the floor.
CU: Ground Level as Dot's foot lept into view.
CU: Ground level of counter as Dot's feet land into frame.
She grabbed the phone out of the receiver and gasped, "Hello Warner residence sorry wrong number!"
"No, zees is not a wrong number, Dot don't hang up!"
Dot froze with the phone hovering over the receiver. In spite of the situation, and the fact that Yakko was getting up off the floor with a murderous look on his face, excitement was coursing through her. She knew that voice.
"Scratchy, is that you?" she cried.
Yakko, who had just opened his mouth angrily, blinked in shock.
"Yes Dot, eet's me, eet's very good to hear your little voice," Scratchensniff said warmly. Dot noted that he sounded tired.
"Scratchy!" Dot howled with delight. "I miss you! Why didn't you call us sooner? You'd love it here, it snows all the time and they have German food on like, every corner!"
CU: Ground level as Wakko's feet enter view. Camera slowly pans up his body
He sent a questioning glance to Yakko, who shrugged.
"Dot, I would love to speak to you much longer, but I am afraid I have to speak to your brother, Yakko. This ees very important please," Scratchensniff said.
Frowning, Dot handed the phone over to Yakko.
"He wants to talk to you," she said.
Quirking an eyebrow, Yakko accepted the phone. She had expected him to look as excited as she felt, but his face showed nothing but worry, even a small hint of fear. But before he spoke, he covered the mouthpiece and muttered, "You and I are going to have a chat after this."
Dot groaned and hopped up onto the counter.
CU: Ground Level of Counter as Dot's feet land into view. Camera slowly pans up her body
Scratchy hadn't called them in all the time they'd been out here, why did he have to pick the middle of some random night…now she was going to get in trouble over nothing.
With one final glare in her direction, Yakko put the phone to his ear. "Scratchy! Long time no talk, doc! You know it's kinda late in our neck of the woods, something come up?"
Unable to hear Scratchensniff's voice, Dot watched as Yakko's face slowly melted from a worried half-grin to a blank, vacant stare. He looked ill. Worry squirmed in the pit of Dot's stomach.
CU: Dot's feet as they clenched slowly
What was wrong? What happened? She exchanged a panicked look with Wakko, who was gripping the counter very tightly.
CU: Wakko's feet as he tapped his right foot slowly
Yakko muttered a few fragments, words like "How?" "No?" "When is it?" "No, it's fine." "Yes, we can." "Tomorrow." "No, I want to. So will they." "Okay." "I'm sorry." "Bye." before he hung up.
"I hate late phone calls," he said darkly.
"What is it? What's wrong?" Dot breathed.
Her voice seemed to startle Yakko. He looked at her and then at Wakko as if he hadn't realized they were there until just now. Yakko swallowed once, and Dot noticed that his fingers were shaking. When he spoke, it was in an unusually low voice.
"Guys…sibs…Scratchy had some bad news."
Dot watched his face intently. Her older brother looked entirely too old right now. There was a frown set deep in his face, his ears sagged, his eyes looked vacant.
CU: Yakko's feet as they clenched real slowly
Everything in the apartment seemed oddly still, as if it was waiting for the news too. She held her breath.
CU: Dot's clenched feet as they clenched even tighter.
"This…this might – this is going to upset you. But you have to understand, this is life, it's what happens – "
"What?" Wakko demanded suddenly. He looked pale in the artificial light of the kitchen.
Yakko looked at both of them. Then, taking a shaky breath, he said, "A few hours ago, Slappy…she died."
Yakko brushed a few snowflakes off of a bench and sat down. His breath fogged out of his mouth in cold, curling trails. The snow had stopped by now. While a day's worth of pedestrians had turned it into a murky gray slush on the sidewalks, untouched layers of snow coated windowsills and doorframes of the buildings around him. In front of him was a large, empty ice rink. Beyond that was the immense Rockefeller Christmas Tree, its lights twinkling beneath a frosting of white.
"There's a grief that can't be spoken…there's a pain goes on and on…" Yakko sang quietly. He sang that song every night on stage, but the words had never burned so deeply in his chest like they did right now.
He had left the apartment after his siblings had gone to bed. Exhausted from shock and sorrow, they had both gone to their rooms after a short talk with him. They would speak about it more tomorrow. Or, more precisely, in a few hours. It was going on two o'clock in the morning at this point, and it didn't seem like he was going to get some sleep any time soon. Shivering, Yakko zipped his coat up further.
It being New York City, there were still a few people braving the cold streets. This suited Yakko, as he wasn't sure how alone he wanted to be right now.
He had always liked Slappy a lot. She had been great to work with, great to talk to, so knowledgeable about everything, and had a wit so sharp you could cut quarters with it. Slappy had sort of taken them under her wing in their early days on the lot, showing them around, introducing them to people. He wished he had told her how grateful he was…when had he last spoken to her? Why on earth hadn't he called her recently, just to chat? What was wrong with him?
Yakko clenched his teeth, fighting the constricting feeling in his throat.
CU: Yakko's feet as they clenched tightly
He decided that the cold was his punishment for not bothering to call his old friends, for not being better. But Slappy had just seemed so…permanent. Immortal. He knew that was a ridiculous notion; a toon could only live forever if he or she was drawn, which Slappy was not. But Slappy had just given off that undefeatable vibe. When Yakko had asked how it happened, Scratchensniff only told him that the details were sparse. But Yakko couldn't help but wonder about it. Even though he hadn't called, he was sure he would have known if she was sick, especially if it was this serious. Maybe Slappy had finally been right about her prediction that she was "gonna have a heart attack if another one a' those Disney skanks got her own damn show." Yakko chuckled at the memory, but then remembered that he'd never get to hear another one of her zingers and felt even worse. As far as the cause of death went, Scratchensniff said they could do nothing but wait to hear from the coroner. Yakko swallowed. He hated to think of Slappy in some kind of toon morgue, surrounded by other –
Yakko gave his head a rough shake. He shouldn't be thinking about that kind of thing right now. He watched the lights sparkle on the tree and switched his thoughts to something else. The viewing was on Saturday. That meant that he and his siblings would be catching a flight to California tomorrow. His understudy would be thrilled – Yakko had never missed a show before.
But for the first time in almost two years, the Warners would be back in Burbank. If it wasn't for such an unfortunate reason, Yakko would admit to being kind of excited. He missed the west coast. Not that the east wasn't nice, but everyone was wound up so tight here, and the weather seemed to be going out of its way to make him miserable. The cold was something Yakko had never gotten used to. He missed the sun. More than that, he missed his friends and old cast mates. It would be nice to see them again, no matter what the reason. Yakko hadn't exactly been the king of keeping in touch.
He supposed he'd have to call Rebecca and let her know he'd be gone for a few days. In fact, maybe he'd tell her he'd be gone for a few months, Yakko thought with a snort. No, that wouldn't work. He had to perform with her every night. While she had the intellectual equivalent of a fruit fly, even she could figure out that lie. She was a diva in every sense of the word. Yakko could take a bit of drama here and there – he was in theater for crying out loud – but one man could only take so much of the star's constant declarations that she was a goddess and thus should be treated like one. Her personality was about as welcoming to Yakko as a cheese grater on his skull, but damn, did she ever make up for it in the looks department. He didn't care if this made him shallow – they were just two people enjoying their youth, that was all. At least that's what he told himself. Besides, Yakko didn't think she'd bat an eye at his departure. He was reasonably sure that he wasn't her only current male companion. Rebecca would have company while he was gone.
Yakko was jolted out of his thoughts when the lights on the Christmas tree suddenly went out, their rosy glow disappearing from his surroundings. Looking ahead, the once friendly tree was now a huge, dark mass towering over him in the night.
CU: Yakko's feet as he stood up before walking away
The Warners had a long weekend ahead of them, so he figured he'd start packing.
Hunching his shoulders against the cold, Yakko walked back to his apartment, wondering what could have finally brought old Slappy down.
CU: Yakko's feet as he walked back to his apartment
Yakko leaned his head back against the headrest, shutting his eyes as he did so. He always got a headache on airplanes. He didn't know whether it was the stale cabin air or the altitude change that did it, but it was inevitable. And apparently all the Tylenol in the world couldn't prevent it. He was cursed. It didn't help that he was dead tired and it was barely three o'clock in the afternoon. And when they landed in California it would three hours earlier. That meant he had three hours of extra day to get through. And the day was already turning out to be a little trip to hell and back.
As predicted, Yakko found that he couldn't sleep. So he spent the night packing for himself and Wakko; knowing how picky Dot was about her clothing and toiletries, he would be better off just leaving that up to her when she woke up. He had called the airlines at five in the morning to secure three tickets to LAX; there were no tickets to Burbank this last minute, but after another quick phone call to Scratchensniff the doctor assured him that there would be someone to pick them up in Los Angeles. Then he drank three mugs full of green tea before he began the dangerous task of waking up Wakko and Dot from their slumber. They had both received a nasty shock the night before, and coupling that with the fact that they had gone to bed late, waking them up was like asking for Armageddon.
Dot responded by calling him a sadist. Wakko had tried to kick him.
CU: Wakko's feet as his right foot almost moved
When Yakko finally managed to get both of their groggy butts out of bed, they turned their rage on each other. Evidently someone, Yakko couldn't tell who, had dropped the other's toothbrush onto the bathroom floor, and this somehow erupted into petty name-calling and shoving. Luckily they were both so tired that the fight didn't progress much farther than that. But Yakko still had to split them up, still had to yell at them like they were six and eight-years-old instead of the thirteen and fifteen that they were.
He could not understand what had gotten into them lately. Wakko and Dot were constantly at each other's throats, and he had no idea what to do about it. They had been relatively well behaved when they were younger. They fought, sure, but not like now. He supposed it was because they were just close in age and at that stage where everything was a much bigger deal than it should be. When Yakko was one on one with a sibling, they were fine. While she had a flair for the dramatic, Dot was usually affectionate and open with him, always bubbly and chatting about her friends. Wakko was the opposite; he had grown to be a bit more reticent and moody, but Yakko found that he could usually draw out Wakko's goofy side after a while. Yakko remembered that he had been a bit of a sullen grump at that age too, though with him it had manifested itself in an overflow of sarcastic comments that typically earned him extra homework or a lecture.
When it was the three of them together it was at least better than the terrible two, but that still meant that Yakko had to be the peacekeeper. Even now he had made sure he sat between them on the plane. Dot was on his right, staring out of the window with her chin in her hand and her tail curled up in her lap.
CU: Dot's feet as they are kicking the air, held together.
Wakko was on his left, munching on some pretzels.
"I wonder how Skippy is doing."
Yakko turned to his sister. She had spoken so quietly he had barely heard her over the dull roar of the jet engines. Dot was still gazing out into the clouds. He could see her glum face reflected in the window.
"I don't know Dot. But I bet he'll appreciate you being there, he could probably use a friend right now," Yakko said softly.
"Yeah," she muttered, then let her forehead fall against the window with a dull thunk.
Yakko watched her for a moment before turning to his brother. Wakko was still eating pretzels, but when Yakko glanced down, he noticed that there were at least four empty pretzel bags strewn across his tray table.
"Uh, Wakko," Yakko began, watching his brother eat, "did you hijack the beverage cart or something? How did you get all those?"
Wakko answered with his mouth full of food, "Every time the flight attendant guy comes by I tell him that the bag he gave me was empty, so he just gives me another one. Its worked like five times now."
Yakko rolled his eyes. He didn't know which was more impressive: Wakko's ingenuity or the flight attendant's stupidity. "Give me one," he said.
"Give me a pretzel."
"You've already eaten five bags! Give some to us starving toons."
"Get your own."
CU: Ground Level as Yakko's foot enters view
Yakko made a sudden grab for the bag, but Wakko quickly snatched his hand away.
"Ah, too slow, grasshopper," Wakko taunted with a smirk.
Smirking himself, Yakko reached behind his back and whipped out a camera.
"What?" was all Wakko managed to get out before Yakko snapped a picture. The flash blinded Wakko, and in that same moment Yakko yanked the pretzels from out of his brother's hands.
"You starlet, always distracted by a camera," Yakko sighed, tossing a pretzel into his mouth.
"No fair!" Wakko cried.
CU: Wakko's feet as they leap from view
He made a dive at Yakko, who held the pretzels up in the air and out of Wakko's reach.
"No fair!" Yakko parroted back in a perfect imitation of Wakko's voice.
Wakko cringed. "Ugh, don't do that, you know I hate when you do my voice!"
"You think it's hilarious when I do Dot's."
"Yeah, 'cause that's funny. It's just weird when my voice starts coming out of your mouth. It's creepy. Also, give me back my pretzels."
"I'm afraid I can't do that."
"You're setting a terrible example right now, you know. You're supposed to be the mature one," Wakko grumbled.
Yakko ate another pretzel and said, "I'm having a momentary regressive stage."
"Are you really denying food from your little brother?"
"I'm confident you'll live."
"I'm calling child services."
"I don't think they have jurisdiction on airplanes."
CU: Wakko's feet as he set one foot back before escaping view
Grinning, Wakko made another lunge at Yakko, knocking him into Dot's shoulder.
"Do I need to separate you two?" she snapped, mimicking Yakko's disciplinarian tone.
Yakko laughed at this, giving Wakko time to snatch his pretzels back.
Their little spat over the food turned out to be a welcome diversion to reality. It made them forget, if only momentarily, why they were on the airplane to begin with. Once all three of them had settled down, Yakko found his thoughts drifting back to Slappy…how he'd never hear her voice again, or see her clobber some unsuspecting toon over the head with her cane…
And God, poor Skippy. Yakko had to admit that he had completely forgotten about the boy until Dot had mentioned him. If he remembered correctly, Skippy was around the same age as Dot. The loss of Slappy was going to be hard and confusing for him. Yakko knew what it was like to have very few family members to speak of. The thought of losing either one of his siblings was unfathomable. His brain seemed to grind to a halt before he could even contemplate the possibility.
A familiar snore pulled Yakko from his thoughts. Turning to his left, he saw that Wakko had fallen asleep sitting straight up, his head thrown back, mouth open, his tongue lolling out to one side. Attractive, Yakko thought with a snicker. Seconds later, Yakko felt the soft thud of Dot's head hitting his shoulder. She was out cold. Glancing at his watch, he realized that they still had another four hours of flight ahead of them. And that was just the beginning. His siblings had the right idea.
Trying to push thoughts of Slappy and Skippy from his mind, Yakko leaned back and fell into a troubled sleep.
CU: Ground as Yakko's feet slowly walk by. Wakko's feet then slowly walk by, and then Dot's feet slowly walked by.
Sleep deprivation clearly did not suit any of them. At one point Dot made some comment about how she "probably looked like shit" which Wakko blearily confirmed, and it was a true testament to how tired he was that Yakko did not reprimand either of them.
CU: Yakko's belt as he walked
CU: Wakko's chest as he walked
CU: Dot's feet as she walked
Wakko staggered after his brother blindly, barely aware of what was going on around him. He knew he had walked directly into at least two people, one of them an elderly woman, and had to be steered away by Yakko.
CU: Wakko's feet as he is walking
Airplane sleep was nothing compared to real sleep, and he had gotten next to no real sleep last night anyway. Every time he tried closing his eyes, he'd hear Slappy's voice or, possibly worse, see the blank stare on Yakko's face. For some reason that had made Wakko really uncomfortable. In fact, nearly any serious display of emotion from his older brother set Wakko on edge. Wakko felt as though Yakko had seen every inch of him: Yakko had seen him cry, had seen him lose his temper, become destructive, he had seen him become sentimental, devastated, frightened, panicked…but Wakko never got to see any of those sides to Yakko. If he had those sides at all.
He guessed it had to do with the fact that Yakko had to watch him and Dot. It would be kinda weird if your pseudo-parent older brother was crying all the time or losing his temper at every little thing. But still, even though it would bother him, Wakko sort of wished that Yakko would give him some clue as to how he was feeling, if only so Wakko could compare his own feelings. If they were going to be surrounded by a bunch of grieving people tomorrow he didn't want to offend anybody by acting weird.
A few months ago one of their professors at JTAP, Mr. Furrstein, had died from a sudden cardiac arrest. Wakko had attended the funeral along with his brother and sister, all of JTAP, many Julliard students and professors, more than half of Yakko's cast mates and even more players from other Broadway shows. Wakko had no idea that his arthritic old professor who routinely hacked up hairballs during class was so popular.
But Wakko had always liked the man, so when Mr. Furrstein's widow requested that some of the JTAP students step up to share a few words, Mr. Webber practically dragged him forward. Unlike Mr. Furrstein, Wakko never liked Mr. Webber – he was a crotchety old fart that smelled like ass – so it figured that he would thrust Wakko in front of dozens of people to talk about a deceased man when he had no speech prepared. He remembered yanking nervously at his collar because it had suddenly become incredibly tight as he looked at everyone in the crowd.
CU: Wakko's feet as they began shuffling
They seemed to be one massive sea of staring, blinking eyes, with the only recognizable things being Yakko, who urged him on with an encouraging look, and Dot, who watched him with one eyebrow raised.
CU: Dot's right foot on her left, for in which she rocks it back and forth.
Not knowing what to say, Wakko found himself babbling about all the little things he liked about Mr. Furrstein, like how he always wore goofy ties, or how he sometimes used students as props during his demonstrations. Things had actually seemed to be going okay until Wakko brought up the time that Mr. Furrstein had managed to cough one of his hairballs directly into the wastebasket and everyone in the class had clapped. When he said it, the image of the whole ordeal had suddenly popped into his head and, to his own horror, Wakko burst out laughing. He hadn't meant to – he was actually really sad – but for some reason he just seemed to lose control of his body, of his emotions, and then there he was, giggling his head off at a funeral.
