PG13 for language. Enjoy.
"I'm heading out for the day, Lou," Yakko Warner said to his boss, Louis Van Buren, who was sitting in the corner shuffling through a pile of papers. "See you tomorrow, ok?"
"Ok. Have a good night," Lou mumbled as Yakko grabbed his hat and left the office.
The sun shone brightly down on Yakko as he made his way west towards his townhouse on the outskirts of Toontown. Working as a lawyer for toons had its drawbacks, but he had to admit, it made him appreciate his off hours all the more. Though a lot of things had changed in the past ten years, Toontown wasn't one of them. It was still the chaotic and at times insane place to live as it always had been which meant that there were always plenty of cases for Yakko to work on at the firm. They didn't even have to advertise to get more than enough business; in fact, cases were always backed up, waiting to be taken on by the Van Buren Law Office.
Toon laws weren't quite the same as human laws. If a toon could prove what s/he did was out of a) ignorance, b) stupidity or c) for a laugh, the toon was more than likely to be cleared of charges. After all, a toon wasn't created to be a spiteful creature in any sense of the word. Quite the opposite in fact. Yakko had found a natural place in the world of toon law, both because he could talk his way out of any sticky situation and because his mind was sharper than most. He'd been with Van Buren for close to nine years and all was well. Besides that, he'd found a steady girlfriend in Babs Bunny, a former toon star just like he was, and they'd been together for close to eight years. They were enough alike to keep surprising one another year after year, and never ran out of things to do or talk about. In fact, the best part of the day was coming home to Babs. She, too, worked for a toon law firm (the "rival" law firm to Van Buren, Yakko would laugh) but usually arrived home before he did and could usually be found in the office den finishing up the day's paperwork. Yakko generally hated working at home, so would normally arrive home an hour or more after Babs.
Yakko's mind was preoccupied with his current case and he almost tripped over a kid handing out fliers in front of a travel agency. "Watch it, mister!" the kid cried, jumping back. "You almost squashed my foot!"
"Sorry, didn't see you," Yakko said, leaning down to the kid. "Forgive me?" he said with a charming smile.
The kid scowled and thrust a flier at him. "Only if you'll take one of these stupid things. Mom told me I have to hand out all of 'em, but nobody will take one."
Yakko took the outstretched flier. "Deal. Bye, kid." He stuffed the orange piece of paper into his side pocket and whistled the rest of the way home. An old jazz melody was playing softly in the condo as he entered and threw his briefcase in the corner. "You here, babe?" he called out, loosening his tie and heading to the kitchen.
"In here!" a voice came from the office. "Be out in a minute!"
Yakko grabbed a can of Coke from the refrigerator and sat down on the couch. The flier was sticking out his pocket, so he took it out and looked at it briefly. A deal for a cruise ship. He threw it to the coffee table, suddenly infuriated.
"What's the matter?" Babs said, coming out of the office with a handful of papers and seeing the stormy look on Yakko's face. "Bad day at the office?"
"Something like that," he muttered, grabbing the flier and stuffing it back in his pocket, not wanting Babs to see it. She looked at him oddly a moment, but went into the kitchen to put the papers in her briefcase. Yakko, who usually by this time had already covered a dozen topics in conversation upon seeing Babs for the first time since that morning, remained silent on the couch, lost in his thoughts. Babs emerged a moment later.
"What's with you?" she asked.
"Nothing," he snapped. "I'm fine."
"Yes," he nearly shouted.
Babs rolled her eyes. "Fine. You want some dinner? Let's get some of that Chinese takeaway we had the other week. What was it called? YuFu? YuTu? Something like that…"
"Do whatever you want. I'm not hungry." Yakko grabbed his briefcase by the door. "I'm going to go do some work."
"At home?" Babs raised an eyebrow. "In all the time we've lived together, you've never done any work at home."
"So what! Does that mean I can't?"
"No, I – "
"Well then leave me alone, all right!" he shouted, making for the office.
"All right! Jesus, what's with you today? I just wanted to know if there was something I could do to help."
"There's not!" Yakko yelled, fully angered by something that had absolutely nothing to do with Babs. "There's not anything you can do about it, so just leave me alone!" He slammed the door behind him once he was in the office and sat down behind the desk, still breathing raggedly.
Babs was stunned but thought it best to leave him be for a while. Yakko had never spoken to her in that way the entire time she'd known him. A few tears came to her eyes but she brushed them away quickly; let him be a jerk. He'd talk when he was ready.
