FLASHBACK; FLASHFORWARD
 
 
 
 

The voice seemed to be coming from everywhere at once. It was almost

eerie, yet it was all so exciting. The long hall was dark, but it opened

into a wide area, populated by many tables. It seemed as though the entire

park had turned out for this one event. He was more nervous than he had

ever been, and as the voice said the words he had both anticipated and

dreaded, his stomach was all aflutter.

"Ladies and gentleman..." the voice began, "for their first public

appearance, it gives me great pleasure to present...Mr. and Mrs. Chip

Maplewood!"

That was their cue! with those words, Chip and Gadget stepped foward and

proceeded down the long wall to the head table, slowly and steadily. Hand

in hand, their triumphant walk was certainly a dream come true for both of

them. It had taken a lot just to get here. Problems every step of the way;

sometimes due to cases, or to the interference of others, or even

themselves. But it had finally been made all worthwhile, and this was their

day.

They came to a stop as they stood behind the head table, cleverly situated

directly in front of the stage. Monterey Jack steeped to the front of this

stage, and spoke once more. "Aren't they lovely?" he laughed. "Well now,

let us not be forgettin' why we came here. We came to celebrate the union

of these two lovebirds up front. But more importantly, we're here to

PAAAAAAAAARRRRRRTTTTTTTTTYYYYYYYYY!" With that, the raucous mouse signaled

the disc jockey to make with the music, and the celebration began. Monty

jumped off the stage and walked to his friend Chip. "Besides, mate, you two

are footin' the bill! Ha ha!"

"Thanks for reminding us." replied Chip. "Go on, live it up!"

"Y'know Chip, this promises to be a bigger bash than the one we threw Dale

and Foxglove on their wedding"

"Oh golly!" exclaimed Gadget. "Are things really going to be that crazy?"

"Who knows?" answered Chip in a coy voice. "With a girl like you and a guy

like me together, anything can happen!"

She laughed at him. "I might just hold you to that.." she whispered into

his ear. Chip bristled. "C'mon! We've got an awful lot of tables to visit.

It's only fair that we see some of them before the dinner."

"Who invited all these people anyway?"

"Golly, Chip! You couldn't expect me not to invite them all. I mean,

people have known about us, watched us develop as teammates, friends...and

more...for years. They deserve to be here Chip."

The chipmunk sighed. "You're a sweet girl, Gadget." He kissed her on the

cheek.

"You're darn right. And my equally sweet husband is going to come with me

while we visit each and every one of these tables, isn't he?"

"Oh...all right. C'mon, let's get a move on then! Where to first?"

"Uh....let's try over here!"
 
 

Dale, Foxglove, Zipper, and Monty surveyed the hall from the corner, by

the bar. Each was currently carrying the drink of their choice, except

Foxglove, who kept hers on the counter since she really wouldn't have been

able to grip the thing properly anyway.

"This sure is wonderful, Dale." said Foxglove.

"Got that right!" replied her husband, Dale Oakmont. "Now we've got a

balanced team again. It's about time those to got married."

"Well, Dale," said Monty, "it's not as though they didn't want to. Life

has just been very hard on the two of them. Zipper buzzed in agreement,

communicating something in that series of buzzes and vibrations he used. "I

couldn't agree more, Zipper me lad. We have got to be looking at two people

who love each other more than anyone we've ever known. They care about each

other so much, and they truly deserve each other. Yes Zipper, I think I've

done all right by that promise I made to Geegaw 'bout takin' care o' her. I

was always scared she would pick a husband i wouldn't get to know well. But

this is more than I could have ever hoped for. It almost makes me nostalgic

for those carefree days o' me youth. I remember my first love Zip.

Zipper instictively covered his ears and seemed to motion for Dale to do

something. "Uhhh, Monty," said Dale, "I don't wanna hurt you're feelings or

anything, but we've kind of heard this story a lot lately."

Monterey Jack looked taken aback for a moment. "Right." he responded. "I'm

sorry pallies. I guess I'm just feelin' a tad.......well.......lonely

lately."

"We've all been there, Monty. You'll find what you're looking for sooner

or later."

*Preferably sooner.* "Too right pally! C'mon then, let's go explore this

shindig!
 
 

Chip Maplewood looked quite handsome, all decked out in his formal tuxedo.