Mr. Webber had dragged him bodily away from the podium at that point, which ticked Yakko off. People were muttering and throwing him nasty glares. Dot was just hiding her face in her hands, saying that she wished it was her funeral.
CU: Dot's right foot as she continued to rock it back and forth
Wakko had just blushed horribly and sat back down, having never remembered feeling more embarrassed in his life.
Later that night, when Wakko had announced to his brother that he wasn't going to school ever again lest he be ridiculed right out of the building, Yakko had calmly told him not to worry about it. He said that it was good to enjoy the memories, and if everything Wakko had told him about Mr. Furrstein was true, the old cat would have probably found the whole debacle hilarious. But, maybe next time, Wakko should probably exercise a little more restraint when it came to that kind of thing. Some people, as Yakko said, had "annoyingly delicate sensibilities." Yakko also added that he would most definitely be going to school the next day.
"Watch it young man!" a dog toon barked at him suddenly.
Wakko jumped back, startled.
CU: Wakko's feet as he stood back
He had just walked into someone else. Whoops.
"Geez Wak, watch where you're going will ya?" Yakko mumbled, waving an apologetic hand to the toon, "You're as bad as Mr. Magoo."
"It's not my fault there are so many people in this stupid airport," Wakko grumbled back.
"And we're never going to get out of this stupid airport if you keep bouncing off of every person in it like a pinball," Yakko pointed out. "Now, we need to find baggage claim. Baggage claim, baggage claim…"
"This way," Dot said, yawning.
CU: Dot's feet as she is leading them to baggage claim
downstairs the baggage carousels where they waited, watching suitcase after suitcase parade past them.
CU: Dot's feet as her right foot began tapping.
CU: Yakko's feet as his left foot began tapping.
CU: Wakko's feet as his right foot began tapping.
It was hypnotic in a way, and Wakko was only moments from dozing off when Dot spoke up.
"So who's picking us up?"
"Eehhhhh, that's a good question sis. Scratchy said he'd get someone we knew," Yakko answered, turning to scan the crowd.
Wakko turned to look as well
CU: Wakko's feet as they went into tiptoe form
Even though he was still growing, he doubted he would ever get to be as tall as Yakko. He was glad though; Yakko had been tall and lanky as a child, and had never really grown out of it.
CU: Yakko's feet as the camera slowly pans up his body
He just grew taller and lankier. Wakko at least felt like he was going to be a bit more evenly proportioned.
Wakko's eyes brushed the crowd, searching for a familiar face. Humans and toons on business hustled past, families herded themselves around, while others were running toward each other and laughing, clearly reuniting for the holidays. Who would Scratchy have sent? He hoped it wasn't Plotz. The guy had never liked any of them. He really hoped it wasn't Ralph. They'd be lucky to get to Burbank alive with that dunce behind the wheel.
There were a couple of people along the wall – chauffeurs by the looks of them, as they all held signs with various last names on them. Wakko read some of the names. Berkowitz...Paulsen…Duckworth…Hartnell…Warner…Macneille…
CU: Wakko's feet as they went down.
Wakko snapped his gaze back to the 'Warner' sign, his eyes traveling upwards to the face connected with it.
CU: The toon's red shirt
CU: The toon's feet
CU: The toon's ears
"Buster!" Wakko called out, grabbing Yakko's jacket and pointing.
CU: Buster's feet as the camera slowly pans up his body
Yakko looked up, then let out a loud, joyous cry as his face split with a genuine smile.
Buster Bunny hurried toward him,
CU: Buster's feet as they ran to Yakko
but Yakko met him halfway. The two old friends hugged, and Yakko exchanged a few words that made the rabbit laugh out loud before Buster turned to him and Dot.
"Hiya guys!" he greeted, giving them a tooth-filled grin as he stashed the 'Warner' sign behind his back. "Have a good flight?"
"Ask Wakko, he ate his weight in airplane food," Dot muttered.
Buster shook both of their hands, explaining how he had jumped at the chance to pick them up when he got the call from Scratchensniff, asking them about New York, grimacing when they told him about the snow, then concluded with asking them to describe how badly Yakko was hamming it up on Broadway. This earned him an ear flick from Yakko.
After helping them pull their luggage off the carousel, Buster led them to his car.
CU: Buster's feet as he led them to his car.
As they cruised up I-5, he filled them in on the major events of the past two years – who did what, who dated whom, what happened where, everything. Yakko and Dot laughed and joked with him, though Wakko was keenly aware of the note of sadness that hung about the car. It was difficult to disguise why they were here.
Wakko watched the blue rabbit as he spoke. He had certainly grown since he'd last seen him. Like Yakko, Buster's face had gotten a little more angular, with coarser fur lining the cheekbones. He had whiskers now, and he was taller too, only about an inch or two shorter than Yakko if you didn't include the ears.
CU: Buster's feet as the camera pans up his body slowly
But Buster's brown eyes still possessed a bit of the boyish spark that had radiated from him in their youth. Like he was almost grown up, but not quite. Wakko noticed it when Buster talked about the shenanigans that he, Plucky, and Hampton had managed to get into while the Warners were absent.
"We missed ya, man," Buster told Yakko. "Whenever we got into trouble, we didn't have anyone to talk us out of it."
"It was for your own good. Sometimes I felt like I spent more time getting you guys out of trouble than I spent getting into it myself," Yakko said.
Buster glanced sideways at Yakko.
"You were the good boy. You were also too busy chasing tail. Hey guys, is he still girl crazy?" Buster called back to them.
"Yes," Wakko and Dot chorused from the back seat.
"What!" Yakko yelped, his voice rising slightly. He wheeled around in his seat, shooting them a hurt look,
CU: Yakko's feet as they curled.
"I'm not that bad, am I?"
"Yes," they replied again.
Yakko scowled at them before turning back to Buster. "Ignore the wee ones, they know not of which they speak," he said.
"How's Rebecca?" Dot asked snidely.
Yakko sighed and massaged the bases of his ears as Wakko and Buster snickered.
They chatted like this as if the three of them had never left, carefully avoiding the subject of Slappy. Wakko had been enjoying the comfortable chatter so much that he hadn't noticed that the streets were becoming familiar, or that they had just passed a playground where he had spent half his childhood burning off energy. It wasn't until Dot gasped and pointed that he looked out the window and felt his heart jump.
CU: Dot's feet as they clenched tightly
They were driving past the Warner Brothers lot, and there it was – the water tower, stretching into the cloudy sky. The sight of it was so achingly familiar that Wakko had half a mind to leap out of the car and run towards it.
CU: Wakko's feet as they shuffled on the floor
Even though they hadn't actually lived there in real life, they had filmed plenty of scenes up on it, and really, it was their symbol. When people thought of the tower, they thought of the Warners, and vice versa.
Everyone in the car had gone silent as the Warners watched the tower slowly move past them in the distance. Yakko turned around, looking at Dot, and then at him. His eyes were as bright as his smile, and Wakko could tell that his brother was thinking the same thing he was: they were home.
"Geez Buster, look at this house. You might actually pass as an adult now," Yakko said, stepping out of the car.
"Hardy har," Buster drawled.
They had pulled into the driveway of a prestigious red brick townhouse in an expensive part of Toontown. The property was gated, and a professionally landscaped lawn sat behind the wrought-iron bars.
CU: Ground Level as Buster's feet entered frame before the camera slowly pans up his body
"Wow man, nice digs," Wakko complimented as he tugged his suitcase out of the trunk.
Their suitcases bounced along the cobblestone sidewalk as they made their way to the front door.
CU: Ground Level as Buster's feet, Yakko's feet, Wakko's feet, and Dot's feet walked by.
Buster held it open for them, continuing, "I moved into here a few months ago. You know, you guys had it made, living on your own and all that jazz. It's awesome. I can stay up as late as I want, I can go whenever – and seriously, if I want to leave my socks on the kitchen table, I can leave my socks on the kitchen table. It's heaven."
"And your mom stops by every week to do your laundry," Yakko added.
"Nah, she only comes by every two weeks to – hey!" Buster sputtered, then scowled at Yakko. "Cram it, chuckles. Here I am, letting you three stay in my house out of the goodness of my heart, and I'm met with nothing but ridicule. You're lucky I don't stuff you in that suitcase of yours and ship you back to Ellis Island."
"And miss a weekend of my charm and casual good looks? You would never," Yakko said with a serene smile. Wakko, who had been watching the exchange, let out a soft burp. Dot looked at both of them, appalled, before sighing dramatically.
CU: Dot's feet as she slowly tapped her right foot twice.
Buster grinned. "You three haven't changed a bit."
Telling them to follow him, Buster took them on "the grand tour," guiding them from room to room. While he was very happy for his friend, Yakko inwardly cursed Buster's good fortune – the house was gorgeous. A chandelier hung above the foyer, which led into a rustic-looking kitchen. Judging by how spotless the stovetop was versus the amount of mystery sauce that splattered the inside of the microwave, Yakko assumed that Buster did not do a lot of cooking. From there they stepped into the high-ceilinged living room, complete with a big screen TV and surround sound that had Wakko practically salivating all over the carpet.
CU: Wakko's feet as they clenched tightly
Pictures lined the staircase as they made their way to the second floor. Yakko inspected them, smiling at the familiar faces: one of Buster and his parents, another of the whole Tiny Toons crew, and one of him and Buster on the Warner Brothers lot, taken sometime before Animaniacs ended. The upstairs had three bedrooms and a full and half bathroom.
CU: Dot's feet as they lept away from view
Dot all but threw herself into the master bathroom, which had two sinks sunken into a marble counter, proclaiming that she'd never leave. Yakko had to tug her out by her tail as she clung to the toilet seat.
Buster escorted them to the two guest bedrooms where they'd be sleeping for the weekend. One glance at his siblings told Yakko that he and Wakko would be sharing the larger bedroom, leaving Dot to have the other room to herself. He feared that if Wakko and Dot shared a room, only one of them would come out alive.
With their grand tour complete, Yakko let Dot and Wakko unpack while he followed Buster into the master bedroom. If he couldn't have guessed that it was Buster's house before, the rabbit's bedroom was a dead giveaway. Sharp blue paint was barely visible in the spaces between dozens of LA Lakers posters. Crumpled piles of clothing littered the floor while video cameras, a stereo, multiple CDs and tangles of black cables covered his dressers.
Noticing a few picture frames on the nightstand, Yakko went over to look at them. Every single frame held a photo of Buster and Babs. Some when they were younger, on the set of Tiny Toons, arms draped over each other's shoulders. Some photos were of the two when they were teens, freshly a couple, with Babs squeezing Buster very tightly. But Yakko's eyes drifted to the largest, most prominent frame. It was clearly the most recent picture. They were both in baseball uniforms – Buster had mentioned something about a summer league to him once. Buster looked mostly the same as he did now, his hair maybe a bit shorter. But Babs looked older, or at least no longer looked like a teenager. She had one arm wrapped around Buster's waist, with the other jauntily perched on her hip. It was clear that she had taken good care of herself – she still had that toned, athletic look about her, but with new accents of femininity around her wrists and cheekbones. Her smile and her eyes though…those had remained the same.
Yakko cursed Buster's luck again – he would wind up with a stunning house and a completely hot girlfriend.
"So, Warner," Buster said, closing the door behind him, "Now that I have you alone…"
Yakko snorted as he set the picture back down, waggling his eyebrows. No suggestive situation was to go unmentioned in Buster's presence.
Buster's grin faded somewhat. "Seriously though, I have to talk to you. I've gotta say, it's great to see ya man, I missed you."
"God, you too," Yakko said earnestly, "I'm sorry I didn't call more, I meant to, I just…I don't know, there was just so much going on. Wakko and Dot have school, I'm always at the show – "
"Dude, forgiven," Buster assured him, putting a hand on his shoulder, "I grew up with you. I know Papa Warner has to take care of the little Warners, even when he should rightfully be out enjoying himself."
There was a half second where Yakko couldn't decide if there was resentment in that sentence or not. He chose to ignore it.
"And look, I'm really sorry about Slappy," Buster continued. "I really liked her a lot, and I didn't know her nearly as well as you guys did."
Yakko shared a solemn look with his friend. "I'm going to miss her, she was something else. I couldn't believe it when Scratchy told me. It's just so weird, ya know? I would have never thought…I don't know. But you, you've been here. Do you know what happened? Was she sick?"
Buster met his gaze with such an uncharacteristically serious look on his face that Yakko almost took a step back.
CU: Yakko's feet as he almost took a step back
He couldn't even pinpoint a moment in all his memories of Buster where the rabbit had been serious. Just ten minutes ago he had been making cracks about his dead grandfather's old man smell that still lingered in the laundry room.
"Look, that's what I wanted to talk to you about," Buster said, dropping his voice low. "What did Scratchensniff tell you?"
Yakko shook his head. "Nothing. He said we had to wait for details. Why?"
Buster's eyes shot back and forth, looking around as though an eavesdropper was in the room with them.
CU: Buster's feet as they clenched tightly
"Okay, look, I can't confirm any of this, I just got it from a…reliable source. But – okay, don't freak out or anything, I don't know if it's true – "
"Save it Buster. I'm a big boy now. Tell me."
"Okay…" Buster inhaled deeply,
CU: Buster's feet as they clenched even tighter.
"Someone told me that Slappy's death…wasn't exactly natural."
"You wanna expand on that?"
"They think there was foul play involved."
An unpleasant tingling feeling was crawling down Yakko's arms. "What?"
"I know. I don't get it either," said Buster. He shivered slightly.
"Why do they think that? What happened?" Yakko demanded, his voice pitching upwards.
"I don't really know. All I heard was that they could tell just by the way they found the, um, the body," answered Buster, looking uncomfortable.
"Who told you this?"
Buster squirmed further. "A, uh, a source."
"Oh c'mon, who? I'm not a blabbermouth," Yakko prodded.
Buster raised his eyebrows. Scowling, Yakko crossed his arms and protested,
CU: Yakko's feet as he tapped his right foot
"Yeah, I know I talk a lot, but I don't exactly start my conversations with, 'Oh, did I tell you what Buster Bunny told me regarding the dubious circumstances of a dear friend's passing?'"
"Alright, alright! Don't get your panties in a knot, sheesh. Look, you just really can't tell anyone. Not a single word. I was sworn to secrecy on this, I shouldn't even be telling you."
"Buster what kind of damn friend do you think I am!"
"Jesus, okay! Look, Shirley told me, alright? She's a gossip columnist now. She writes for The Toon Gazette. I guess she was trying to get dish on some stupid Julie Bruin scandal, but ended up coming across the scene when the police were there. She told me she tried using her press pass to get access, but the cops kicked her out and told her she'd be arrested if she wrote anything."
"Shit," Yakko breathed, "and we don't know who did it, if this is all true?"
"Not that I know of."
CU: Yakko's trembling legs
Realizing his knees were quaking, Yakko sat down on the bed.
CU: Beds ground level as Yakko's waist comes into view.
He felt shaken, like he had been knocked off balance and couldn't get himself right again. Part of him was wishing that Buster had never told him anything, so many thoughts were buzzing in his head like angry bees, and he couldn't make sense of any of them. He was dizzy, unsure of himself…his stomach felt like it was filling up with cement. If it was true, if Slappy was really a victim, then who did it? How? Or, perhaps most importantly, why?
The beginning of a powerful anger was flickering to life in his chest. It had been bad enough that Slappy had died – but now, was someone to blame for it?
CU: Yakko's trembling feet as they clenched tightly
"Who the hell would do anything to Slappy? She was just a little old lady for Christ sake, what kind of sick, twisted…" Yakko found that he couldn't finish the sentence. He had never had problems controlling his temper, mainly because he knew when he lost it, he would be out of control. Yakko found it incredibly inconvenient: it was hard to outwit someone when you were so mad you couldn't speak. But right now, he felt himself losing it. His breathing was heavy, his fists were clenched and shaking. Calm down. There's no one here but Buster, and he's not the one to blame. There's nothing you can do.
The bed dipped slightly as Buster sat down next to him.
CU: Yakko's feet as Buster's feet entered view as he sat next to him. Camera pans up their bodies
"Yak, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have told you, I don't even know if it's true. It could be total bullshit for all I know."
Yakko swallowed, breathing in and out, in and out.
"No. I'm glad you did. I'd rather hear it from you now instead of on the news or something, if that's really what happened."
"Okay. God, the whole thing just gives me the creeps," Buster said, shivering again.
CU: Ground Level as Buster's feet entered view
"Let's talk about something else."
"Do you think someone tried to rob her?" Yakko wondered aloud, ignoring Buster's request.
"Dude, seriously, don't go all Nancy Drew on me. I don't want to talk about it anymore. It's not like we're going to figure it out right now anyway."
Yakko opened his mouth, but closed it again. Casually switching topics after just suggesting that a friend of yours was murdered was not something he found especially easy, but Buster looked genuinely troubled. Unable to ignore Buster's pleading gaze any longer, Yakko nodded.
"Good. Now c'mon, you've been living it up in the big apple for what, two years now? You've gotta have a story for me," Buster said, looking relieved.
