Chapter 37 - Mulligans

Grounded - for the next fifty years…no… a hundred years!

Seems like that would be illegal.

If it is, it shouldn't be.

That might be a little extreme.

Give her a spanking worse than anything she ever dreamed of -

I need to talk to her. She's confused and scared -

She lied to me! She knows better! Wakko wouldn't sit for a week if he pulled some lamebrain stunt like this!

Wakko, amazingly, didn't do it though; Dot did.

How could she have been so stupid? She knows she's never to call any of those numbers! How many times have I stressed to her and Wakko to never talk to strangers?

But she talks to fans; they're strangers -

That's different! In supervised situations with an adult there! Not some random weirdo that somehow, despite all the precautions in place, still managed to slip through and reach her.

What if we hadn't been there or not paying enough attention? That creep could have just oozed off with her to do -

Don't think about it. Just don't think about that.

She said she was lonely; you were ignoring her lately -

Still no excuse. Even Wakko - Wakko! The one who seems to go around almost looking for rules to break - hasn't broken that one!

That you know of.

I'll talk to him again too…just to be on the safe side.

Good idea. It's pretty obvious the first few talks didn't sink in with Dot.

OK, got to think. Can't treat her different than I would Wakko if he had done this; that's not fair. She broke the rules; she's got to be punished.

Yeah, how you gonna mange that Einstein?

I'll manage…though I wonder how well she's gonna be able to do extra chores on crutches lugging around a cast?

Well, we're gonna find out.

But…she's…I can't…

Yakko groaned to himself as all those ridiculous thoughts and potential punishments and ideas crashed around in his head, feeling himself get more upset and angry as the moments passed. He was actually arguing with himself.

But, getting upset or more angry than he was already wasn't going to help the situation any. He needed to think clearly. So, he had to calm down.

He put his fist to his mouth briefly, wincing as his sore knuckles came into contact with his face as he glared out the window of the den. He had been in there almost thirty minutes now, trying to calm down enough that he could talk to her and not sound deranged.

She was terrified, he knew that. He had barely said a word to her after leaving the mall. He had managed to find out that the perv hadn't touched her, sending him into a relieved slump in Bugs' front seat.

Then he had finally discovered the mystery of how she had managed to meet Ocho, angering him.

She knew better; he had had this conversation with her several times, her and Wakko. The studio routinely checked their mail, and while thorough, they did occasionally miss things. Yakko always took their mail and checked it as well before giving anything to Wakko or Dot. He didn't distrust the people checking mail, but things could be missed. Or something they thought was appropriate he didn't agree with, but the same could be said about a lot of the children's mail. Ultimately, it was up to the parent or guardian to judge what they thought was appropriate for their children to view.

But, in the rare unlikely instance that something was still missed entirely, Yakko had wanted to stress just how important it was to both his siblings that they never call or give out personal information in the letters, be it theirs or one of their friends. It was a talk that all parents of young stars had with their children.

And in this instance this Ocho character's number had been missed; hell, a whole unopened number with a drawing on it apparently. This was why he had had the conversations he had with his siblings, for this one-in-a-million chance.

And now…what was he supposed to do? Dot had missed a bullet, but it was a bullet she wasn't even aware had been fired in her direction. While he was going to yell at her - probably not as much as he should - and punish her - also not as much as he should - he didn't want to frighten her needlessly. She was young, too young to have those nightmares floating around in her head, but he wanted her to be aware of what types of people were out there. But if he approached it wrong, she would be too scared to leave the tower, let alone do her job or meet fans or do anything she enjoyed doing.

But, Bugs was right. First he had to calm down or all he was going to do was yell. Yakko knew he had a tendency to get very angry when he reached his breaking point, but he also knew he tended to cool down fairly quickly.

If given the chance to cool down. Hence his own banishment to the den by Bugs, to think and calm down and if nothing else try to get the swelling in his knuckles to go down some. His hurt hand wasn't helping his mood any.

Sighing, he reached for his ice pack on the table, resting it on his knuckles before rotating his shoulders. He rarely threw punches; he was barely aware how to physically fight. In hindsight he really should have just flattened him with his mallet.

But no, he had to go all Ali on his ass; he hoped to God that he hurt Ocho's face half as much as he hurt his hand.