They had had a formal wedding, yet the ceremony was very simple. It was,

all in all, a tad confusing. But it had been the way they wanted it, and

that is was the most important thing. His grey outfit fit him sleekly, for

lack of better words, he was hot to trot. It was as though he had been born

to wear that tux.

If Chip looked great, then Gadget Maplewood was probably stunning on a

stellar scale. Her dress was fairly simple yet still fairly traditional.

She admitted that she wasn't fond of the white, and almost wished she

weren't a virgin so she would have some excuse not to wear it. Still, here

she was, in splendor. The train of her dress had been cut off, because Chip

had been afraid she would trip over it. This was one of those secrets known

only to those that dwelled in the Ranger Tree. The dress fit her like a

dream, but she yearned to be out of it. She was tired already, and longed

for the coziness of her purple nightgown against her skin and her husband

lying by her side. But that was nearly an eternity away...

*It's tough being a bride* she thought to herself, then looked at her

husband, her friends. *But rewarding...* she added.

And that was how it went for the first two hours of the reception. People

talking and laughing and drinking, Chip and Gadget visiting table after

table. The couple saw many warm, friendly folks, including Monty's parents,

Buzz and Sparky, Queenie, even Midge the swallow. Gadget had gone so far as

to extend an invitation to Tom, the mechanical cat, but he hadn't been able

to make it. Gadget was aware of every face she looked upon, talking with

them. Chip made pleasant conversation, but after the first forty-five

minutes, all the tables began to run together. He thought that this was

never going to end, but Chip was finally rescued by a waiter, who politely

informed him that they were ready to begin serving the first course. The

chipmunk gazed in awe at his wife, who was currently engaged with Tammy's

mother in conversation. He just couldn't get over it. Gadget was usually

not the socialable type, but here she was, gabbing away like there was no

tomorrow. It took some effort for him to pull her away.

"Come on Gadget! For goodness sakes, we're holding up the whole day! I'd

like to be home by 2 AM!"

"But Chip, I was just telling her how-"

"Fine. Do you want to be the one to tell a hall filled with hundreds of

hungry people that we can't start the meal?"

"Oh...all right."

"I knew you'd see it my way." He extended his arm, motioning for her to

hook her own through his. "Shall we?"

"Mr. Maplewood, you are a piece of work."

"If I'm such a 'piece of work,' why did you marry me?"

"Beacuse I said yes!"

"Ah yes...you did, didn't you." he said it smugly, kissed her cheek.

"Stop it!" she laughed. "We're supposed to be heading for our seats."

"Mmmm, but I'd much rather slip away from all this with you."

"Come off it!" she said, pulling him. "You're doing this to me on purpose

just to get a rise out of me!"

"It's certainly working." the words came out calmly.

"You little...Oh, just behave yourself!"

"Do I get a prize later on if I do?"

"Let's just say, if you don't behave, you'll be sure not to get one!"

"I'll behave, I'll behave!"

"Mmmm, that's better. Now, about that meal..."
 
 

Perhaps it was a little cruel of Chip to tease his wife so, but he enjoyed

it. She had learned not to take him too seriously when he was like this,

and she knew it was just his disbelief that they had actually done it, they

were married.

The courses were passed out, and the meal commenced, everyone chatting

with one another at the tables. Chip couldn't bring himself into a

conversation though. He was eating mechanically, his mind focused on what

had started it all, three years earlier...

***************************************************************************

Holiday time again, one of the equally happiest and saddest times in the

Ranger tree. Sure, Christmas meant the coming of a grand dinner, a time of

sharing and giving, of openess and honesty, and a general feeling that the

five had survived another year just for this short season. But it was also

this time of year that brought a lot of memories to Gadget which had become

painful, alas, the past always returns to haunt the present. There was

nothing that could hinestly be done. Everyone always tried to reach out to

her as best they could, but it always boiled down to the simple fact that

she hurt, and no one else could understand her kind of suffering. Still,

she would eventually get past those feelings. She was not someone who

dragged the spirit of the season down, her pain was her own, and never left

the safety of her room. But Chip had always wondered how many sleepless

nights she had.