Yakko was about to answer him, but burst out laughing as soon as Buster opened his closet door. Pasted up on the inside of it was a large pinup of Lola Bunny wearing nothing but a basketball jersey. Realizing why Yakko was practically falling off the bed, Buster tried to look ashamed of himself but failed terribly.
CU: Buster's feet as they stopped walking
"Can ya blame me?" Buster asked, stroking the poster.
"Not at all," Yakko conceded, smirking, "But how can you get away with that? What does Babs say?"
Buster ceased his stroking immediately. His shoulders tense,
CU: Buster's feet as they clenched tightly
he said dismissively, "Not much. I don't think she really cares."
Feeling like upsetting news was going to be today's theme, Yakko eyed his friend warily. Whenever Buster spoke about Babs, his girlfriend since before Tiny Toons even ended, it was always in a thrilled, almost euphoric tone.
"Something wrong?" Yakko asked.
Buster grunted, frowning. It looked as though he was trying to figure out a difficult math problem. "It's nothing. Not really. I dunno. Babs had some family problems and now she just seems…off…lately. It's not a big deal. Girls snap out of those things, right?"
For the first time since Babs had been brought up, Buster looked at Yakko, his eyes hoping for some kind of reassurance.
"Babs is pretty mercurial, I'm sure it'll work out, Ears," Yakko said, hoping that inflicting the use of his childhood nickname for Buster would somehow lighten the heavy mood that seemed to be dragging them both down.
It must have worked, because Buster smirked and raised his eyebrows. "Really, Warner? 'Mercurial?' Do I need a PhD to carry on a conversation with you?" he asked.
"Fine. For the sake of you common folk, I'll make sure to remain monosyllabic in this household from now on. You know what monosyllabic means, right? Small, little words that won't hurt Buster's brain."
"I'm not kidding about mailing you back to New York, you know," Buster said as he tugged a heavier shirt over his head. "But anyway, Babs'll be over tonight. She wants to see you guys."
"Good," Yakko said, "Now, you see Ears, I could have said 'stupendous' or 'her arrival is greatly anticipated' there but I'd thought I'd stick with 'good,' ya know, a nice, simple word for you to understand – "
Yakko never got to finish his sentence. He was too busy choking on the stream of seltzer water from the bottle that Buster had pulled from behind his back.
CU: Dot's feet as they slowly rocked back and forth.
Dot snuggled closer to Yakko on the couch. While it was definitely warmer here in Burbank than it was in New York, she had always made sure that Yakko kept their Manhattan apartment extra balmy. Buster barely seemed to be using his heat, and it was a big house – she was actually cold.
It didn't matter though. It was nice to be home, if only for a little while. They'd barely spent a day here and it already felt more like home again than their Manhattan apartment ever had. Though Dot had to admit, she missed her JTAP friends. She'd already called Patti, Frizzy, and Bernadette, and was about to call Yvonne before Yakko plucked her cell phone from her hands and stuffed it in his pocket. Apparently he was under the impression that she could go one night without speaking to them. Then again, Yakko was also under the impression that she hadn't just snuck it back out of his pocket while they were on the couch.
Sighing, she leaned into him, feeling the vibrations in his chest as he chatted with Buster.
CU: Dot's feet as they continued to slowly rock back and forth
It was nice to see him back to his usual yammering self; Yakko had been oddly quiet since the news about Slappy, but his friend's presence seemed to have pulled him out of that funk, at least for now. Yakko and Buster had been top dogs in their toon education classes on the lot and they complimented each other nicely. They had swung back into their easy friendship as though New York had never happened.
Dot craned her neck to look past Yakko at her other brother. Wakko was leaning on the arm of the couch, head in his hand, watching the big screen TV with a blank look on his face.
CU: Wakko's feet as his left tapped on the couch floor.
Buster had delivered the unfortunate news to him that Wakko's friends, mostly extras on the Animaniacs set, had moved away. He probably wouldn't get to see any of them. Wakko had been sulky ever since, and snapped at her for being too loud when she was on the phone with Patti. She had snapped right back at him – it wasn't her fault he didn't have any friends.
Lord knew she had tried to help him. Dot lost track of how many times she had given him tips on how to make friends, the main bit of advice being to try not to be so weird, but he had always yelled at her to "stop rubbing it in" or "quit bragging." She wasn't trying to brag, she was just trying to help. But if Wakko was too stupid to see it, then that was too bad. Boys really were dumb.
Dot turned when Buster laughed loudly at something Yakko said.
"What's so funny?" she asked.
"Nothing," Yakko said, then turned back to Buster and continued, "So I said, look, I don't want any trouble, I just want to know if telling me that I had a fantastic butt was conducive to helping me learn my blocking…"
Dot rolled her eyes.
CU: Dot's feet as they continued to slowly rock back and forth
Yakko should really practice what he preached. For all the crap he gave her about boys, whom did he think she learned it from?
Speaking of which, Dot thought as she turned her attention to Buster. It was a shame that she essentially viewed him as another older brother, otherwise, she would have to place Buster on top of her cute boys list that she kept behind her back. He was even better looking than Razzy, and he was mature, too. How old was he again? Dot chewed on her lip, doing the math:
CU: Dot's feet as they rocked back and forth
she was pretty sure Buster was about a year older than Yakko, and Yakko was almost nineteen, so Buster was probably nineteen or twenty. And that was only six or so years older than her. They could totally date.
Dot shook her head.
CU: Dot's feet as they resumed to slowly rock back and forth before clenching tightly
She had to watch herself lately; both of her brothers had already called her "boy crazy," and she didn't want to earn the type of reputation that Yakko had already acquired. Besides, it was a lost cause with Buster anyway. He had Babs, and they had been together for as long as Dot could remember.
"NEED A TREE? COME TO ME!"
Everyone in the room jumped as an obnoxious voice bellowed from the television. A familiar voice.
CU: Dot's feet as they unclenched
Dot turned to the screen and saw none other than Pete, that fatty dad from Goof Troop, holding a large evergreen tree in each arm.
"YOU NAME 'EM WE GOT 'EM, PETE'S CHRISTMAS TREES ARE GREENER THAN THE CASH IN YOUR WALLETS!" Pete yelled as the camera panned across a vast tree farm. "SO DON'T BE A SCROOGE THIS SEASON, C'MON DOWN TO PETE'S CHRISTMAS TREE FARM, TOONTOWN'S ONE STOP SHOP FOR ALL THINGS GROWIN' OUTTA THE GROUND!"
When the commercial was over Dot's ears were ringing.
CU: Dot's feet as they resumed to rock back and forth
"Ah, I see he's angling for the hearing impaired market," Yakko drawled, picking at his ear.
Buster snorted. "Looks like selling a bunch of scrawny plants is the best that loser can do. Did you hear he got busted with three DUIs last year? Disney suspended him."
"Serves him right. Randy Beaman told me he was an asshole," Dot said.
"Dot!" Yakko yelped, more surprised than angry.
"What? Randy said it, not me. I'm a lady, I don't use those words," she cooed.
"What does he do with all the trees he didn't sell after Christmas?" Wakko mused.
"Knowing Pete, he's probably figured out a way to make them into alcohol," came a female voice from the foyer.
Dot and her brothers turned in their seats.
CU: The female's Purple Dress
CU: The female's chest
CU: The female's legs
CU: The female's right shoulder
CU: The female's left shoulder
CU: The female's right foot
CU: The female's left foot
CU: The female's butt
CU: The female's ears
CU: The female's feet as they walk before stopping in front of the camera. The camera then pans up her body really slowly, revealing it to be Babs Bunny.
"Hey Babs!" Dot and her brothers chorused in unison. Dot blinked and stared at Yakko and Wakko, who stared back. While it only happened occasionally, it was always sort of embarrassing whenever all three of them said or did things at the same time. Like they were going out of their way to be cute, or worse: that they spent far, far too much time together.
"Gee, did you guys rehearse?" Babs quipped.
"Nope, the freaky sibling weirdness just comes naturally," Yakko replied.
"Did you guys bring that gross east coast weather with you? This is the first time it's rained here in weeks."
"Babs, ya should've told me you were here, I could've come to the gate," Buster said, leaning forward in his seat.
CU: Babs's feet
"Don't worry Buster, I'm a big girl now, I can handle a little rain," she said.
CU (cont'd): Babs's feet as they walked away from view.
CU: Ground Level as Babs's feet come to view before panning up her body
She moved into the living room, smiling as Dot and her brothers got up to greet her. "I missed you guys," she said, squeezing them each in a hug. Dot noticed that the hug she shared with Yakko was decidedly brief. She hardly touched him.
CU: Dot's feet as they shuffled
"We missed you too, Babs," Yakko said, "the shortage of pink rabbits in New York is deplorable."
CU: Babs's feet as they shuffled
"I'm sure," Babs drawled, "and with you gone I'm sure their stock of loudmouth unidentifiables is plummeting."
Yakko blinked, frowning for a moment before opening his mouth to reply. Sensing that whatever her brother was about to say wasn't going to move the conversation in a positive direction,
CU: Ground level as Dot's feet enter frame before walking away
Dot quickly cut across him.
"I missed you a lot, Babs," she said, "there's too much testosterone in my life right now. I'm glad you're here."
CU: Babs's feet as the camera pans up her body slowly
Babs smirked at this, which Dot appreciated. She'd always admired Babs, secretly hoping to be like just like her when she got older. But Babs had never seemed to want to play with her when they were kids, which had frustrated Dot to no end. Now that she herself was thirteen, Dot understood that Babs had probably wanted to play with her as much as she wanted to play with some eight-year-old now, but still, Babs' lack of attention to her had stung.
"Tell me about it," Babs said, "I'm going to the kitchen, you guys want anything to drink?"
"Remember that little speech you gave us about manners, Ears?" Yakko said to Buster, "Babs has been here less than five minutes and she's already offered to get us drinks. You didn't give us a drop."
"Yeah whatever Chatty Kathy, I showed you where the kitchen was."
"We're fine, Babs," Dot sighed as Buster and Yakko traded jibes.
CU: Babs's feet
"I see that some things never change," she said
CU (cont'd): Babs's feet as they walk away from view.
Yakko folded his t-shirt and placed it neatly back into his suitcase. They were leaving for New York again in two days, so there was no use unpacking everything. Not that you could tell Wakko that: it looked like his suitcase had exploded. In mere hours, Wakko had managed to scatter all of his belongings about the room. At the moment, Wakko was sprawled out across their bed, reading some comic book with his tongue peeking out of his mouth.
"Lights out after I brush my teeth, okay Wak? We have to get up early," Yakko said.
Wakko nodded and continued to read.
CU: Yakko's feet as he kicked off his pants.
Yakko folded these too. As he bent over to place them in the suitcase, he caught a glimpse of the boxer shorts he was wearing and groaned. It was so dark this morning that he hadn't seen which pair he had grabbed and thrown on. Why on earth did he even still have this pair anyway? It was an old pair that Wakko and Dot had gotten him for his sixteenth birthday as a joke: they had pictures of Bugs Bunny all over them.
Rolling his eyes, Yakko dug through his suitcase until he unearthed his toothbrush.
CU: Yakko's feet as he is walking
CU: Babs's feet as she is walking
He slipped into the dark hallway and was about to walk into the bathroom when he bumped into something warm.
"Whoa – hey, sorry Babs," Yakko said, realizing it was her after catching a face full of pink ears.
CU: Babs's feet as the camera pans up her body
She was in her sleep shirt and shorts, and it took everything in Yakko's being to keep his eyes focused on her face instead of traveling up her long legs.
CU: Babs's legs
Growing up, he had never thought of Babs as lacking in the looks department, but being so close to Buster he had left his thoughts at that. She was his best friend's girlfriend and that kind of behavior was simply out of the question.
"Hmm," was all Babs gave him
CU (cont'd): Babs's legs before panning down to her feet, in which she walks away from view.
"Why the cold shoulder, Barbara Ann?" Yakko asked, "Trust me, I've got enough cold waiting for me in New York."
CU: Babs's feet as she stopped walking
"I wouldn't worry too much about that, I'm sure you've got enough chorus girls to keep you warm," Babs said, not even sparing him a glance.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Yakko snapped.
CU: Babs's feet as she tapped her right heel
"Don't play stupid, Warner. As if you haven't slept with half of Broadway by now."
"Oh give me a break. You don't even know what you're talking about," Yakko shot back, wondering why she was making him so angry so fast. And then remembered suddenly: he had never called Rebecca.
CU (cont'd): Babs's feet as her heel stopped mid tap. She then turned around and tapped her right foot on the ground.
"Oh, I don't, huh? You think that Fifi and I don't talk?"
What? That was out of left field. What did Fifi have to do with anything?
"Fifi?" Yakko blurted.
CU: Babs's feet as she continued tapping her right foot on the ground.
"Yeah. Fifi. It's shocking you don't remember," Babs spit back, her voice dripping with malevolent sarcasm.
"Babs, I honestly have no idea what you're talking about, I haven't talked to Fifi since I left – "
CU: Ground Level as Babs's foot stomps into view.
"Ding ding ding! We have a winner!" Babs cried, throwing her hands in the air, "You really don't remember, do you? Unbelievable. You guys are all the same – a bunch of spoiled pricks."
"What the hell are you – oh," Yakko finished lamely. It had just dawned on him exactly what Babs was referring to. Shit.
CU: Babs's feet
"Yeah, oh," Babs mimicked nastily, "You take Fifi out right before you go to New York, then you just leave her high and dry? You never planned on calling her, you knew it the whole time. She was crushed, and you didn't care at all. You changed, Warner. And to think I used to like you."
CU (cont'd): Babs's feet as she turned on her heel and took two steps before stopping.
"Nice Bugs Bunny underwear," she mocked
CU (cont'd): Babs's feet as they walk away from view into Buster's room.
"It was dark when I put them on!" Yakko yelped, waving his fist and well aware that he looked and sounded like an idiot.
It was unusually blustery for Burbank on the day of Slappy's viewing. This was odd. Most days the weather was the only stable thing about Burbank. It barely rained. There was hardly ever a breeze. Today, however, the wind was strong enough to cause neck problems.
CU: Ground Level as Wakko's feet enter view
It was certainly strong enough to make Wakko's tie flip up and repeatedly whip him in the face. Grumbling and smoothing his tie down for the umpteenth time, Wakko supposed that this sort of day was a fitting send-off for Slappy. A catch you off guard, surprisingly violent, but very spirited kind of day.
They had just just arrived at the funeral home. Wakko, his brother and sister, Buster and Babs had all squeezed into Buster's car and spoke delicately for the drive over. The parked in front of a small, white building with a little pond and garden in the lawn. When they drew near to the entrance, everyone was quiet.
CU: Their feet as they are walking until stopping into place
Even Yakko. A somber looking goose toon in a black suit was standing at the doorway. Watching them approach, he lifted up a clipboard, pen poised in his feathery hand.
"Names?" he asked, his voice managing to be nasally and deep at the same time.
"You need our names? What is this, a restaurant?" Buster snapped. Glancing at him, Wakko noticed the bags under his eyes. Buster apparently had not slept well – he had been barking at Babs all morning.
"This is a closed service, sir. In life, Madam Squirrel enjoyed her privacy, thus, only certain guests are permitted to attend," the goose replied, looking down his beak at Buster.
Wakko gulped, suddenly deciding that he didn't like the goose one bit,
CU: Wakko's feet as they clenched tightly
when Yakko leaned over and whispered, "I don't think Jacob Marley likes Buster very much." They glanced at each other, each of them hiding a smirk. While he was still gun shy about expressing nearly any positive emotion during a funeral, Wakko was sure that Slappy would have appreciated that joke anyway.
Glaring at both of the older boys,
CU: Ground Level as Babs's feet enter frame
She muttered, "I told you it was private, remember?" and handing the goose her ID. The rest of them followed her lead, with Wakko and Dot giving him their JTAP cards. The goose looked at them closely, occasionally glancing up to scrutinize their faces, then analyzing his clipboard, before finally allowing them to pass.
CU: Ground Level as Babs's and Buster's feet walk by
"Like he couldn't recognize us," Buster mumbled as they walked into the lobby.
CU: Wakko's feet as he is walking
For how strongly the weather reminded Wakko of Slappy, the inside of the funeral parlor most certainly did not. The lighting was soft against the pastel walls, while flowers spilled out of vases in nearly every corner. It smelled funny, too sweet, like a perfume gone stale.
CU: Yakko's feet as he is walking
CU: Dot's feet as she is walking
they contrasted sharply with the pale room. Beyond the lobby he could hear voices speaking in low tones. When they turned the corner they were greeted with a small sea of faces. Most of them were toons, but a few humans dotted the crowd. With a slight jolt, Wakko already recognized quite a few of the attendees. The two Hip Hippos caught his eye almost immediately, as they seemed to be even fatter now than when he had left. Katie Kaboom and her family were by a pillar, speaking to Ralph and his wife. Foghorn Leghorn was chatting with Yosemite Sam, gesturing wildly, and Plotz was speaking with Spielberg. It was weird, seeing his old bosses again, and for a split second Wakko felt like he should make himself look busy by pretending to read a script. That had been his tactic on set and on the lot, though it was mainly used to avoid Plotz.
Yakko, seeming unable to contain his inner socialite, had already greeted several old friends and costars, including Rita and Runt, Calamity, and Pinky and Brain, who sat on his shoulders as they spoke.
CU: Dot's feet as she is running
Dot rushed forward to hug Otto van Scratchensniff, knocking the wind out of him in a loud "Ooomf!" He coughed, gasped, recovered, and then patted her on the head.