Yakko sat perfectly silent in the office for close to an hour before moving a muscle. The late day sun was streaming in through the open window but his mind was elsewhere. The memories had come on so strong, so quickly, and he hadn't been prepared for them. A voice in the back of his head shouted at him to go apologize to Babs. She was the most important person in his life now and didn't deserve his anger for something that had nothing to do with her. If he went out there now, she'd want to know what was up, and he wasn't sure he was ready to tell her quite yet.
From the very back of his legal bookcase, Yakko pulled out an old photo and put it on the desk. Gazing back up at him was an image of him and his siblings that he hadn't laid eyes on in years. He stared at it in silence for a long time, until he finally heaved a sigh and leaned back in his seat. There was a quick knock on the door. Babs entered quickly and grabbed a manila folder off the end of the desk.
"I'm sorry to disturb your angst," she said crisply. "But some of us actually do have some work to do."
"Babs, wait," he said softly as she was halfway out the door. "Look, I'm sorry…I shouldn't have yelled."
She turned back to look at him. "At least let me know why you're angry at me before you start screaming, ok?"
Yakko smiled faintly and rubbed his cheek. "It wasn't you. It wasn't you at all." He beckoned towards her. Babs came around the desk, sat down on Yakko's lap, and took the picture of he and his siblings in her hands.
"Is this why you were upset?" she asked. He put his arms around her waist but said nothing, his eyes not leaving the picture. "It's you and your brother and sister, right? I remember when this was taken."
"You took it," Yakko reminded her.
"That's right. I remember now. When was this, about seven or eight years ago?"
"Seven. It was in May."
Babs knew that Yakko hadn't spoken to or of his siblings in many years, but had never really asked why. He was the kind of person who would only talk about something when he was good and ready, and not before. Over the years, she'd learned to accept this as part of who he was. She was the same way, in many respects. Though they both loved to talk, they didn't talk about just anything – some topics, like Yakko's siblings, were an unspoken boundary that was not to be crossed. But as she gazed down at the picture and noticed Yakko's silence she had to wonder why now, of all times, he was upset about his family.
"Is there something you want to talk about?" she asked slowly, not wanting to scare him back into a moody silence for the rest of the night.
Silence fell in the small room, though Babs could tell Yakko was thinking hard. "I miss them," he said so softly she almost didn't catch it. Babs put her arm around his shoulders.
"Of course you do," she said, in an equally soft voice.
"I know you wonder why I never talk about them," he said in a louder voice, standing up and gently pushing Babs off his lap.
"It's probably the only thing I don't know about you," Babs admitted as she and he walked back to the kitchen, Yakko's picture still in her hand. He sat down at the kitchen table and stared at the surface, face cupped in his hands, while Babs poured them both some coffee. When she sat down, she noticed an orange flier in front of Yakko, who was staring at it intently. Babs stole a glance at it; it looked like one of those phony offers for a cruise ship deal. She frowned.
"This is why I'm so upset."
"Babe, if you want to go on a cruise, we can…"
"No, it's not that." Yakko sighed. "I don't suppose you know my sister used to work on a cruise ship?"
"No, I didn't."
"Maybe she still works on one. How would I know? Haven't spoken to her in close to six years…" He took a sip of the coffee. "But it just reminded me of her. And Wakko."
"Look, Yakko, what happened all those years ago? I mean, you were so close when you had the show, and even afterwards for a little while. You remember we all used to go out on triple dates together? They were a scream. And then gradually we just didn't see them anymore, until one day you snapped at me for suggesting we all go out for dinner and a movie…"
"I know, all right?" Yakko said in a sharp tone. He immediately shook his head. "Sorry. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to speak to you like that."
"Look, I know you won't talk about something until you're ready. But how can I help if I don't even know what you're upset about? It's been years now, and I still don't know what happened. They were my friends too, you know."
"You're right, you're right…" Yakko fished a pack of cigarettes out of the back of the kitchen drawer and lit one up. Babs scoffed.
"You said you gave those up!" He shrugged at her helplessly. She sighed and grabbed one of her own. "Fine. If you have one, that means you can't be mad when I have one too. But we'll only have one, right?"
"Scout's honor," Yakko said with a grin.
"Now, how about you tell me what happened?"