This particular night, December 24 (or 25 since it was early morning,

however you prefer to look at it), 1994, was a night like many other

Christmas Eves for Gadget Hackwrench. She spent it awake and alone on the

couch of the living room, working things out in her mind. And had Chip not

made an honestly chance encounter with her, things might have been

different for the both of them now. But it had happened, what had come to

be known between them as the star incident (see "Revelation" to learn all

about it), and their lives had been changed. It became a night of perfect

bliss and happiness, neither of them had felt more right about things at

the time. But the pleasurable night evolved into the painful Christmas

morning where Dale had found the two of them and Gadget had to set things

right. Fortunately, things turned out Ok, at least for a while...

***************************************************************************
 
 

"Chip? Chip? CHIP!"

"Huh? Whazzat?"

"Hey, where have you been? You drifting off on me?" The voice was the

sound of his wife's.

"Uh, sorry. I guess so."

"Well?"

"Well what?"

"Are you just going to sit there or are you going to dance with me? No one

else can until we do!"

"Dance? Can't I just stay here and rest? It's been a long week....and this

is the longest day of all."

The look on Gadget's face told Chip she was not happy with that statement,

and he couldn't blame her. He was making it sound like he was having a bad

day on the day of their wedding, as though this was some horrible thing to

be endured. "I'm sorry..." he said, I've got a lot on my mind."

"Could've fooled me. Now come on!" She lowered her voice and brushed up

against him, then sweetly said, "Dance with me..."

"Since you put it that way......" Before chip had any idea what was going

on, he was on the dancefloor. It took him a moment, but he was able to slip

into Gadget's groove, and passively lead them about. "Why Miss Maplewood, I

never noticed what a truly elegant dancer you are."

"That's because we never got to do it much. It's too bad, we missed out on

some nice evenings."

"Any evening I spend with you is far better than 'nice."

"You say that now...but someday you'll tire of me darling..." she said,

doing her best to sound like a southern belle.

"You're probably right. Since I still appreciate you, let's find love,

while we may. Because I know I'll hate you, when you are old and gray. I'll

never love you then at all the way I do today...so please remember when I

leave in December...I told you so in May!"

"You're terrible!" she laughed.

"That song was practically written before Monty's time, and it was just a

snatch of it." (Chip's right, the song was recorded in 1953 by Tom Lehrer,

a college profeessor who made controversial piano tunes. Think of him as a

highly controversial "Weird Al" Yankovic, without the parodies. That song

was "When You are Old and Gray," or at least a piece of it. For more info

about Tom Lehrer, the lyrics, and where you can get his songs today, e-mail

me! We now return to our story...)

"No, you're terrible! If I didn't know you better, I'd smack you for

that!"

"You always hurt the one you love."

"Touche`." The was a slight pause in Gadget's voice. "I love you."

"I know."

"You know? You call that a response to 'I love you'! I take it back!"

"Ok, I'm sorry. You know I love you Gadget."

"Do I?"

"Hey!"

"I can play your games too!"

"It's your fault we're here."

"It's your fault we're married!"

"It's your fault for asking!"

"It's your fault for accepting!"

"It's your fault for being such a stubborn, obssessive,

overbearing......compassionate, sensitive, understanding,

loving....husband."

"Well! I'm sorry!"

"You should be!" She hugged him.

Monty could see the two of them and smiled, he knew this was the way they

dealt with their feelings in public. Their relationship was often

antagonistic, but they really knew how to work together and ultimately they

were two much a part of each other to remain separate.

*Oh, Chip,* the mouse thought to herself, *you always did care too much

about me. But this is what we've always wanted, and I'm sorry that I almost

took it all away from us....

***************************************************************************
 
 

"So, that's that then." Chip said matter of factly.

"Yes. I suppose it is." Gadget responded.

"Then this is where it is to end."

"No wait just a minut Chip. I didn't mean we had to stop seeing each

other."

"Yes, we do. Look Gadget, we've done this long enough and now we've

reached an inpass. We just can't go any farther on this level. Either we

opt to level up and get engaged, or call it quits here and now, on this

park bench, 7PM, Sunday evening. It's your call now."

"But you have to understand that I just can't do this right now Chip. I'm

still going through a lot of personal stuff."

"I understand and respect that Gadget. But I also need to establish some

kind of commitment here."

"Then the answer is no."

Silence. Long silence.