CU: Yakko's feet as he is running
CU: Wakko's feet as he is running
Wakko followed as his brother greeted Scratchensniff as well, though with a bit more subtlety than Dot.
"Scratchy, I love what you did with your hair!" Yakko commented. Scratchensniff gave him an exasperated look. If anything, the doctor was more bald than before.
"Thank you, Yakko," Scratchensniff said in his thick accent, "It eez so good to see you all. But look at you kidses! Look how you've grown! Wakko, Dot, when I saw you last, you were not even deez tall!"
Scratchensniff held a hand somewhere around his waist and Wakko rolled his eyes. Jeez, he hadn't been that short. Maybe Scratchy was getting batty in his old age.
"It eez good of you to come," he continued, his voice becoming somber, "Slappy, she would have appreciated it."
"It was the least we could do," Yakko said. Then Yakko placed his hands on Wakko and Dot's heads, continuing, "Sibs, why don't you tell Scratchy about JTAP? Tell him about some of your classmates, their little showbiz brains are like a psychiatrist's playground."
Shoving his hands in his pockets, Wakko didn't make any eye contact – he didn't really feel like talking about his classmates.
CU: Wakko's feet as they shuffled on the ground
They probably missed him as much as he missed them, which wasn't saying much.
CU: Dot's feet as she tapped her left and right foot.
Dot waxed eloquent about her classes, her grades, her friends, her recitals, her awards...Scratchensniff could barely keep up.
He was nodding his head so much that Wakko was afraid it might pop off. Whatever. The more Dot talked, the less he had to. The last thing he needed was their crazy old costar playing psychiatrist on him and telling him he was messed up in the head.
"And then this one teacher told me I was like the lovechild of Fred Astaire and Barbara Streisand, and even though I completely disagree, I was still really flattered – "
CU: Dot's feet as they began to tap faster
Dot was babbling like a fountain. God, she was getting to be just as bad as Yakko. And she had already surpassed him in the ego department. While Yakko's ego was nothing to scoff at, he could usually be knocked down a few pegs. Not Dot. According to her, this was her world and he and Yakko and everyone else were just living in it. And it was getting worse the older she got; yeah, the whole "I'm the cute one" act had been kind of charming when she was little, but now it was magnified and incredibly annoying. Most of the time Wakko just wished he could yell at her and tell her that she was only thirteen, she still had a lot to learn, and she wasn't nearly as awesome as she thought she was. But if he did that, Yakko would probably make him eat his tail. Yakko unashamedly adored Dot, and his doting ways only fueled her fire.
Tuning out Dot's babbling, Wakko gazed around the parlor. Buster and Babs were talking with a bunch of their old costars, some old-looking bunny inksplot toon he didn't recognize was standing in a corner, some of their old producers were chatting in low tones...for a private viewing, the place was packed. Just then a small crowd parted, and Wakko sucked in his breath: behind them was the coffin.
CU: Wakko's feet as they clenched tightly
It was closed, but a large picture of Slappy with her nephew, Skippy, sat on top of it. His throat felt tight, and for the first time since they had received the news Wakko felt the urge to cry.
CU: Wakko's clenched feet as they began to tremble
For probably the hundredth time Wakko wondered how she died. When he had asked Yakko, he told him that he wished he knew too. Swallowing a few times, Wakko forced himself not to think about it too much, and continued to study the coffin.
CU: Wakko's clenched trembling feet as they clenched even tighter
Surrounding it were even more flowers and, appropriately, walnuts. Part of Wakko was glad that the coffin was closed. He wasn't sure he wanted to see Slappy completely still.
"And what about you, Wakko? You like school, yah?"
CU: Wakko's feet as they unclenched stopped trembling before he turned around
He hadn't even noticed that Dot had ceased her exposition. She and Scratchensniff were both staring at him.
"Uh, well, the classes are…really good," he said, trying to think of something nice to say.
"As you can see, New York really brought out the poet in him," Yakko said, nudging him. Wakko glared up at his brother. Just because Yakko could talk the ink out of a toon didn't mean Wakko had to. Besides, if he was really honest about his classmates at JTAP, Wakko wasn't sure Yakko would like what he heard.
"Go on, Wakko, I am listening," Scratchensniff said, smiling.
Wakko glared at him too. Lie, say anything, just get this old geezer off your tail –
CU: Wakko's feet as they shuffled
"Ladies and gentlemen, if you would please take your seats, we are about to begin," the old goose announced suddenly.
A small murmur rippled through the crowd as they shuffled to their seats, a colorful herd of fur, feathers, and skin wrapped up in dark clothing. Wakko sighed with relief and followed Yakko to their seats, almost glad to use a wake as an excuse to avoid discussing his social life with and old costar. Almost.
CU: Wakko's feet as he walked away.
Yakko rubbed is temples.
CU: Yakko's feet as they slowly rocked back and forth
It was surreal, sitting here, listening to a minister ramble off impersonal details about someone he had known so well. Fill-in-the-blank phrases like "zest for life" and "a friend to all" did not do Slappy justice. The minister neglected to mention that if you gained her loyalty, she'd fight for you until the end, or that she kept a few bombs in her purse ("for easy access"), or that she had Clark Gable's signature on the underside of her mallet.
No, this speech was just a glossy finish over the real, rough thing. As such, Yakko felt his attention wander, a habit he'd normally attribute to Wakko. His brother was sitting docilely next to him, slouching a bit, fidgeting with his tie.
CU: Wakko's feet as they shuffled
On his other side was Dot, whose eyes were glistening.
CU: Dot's feet as they rocked back and forth before clenching tightly
Reaching over, he gave her shoulder a quick squeeze. Then he chose to pull his gaze away: seeing her upset was only going to make him more upset than he already was.
But Dot wasn't the only one in tears. All around him Yakko could hear sniffles. They had been growing in frequency as the wake progressed. Hearing a particularly loud sniff, Yakko looked over Wakko's head. It was Babs, who was sitting next Buster.
CU: Yakko's belt as he straightened
Yakko peeked at her between the curtains of Buster's blue ears. She was staring straight ahead, listening to the minister but not watching him. There were tears in her eyes, but they hadn't fallen yet.
CU: Babs's clenched feet shuffling
Frowning, Yakko remembered their conversation from the night before. It was infuriating. Babs had no clue what she was talking about. True, he had taken Fifi out on a date shortly before he left with no intention of pursuing her. But he had been doing the girl a favor. Fifi had been after him for years, she was begging him for a date once she found out he was leaving. When he gently tried to turn her down, she started crying. That had been the kiss of death. He hated when girls cried. Whenever it happened, particularly with Dot, he would throw himself in front of a train if it would make them happy. So, in a panic, he agreed to a date, a single date, with Fifi. She had dried up immediately, leaving Yakko to wonder if he'd been had.
It had gone well enough. Fifi was a bit too flighty for his taste, too concerned with fashion, and harbored an unhealthy obsession with celebrities. She was a celebrity for crying out loud, what could possibly be so interesting about other ones? But he had treated her to a nice dinner, paid, escorted her home. He had thought he had made it quite clear that that was where it ended; he was moving across the country for an indefinite amount of time, and he wasn't a long distance type of guy. Admittedly, Yakko had thrown on the theatrics a bit: he was devastated that it would never work, if only he didn't have to move, it would be so, so hard to find another girl like her. What Yakko hadn't said was that it wouldn't even work if he wasn't moving, but Fifi didn't have to know that. They had parted with Yakko assuming Fifi knew where she stood.
Well, apparently he had assumed wrong, Yakko thought with a scowl. How was he supposed to know that Fifi was a headcase? Or, for that matter, how was he supposed to know that Babs was stewing in her own pot of dislike for him for the past two years? While they had never been terribly close, he had always considered Babs a friend. And what was with that comment about him sleeping with half of New York? Damn ridiculous.
People had started to call him a girl chaser during Animaniacs, right around the time he had hit puberty and discovered the opposite sex. He had never really appreciated that, or the fact that it was exaggerated on the show for comedic affect, but he rolled with it. But somehow it had ballooned into this big thing, this huge judgment of his character that was embarrassing and damaging. Yeah, he did have a…thing…for girls. But c'mon, he was a soon-to-be nineteen-year-old guy – wouldn't it be weirder if he wasn't into girls? Why did everyone view him as some hormone-addled man-beast? Not that he really cared what people thought of him, but didn't they understand that he was raising two young teenagers that he didn't want to grow up with the wrong impression of him, or make the wrong choices? God, why did Babs have to say that?
Why was this bothering him so much?
Suddenly Yakko noticed that Babs was staring at him, her eyes narrowed.
CU: Babs's clenched feet as they began to tremble.
A moment later he realized that he had not only forgotten he had been staring at her, but he was also scowling. He quickly looked away. If she pestered him about it, he'd chalk it up to insanity brought on by grief.
The minister was still droning on. Having the feeling that Slappy would have malleted the guy by now, Yakko looked beyond the man and at the flower and walnut-encrusted coffin. It worried him that the coffin was closed.
They think there was foul play involved.
Every time he recalled what Buster had told him, Yakko felt an unpleasant squirm in his stomach.
CU: Yakko's feet as they clenched tightly
A morbid corner of him had been hoping to see Slappy today, to maybe give him some clue as to what happened. But that had been a ridiculous notion. Besides, it didn't matter anyway, because the coffin was closed…which only added weight to Buster's theory –
Yakko shook his head. It was childish, jumping to these insane conclusions. The closed coffin was a coincidence, nothing more. Slappy had died a completely natural death, and Shirley was simply a loon after all.
Everyone around him was standing up – the minister had finished his wake. The sounds of open weeping dotted the room. Dot and Babs were brushing tears out of their fur, Buster was concentrating on the floor, and Wakko exhaled shakily
CU: Ground Level as Wakko's feet enter frame before panning left as Yakko's feet enter frame.
joining the procession that was extending their condolences to the family. Ahead of him, Yakko spotted Skippy for the first time. The boy had experienced an undeniable growth spurt; he was nearly as tall as Wakko despite being a good two years younger, and had the gangly appearance of someone who would eventually grow to be very tall. But Skippy's normally sunny face was stolen away by one overwhelmed with anguish. Tears soaked his fur, and his eyes were quite red.
Dot must have spotted him too, because she whimpered
CU: Ground Level as Dot's feet enter frame. She then scuffed both of them on the floor.
"Hold still Dot, you'll get to talk to him," Yakko murmured, placing a hand between her ears.
"He looks so upset," she whispered, sounding pained. Yakko said nothing. She was right.
Yakko felt his heart sink. The only present family members were Skippy and a very old squirrel who introduced himself as Slappy's third cousin. Skippy had even fewer known blood relatives than he did, and that was really saying something. And, by the looks of it, the third cousin didn't have too many years left to spare. Did this kid have anyone to fall back on? Or would Skippy wind up raising himself, like he had? Yakko frowned. That was not something he'd really wish on anyone. He had been blessed enough to have Wakko and Dot, and they alone had always made his life worth living and made him forget about the hardships of growing up without a parent, without guidance. But what did Skippy have? Skippy was an only child.
Yakko shuddered at the thought.
CU: Ground Level as Yakko And Dot's feet come into view
When it was their turn, Skippy caught sight of him and choked out, "Aw Yakko, you guys didn't have to come all the way out here – "
"Don't be ridiculous, Skippy," Yakko said, giving the boy a quick hug, "We're here for ya bud, hang in there, okay?"
Skippy whispered "Thanks," before Dot threw herself at him, wrapping him in a very tight hug. Yakko heard her mention something about talking to him later as she moved on, letting Wakko give Skippy an awkward handshake. They left Skippy then, Dot looking wistfully behind her, and joined Buster and and Babs. They weren't looking at each other.
"Poor Skippy…I wonder what we can do for the kid…" Babs murmured, watching the boy hug Scratchensniff.
"He's a tough kid, he'll pull through," Buster said with casual confidence. Yakko thought that this was a rather bold assumption to make – today was probably the first time that Buster had even spoken to Skippy.
"I think it's gonna be really rough for him, but he was raised by Slappy. Skippy's probably more ready to handle the real world than all of us combined," Yakko said, watching Dot. She looked like she was on the verge of crying again, and there were already way too many crying girls in this room for his liking.
CU: Dot's trembling feet as they clenched tightly on the floor. They then unclenched and stopped trembling 5 seconds later.
"I'm gonna go talk to him," Dot said,
CU (cont'd): Dot's feet then walked away from view.
CU: Dot's feet as she walked into a room.
"Who's Skippy gonna live with now?" Wakko asked quietly.
"Eh…" Yakko looked to Buster and Babs for help, but they shrugged feebly. He turned back to Wakko. "You know what sib, I'm not really su – "
"Oh look, Big Splotch and his little splotch deigned to come back to little ol' Burbank," boomed an obnoxious voice.
CU: Babs's feet as they clenched tightly as Babs groaned.
but the rest of them turned to see Montana Max striding up to them in a crisp Armani suit, his hands shoved in his pockets and a sneer on his face. He had barely grown, Yakko noticed with a smirk. If he was as tall as Wakko, he was lucky. He was bulkier now, kind of like a big block. Between that and his slicked back hair Yakko thought he looked like a mobster.
"Good to see you too, Max. How I missed your dulcet tones," Yakko drawled.
Max's eyes darted between Yakko and Buster. "Hey Rabbit, I bet it's nice having your boyfriend back," he said to Buster.
"Who invited you?" Buster asked, not bothering to be polite.
CU: Ground Level as Babs's feet enter frame.
"Don't be silly, Buster,"
CU (cont'd): Babs straightens her skirt while the camera still focuses on her feet.
"I'm sure he's only here because he owns the funeral home."
"That's right, woman," Max said, and Babs blinked – she had clearly been joking –
CU: Babs's legs as they shook like a shockwave.
"by the way, what's it like being the beard for Bluebell and his Broadway boyfriend?"
CU: Ground Level as Buster's Foot stomps into view.
"Shut up, asshole," Buster growled
CU (cont'd): Yakko's foot then enters frame in front of Buster's foot.
"Look Max, as timeless as your wit is, I couldn't help but wonder if you had a point, or if you were just trying to show off your big boy suit," Yakko said dryly, taking advantage of his height and leaning over Max.
Max glared up at him, snarling, "You need to get that hole in your face fixed, Warner. If you must know, I'm here on business."
"So viewings count as business retreats now? Hmm, must have missed that memo," Yakko replied. He wondered if Slappy would care if he happened to punch Montana Max in the face at her funeral. Probably not.
CU: Buster's foot as his other foot enters view. Camera pans up his body.
"That's fascinating Max. No, really, your horrible lack of respect is truly interesting. Please tell me more," Buster snapped.
CU: Ground Level as Babs's foot stomps into view before sliding it to the left.
"Don't encourage him," Babs hissed,
Max merely gave them an oily grin. Jerking his thumb at Yakko and Wakko he said, "I actually wanted to take this opportunity to speak with inkblot one and inkblot two over here."
"Flattered," Yakko said flatly.
"You see that loser over there, the rabbit? Do you know who he is?" Max asked, pointing to a far corner. In spite of himself, Yakko looked. A black and white inksplot style rabbit was standing in the corner, his eyes darting around, making no effort to speak to anyone. He looked incredibly shabby, as though he had stopped taking care of himself; the rabbit's ears were tattered, and his fur was matted and dirty. There was something vaguely familiar about him to Yakko, but he couldn't put his finger on it.
"I don't know, what's so special about him? Is he the only one here who gives a rat's ass about what you're about to say?" Yakko asked. He noticed that Wakko smirked.
"You really don't know who he is? Lord, why they didn't hold you back a year in tooniversity is beyond me," Max scoffed, "That, children, is Oswald, as in Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. He starred in Disney's first shorts until everyone realized he sucked and replaced him with Mickey."
His memory clicking into place, Yakko suddenly remembered the toon from his toon history classes. Oswald had been the star of a few of his own cartoons under Disney starting back in the 1920s, but had contract issues with Disney and Universal and apparently had been down on his luck ever since. Another has-been in Toontown. Yakko had always tried to keep a mental catalog of famous inksplot toons – it was a rare event when another toon even remotely resembled him or his siblings.
"Thank you for the history lesson, Max, it was thrilling," Yakko said.
Max shot him a glare. "Shut up for once. I was wondering what you knew about him. All you ink rejects are related, you've gotta know something."
CU: Babs's feet as her left foot tapped on the floor
"Wow, that was delightfully racist of you," Babs said
"Yeah, why don't you ask us while you're at it, since all rabbits are probably related too," Buster added.
"You hillbillies can go date your cousins, I've got business to take care of," Max said haughtily, then turned back to Yakko, "So what do you know?"
Yakko clasped his hands tightly behind his back. It was a habit he had picked up whenever he was nervous or angry as a way to disguise that his hands were shaking.
CU: Yakko's feet as they clenched tightly, trembling in the process
While he appreciated that Babs and Buster had stood up for him, he hated to admit that Max was probably right. As nasty as the stereotype was, the fact remained that most inksplot toons were related in some way. If you really wanted to pick things apart, all American toons were related to inksplots, albeit very much removed. But chances were that Oswald was a distant relative. Unfortunately, Yakko would never know – he scarcely knew who his own mother was, let alone extended relatives. But the last thing he wanted was for Max to point this out in front of Wakko. Not only was it embarrassing, but Yakko was beginning to suspect that he might lose his cool.