"You make it sound like we had a big blow up between all of us. It didn't happen that way. You'd have known it if it did. It was gradual." He sighed. "After the show was cancelled, we all just started going our separate ways. We tried not to, Babs, honest we did. But I got a job at the law firm, I met you…I guess I just got preoccupied with my own life. It wasn't on purpose, but I just started ignoring Dot and Wakko. It was my ego more than anything. I felt like I had more important things to do, and I didn't want to be seen as one of those toons who couldn't move on with their lives after a show was cancelled."
"But your brother and sister weren't that way either."
"I know. Look, I'm not saying what I did was ok, all right? I mean, I'm the older brother, I'm supposed to protect them, and instead I just sort of…starting forgetting about them," he said softly, not looking her in the eye. "Babs, I swear it wasn't out of spite, or me thinking I was better than them. It wasn't that at all. But as time went on and I became less and less connected to them, things like arguments, misunderstandings and disagreements became more common. I said a lot of things that I didn't mean, because I felt like they were intruding on my life." He smiled disdainfully to himself. "I don't know what I was thinking. They always were a huge part of my life. It was like I was blaming them for being what they always had been. I was blaming them for being the people I loved most." He smashed his cigarette into the ashtray. "It made perfect sense to me back then, but now it doesn't." He looked up at her sharply. "But don't think it was all me, either! It wasn't my fault Wakko turned out the way he did! Do you know how many times I was called down to gambling joints, or night clubs, or bars, at three o'clock in the morning because my little brother had picked a fight, or he was dead drunk, or something? Tell me of one person who wouldn't get sick of that after a while!"
"So what happened?"
"Like I said, I got tired of it. Eventually I just didn't come when he needed help anymore. He was a mess, and I wanted no part of it. I gave him plenty of opportunities to shape up. Plus, I had a new legal career to think about, and you and I were just getting started. The last thing I wanted to do was scare you off because I had a brother who seemed more trouble than he was worth."
"Babe, you know I wouldn't have – "
"Yeah, now I know it wouldn't have mattered to you. But we were just getting to know each other, and I wanted to impress you. You were the craziest, most hilarious girl I'd ever met! There was no way I was going to do anything to screw up our relationship." He crossed his arms. "Of course, if you'd known I was the type of guy who would ignore his own brother when he needed help, you might not have stayed with me."
She didn't quite know how to answer that, so instead Babs said, "And what about Dot?"
Yakko reached for another cigarette, only to have his hand swatted away by Babs. "Lots of reasons. Mostly because I ignored Wakko. She did too, but at least she felt bad about it. She figured since I was the oldest I should 'do something about it.' I couldn't control him. Whoever could? He's a Warner! Anyone who says otherwise doesn't know jack about us." Yakko looked to the floor. "The worst part about it was that no one seemed to care, or even see what was happening. Other people thought it was entertaining when Wakko would cause havoc at a bar or a nightclub. Real funny, they thought. And besides that, he was just a toon. No human really cares about a toon, because they think we're just here to entertain them. You and I see it every day at work. Negligence, abuse, violence, real funny, yeah? It's a toon, who cares, right?"
"Come on Yakko, we do the best we can."
Yakko sighed. "Anyway, Dot was going her own way just like the rest of us. I hate to admit this, but I began to resent her for it. She was always my little sis, and now suddenly she wanted her own life apart from me and Wakko. I wasn't as important to her as I used to be. Maybe I held that against her, I don't know. But soon I lost contact with both of them. So many times over the years I've played back little things in my head that happened during those times. I keep wondering if I had said this or that, would it really be any different? But I wouldn't even know how to go about finding them again."
"Well, do you want to find them again?"
"I feel responsible for them. I'm their big brother. But they wouldn't want to see me again…I abandoned them…"
"Look, they're your siblings. They'll understand. Plus, I'm sure they'd rather have a brother who swallowed his pride back in their life than an egotistical brother who'll have nothing to do with them."
The idea suddenly seemed so repulsive to Yakko that he stood up quickly and shoved another cigarette in his mouth, before Babs could stop him. "No, let's just forget the whole thing. I don't want to talk about it anymore."
"But – "
"That Chinese food sounds good. Let's get some."
"Babe – "
"I'm finished talking about this now, all right?" Yakko said in a quick tone. "I told you what you wanted to know. Now let's just drop it."
They didn't speak another word to each other the rest of the night.