RIP Bob Hoskins. You've made a tremendous impact on my life and the lives of others. This movie has influenced me more than any other out there - thank you so much.
This story coincides partially with Bandita-Dieci's story 'Make Life Worthwhile'. So go check that out as well, if you feel like it.
I also incorporated the image drawn by James Hance into this story, which can be viewed by going to his tumblr page (jameshance).
They say that once you're gone, you're never truly forgotten. That's where the differences between humans and Toons start.
For a Toon to truly be gone, it's a requirement that they are forgotten.
Humans can disappear far sooner than that, and far more easily. A single bullet. A high enough fall. Thousands of people can be aware of a human's existence, and then, one day… they can just be gone.
It's a slower process for humans. As soon as they are born, they start to age. When they're only a few years old, they've already changed completely. Another few years, and it's like they're a whole different person.
Childhood, adolescence, adulthood, old age, death.
That was another difference between humans and Toons.
Human life happened in stages.
October 26, 1948
A figure stepped in through the door, and the light to the office flicked on.
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EDDIE!" The rabbit hopped out from behind the desk, decked out in two party hats (one for each ear), took in a huge gulp of air, and promptly began blowing on a noisemaker.
"JESUS!" The man stumbled back, eyes wide and a hand rushing to his chest. "What are you trying to do, give me a heart attack?!" He pushed himself away from the doorframe and removed his coat, letting it fall to the floor next to the coat rack.
Roger hopped out from behind the desk, watching Eddie as he pulled down the murphy bed and sat back onto it with a loud grunt.
"Nooo. Why would I do a thing like that on your birthday?" He grinned innocently, hopping up onto the bed. He leaned forward and looked up so he could get a good look at his friend's face. "Guess what I got ya." He elbowed the man jokingly and waggled his eyebrows.
"Is it peace and quiet?" Eddie replied, leaning forward and running his hands over his face.
"Nope! It's something good! Go on, guess again!"
"A present?" The man tried again, leaning down to untie his shoes. Roger could only stop and blink.
"Wow. You're better at this than I thought." He replied, reaching behind himself and pulling out a (surprisingly neatly wrapped) gift. It was complete with brightly colored wrapping, and an equally bright bow.
Eddie looked up at the gift for a moment, before he abandoned untying his shoes and took it into his hands. He looked at the rabbit, brows furrowing.
"This isn't gonna shoot a pie in my face, is it?"
Roger shook his head.
"Or explode, or somethin'?" He shook the gift and placed an ear to it — probably to listen for ticking, but all he heard was something jostling around.
"Cross my heart." Roger promised, closing his eyes and placing a hand over his chest.
Eddie gave him another skeptical look, but soon got to unwrapping the brightly colored paper. He let the paper fall to the ground. Beneath it was an equally bright box, and inside that was—
"Packing peanuts," the rabbit explained as the man held up one of the salted snacks.
Eddie rolled his eyes and shrugged. He was used to it by now, and let it drop back in with the rest as he dug out his actual present. A framed newspaper clipping.
The headline read 'SNOOP VALIANT, BACK AT IT' in big, bold, black letters. Underneath was a black and white photograph of Dolores, Jessica, Roger and Eddie — all posing for the camera.
"You made this?" The man asked, eyebrows raised in surprise.
"Yep. It wasn't hard. Ya like it?" Roger replied, beginning to bounce on the bed.
A small smile upturned the corners of Eddie's lips, and he responded, "Yeah, I like it." Then suddenly, his free arm stretched out and pushed the rabbit away. "Now quit jumping on the bed, will ya?"
June 9, 1953
It wasn't often a Toon was allowed to get close to a human baby — let alone holdone, but Dolores had insisted. Much to the apprehension of her sister, whom the child belonged to.
It had taken time, but eventually both Roger and Jessica had been introduced to people from both Eddie's side of the family (though those were far less), and Dolores'.
Most of those meetings went better than anyone had expected — especially Eddie, so it was only a matter of time until they were introduced to a few other members of the family.
Now it was Dolores' younger sister's turn — and what better time to make a good first impression, than while meeting a new mom, and her months-old baby?
"He's so tiny," Roger laughed, looking down at the infant he was cradling. He held the boy with both arms, an ear stroking the top of his head as the child slept. "But he's still bigger than Baby Herman."
"Yeah," Eddie chuckled. "Now give him back to his mom before she destroys my couch." He gestured to his sister-in-law who was sitting nearby, her hands digging into the cushion as she watched.
Beside her, Dolores patted her back.