"Well, since you asked so nicely," Yakko said, voice thick with sarcasm, "I don't know a thing about that Oswald character other than the fact that he already looks like he has more manners than you."
"Pathetic insult, useless answer," Max said, yawning, "You splotches are dumber than I thought. That punk over there, Oswald, is a complete wash up. He hasn't gotten a gig in years, he's been evicted from his last five apartments in Toontown – I would know, I own them – and more than half the time he's two sheets to the wind. I mean, he's a Class C for Christ's sake. Probably a D is he could affor to take a new test. He'd be the laughing stock of Toontown if anyone actually gave a shit who he was. Honestly I don't even know why he's here – "
"Funny, was thinking the same thing about you," Yakko quipped, and Buster snickered.
CU: Ground Level as Babs's foot steps into view before panning up her body
"Max, if you've been wasting our time for the last fifteen minutes to insult some guy we don't even know – " Babs started, but Max cut her off.
"I know it's hard for the female brain to focus on something for more than one minute, so bear with me," Max said, "As far as I know, the guy's flat broke. Now, recently, I've had my mind set on ToonGO – you four know what ToonGO, is right? Oh who am I kidding, of course you don't. ToonGO is the only toon operated petroleum facility in this half of the country. I could do with a small expansion to the Max empire, and ToonGO seems like a fitting choice. So I made a bid, right, expecting to be signing it over by the afternoon. But, to my surprise, someone placed a higher bid. In goddamn cash. Which is aggravating, as you know, as I haven't been outbid on anything since I was thirteen, and that was only because of a typo made by my idiot secretary – I fired her, don't worry. So naturally, I was wondering who was foolish enough to bid against me. I got my legal team on it and it turns out that it was this joker over here, Oswald."
"A tragic tale indeed," Yakko drawled.
"Yeah, I'll write you a letter when I decide to care," Buster added.
Ignoring them, Max continued while he studied his nails, "I just want to find out what that loser's up to before I humiliate him financially and publicly. It would be even better if I could call him out on whatever undoubtedly illegal scheme he pulled to front all the dough. There's no way that chunk of gutter scum just had that kind of money sitting around, just waiting to buy a freaking petroleum company. If he did, then he should have paid his damn rent."
"My heart bleeds for you, Monty," Wakko said suddenly, and Yakko laughed.
"Why, he speaks!" Max scoffed, slapping a hand to his forehead in feigned shock, "And here I thought he'd gone mute."
"Wish I could say the same for you, Shorty," Yakko said, an edge to his voice. The spoiled brat could say what he wanted to him, but the instant Max targeted one of his siblings, he was going down.
CU: Buster's feet as he turned around
"Take your comedy routine somewhere else, I'm not in the mood to put up with your bullshit today Max. In case you forgot, we're at a viewing. Not all of us are here to increase our stock value," Buster said
They were all following Buster's example when Max said in a low, maliciously jubilant voice, "Why, that's right, we are at a viewing! I almost forgot. Excuse me, I'm gonna go take a peek inside the old geezer's coffin."
Yakko whipped around, as did the other three, a combination of outrage and horror on his face.
CU: Babs's feet as she stomped her left foot
"Don't you dare," Babs hissed.
CU: Ground Level as Yakko's foot steps into frame before panning up his body
"So help me, if you even lay a finger on that coffin, it's gonna be your funeral too – "
"What're ya gonna do, Broadway Fairy? Sing an aria at me?" Max scoffed.
CU: Buster's ears as they fell flat
CU: Buster's feet as one of them takes a step forward
"He won't do anything, 'cause I'll get to him first," Buster threatened
With a smile on his face that made the fur on Yakko's neck stand up, Max leaned in and whispered, "But aren't you a teensy bit curious? I mean, from what I heard, she's really messed up."
Feeling like someone punched the air out of his lungs, Yakko quickly glanced at the others. Wakko looked confused and a bit troubled, but Buster and Babs had similar looks of shock and trepidation, that they didn't want to listen to another word from Max's mouth, but at the same time, they needed to know.
CU: Buster And Babs's feet as their feet touched together.
"What the hell have you heard?" Buster demanded, his voice a hoarse rush in an effort to keep quiet.
"Oh, I don't know, I think I might, how did you put it, take my comedy routine somewhere else?" Max teased.
CU: Babs's right foot as it slid to the right.
CU: Babs's left foot as it slid to the left.
In one swift movement, Babs' hand shot out like a snake and she grasped a handful of Max's suit. "Tell us what you heard or I'll pie every inch of this hideous suit," she snapped.
CU: Babs's left foot as she stomps it hard on the ground
Max grabbed her wrist and roughly jerked it away. "You've got to teach your woman to behave in polite society, Bluebell," he sniffed.
Babs whipped her hand out of his, looking as though she was about to foam at the mouth.
CU: Babs's feet as they stood back before clenching.
Buster's face was coloring, but Yakko stepped in before his friend could make a move.
CU: Buster's feet as he tried to step in, but Yakko's foot entered view in front of Buster's feet.
"And you have to teach women to be willing to come within thirty feet of you," Yakko retorted, "Now if you don't fess up right now I'm going back to New York and telling everyone on Wall Street to bail out on your stock. Don't think I won't."
Montana Max's dark eyes scanned his face, scrutinizing every inch of him. Despite his reported millions, Max did not toy around with his funds, no matter how empty or ridiculous the threat. Yakko met his gaze evenly, refusing to blink. Beside him, he could feel Wakko's eyes switching back and forth between him and the stocky boy in front of them.
CU: Wakko's feet as they began shuffling.
"Fine. I'll tell you, Warner, but you're not gonna like what happened to your precious old maid," Max hissed.
"Wakko, go away for a minute," Yakko ordered, his eyes still fixed on Max.
Wakko looked up at him sharply. "What? No way!"
"Just do it Wakko."
"No, I want to hear it too, why can't I – "
"Better do what Daddy says," Max trilled.
"Shut up," Yakko and Wakko barked simultaneously.
"Forget it Yak, just let him stay," Buster said stiffly, still looking hard at Max.
With an angry snort, Yakko arched an eyebrow at Wakko before turning back to Max.
CU: Yakko's feet as he turned around
He didn't know what Max was going to say, but something told him that he didn't want Wakko to hear it. It was his deepest desire that Wakko and Dot remain oblivious to whatever really happened to Slappy. Judging by how much it had unsettled him, he didn't want them to have to deal with those questions or fears.
Watching the four of them for a moment, Max's eyes lingered on Yakko's face as his own split with a devilish grin.
"You wanna know what I heard? I heard her body was mutilated. Chemical burns from head to toe. If you looked at her right now all you'd see was a lumpy pile of flesh."
Yakko could practically hear the breath being sucked out of the others' lungs. The rest of the funeral parlor seemed very far away, the sounds of the other attendees were muffled and distant in his ears.
"Where did you hear that?" Yakko demanded, the first of them to find his voice.
"I got connections," Max answered, grinning. His voice was like an oil slick.
CU: Babs's feet as they stepped forward until they are at the front of the cameras view.
"Max, the only reason I haven't introduced my mallet to your head is because I, unlike you, want to be considerate of Slappy and her family,"
CU (cont'd): Babs's feet slowly began to tightly clench.
"So if I were you, I'd clear out of here real quick, before I do something I'm gonna regret."
"You want to be considerate to her and her family? What, you mean all two of them?" Max retorted.
CU: Yakko's feet as they lept away from view.
That was it. Something snapped inside him. Not conscious of what he was doing, Yakko made a sudden move for Max, who went from smug to panicked at the sight of Yakko lunging at him. But before he could reach Max, before he could punch every pore of his greasy face in, before he could make him regret ever setting foot inside the funeral parlor, two arms wrapped themselves around his chest and pulled him back. Yakko struggled, but the arms tightened, and he heard Buster whisper in his ear, "Not here dude, we're gonna get busted!"
Beside him, Yakko realized that Wakko had made a grab for Max too, but Babs was holding him back by the collar of his suit.
CU: Babs's foot as it pulls back.
Wakko looked positively livid, a look that was even angrier than the one he usually reserved for Dot. A look that was unfamiliar on his little brother's face. Yakko took several deep breaths, calming himself so he could calm Wakko. It would only make things worse if they were both wound up.
CU: Yakko's feet as they scuffed the floor.
Deciding it was safe to let go of Yakko, Buster rounded on Max.
CU: Ground Level as Buster's foot stomped into view before panning up his body
"Get the hell out!" he hissed.
Max, who had taken several steps backwards, kept his distance but cooed back, "You can't kick me out, I own the place. If anything, I should have them throw you jokers out of here…violence at a funeral. Tsk tsk."
Yakko slipped a hand into his pocket and pulled out his phone. As he dialed, he muttered, "Calling my stock broker buddies…"
His eyes widening for a moment, Max clenched his fists at his sides. "Fine. I'm leaving. You guys are more boring than the corpse anyway."
With that, Max disappeared into the crowd, a few of whom were staring at them. Yakko, who didn't have any stock broker buddies, stopped dialing random numbers and snapped his phone shut. He looked to his friends, who were frowning deeply, then to Wakko, who stared back at him with wide, black eyes.
If there was anything that could make a funeral worse, it was Montana Max.
Skippy had not said anything for several minutes. He merely sat, hands folded in his lap, staring at the floor.
CU: Ground Level as Dot's feet enter frame.
Dot sat beside him on the plush bench, watching his face for any signs of…well, anything.
Dot had met Skippy on their first day of toon education classes on the Warner Brothers lot. Most young toons went to tooniversities the same way human children went through grade school. The school on Tiny Toons, Acme Loo, was actually a pretty accurate portrayal of tooniversities, though with less commercial breaks and a lot more homework. There was a very prestigious tooniversity on the Warner Brothers lot that was reserved mainly for its stars and students that had been hand selected by other stars. Dot and both her brothers had attended it, as well as every toon under the age of eighteen who was on a show.
CU: Dot's feet as the camera slowly pans up her body
She had been so nervous on her first day. Up until that point, all Dot had known was her brothers and the other toon children at the orphanage. That had been her life, and she had been fine with it. But then they had been spotted by a scout – her memories of it were a little hazy, but she knew that Yakko and his big mouth were involved somehow – and the next thing she knew she was sitting in a classroom filled with a bunch of wild, laughing kids she had never met. Not only that, but it had been the first time in her life that she was separated from her brothers. They were older, and thus placed in different classes. She felt lost without them, as though she had forgotten how to speak, and when the other kids greeted her she barely managed a shaky wave.
So she sat in the back corner, praying that no one would even remember to look for her there,
CU: Dot's feet as they shuffled
when a bright, buck-toothed face popped into her view.
"Hi there! Are you Dot?" the squirrel boy had asked.
"I…yes, that's me," she had replied.
The boy immediately took the seat next to her and began pulling books out of his backpack as he chattered, "My name's Skippy. My aunt Slappy told me about you and your brothers – you met her, right? She says you guys are a lot of fun. Is this your first day?"
Dot had nodded.
"Cool! Did you know our teacher is Sylvester? Sometimes Tweety comes into help, he's really funny. Do you have a book? Do you want to borrow mine?"
After having processed all his questions, Dot hesitantly nodded. Skippy eagerly scooted his desk over and laid the book between the two of them, pointing out where they were in the chapter and what they had covered before.
From that day on, they had been inseparable.
A few weeks later she and Skippy had adopted Randy Beaman into their little clan – that had been his real name, even though he just talked about his "friend" Randy Beaman on the show – and the three of them couldn't have been closer. It had been hard, when she and her brothers moved. Dot remembered crying as she hugged Randy and Skippy goodbye, crying on the plane, and then crying for the first week in New York. But they had kept in touch. She called them nearly every week, but Randy's calls had become increasingly infrequent, until one day he told her that he and his family were moving to South Dakota and she had only heard from him once since then. But Skippy had talked to her without fail. But lately, what with classes and homework and friends, Dot had to admit she'd been a little lackluster about calling him back. With a guilty squirm she tried to remember the last time she spoke with him. Around Halloween, maybe? That was weeks ago. But Skippy had never said anything about Slappy being sick or something. As far as she knew, Slappy had been completely fine.
Skippy sniffled a little bit, and Dot put an arm around his shoulder. She knew that Skippy had loved his aunt. She had never asked him about the rest of his family, like his parents, just as he had never asked about hers. Skippy had Slappy, and she had Yakko and Wakko, and that was all that mattered. So for him to lose Slappy…she shivered.
CU: Dot's feet as they shuffled before clenching tightly
Dot didn't know what she'd do without her brothers. Then again, maybe losing Wakko for a few days wouldn't be the end of the world.
"Talk to me whenever you want to, Skip, I can stay here all day," Dot said, trying to adopt the soothing tone that Yakko used with her when she was upset.
Gulping back a few sobs, Skippy whispered, "I just…I don't know what I'm gonna do."
Feeling like she was going to cry again too, Dot bit down on her lip.
CU: Dot's clenched feet began to tremble rapidly
"Where've you been staying?" she asked.
"Nutsy, that guy who was with me before. He's Slappy's cousin."
"He seems…nice," Dot said delicately. Actually he had seemed like a cranky, bitter old squirrel who didn't have all his nuts in his basket, but this was one of those cases where a little white lie was appropriate.
"He's okay," Skippy muttered. That was another thing about Skippy – he would never, ever say anything bad about a person. He could have just been robbed and he would think the thief just needed money to feed his family.
Dot gave his shoulders a quick squeeze. "Maybe you could live with us in New York for a little bit. I don't think Yakko would mind, and there's room in the apartment – "
"That's okay Dot, really," Skippy sighed. He took another deep breath, then broke out in fresh sobs.
"Oh, Skippy, don't…" Dot murmured, hugging him fully this time. God, now she was going to cry…
CU: Dot's clenched feet clenched even tighter as they continued to tremble rapidly
CU: Dot's butt as it began to tremble hard.
"I j-just, I just d-d-don't understand," Skippy stuttered between sobs.
"I don't think anyone does, Skip."
"No, I mean I d-don't get how it h-happened!" Skippy cried, becoming hysterical, "She w-was fine that n-night, and then the next morning she was g-gone!"
"Skip, calm down – "
Skippy swallowed gulps of air as he spoke. "She t-tucked me in to bed. She t-told me she had to go t-talk to Minerva, but she'd be b-ack. Then I h-heard her l-leave. I f-fell asleep, but then I w-woke up when the police got there. They said, t-they said they, they, they f-found her – "
They sat on the bench, crying, Dot just holding Skippy until he got himself under control once more.
CU: Dot's tightly clenched feet continued to tremble rapidly
"N-no one will tell me w-what happened. Don't I deserve to know?" Skippy whispered.
"You do. But do you think that would make you feel better?"
"Wouldn't you want to know?" Skippy asked quietly.
Dot stared at Skippy's bushy tail as she thought. The truthful answer was yes, but something about what Skippy just told her made her uneasy. Maybe they were hiding the truth about what happened for a reason. A good reason. Or maybe she just watched too many thriller movies. Either way, judging by the state that Skippy was in, she wasn't sure if her friend could handle it. While Skippy was a dear friend, she wouldn't exactly place him in the "tough" category. But there was still a gnawing bit of curiosity inside her, and if it would placate Skippy for the moment, she'd do just about anything.
CU: Dot's feet as they unclenched and stopped trembling.
"Well, why don't we try and find out then?" Dot encouraged.
CU (cont'd): Dot's feet as Dot got up before turning around.
She took Skippy's hands, gently pulling him into a standing position. His hands had gotten so much bigger than hers. "We'll ask around, there's a lot of people here, someone's bound to know something."
Seeming incapable of disagreeing with anything right now, Skippy followed her morosely.
CU: Dot's feet as she was walking
This was a half-baked plan at best, but Dot hoped that getting Skippy focused on something else would help. She asked him a few cursory questions about what he'd been up to lately, trying to ease her conscious about not checking in with him more often. But when they approached their old friends and costars with questions about Slappy, most of them either had no idea or became incredibly uncomfortable, telling them that they were "too young."
CU: Dot's feet as they began shuffling
Dot began to ask strangers, who mostly told her and Skippy to leave well enough alone.
CU: Dot's feet as she walked back and forth
"This is ridiculous, it's not like I'm five," she muttered to herself,
CU (cont'd): Dot's feet then stopped walking.
then turned to Skippy. He looked, if possible, even more dejected than before. Starting to become slightly desperate, Dot peered around for someone, anyone, that they hadn't asked. She spotted Bugs Bunny…well, she spotted his gray ears poking above the crowd, anyway. He was surrounded by so many people that she didn't even bother to approach him.
CU: Dot's right foot as she tapped it on the floor
Then, she saw someone: a black-and white rabbit standing in the corner. He looked like he was the same inksplot style that she was – in fact, his style looked so old that he might be one of those drawn toons, not born naturally like most toons these days.
"C'mon, let's ask this guy," Dot said
CU: Dot's feet as she walked to the rabbit before stopping in her tracks.
The closer she got to him, the more Dot realized that the rabbit had some bad B.O. going on. Jeez, when was the last time he showered? And ew, was that dandruff on his shoulders?
The rabbit didn't seem to notice them at first. He was furiously scribbling on a notepad, occasionally glancing up at the crowd. Dot and Skippy stood there, waiting.
CU (10 seconds): Dot's feet as she tapped her right foot
Finally, Dot cleared her throat loudly.
Startled, the rabbit looked down at them, then blinked with shock when his eyes settled on Dot.
CU: Dot's feet as the camera really slowly pans up her body
"Hey there, my name's Dot, and this is my friend Skippy," Dot said, reaching out her hand.