"Then if you'll excuse me, Gadget, I have somewhere I need to be.

Goodnight."

"Chip, wait a minute..."

"Goodbye."

"It doesn't have to be this way...."

"You're right Gadget, it doesn't. But you've made your decision."

He walked off, into the night. It began to rain.

"Chip!" she called after him, in vain. For he was gone, and she had no

idea where. "Oh, Gadget! You really blew it this time!"

***************************************************************************

After that, things had grown very strained for the two of them. Chip moved

out of the tree for awhile and sought refuge in Tammy's house, much to the

young squirrels delight. It took six months to remedy the situation.

Eventually, it was found that Gadget's refusal was a psychological thing,

she was afraid that she would be abandoned. The poor girl was still coping

with the loss of her father, and the man she had once been engaged to

(that's another story altogether!)

They had reconciled after a particullarly dangerous case, one where Chip

went back to save Gadget from certain death. (upcoming story?) She was

never able to doubt him again after that, and it had set the ball of

marriage rolling.

*Funny how it took over two years to get from there to here.* Gadget

thought to herself. *So much water has passed under the bridge in the last

seven years. Golly, I'm getting older already! She laughed inwardly. I have

become so much more than I was back in Alaska. I was ready to kill myself

over my own personal losses, and cheat myself out of so much joy.* She

looked up. *Thank you up there, for looking after me.* she said to no one

in particular.

"Had enough yet?" asked Chip. The inquiry snapped Gadget back to reality.

"Hmmm? Oh, well, sure I guess so. I mean I'm not at all anxious to stop,

but we don't have to keep going if you don't want to. Unless of course you

do want to, which is fine by me. Or maybe you don't want to but you want to

say that you do because you're trying to make me happy, in which case I

want you to do what you want. But then you could really want to keep going

and will say we should stop because-"

"Gadget!" he shouted. *This is so damn typical of you.......* the thought

flailed through his mind, but he let it go. There was no point in arguing

with Gadget. She was trying to help, to be sweet and understanding, and he

couldn't hold it against her. "A little more. I want to talk to you about

something."

"What?"

"Well...I really feel that this is going so great."

"Really?"

"Sure! I mean, we don't need anything more. We've already lead full lives,

and there's still so much more to go! But for the first time in my life, I

feel truly content. It's like, nothing's nagging at the back of mind. I

couldn't possibly feel better than I do right now."

"Oh, please don't say 'and it's all because of you..."

"Why not?"

"Because. Because you're forgetting something Chip."

"Like what?"

"I'm not me anymore. Chip, I left that behind to become a part of

something greater. I united myself with you, and now there is both. That is

part of our joining. That we shall come together and there shall be no

spiritual dissension between us. We are no one."

"I guess I never thought of it that way Gadget."

"Never too late. Just promise me you'll remember that when we have our

first fight."

"Gadget, I promise you no matter what may happen between us that you are

never going to lose me. And I'm sorry I can't promise you that I will never

die. But I can't plain and simple. But I can promise that as long as I am

alive, then there will be no others but you, blue-eyes."

She blushed at him. "Thank you."

Chip manueverd them to the edge of the floor nearest the head table, and

walked off the floor to the stage. He signaled the disc jockey to begin the

dance music, and it was so. Crowds of people began to cut up the floor, and

everyone seemed to be having a great time. The music was fast and furious,

featuring "Walking on sunshine" by Katrina and the waves, "I Love L.A." by

O.M.C., "Picture of You" by Boystown, "I get Around" by the Beach Boys, and

"Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf. The tunes roled on with people's

spirits, into the night.
 
 

It was around 11 PM when Monty had finally caught up with Chip and Gadget.

They had been kept busy by nearly everyone. Chip was in a strange mood, he

was still trying to live down the fact that he had choked on the cake

Gadget had pushed into his mouth when they had cut it, and once it had been

established that he was all right, the entire vent became one big joke at

his expense. Things had gotten really awkward after Gadget had thrown her

bouquet. Tammy had been the one to catch it. this would not have been any

big deal under normal circumstances, but as you will see, it grows quite

weird.