December 24, 1966
"C'mon, Eddie! Hurry up! We're gonna be late!" Roger bounded ahead on the park sidewalk, straight towards the music and sounds of celebration coming from the parade being held a couple streets away.
It was only when he turned to look over his shoulder that he realized how far ahead he had gotten. Suddenly skidding to a halt, Roger turned and began making his way back to his friend's side. This time more slowly.
By the time he'd reached Eddie again, the man was leaning over, pressing his palms to his knees and trying to catch his breath.
"Need a rest?" Roger asked, ears low.
"Yeah. Just give me a second." Eddie responded, pushing himself up and taking another couple breaths.
Roger frowned and glanced around, but his expression brightened once again when he spotted a park bench nearby.
"Hey, look!" He pointed towards it excitedly, grabbing his friend's wrist and darting forwards — much to the other's protest. At the startled shout from the man, Roger slowed to a walk again and craned his head up to smile sheepishly. "Oops, sorry."
Together, the two made it to the bench. Roger hopped up onto the seat and sat himself down, waiting for Eddie to do the same, which he did with a frustrated sigh. And for a long moment, they just listened to the muffled music coming from the far-off celebration. Other than that, they fell into silence.
After a minute or two, Eddie spoke again.
"Wanna get goin'?" The man asked the rabbit, who just shrugged and kept looking in the direction of the music. Another moment. "We're gonna miss it if we don't leave now." He said, and was surprised when Roger leaned against his arm.
"Who needs some dumb parade, anyways?"
April 30, 1972
Who would have thought something as simple as a fall could do so much damage? A simple fall — and now they were at the hospital.
Even though things were starting to change, Toons still weren't allowed in a wide range of places that humans normally went. Human hospitals were one of those places. An exception had been made in this case, at the request of Dolores, but still, they were only allowed in one at a time.
Right now, Jessica was visiting.
Roger sat outside the building, sitting on the parking lot curb, knees pulled to his forehead and arms wrapped around his legs. He didn't know how long it had been, but he was only broken from his thoughts when he felt a hand on his back. He looked up to spot a teary-eyed Dolores. She attempted a smile and the wrinkles from her age collected around her eyes, and the sunset glinted off of her silver-streaked hair as she sat down next to him. He leaned against her and closed his eyes as her arm wrapped around his shoulder.
"He took a pretty bad fall." She explained, rubbing his arm. "It was dark, and they think he missed a step."
Roger was quiet for a moment more, turning until his entire face was pressed against her side. Dolores turned so she could wrap both arms around him.
"I've seen him take worse falls than that," he sniffed, moving his arms under hers to return the hug. "Why's this one so different?"
The woman seemed to contemplate this and continued rubbing his back.
The funeral was held two weeks later. Some might have agreed that there was a good turnout — but the numbers didn't matter. Not at something like that.
Even if they would have been the only one's to show up, it wouldn't have mattered. It wouldn't have changed anything. All the time spent together. The birthdays, the movie nights, the family gatherings and being included in them, the jokes, the laughs, the hard times. It all would have happened, whether the world was watching or not.
At the start of the service, Dolores had given him Eddie's hat. She may have given something to Jessica as well, but Roger hadn't stuck around long enough to find out. Instead, he headed over to the open casket, wringing the hat's brim in his hands as he stared at his friend through blurred vision.
He lost track of time, and it was only when Jessica's hand met his back that he blinked and leaned into her side, finding her free hand with his.
They stayed there for a while. Long after the funeral had finished, and the rest of the crowd had gone. In the end, it was Dolores, Jessica, Roger and Eddie. Just as it had been for so long now.
Only when it started to get dark, did they make the reluctant decision to leave. Promising to visit often, Roger watched as Jessica leaned down to give Eddie a kiss on the forehead.
"Good-bye, Mr. Valiant." She said, and turned.
Roger took one last look at the casket, holding the familiar hat close to him.
"So long, Eddie." He told his friend, turning and grabbing Jessica's hand as they made their way back to the car.
Back to the world, where things would resume for most without interruption.
For them though, it would always be different.
There may have been many differences between humans and Toons…
Maybe humans were more fragile; and maybe they did age, and go through stages — maybe they changed a lot as time went on… but in the end, it was all the same. In the end, it was the mark they left on others that truly mattered. The memories they made, the moments they experienced, the smiles, the laughs, the tears, the love, and the gift of sharing it all with others.
Once they were gone, it was all about how people remembered them. Because human or Toon, it was all the same. They live on through those they have touched — and even if it's not forever, the fact that happiness was shared at all made it all worth it.
In the end, maybe they weren't so different after all.