The rabbit's wide eyes shot to her hand, then back up to her face. His lips were moving as though they were forming words, but no sound came out.
CU: Dot's feet as they began shuffling
He slipped the notepad in his pocket.
"Oooookay," Dot drawled, "You seem like a charming gentleman. I was actually wondering if you knew anything about – "
"You had a television show," the rabbit said suddenly. His voice was squeaky and little high pitched, much like Mickey Mouse's. He was looking at her as though he had discovered a new species.
Dot rolled her eyes. Someone else who wanted an autograph, or an in to get their own show.
CU: Dot's feet as she lightly stomped her left foot twice.
"Yes, I had a show, it was a lot of fun, and no I will not sing 'I'm Cute,'" she rattled off. Usually she had a lot more patience with fans, but right now she had a crying boy next to her and this rabbit's breath really reeked. "Now, back to my question – "
"You were younger?" the rabbit asked.
" – I was wondering if you knew about…what?" Dot said. What was this guy on?
"You were younger, when you had your show?" the rabbit pressed.
Dot raised an eyebrow at him.
CU: Dot's butt as she tightened it
CU: Dot's feet as she tapped her left heel and then her right heel
"Uh, duh, we're talking about the show I had, in the past tense."
The rabbit was starting to look feverish. "And you have brothers?"
"Uh, yes…" Dot said. She glanced at Skippy, who shrugged a little bit. Or maybe it was twitch, it was hard to tell.
"May I meet them – please?" the rabbit requested, clasping his hands in front of him and leaning close to her. It was all Dot could do not to gag at the smell.
"Yeah, anything if it means you'll take a biiiiig step backwards," Dot said, pinching her nose shut.
CU: Dot's feet as she stood back
The rabbit nodded and jumped back, landing on his two large feet. Eying him warily, Dot turned to scan the crowd for her brothers. Figures he'd want to meet them too. Everyone loved Yakko and Wakko. And of course she'd have to be stuck with this creep, at a funeral no less, while she went and fetched them like a maid. Now where were they?
"There they are," Skippy said as though he had heard her thoughts. He had grown so much that he could see over the crowd much better than she could.
CU (front view): Dot's feet as she is walking
"Alright, c'mon…eh, what was your name?" Dot asked as she walked in Yakko and Wakko's direction.
"Oswald," the rabbit said quickly.
"Okay Oswald, let me introduce you to my lovely brothers," Dot said. Yakko and Wakko were huddled together with Buster.
CU: Ground Level as Dot's feet come to view
She tapped Yakko on the shoulder. He turned, his eyes darting from her to Skippy and then to Oswald, and his brow furrowed.
"Yakko, Wakko, this is Oswald," Dot said with little enthusiasm, "he wanted to meet you. Oswald, Yakko and Wakko."
Her brothers stuck out their hands, but Oswald didn't shake them. Instead, he said immediately, "You're both taller!"
Yakko and Wakko shared a look before Yakko said, "I'll have to add that to my list of conversation starters…and yes, we are taller, that tends to happen to kids when they grow up. Nice to meet you too."
Still watching Oswald, Wakko leaned over and whispered in Dot's ear, "Why'd you bring this guy over? Trying to set us up on a date or something?"
CU: Dot's left foot as it scuffed to the left.
"Shut up, he wanted to meet you, though I have no idea why he'd want to," Dot hissed back.
"So you say you've grown up?" Oswald continued, "A mother, another toon, she gave birth to you?"
"That's what they told me in health class," Yakko replied. Dot noticed an edge creeping into his voice that meant he was starting to get annoyed.
"So the premise of the show, the one that said you were drawn in the thirties…that was all a joke? Made up?" Oswald asked, wringing his hands.
Yakko glanced at Buster, who rolled his eyes. "Can't believe everything you see on TV, pal," Yakko said.
"I knew it! I knew you knew him!" boomed a loud voice.
Yakko, Wakko, Buster and all shared a collective groan.
CU: Wakko's feet as he stomped his foot on the ground
Oswald jumped. Dot and Skippy turned around to see Montana Max storming towards them.
"Thought you splotches would pull a fast one on me, huh?" Max accused, shoving a finger into Yakko's chest. "You're talking to him now – I thought you didn't know Oswald over here?"
Yakko delicately plucked Max's finger off of his chest, then flicked it away like he would a piece of lint. "Your powers of deduction are incredible, Max, but did it ever occur to you that we just met him now?" Yakko said dryly.
CU: Yakko's feet as he scuffed both of them
"Stuff it, oil stain," Max barked, then rounded on Oswald. "So, thought you'd offer a little friendly competition for ToonGO, did ya? I'd like to see where all that money's coming from, considering you didn't feel like using it to pay your damn rent ya freeloader!"
"It was my money, royalties, from my shorts – " Oswald spluttered.
"Royalties from your shorts? What a load of bull. No one's paying jack for your shorts, Class D!" Max jeered.
Oswald's ears shot straight up, and his face contorted with anger. "I am not a Class D!" he proclaimed. Dot assumed he was trying to go for fierce, but the squeaky voice kind of dampened the effect.
"Well you're certainly not a Class A," Max taunted back.
For a moment it looked like Oswald was going to hit Max. His shoulder jerked back in a rough motion, and his fists clenched. Max's eyes widened and he quickly jumped behind Yakko, pushing him in front like a shield. But Oswald seemed to gather himself. Straightening and jutting out his bottom lip, he muttered, "I have never been so offended…you young upstarts are all the same. No class."
With that, he turned around and promptly marched out of the parlor. Shoving Yakko aside, Max dashed after him, shouting, "You're up to something, rabbit! I'm gonna have the feds on your cotton-tailed ass!"
Dot and the others watched him leave. Shaking his head, Buster said sarcastically, "Well, that wasn't weird at all."
"I hope Max and John Hinckley Jr. over there get along, they'd be such an enchanting pair," Yakko muttered, staring off into the direction in which Oswald and Max had disappeared.
CU: Ground Level as Babs's feet enter view before panning up her body
"Did I miss another one of Max's visits?" she asked.
"Yeah, except this time he made a new friend," Yakko said.
CU: Babs's ears as she cocks one ear up.
CU: Babs's feet as she tapped her right foot on the ground
"I see," she said, "anyway, if anyone has plans tonight, cancel them. We have a meeting to go to."
"A meeting? Are we back on Tiny Toons now? And what loser wants to have a meeting on a Saturday night?" Buster asked, crossing his arms.
CU (cont'd): Babs's right foot stops tapping before slowly panning up her body
"Bugs Bunny," Babs answered simply.
CU: Dot's feet as they rocked back and forth
If Yakko didn't shut up soon, Dot was going to do something drastic.
After living with him her entire life, she thought she'd be used to it by now. And she was. It was only on rare occasions, when Yakko talked to the point where he got lightheaded, that Dot couldn't take it. Occasions like this one.
Sighing, Dot straightened out her skirt for the twentieth time
CU: Dot's feet as they shuffled
She stared out the window at the palm trees whizzing past them. The last two hours had been a blur. After the startling conversation with that Oswald weirdo and Babs' announcement that Bugs Bunny wished to hold a meeting, they had spent the next hour saying their condolences and their goodbyes. Then, in a wild rush, she and her brothers were piled in the backseat of Buster's car as Buster high-tailed it to the WB lot, where the meeting was apparently going to be held.
CU: Buster's foot on the gas pedal
Why Buster felt the need to speed, she had no idea – Bugs Bunny was holding the meeting, and he was at the viewing too.
CU: Dot's waist as she slumps against her seat before panning down to her shuffling feet, which now began to slowly clench
It was barely evening and she was already exhausted. Saying goodbye to Skippy had been draining; when she mentioned that she was leaving he looked as though he were about to have another breakdown. Feeling as though she was going to have one herself, Dot promised, repeatedly, that she would try to visit him before she left for New York. Yakko even gave Skippy his phone number, telling Skippy to call him at any time if he wanted to talk. Skippy had given them watery hugs before they left. His melancholy made her miss the carefree happiness of her JTAP friends, whose largest concerns were who got what solo and what boy said what and when. A small part of her knew that she probably wasn't going to see him tomorrow before she left. Frowning deeply, Dot shut her eyes and let the sound of Yakko's ceaseless chattering drown out the guilt and sadness that swelled in her at the thought of Skippy.
CU: Dot's clenched feet as they clenched and unclenched repeatedly
"Language creates history, really, one little word can change how we remember everything," Yakko said, "For example if I threw myself out of this car right now, I might say I threw myself, but you could say I fell out of the car, and it changes the whole meaning – "
Yakko, galvanized by the mere mention of his idol, seemed to be overcome with nervous excitement which he coped with by talking nonstop. No one else could squeeze a word in; Yakko barely paused to breathe, stopping only when he got dizzy from running out of breath, and that only stopped him for a few seconds. Dot had ceased listening to what he was saying long ago, and judging by Buster's periodic yeahs and uh huhs, he had stopped listening too. Honestly, Yakko had probably stopped listening to himself anyway, and this was just a byproduct of his nerves. To date, Bugs Bunny was the only person Dot had ever seen make Yakko tongue tied. The few times they had ever met Bugs were littered with Yakko babbling rapidly then getting suddenly quiet with Dot swearing she could see him blushing just a little bit.
When confronted about his hero worship, Yakko would never fess up. "That's ridiculous, I barely know the guy" and "You're reading too much into things" were his typical responses. But that didn't explain why Dot routinely caught him studying every single one of Bugs Bunny's cartoons with religious conviction. Yakko clearly had a strong case of denial.
Dot was excited to see Bugs too, just maybe not as much as her older brother. Seriously, who wasn't excited to see Bugs Bunny? It would be a great story for her friends back at JTAP. Dot smirked – it would be especially great as fodder to make Jeanie jealous. Jeanie was by far and away the cattiest girl at JTAP; she was in Wakko's class, the daughter of wealthy parents whose numerous contributions to the school were the only reason that Jeanie even had a seat in that program. She was desperate to sink her claws into fame and stardom, so hearing that Dot had hung out with the biggest cartoon star of all time over the weekend was going to send Jeanie through the roof. Just imagining the look on the Persian cat girl's face was enough to drag Dot out of her gloomy mood. It was enough to make her forget about Skippy for a few moments.
CU: Dot's feet as they shuffled once again
Forgetting about him was hard to do. They hadn't been able to go home and change, so they were still in their funeral clothes. The entire car looked as though it was in mourning. Between their black fur and suits, Yakko and Wakko reminded her uncomfortably of undertakers.
Feeling the car slowing down, Dot opened her eyes.
CU: Dot's ears as they perked up
CU: Dot's feet as they stop shuffling
directly in front of them was a large gate with an equally large WB across it.
"Hey Yakko," Dot called as Buster was showing his ID to the security card.
Yakko, oblivious, continued his rambling, "They ruined what could have actually been the only watchable movie about a bus because they cast that hack – "
"Yakko…" Dot tried again.
" – I mean, did you see Devil's Advocate? The guy has as much personality as a wet cardboard box – "
"Yakko – "
" – and did you hear about that movie the Wachowski brothers are coming out with in March? They cast him as the lead! Granted, I haven't seen the movie yet, so for all I know the story's about a man who has the power to bore everyone to death, in which case he'd be perfect – "
CU: Ground Level as Dot's foot stomps into view
"Yakko!" Dot roared.
Yakko finally stopped to give her a raised eyebrow. "Do you have something to add?" he asked.
"We're here," she answered, exasperated.
Buster had just pulled into the parking lot reserved for special guests and employees.
CU: Ground Level as Buster's feet enter frame before panning right as Babs's feet enter frame
While he and Babs took their time getting out, Wakko and Dot both burst out of the car. Even Yakko was excited in spite of himself, and hurried out behind Wakko.
CU: Ground Level as Wakko's feet land into view before Yakko's feet come up from behind. Camera pans up their bodies.
CU: Ground Level as Dot's right foot enters frame
CU: Ground Level as Dot's left foot enters frame
she felt it: home again. At last.
CU: Dot's feet as the camera really slowly pans up her body
Three quarters of her short life had been spent on the Warner Brothers lot. It was as though there had been no existence beforehand. There was only the lot, and after the lot. Her memories of their time in the orphanage were sparse, and Yakko and Wakko rarely spoke of it. The Warner Brothers lot, she gathered, was a much brighter span in their lives. Glancing at Wakko, she could tell he was feeling the same; Wakko looked more giddy than he had in a long time, a silly grin spreading across his face.
CU: Wakko's feet as they shuffled rapidly
Buster had joined Yakko, muttering, "Brings back memories, huh?"
CU: Ground Level as Babs's feet enter frame. Her right foot begins tapping
"This way, troops," Babs directed, leading them to the buildings that held the conference rooms.
CU (cont'd): Babs's feet then walk away from view
Various crew members and employees crossed their path, some of them waving, some of them greeting them enthusiastically.
CU: Dot's feet as she is walking
Normally Dot would have bounced forward to give them hugs, but she just didn't have it in her right now. Luckily Yakko covered for her, smoothing over her mood with his knack for easy conversation. They made their way to the executive building where, Dot remembered with a small smirk, Plotz lurked in his top floor office. Even though Babs was in the lead, Dot and her brothers could have walked to the building blindfolded. Even having been gone for two years, this lot was still more familiar to her than Manhattan. Then again, Manhattan was a lot bigger.
When they reached the large glass doors,
CU: Ground Level as Babs's feet enter frame
She dialed a few numbers, and buzzed in.
"Who is it?" trilled a Brooklyn accent from the speaker.
CU: Babs's feet as her left heel taps on the ground
"Me and my entourage," Babs answered
"Come on up."
The lock on the door beeped twice, and Babs opened the door for them.
CU: Ground Level as Babs's feet walk across. Dot's feet walk across as well
Dot soaked in the nostalgia of the lobby. How many times they'd walked through here…with Plotz being the superintendant of Warner Brothers Tooniversity, getting called to his office to be reprimanded for one thing or another had become nearly routine. Especially for her oldest brother; Dot snorted a bit, remembering Plotz hollering at Yakko for talking the tour guides into believing that there was a secret vault in Plotz's office that held the cryogenically frozen heads of the original Warner Brothers themselves. She and Wakko had been listening to Plotz's outraged bellows and Yakko's snide retorts through the door.
The gathered into the elevator and exited onto the sixth floor, following the trail of maroon carpet to the end of the hallway.
CU: Ground Level as Babs's feet enter view
Babs knocked smartly on the large mahogany door, and when a voice lisped, "Come in,"
CU (cont'd): Babs's feet then walk away from view
The room was long and rectangular, one of Warner Brothers' more spacious conference rooms. Potted plants and framed pictures lined one of the longer walls, while the other was made up of several large window panes that overlooked the lot. The buildings and the water tower were outlined against the setting sun, glowing bright orange in the steadily waning light. In the middle of the room was a dark, oval table surrounded by precisely arranged chairs.
In a chair at the far end was Daffy Duck, who barely even looked up when they came in. He had one feathery elbow on the table and was tapping his fingers impatiently. Next to him was Sylvester, who gave them an apathetic wave before returning to whisper to Daffy. Across from them was none other than Thaddeus Plotz, their old boss, who gave them a comfortingly familiar glare. He had not changed one bit, both in looks and demeanor. Pinky and Brain were perched on the table next to him, and beside them was Minerva Mink. Dot looked up at Yakko. He already had his eyes locked on her. Dot rolled her eyes: Minerva was way too old for him, Yakko had better calm down before he embarrassed himself.
CU: Dot's feet as she is walking
A few seats down from Minerva was Shirley McLoon, who waved with not one, but two hands.
"Like, hi guys!" she shrieked, tapping the seats next to her, "Sit next to me, I missed you like, so much! Whoa, look at you guys, you didn't go home to like, change first? Your drab dress is totally bumming out my vibes."
CU: Ground Level as Babs's feet walk across
"I'm sure your vibes will perk up eventually, Shirl my girl," Babs assured her, grabbing a seat next her. The rest of them followed suit. Miraculously, Yakko somehow managed to wind up in the seat next to Minerva and was already talking to her. Dot groaned. This had the potential to be a long evening.
CU: Dot's feet as they began shuffling
"Where's Bugs?" Buster asked, sitting down next to Babs.
"Excellent question," Daffy grumbled, looking at his watch.
"He was like, just here a minute ago," Shirley added.
"He had to make a phone call on the phone!" Pinky proclaimed exuberantly. Behind him, Brain sighed and shook his head before stepping forward. "Mr. Bunny will return momentarily. He is attending to his personal affairs," Brain told them, eying them from beneath his large frontal lobe.
"Gotcha, Brainiac," Buster said, then turned to Shirley. "So Shirley, what brings you to this super secret brain trust meeting?"
"Like, no idea," Shirley answered, "I hope it doesn't take forever, I've got a story due tomorrow and my editor will like, lose her absolute mind if I don't get it in on time."
CU: Buster's ears as they perk up
CU: Buster's left foot as it slides to the left
He leaned across Babs and whispered, "A story huh? You didn't hear anything more about Slappy did you?"
CU: Dot's ears as they perked up
CU: Dot's right foot as her left foot lands into place
Shirley knew something about what happened to Slappy? And no one said anything to her, Skippy's friend? Dot noticed that Wakko was suddenly engrossed in the conversation, but that Yakko was trying to catch Buster's eye, shaking his head frantically as he did so. Dot narrowed her eyes. Was Yakko hiding something from her? Did he know something too? She suppressed a growl; that would be just like him, to assume, once again, that she was too young, too naïve, too stupid to handle things.