Chip had had trouble snagging Gadget's garter and relieving her of it.

throughout the entire scene, his mind had wandered between divine repulsion

and sinful delight. He was absolutely sure that he was going to pass out,

but somehow he managed to pull it off (pun intended). One scotch and one

beer later, he threw the lovely thing, which wound up being caught by none

other than Dale, which was odd, because being a married man, Dale had not

even been in the crowd. Still, it came as a surprise that everyone elected

to have Dale keep it rather than having it thrown back to the mob. And so,

Foxglove sat by and watched her husband slip a garter all the way up

Tammy's leg. This was, of course, the grand-daddy of all embarassing

moments in Dale's life. Tammy was, without doubt, disappointed that Chip

hadn't been the one to do it.

"Chipper?" asked the older mouse.

"Yes?"

"Well, this is it, isn't it. You've come full circle and now you've about

to start the first day of the rest of your life. It's strange though. After

how happy I've been for everybody, I feel almost, well, sorry that you're

married. I mean, don't get me wrong, I think you two are a perfect match.

It's just that you'll look different now, like me pally." He nodded in

Dale's direction. "I hafta say though, as a couple you two lovebirds always

did look kind o' cute. Always so serious about your Rescue Ranger work,

improving things, and each other. But I've always been behind you."

"Thanks Monty. You know, all of this was really just the next step. Gadget

and I had progressed as far we could in our relationship. We had to climb

the next step of the ladder."

"And what do you suppose is at the end of this ladder?"

"Death. But something more than that. I'm not going to debate the

afterlife with you, but I just feel that there is a bond between Gadget and

I that transcends even death. I always meant to ask Dale if he felt that

way about Foxglove."

"Felt what way about Foxy?" asked Dale, who just happened to stride up

with his wife.

"I was just telling Monty that I think Gadget and I share a bond that goes

beyond death."

"Beyond death?" inquired the bat. "Gee, I never thought about that

before."

"Well, I don't want to get in a debate over the afterlife and all that,

but I was just wondering if you felt that way Dale."

"Uh, err..." the red-nosed chipmunk began. "Ummm..."

"Well he'd certainly better!" exlaimed Foxglove. "Because I definitely

feel that way about you cutie!"

"Umm, what she said guys!" he laughed aloud. Foxglove stared daggers at

him. "Aw, c'mon! This is a setup! Sheesh! Yes, Foxy, I do love you beyond

the grave. And if you don't know that by now that I don't know where you're

mind's been."

"That's more like it!" She nuzlled him with approval.

"Hey Monty," began Chip. "what do you think?"

"What do I think?" replied Monterey Jack. "Uh...well...that's a little

awkward. I mean, seeing as how I'm flying solo these days. But I like to

think that if I ever do get another shot at the the big four-letter word

that begins with 'L', then I would want t share that kind of a bond. So, I

guess you could say that I do believe in those kinds of bonds and such.

*Whew* Does that answer your question?"

"You're a good man, Jack."

"Takes a mate to no a mate." he responded, slapping the tuxedo-clad

chipmunk on the back. "So...where are you and Gadget headed now?"

"Out there...somewhere." said Chip, gesturing with his arms toward the

skylight. "We're just gonna hop in the Wing and keep on flying. We're

hoping to find a nice, quiet island somewhere to spend our honeymoon on."

"And after that?"

"Yes, and after that?" asked Chip's wife, who just seemed to come out of

nowhere, though Chip could see on Foxglove's face that she had seen Gadget

coming.

Chip took a hold of his wife and drew her in closer to him. He looked

straight into her eyes. "It's a big world out there honey. A big adventure.

But whatever comes we'll face it together. All of us." Chip included his

friends. Zipper pursed his lips and mimicked a bugle.

"You still haven't answered my question." said Gadget.

"Gadget, let's go exploring."

"Yeah!" shouted Dale.

"Couldn't o' said it better myself!" called Monty.

"Count me in!" chimed Foxglove.

"Zzzzzzz!" said Zipper. By his motions, they could all tell that he was

really for it.

Everyone looked at Gadget. she just sort of had a puzzled look on her face

for a moment, then exclaimed "Golly!"

"I knew she was gonna say that!" yelled Dale.

"Golly, really?" asked Gadget. By the way she said it, it was clear she

wasn't making a joke by saying it again. It was most likely that she didn't

even realize it.

"Well," said Chip, taking his wife's hand, "I guess we'll be seeing you

guys in three weeks."