CU: Dot's left foot as it begins to tap on the floor
It was the very height of hypocrisy. He grew up doing things he was too young to do – managing contracts, living on his own, running around with girls, raising two younger children – why did she have to any different, any less capable?
Shirley, unaware of Yakko's silent but wild attempts to quiet her, said, "Sorry Buster, I told you guys everything I know. Besides, I think I'd like, be incarcerated if I told you anything."
CU: Babs's feet as the shuffled
"Are the cops still on your tail about it?" Babs asked quietly, eyeing the others at the table.
"Oh God yeah. It like, totally sucks. They put my column on probation – I can't write anything interesting about anyone anymore. And to make sure I didn't write anything juicy they have me contributing to the business section. Now all I get to write about is old geezers like, buying more stock. Yuck."
Dot slumped back in her seat. That was useless.
CU: Dot's as they clenched tightly
Buster, looking disappointed as well, said, "Bummer, Shirley," before leaning back
CU: Buster's feet as they are set on the table
Instantly Plotz's beady eyes zeroed in on Buster's big feet, flicking between them and the pristine mahogany tabletop.
"Get your filthy feet off of my table you spoiled brat!" he shrieked, a vein emerging near his temple.
"Aw c'mon Plotzy!" Buster whined
CU: Ground Level as Buster's feet stomp into view.
CU: Yakko's feet as they are set on the table
Dot grinned at him, and he winked back at her.
"I don't even want to start with you," Plotz growled, pointing a stubby finger at Yakko, "You did nothing but encourage your friend over here. Didn't you just hear what I said about his feet on my table?"
"Yes, but I didn't hear you say anything about my feet," Yakko said snidely.
"Your feet, his feet, no one's feet belong on this table, you lunatic!"
CU: Dot's feet as her left foot lifted up
She put a single toe on the table. "What about toes?" she asked.
"Or tails?" Wakko asked as well, placing his own on the table.
Dot giggled along with Shirley and Babs. Minerva just rolled her eyes, looking bored, while Daffy muttered something to Sylvester about needing to "invest in a playpen." Plotz, who reminded Dot of a kernel about to pop, opened his mouth to yell when the door opened. Scratchensniff entered the room, followed by Yosemite Sam and Porky Pig. Dot and her brothers waved to Scratchensniff, who sat down close to them and Porky. Yosemite grabbed a seat, dragged it noisily to a far corner of the room, and sat himself down with his arms crossed.
Dot watched him for a moment. Why didn't he want to sit with everyone else? What a grump.
"Where's the rabbit?" Yosemite grunted.
"Wouldn't we all like to know," Daffy answered, inspecting his nails.
"Right here, duck."
Dot turned in her seat. Yakko turned so fast she heard his back pop. Closing the door behind him was Bugs Bunny, snapping his cell phone shut and wearing a half smirk.
"About time!" Daffy snapped, "You drag us out here – on a Saturday night, mind you – stuff us into this hideous bungalow and then don't have the decency to show up on time!"
"What do you mean, 'hideous bungalow?'" Plotz snarled.
Bugs smirked at Daffy, walking towards him to get to the head of the table. "C'mon Daff, what else would you be doing?"
"Believe it or not, rabbit, some of us have plans on a Saturday night. Not all of us can sit chastely in the Warner Brother's lot, twiddling our thumbs and waiting for our next paycheck."
Bugs sat down next to Daffy, pulling out some papers from behind his back. "You didn't have any plans tonight."
"What makes you so sure? I'll have you know my social calendar is completely booked."
Not looking away from his papers, Bugs replied, "The only reason your social calendar is booked is because I'm the one who books it."
"What a flagrant lie – "
"Shush, child," Bugs said to him, looking up from his papers to gesture to the rest of the table, "you have an audience."
Plotz slapped his hands on the table. "If you two are finished flirting, I'd like to move along with this so-called 'meeting.' I'm an incredibly busy man – you should know this better than anyone, Bugs."
"No worries doc, we'll get down to business in a sec," Bugs said brightly, his easy countenance contrasting with Plotz's malevolent scowl. He looked across the table to other end, where Dot and her brothers sat. "Warner brothers – and sister – it's a shame about the circumstances, but it's good to see ya."
Hoping that Yakko wasn't going to wet himself over being addressed by his idol and embarrass the three of them, Dot simply gave Bugs and award-winning smile. What a nice guy –
"Now I know you two ain't gonna like this, but Wakko and Dot, I'm gonna have to ask you to step out for a little bit while we talk."
"What?" Dot and Wakko yelped simultaneously.
"Sorry you two, I can't make any exceptions. This is gonna be boring anyway, I wish I could skip out on this too," Bugs said consolingly.
Dot did a double take. Nice guy? Nice guy? Screw nice guy, Bugs was a low down, dirty, snake in the grass –
CU: Dot's feet as they tightly clenched
"Please let us stay, we promise we won't say anything! Maybe I could help!" Dot pleaded, making sure to crank up the charm. A little begging never hurt.
"At least let me stay, I'm older," Wakko pointed out.
CU: Dot's feet as her right foot stomped hard on the floor
Dot rounded on him. "Hey!"
Daffy leaned back in his chair and folded his arms, arching an eyebrow at Bugs. Plotz, on the other hand, leaned forward on the table aggressively, growling, "You heard him, now step out of this office before I make you leave! I'm not having your childish tantrums delay my evening any further!"
"You're not our boss anymore," Wakko retorted.
"Knock it off Wak," Yakko chided.
Placing his palms together, Bugs looked directly at Yakko and said quietly, "Can you do something about this?"
Dot snapped her gaze to her oldest brother and grinned. Yakko. Her trump card. It didn't matter how much he venerated the rabbit, there was no way would Yakko stand for this, he would never pick some celebrity over her and Wakko –
"Sibs," Yakko said, turning to them, "do you mind just hanging around the lot for a bit until this is done?"
Dot felt her jaw drop. First Bugs Bunny turns out to be a jerk, and now this? What the hell was this, the Twilight Zone?
"Gee Yakko, thanks for the support," Dot snapped acidly.
Wakko clenched his fists on the table and faced his brother. "Yakko, what the hell? I'm old enough, why are you treating me like a baby – "
"Because you're acting like one," Yakko hissed quietly, getting to his feet and gently nudging them out of their seats.
"Don't fret now, kidses," Scratchensniff implored, "this won't be long, you can have lots of fun exploring the lot."
Dot didn't bother to hide her eye roll. Explore the lot? As if she had never done that during the six years she lived there?
"Yeah dude, you've got free reign, go check out the girl's dressing rooms!" Buster encouraged. Then he yelped in pain as Babs slapped him in the back of the head.
As Yakko urged her out of her seat, a part of Dot wanted to firmly plant her tail back in her chair and pout. This was a horrible treachery of siblinghood, to be sold out for a chance to salivate over a star they barely knew. But feeling the multiple eyes in the room boring into her, Dot inhaled deeply and decided not to make a scene. She'd get Yakko back for this later. After all, now she had all evening to come up with a plan.
"C'mon guys, do this for me, please?" Yakko pleaded softly.
"Yeah. Sure. Anything for you, Benedict," Dot snapped.
"This is bull," Wakko muttered.
Yakko leaned in close to them, whispering in their ears so no one else could hear, "Look, I'll tell you everything I hear when we're back at Buster's, okay? Now just hang out around the lot, and don't go too far, promise?"
Answering him with glares, Dot and Wakko stormed out of the room. Yakko managed to get in a "And stay out of trouble!" before Dot, feeling incredibly betrayed, slammed the door behind them.
Not sure which he was feeling more, guilty or embarrassed, Yakko sat back down. He was going to catch hell from both of siblings later. If he knew Dot, she was probably plotting her revenge this very moment.
"That was handled well, Solomon," Babs muttered.
Yakko shot her a glare before saying, "Eh, sorry everyone…"
"It looks as though those two heathens are even less behaved than they were two years ago," Plotz jeered.
"Yeah, you'd think with all your etiquette lessons they'd have picked up a thing or two," Yakko drawled back.
Plotz opened his mouth furiously, but Bugs cut across him. "Plotz, weren't you the one who wanted to get this meeting goin'?"
With one final smoldering look, Plotz grumbled, "Fine," and settled back into his seat. He was so short Yakko could barely see his head poking above the table.
"Alrighty folks," Bugs announced, picking up his voice a tad. The muffled mumbling in the room quickly fell silent. Daffy elbowed Sylvester, who had fallen asleep, and the cat jerked awake with a "I didn't do it!"
"Sorry to do this on such short notice – I know some of us have incredibly active social lives," Bugs said, his eyes darting between Plotz and Daffy, "so I'll get right down to business. There are a few particulars I want to discuss, especially while we've got everyone in one place. You all must have at least some idea why we're here: we lost a very talented woman and a dear friend on Thursday. Everyone in this room knew Slappy, so everyone has an idea of what we lost."
Pinky sniffled slightly. Brain offered him a tissue, which he took and blew his nose loudly.
Bugs continued, "As most of you I'm sure are aware, there has been some eh, dispute over how Slappy was taken from us. At best, the circumstances are fishy. I'm gonna cut right to the chase, folks – there's enough evidence to suggest that Slappy's passing was neither accidental nor natural."
Yakko and Buster shared a quick look. No one in the room seemed particularly surprised, but everyone was paying close attention to Bugs now.
"From what I've gathered," Bugs continued, "we've all heard mixed things. Shirley, I'm told you were at the scene. Can you tell us what you know?"
Looking startled that she had been the first to be addressed, Shirley sat up straight in her chair and pulled a notepad from behind her back. She flipped through the pages of notes before she tapped a page with her finger. "Like, here it is. Okay, this is what I have," she said, scanning her notes. "They found Slappy in Toontown, a mile from her house. She was under a bridge, a homeless guy found her or some junk. So totally awful. This was like, six o'clock in the morning. I got there after cops did, but I was only out there because Julie Bruin definitely just got busted for possession, like, again, but this time she totally bolted – "
"Girl, focus," Daffy prompted her.
"Oh, right. Anyway, there were like, cops everywhere, and I heard them talking about finding a body, but like, no hint of a suspect, just a really horrendous smell. So I asked them what was going on, you know, in my reporter voice. But the officer said he totally couldn't tell me, so I tried to sweet talk him, you know? He was super cute, but like he probably could have done without the facial hair – "
"Shirley!" Bugs, Yakko, Buster and Babs all said at once
"Oh my God, sorry! Okay, so the cute one told me they ID'ed the victim as Slappy, and I started bawling my eyes out of course, and he was comforting me and some junk when this other, way more unfortunate-looking officer told me to bug off. I tried using my press pass, but then he forced me out and told me not to write one word about it. And that, like, was that," Shirley finished.
Yakko massaged his temples. Listening to Shirley talk for more than two minutes gave him a headache.
"And the cops didn't find a thing? Not one darn clue? What are we paying taxes for?" Sylvester demanded.
"S-sounds like the police have their w-work cut out, c-cut cut out, c – sounds like it's going to be difficult," Porky pointed out.
"Did ya get a look at the body?" Daffy asked eagerly.
Bugs looked skyward. "Tactful, Daff."
"Ew, no way," Shirley replied.
Scratchensniff frowned, the wrinkles in his forehead deepening. "The autopsy, is it complete?"
"Only released that info to the family, I checked," Bugs said, "which leads to my next question: has anyone heard anything as far as that department goes?"
Yakko swallowed. Wishing this didn't have to be the first sentence he spoke to Bugs this evening, he said, "We talked to Montana Max at the viewing today. I don't know if this is true – this is Max we're talking about – but he seemed to believe that she was found with a decent amount of chemical burns."
That was putting it lightly.
Daffy grimaced, and Sylvester sprayed spittle everywhere as he said, "That's preposterous!"
With a heavy sigh, Bugs pressed his fingers against his temples and mumbled, "That's what I was afraid of."
"You think that pinhead rich boy was telling the truth? He'd say anything if it made people look at his ugly mug," Buster exclaimed.
"I'll have you know that Montana Max was and is an asset to this studio!" Plotz interjected.
"Yeah, maybe for the accounting department," Yakko muttered under his breath.
Plotz's attention snapped to Yakko like an animal who had just sniffed prey. "What was that, Warner?"
Ignoring them, Porky said, "I don't know fellas, that boy's family is made up of patha – p-p-pathlog – patha – pathologic – they're a bunch of fibbers."
"Like it or not, that pinhead rich boy and his family's got connections," Bugs said, "He's the youngest of the Max Empire, and they're better connected than a telephone operator. Plus, it fits in exactly with part two of my little speech."
He grabbed the stack of papers sitting in front of him and tossed them to Plotz. "Pass those around," Bugs ordered, then continued, "I've got a south-of-the-border source that brought this to my attention. It appears that La Caricatura, Mexico's one and only toon-operated city, is having some problems of its own."
Once they were done examining the papers Plotz and Brain passed them off to Minerva, who barely glanced at them before dumping the pile in Yakko's lap. He gathered them up, and Buster and Babs both leaned over to inspect them. The papers were photocopies of what looked to be clippings from a Mexican newspaper. While it was written in Spanish, certain portions were highlighted with the English translation handwritten in the margins. Brain had even made a few additions himself just now.
One article showcased a large picture of a weeping coyote toon woman, surrounded by Mexican toon law enforcement. Another far more chilling photograph showed an investigator hunched over what looked like toon remains: a large, dark patch of ink beneath what might have once been a body. "Ugh," he heard Buster groan.
The headline of the article, translated, read "Electoral candidate Santiago Rosa found dead, four toons go missing." Yakko quickly looked scanned the article for the date. It had been written three weeks ago.
"This Rosa guy," Babs started, still skimming the article, "it doesn't say here…but I've gotta say that doesn't look like a heart attack. Do you think it was some sort of acid?"
"According to my source, yes. A severe chemical burn from head to foot," Bugs said, then faced Scratchensniff, "You got any thoughts on this, doc?"
Scratchensniff, looking weary, responded, "Toons are very resilient, as you know, it eez very strange for a chemical to cause such a complete devastation. It would have to be a very large amount of something corrosive, perhaps TurpenZero or DIP, but those are incredibly illegal."
"Somehow I don't think 'illegal' would matter much to a murderer," Daffy pointed out.
Brain walked toward the middle of the table, and said, "The article is a cursory account of what happened. It gives little insight to the candidate's death, and does not even provide the names of those missing."
"How is anyone supposed to find them then?" Yakko asked.
"Exactly," Brain said, "which leads me to believe that the omissions were not an accident. What does your 'source' say about the status of corruption in La Caricatura's press and law enforcement, Mr. Bunny?"
Bugs leaned on an elbow. "Just call me Bugs, alright? But to answer your question, my guy tells me that the status ain't good. We've got a high level of sleaze going on in their police force, which I'm sure is leaning on the press. We're talking about the toon drug capital of the world here. Everything gets pushed under the rug."
"So why Rosa? It says he was running for mayor…what was his platform?" Yakko asked.
"Good question doc," Bugs said, "I asked my guy the same thing. He said that Rosa was bent on cleaning up the act. Purge corruption and all the jazz. And he was going to start by firing the entire police force."
"I'm sure that announcement went over well," Yakko said sarcastically.
Bugs snorted. "About as well as you might guess."
"What a blithering idiot, what did he expect? He was asking for it!" Plotz exclaimed.
"You think he was asking to be murdered?" Bugs asked calmly.
"I, well, what I mean to say is – "
"Save it Tubs, we got a real caper on our hands," Daffy said, "What does Speed – I mean, your source say about whodunit?"
Bugs eyed Daffy for a moment before saying, "That's where we're drawing blanks again. Not a single clue. Minerva, you were Slappy's neighbor, have you noticed anything suspicious lately? Any unusual visitors, anything out of the ordinary in the neighborhood?"
Yakko had no protest against turning his attention to Minerva. It had been about four years since he'd last seen her, and that was four years too long. She had, if possible, gotten more attractive. Minerva had been barely seventeen when she shot her first short for Animaniacs, leaving an unfortunate age gap between the two of them. But that had never stopped Yakko from catching peeks at her between takes, or from hurtling him through puberty at the speed of light.
It was a shame that Minerva's personality wasn't as flawless as her body; she had been known to throw tantrums on set if her coffee wasn't made with skim milk, and she was exceptionally talented at demolishing the self esteem of every girl under sixteen on the lot, as well as several men over thirty. She never apologized for being late to a shoot and had been a source of perpetual whining during the filming for Wakko's Wish. She would complain about being cold, which was odd, considering that half the time they used fake snow.
But that didn't matter. Yakko placed Minerva in the same category as Rebecca: annoying but gorgeous.
Minerva flipped her curtain of golden hair over shoulder and gazed at Bugs beneath thick, black lashes. "Not a thing, Bugs. She would drop that boy of hers off at school, work in the garden, pick him back up again, harass the mailman…nothing weird at all. I mean, we all know she was real old, isn't it a teensy bit possible that Slappy might've just gotten confused? There's a lot of nasty men out there who go after little, senile old ladies."
Minerva leaned forward strategically to emphasize both her point and her cleavage. Daffy adopted a dreamy look on her face said, "Yeah…maybe…that makes sense" and seemed ready to agree to anything Minerva said. But Bugs, unfazed, said, "I doubt it. As her neighbor I'm sure you picked up on the fact that Slappy was still pretty sharp, despite being 'real old.'"
"Just a theory," Minerva said defensively, leaning back and covering her chest with her arms. Yakko sighed, disappointed.
"So, to review our progress," Daffy drawled, "We've got two loosely related crimes with no suspect and no motive for either, we don't know what weapon was used and we don't even know who half the victims are...why, I think it was Professor Plum in the billiard room with the candlestick, Bugs!"
"What we know is that whoever did this is a master at covering their tracks…Sam, what are your thoughts?" Bugs asked.
Yakko turned to the corner of the room. He had completely forgotten that Yosemite Sam was even there. The man's dark eyes, framed by his black mask, surveyed everyone in the room as though deciding if they were worthy enough to speak in front of. Finally, he muttered in his gruff voice, "I'm a'thinkin' this was the work of a professional. This ain't no common thief, this took planning, and lots of it. Yeh can't leave nary a scrap of evidence and not have meant it every step of the way. Slappy must have gone and got herself tangled up with some no good varmits, I reckon."
"That doesn't seem like her," Yakko said cautiously.
"I ain't sayin' she set out to do it, I'm a'sayin' she coulda tripped over somethin' she ought not to," Sam countered.
Yakko frowned, still unconvinced. The Slappy he remembered was incredibly bright – too smart to get caught up in something illegal or secret. What was more, she was viciously protective of Skippy…why would she chance anything that had the potential to affect her beloved nephew?
"Gee Sammy, thanks for the advice," Daffy drawled, "Slappy crossed paths with some bad guys, you say? I would have never guessed!"
Yosemite jumped to his feet – a rather anticlimactic move, Yakko thought, as Yosemite was so short he had been taller sitting on the chair – and withdrew his pistols. "You wanna say that again, feather brain?"
"Calm down you two or I'll send you out with the other two kids," Bugs chastised, "I think Sam brings up an excellent point: Slappy had all the street smarts in the world, probably more than all of us in this room combined. She was a very talented Class A. But even she got mixed up in something horrible that we can't figure out. So that means whatever we're up against is just as crafty, or at least pretty damn ruthless. Ergo, my friends, we have to be on guard, we have to be watchful, and we have to be discreet – I'm talking to you duck."
"What are you on, 'discreet' is my middle name – "
"Yeah okay Daff. Anyway, it's getting late folks, and we've all had a long day. I'm gonna leave you all with a homework assignment. Daff, Sylvester, and Porky, you know your gig: keep everyone in the loop, and put those big mouths of yours to good use and get all the scoop you can."
Sylvester and Porky saluted, Daffy just muttered, "Yeah yeah yeah…"
Bugs continued to go around the table, "Scratchensniff, Brain, Pinky? Find out what you can about chemicals and toons, specifically those two you mentioned, and see what it takes to get a hold of them. Ingredients, sources, whatever you can find out. Plotz, talk to your boys, see what they say. And keep an eye on the lot. Minerva, warn your neighborhood if they don't already know, and talk to your neighbors. Maybe they picked up on something you didn't. Shirley, work that press pass of yours, and keep your ears open at the press. Babs, Buster, listen in on what your crowd has to say, especially that Max kid. And keep in touch with Warner here."
Bugs focused his eyes on Yakko, who straightened in his chair rather quickly.
"You're living in Manhattan now, right? Prefer Brooklyn myself, but that's a bias I guess…listen, when you go back there, I want you to keep your eyes peeled. Los Angeles and La Caricatura have both been struck, and New York is America's second biggest toon population. I know it's a big city, but just be as observant as you can, and report back to Buster, Babs, or myself, got it?"
"Got it," Yakko said, wanting to add something more clever but finding his mind unusually blank. Damn his one celebrity weakness.
"Good to hear it. And Sam, you remember what we talked about before? Good. Okay everyone – meeting adjourned. Thanks for coming out guys, I appreciate it. Daffy, feel free to attend to your social calendar now."
"Finally," Plotz grumbled, jumping down from his seat as everyone got to their feet. He bustled past Yakko, elbowing him in the knees as he did so.
"I missed you too Plotzy," Yakko called after the man's retreating frame.
Sylvester was chatting with Porky, while Pinky and Brain had joined Scratchensniff in conversation. Buster was still trying to coax nonexistent information out of Shirley. Sam was – well, Yosemite Sam was already gone. Bugs and Daffy were side by side, talking in low tones between saying their goodbyes. Yakko met them at the doorway.
"Hey kid, thanks for coming out, I know you and your siblings probably have a plane to catch," Bugs said.
Ignoring the 'kid' part, Yakko said, "No problem. Listen, is there anything else you want me to do? I can help out, I can – "
"Don't worry about it doc," Bugs said with a dismissive wave of his hand, "We got it under control."
"No really, I mean it. Slappy was a friend of mine, of all of ours. She was our first friend on the lot. I want to do whatever I can, just give me a chance – "
"That's real cute, but I don't think this is your type of ballgame," said Bugs, not stopping, still heading out the door. He said it with the air of speaking to an overeager child. Feeling a flicker of annoyance, Yakko met him step for step, and followed him to the elevator.
"Listen, Bugs, I'm not some wide-eyed little kid. I can do more than just play lookout," he pressed.
Daffy was jabbing the elevator button impatiently as if this would make the elevator hurry. Barely glancing at Yakko, Bugs said over his shoulder, "Look, kid, I appreciate it, but my crew and I have been around the block a couple times." The elevator doors opened and the two veteran stars stepped insides. Bugs continued, "Leave it to us, just go back to Broadway, okay? Watch those sibling a' yours."
The doors slid shut, and Bugs and Daffy disappeared from view.
Yakko swallowed, disappointment coursing through him. That had stung. Bad. He had looked up to Bugs since Animaniacs, before that even, but for Bugs to think of him as nothing but a naïve, child star…
Was this what Wakko and Dot felt like?
Catching a whiff of strong perfume, Yakko found Minerva beside him, waiting for the next elevator. Her body was outlined by a clingy black cocktail dress that Yakko assumed she had tried to double as funeral-appropriate. This kind of irreverent behavior from Minerva was not unusual.
"Where you off to?" Yakko asked without really thinking. His brain seemed to go on vacation around girls.
Minerva didn't even spare him a glance. "Out."
"Anyone I know?"
Minerva looked at him over the curve of her snowy shoulder, one hand balanced on her hip.
"Honey, my friends were getting fake IDs when you were learning to tie your shoes," she said before she strode into the open elevator. Yakko watched her hips swing back and forth until the doors closed and he was left, standing there, stunned and frustrated.
For the second time in less than five minutes he hadn't managed to get the last word in. Maybe he was losing his touch.
"Nice try, stud," a voice cooed in his ear. Babs was behind him now. He didn't know how long she was there or what she saw, but the traces of a smirk on her lips was all the confirmation Yakko needed.
"Why thank you," he said sarcastically.
Two rejections in one evening. That might be a record.
Wakko looked down. He was over seventy feet in the air – the pavement below seemed miles away. He grinned as a light breeze ruffled his tail and ears. How could Yakko possibly forbid him from doing this when it was so much fun?
Back when they had been filming, Yakko had expressly forbidden Wakko from doing the very thing he was doing right now: dangling from the topmost beam of the water tower like a monkey. While he had never said anything about doing it now that they were older, Wakko was pretty sure Yakko would have an aneurism if he found out. God only knew why; Wakko was a Class B toon – soon to be a Class A Candidate, hopefully – a simple fall from this height couldn't possibly hurt him. But then again, it was Yakko.
Yakko was allergic to anything potentially dangerous, especially when it came to him or Dot. Wakko continued to sway from the metal bar, his gloved hands sliding along it easily. He loved to swing his feet as he gazed at the Burbank skyline, glistening in the night, or get caught up in a good wind that gently rolled him around like a kite. It was weirdly relaxing. Yakko of all people should try it, he never relaxed. Ever. He was the only person Wakko had ever met who could be cool as a cucumber on the outside but a gigantic ball of stress on the inside. And Yakko, for all his toon prowess and Class A status, rarely took advantage of his own skills and chose to be cautious instead.
Wakko had decided climb the tower shortly after he and Dot had been kicked out of the meeting. It was an insult; Yakko had sat in on executive meetings when he was fifteen, why couldn't he? And it seemed like they were going to talk about Slappy…after what Montana Max had said, a morbid part of him was very curious. Not only that, but Yakko had been a willing participant in their exile. Traitor.
He was already mad when they were booted out of the meeting, so it didn't help when no less than thirty seconds later Dot was on the phone with her friends, shrieking and laughing, rubbing it in his face, again, about how much more popular she was. He snapped at her, she yelled at him, they bickered, he left.
But now he was up in the sky, no one could bother him. He could forget about his annoying sister, his traitorous older brother, his lack of friends, everything. There was nothing to feel self-conscious about up here. There was no one judging him. There was nothing to feel stupid about. He was totally alone.
Yakko's voice echoed from behind a building in the distance. So much for that.
Sighing, Wakko let himself drop from the beam. As he plummeted downward, he used his tail to wrap around one of the four main support beams. He slid down the beam like a fireman, and before he hit the ground his toon instincts took over and he landed, squashing a bit, before his body bounced back into its solid state. He then shoved his hands in his pockets and trudged toward the sound of Yakko's voice.
"Wakko! Dot, would you hang up the phone, I've asked you three times now…Wakko! Wak – oh, there you are," Yakko said, spotting him as he rounded a corner. Dot was with him, as well as Buster and Babs. Buster and Babs were arguing about something, and Dot was still powering away on the phone.
"C'mon bud, we're bustin' this popsicle stand," Yakko told him, snatching Dot's phone out of her hands as he did so. Dot yelped in protest, but Yakko just tossed it behind his back, muttering, "Think I didn't notice you stealing it outta my pocket last time, missy?"
Wakko half expected flames to shoot out Dot's eyes at this statement. She skipped right over trying to pout her way into getting what she wanted to gnashing her teeth and grumbling something nasty under her breath. Yakko ignored her with ease and herded their group to Buster's car.
As the three of them slid into the backseat, Yakko asked, "How's the lot? Did everything fall to pot in our absence?"
"Lot's fine," Wakko said, brushing past the question, "So what happened, what did you guys talk about?"
"You waste no time, man," Buster laughed as he turned on the ignition.
"He said he'd tell us everything after the meeting, right Yakko?" Dot said pointedly.
Babs peered at Yakko over her seat. "Did he now?"
"Chill out Babs, what's the big deal if they know?" Buster countered.
Her eyes flashed. "I never said it was a big deal, I was just surprised Yakko would promise that!"
"Why is that surprising? He's their brother, not their principal!"
"Thanks for pointing that out Buster, I had no idea!"
Ignoring their arguing, Yakko turned back to his brother and sister. "Cool your jets sibs, I'll tell you about it when we get home..."
Dot pointed an accusing finger at him. "I knew it! I knew you were lying!
"No way are you backing out of this!" Wakko asserted, already feeling the old indignation flaring up.
"Would you relax, I'm not lying and I'm not backing out! Jesus, we're barely out of the parking lot!" Yakko snapped.
"So why can't you tell us now?" Wakko asked, gesturing wildly, "It's not like it's a secret to these guys!"
"Because, brother dearest, maybe they don't want to spend the whole ride home rehashing what we just talked about for the last hour," Yakko said, sounding annoyingly superior.
"Lies! All lies!" came Dot's rebuke.
Yakko arched an eyebrow at her. "Do I sense dissention in the ranks?"
"You're just trying to avoid the subject! You don't have any good reason not to tell us about the meeting!"
"Maybe my reasoning might have something to do with your maturity, or lack thereof," Yakko mused. He was using his I'm-about-to-lay-down-the-law voice.
"Oh c'mon," Wakko griped, "You already kicked us out of the meeting, why don't you kick us out of the car too."
Yakko sighed . "Trust me, it's already crossed my mind."
"I never thought I'd see the day when Yakko, my beloved older brother who I respected so much, would sell out his baby sister for a brush with fame," Dot moaned.
Wakko rolled his eyes. Even when they weren't at JTAP, Dot still had to be an actress. He prayed that Yakko didn't fall for it – if he did, Wakko feared he might lose all respect for his older brother. Unfortunately, Yakko was eyeing Dot with a small amount of concern, as though he was afraid she would have a breakdown. Or that she was mentally unsound. One of the two. Buster and Babs were still bickering rapidly up in the front seats. Wakko was trying not to listen – it was none of his business – but their voices were at an angry pitch. They were barreling down the city streets, and Buster kept taking his eyes off the road to shoot some retort back in Babs' face. It was more than once now that Buster had to swerve wildly back into his lane.
"All this time I thought I was more important to you than some celebrity," Dot continued melodramatically, "I guess…I was wrong."
"Keep this up and I'm dropping you out of acting lessons, you don't need them," Yakko said.
Wakko shook his head. "No way, are you seeing this? She needs them more than ever."
"Shove it, Wakko!" Dot yelled, immediately snapping out of her woebegone state.
"Watch it young lady," Yakko warned, voice dropping slightly.
Dot crossed her arms, glaring at Wakko with all the venom she could muster. "It's not my fault he's a stupid piece of sh – "
"Look out!" Babs shrieked suddenly.
The tires squealed shrilly on the road, Babs screamed, and the next thing Wakko knew he was thrust headfirst into the front seat. He hit it, hard, before ricocheting back into his own seat. It all happened so fast that even his toon instincts hadn't reacted. He could already tell that his face was going to be sore.
"Is everyone okay?" Yakko yelled out. He turned to Wakko and Dot frantically. "Sibs? You okay? Did you hit your head? How many fingers am I holding up? It's okay Dot, calm down – Wakko, why aren't you wearing your seatbelt – "
"Well we're stopped now!" Wakko pointed out.
"Put it on anyway!" Yakko ordered. He then unbuckled his own and hoisted himself forward, which appeared difficult considering that Dot was clinging to his jacket like a lifeline.
"Buster, Babs, you guys okay?" Yakko breathed.
"Yeah man," Buster said, albeit shakily. He was still gripping the steering wheel. "Babs distracted me."
Sparing him a single glower, Babs put both hands on the dashboard as she scanned the road. "Where did it go?"
"Where did what go?" Yakko asked.
"Some guy, he was just walking out in the middle of the road, looked like a toon…"
Dot whimpered, clutching Yakko tighter. But Wakko stood up awkwardly and stuck his head between Yakko's and the headrest on Buster's seat, searching the pavement. They were stopped in the middle of the road on the outskirts of Toontown. To their right was a vacant car lot. On the left was a small field of evergreens – Pete's Christmas Tree lot, Wakko realized suddenly. They reminded him of rows of dark soldiers, watching them in the night. In the rearview mirror he could see the dark tire tracks they left behind.
"There!" Dot cried suddenly.
He jumped at her voice. At first, Wakko couldn't see what she was pointing at. He saw nothing but the empty street. But then a black mass stumbled out of the shadows and into the beams of the headlights.
"Who the hell is that?" Buster whispered.
"It's a weasel," Babs pointed out.
Buster shook his head. "No, I don't think so…"
"Yeah Ears, it is, he looks like one of the guys from Roger Rabbit," Yakko said.
Wakko looked closer. Yakko was right, it was a weasel toon that looked a lot like one of the guys who played Dr. Doom's henchmen in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. But he wasn't looking so good…the weasel was wearing nothing but a long, dirty shirt that hung at his knees. It didn't appear as though he was wearing any pants. He was missing chunks of fur, and his snout was crooked as though it had just been broken. He was stumbling around, his eyes unfocused, looking as though he had no idea where he was. Wakko noticed that his mouth was moving rapidly; the weasel appeared to be talking, shouting even, but he didn't even seem to notice the car in front of them. Wakko chewed on his lip; having grown up in California he was no stranger to homeless people, but the really crazy ones had always made him a bit uncomfortable.
"Maybe we should help him," Babs said.
"Yeah right," Buster and Yakko muttered.
She placed her hands on her hips. "You guys are heartless, he clearly needs help!"
"If you mean at a mental institution, then yeah," Yakko said.
"Forget it Babs," Buster sighed, "You can't take every homeless person you see home like a pet."
Babs' ears flattened dangerously. "Did I ever say anything about taking him home? You know Buster sometimes you really make me – "
"I'll see if he needs anything," Yakko said loudly, drowning out the ensuing argument. "Here Wak, move over."
Wakko and Yakko shuffled around awkwardly so Yakko could get to the window.
"Yakko, be careful!" Dot whispered fearfully.
"Don't worry Dot, I'm not even getting out of the car," Yakko assured her. He pressed a button to lower the window before sticking his head out of it.
"Hey mac, ya better get off the road, you're gonna get hit!" Yakko shouted to the weasel.
The weasel, obviously startled, looked around for the source of the noise. It did not seem to occur to him to look towards the car. Then, finally, his ink-shot eyes landed on Yakko. He squinted, staggering slightly as he tried to focus. Seconds later, his eyes widened to the point that his pupils were specks in the headlights, making him look crazier than he already did.
"N-not you, n-n-not you again!" the weasel screamed at the top of his lungs, pointing a slim finger at Yakko. He then turned around so fast that he fell over. Scrambling to his feet, he tried to sprint at a toon rate of speed, but couldn't manage it. So he simply ran instead, and his screams faded away as he disappeared into the darkness.
The five of them watched the weasel until he vanished. Yakko sat back down, closing the window. He looked at them. His brow was furrowed.
"Was it something I said?" he asked.