"You bet!" said Foxglove. "There may be a few surprises for you when you

get back!"

"Foxy, luv, life is full o' surprises." said Monterey.

"Now Chip," whispered Dale, "don't do anything I wouldn't do."

"Oh be quiet!" responded Chip.

"Goodbye everyone!" called Gadget. "We're going to be all right!"

"That's right!" said Chip. They walked to the door, but then Chip turned

around. And my parting advice to you all is this: Make a little birdhouse

in your soul." With that, they were gone.
 
 

Outside, Chip and Gadget quickly walked up the staircase to the roof and

climbed into the Rangerwing, which was all ready for take off. Gadget

stepped into the pilot's seat, she had insisted on flying first. She

started the engine and turned to Chip. "Blue Canary?" she asked.

"It is our song." he replied. Of course, they were referring to the song

by They Might Be Giants. She smiled.

"Let's go exploring." she said. The plane taxied towards the edge of the

roof and lifted off, heading into the horizon. A full moon hung in the sky.

The night was clear, so all the stars were visible. It was truly, a grand

adventure for all.
 
 

END
 
 

***************************************************************************

Thank you, everyone. This concludes my second Rescue ranger fanfic. I have

a lot of fun writing these, I hope to keep up the pattern of about two per

year. Feel free to get on my case if I don't! This was a story I felt

compelled to write because I felt it deserved to be told. It presented a

lot of interesting scenarios. Perhaps the best part is that it does not

have to fit into my universe or anyone else's. Since it takes place in the

future and has flashbacks that have not been written yet, all other fanfic

authors are completely free to build and expand on any ideas presented

here. Of course, I reserve the right to do so as well.
 
 

What can I say? I enjoy writing for all the fans out here. This story took

significantly longer to write than "Revelation." This took several months

of work, "Revelation" was churned out in two days. Of course, I didn't work

nearly as diligently on this one, because I am a college student now. All

in all, I think that this work is pretty good, but I can't help but feel

that I missed the big brass ring with this one. But then, I didn't think

that "Revelation" was all that good either, and you couldn't begin to

imagine how much positive mail I got about that one. So I suppose I'll just

have to wait and see.
 
 

I do hope to get this story posted to someone's website sooner or later.

(If you are reading this story at someone's website, please disregard that

last statement, as it is obviously outdated!) It will most likely wind up

at Rescue Rangers Headquarters. Someone recently asked me how come Robert's

page is the only one on the net to showcase my previous stories. The

answer? His is the only one I have submitted it to. I just don't really

feel like applying for a post at the Internet Gadget Archive. This is not

because I do not like that page, it is just that I don't want to be lost in

a page that large. Though this may lower the amount of people that may read

my work, what can I do? I may try and get into a few other pages, but I

doubt you'll ever see me at the archive unless they come knocking on my

door or something.
 
 

Well, as always, I encourage you to send me your questions, comments,

compliments, and complaints. Anyone who responds to this story will receive

a check from me for five dollars. (Yeah, right! I like to write stories for

free and then pay people to read them! If you believe that, you'll believe

anything!) But seriously, I can't improve my work without feedback. So

please, take a minute (or ten) to tell the author how he is doing.
 
 

I've got to update my Sailor Moon fanfic as my next piece of work. If you

are a fan of that series as well, please let me know via e-mail and I will

send you the story so far...

I will be back to my RR work, though.
 
 

Now, if you've made it through my story, and then my endless babbling, I

will remind you that my first story, "Revelation," is available at Rescue

Ranger Headquarters or directly from me. Of course, I'm sure that about 90%

of you alreadcy knew that, but I want to let the other 10% know! I'll see

you all later,
 
 

Christopher "Malachite" Sweeters

<jtc@ct2.nai.net>
 
 
 
 

P.S.- If you would like to be on a mailing list that will let you know when

my next work will be appearing, and a little bit of what it will be about,

simply let me know.

***************************************************************************A

ll characters contained herein were copyrighted by the Walt Disney Company

some time ago. The author recognizes this copyright, and no infringement is

intended. The author only claims the story contained herein as his own, not

the characters. This story was written for fun, not profit, so please don't

send some guys to my door with a lawsuit. I can barely afford to go to

college as it is!