Bugs had had a field day with that. He hadn't yelled too much at Yakko for his pugilist impression thankfully. Yakko looked down at his swollen knuckles and sighed; he definitely wasn't going to be looking at boxing as a viable career option. Bugs had suggested that if he intended to do that again he go get some advice from Foghorn because he was surprised that Yakko hadn't broken his hand.

Poor Bugs; Yakko had to pity the rabbit and wondered idly if he was ever going to get tired of the antics of the Warners. Bugs had been a mixture of amused and annoyed, with a dash of worry about any new potential stories that could come from this. Plus he had the added concerns of the danger Dot had unknowingly put herself in.

The rabbit was angry at Dot certainly, but he had at least managed to stay his cool level-headed self, or enough so that he was able to stop Yakko from going back in the mall to find Ocho for a second round. Yakko had to say he wasn't in the mood to listen to the rabbit at the mall, and he knew he wouldn't have been very receptive to anything Bugs would have to say in the car.

He was even willing to admit that he probably wouldn't have been receptive to anything Dot had to say either. He had almost bit his tongue off twice just in the parking lot, but even in his anger conceded that Bugs had a point. Screaming and hollering might vent some of his anger and worry over the 'what-if' scenarios, but it wasn't going to get to the root of the problem.

So, other than a few terse words to Dot to assure himself that the creep hadn't actually gotten to the point of doing more than meeting her and confusing her with some phrases that Yakko was not looking forward to explaining, he hadn't said anything. Bugs had gotten out of her how she met her teenage wanna-be Lothario, at least saving Yakko the effort of asking himself.

Yakko had contented himself with fuming in the front seat and constantly turning around to assure himself that she was safe in the back seat. With them…He could only imagine what Ocho wanted to do with her in a backseat.

Luckily, when they reached the house Yakko had calmed down just enough to choke out one order. He had sent Dot to the bedroom she was staying in in a civilized manner.

Barely. The order had been along the lines of 'get up to your room and if you dare even think of leaving before I tell you to…'

The order, growled as it was, had been enough to get his point across. Dot had flown up the stairs pretty swiftly considering she had a broken leg, blinking back tears. And she hadn't made a peep since then, which showed she had some brains when she chose to use them.

And now, she waited. Waited to hear what punishment was going to be handed out and no doubt waiting for some explanation as to why he was so angry.

With a frustrated sigh, he flopped down on the couch, running his unhurt hand through his hair. Once again, he was going to have to be the bad guy. He was angry at her, furious even. She had broken one of the major rules; not only his own, but the studio's as well. Plus she had lied to him.

But most of his anger was directed elsewhere.

He was angry at the situation, only partially of her making. She only saw a friend getting punched in the face by her older brother. She had no idea what Ocho had wanted to do with her, and Yakko wasn't looking forward to explaining that; he wasn't sure he was going to, not right now even though he knew she was going to be full of accusations and questions. He knew he wasn't going to want to eat ice cream or frozen custard anytime soon. He had given an involuntary shudder when Dot had managed to squeak that out to Bugs in the car. That jackass had even managed to ruin breakfast for him.

He was angry that the scripts frequently showed Dot in a more mature light than she was. The jokes they made on the show, while never requiring censorship, bordered on the line. He briefly remembered the 'fingerprint' joke from their first season and sighed. The joke had gone over her head, and still did now. Wakko was at the age where he was starting to understand some of the innuendo, but a lot still soared over his head. To this day he still wondered how that managed to make it through the censors.

He would speak to Bugs later; perhaps the rabbit would have an idea of what - if anything - could be done about that. If anyone would know, he would. Maybe a few scripts showing Dot in a different light, focusing more on her cute, innocent, eight-year-old self, would stop the rampaging fan boys. Ocho wasn't the only one out there like that.

He was angry that there were people out there like Ocho to begin with, people that looked at Dot as something besides the little girl she really was. Ocho was cut from the same cloth as the weirdos that lusted after Babs and Fifi. Any of those people gave Yakko the creeps. As it was, the encounter with Ocho made him want to go take a long hot shower.

Yakko closed his eyes and leaned back on the couch, struggling to control himself. Half of him wanted to run upstairs and assure himself, again, that she was safe and sound. The other half of him wanted to go up there and shake her senseless.

He had talked to Kit about this type of situation, though he had been offering the cub some comfort at the time. Kit had had his first horrifying adult experience with what the toons jokingly referred to as 'furries'.

The term 'furry' had been around ToonTown for ages and never failed to bring knowing smiles and eyerolls from adults and looks of confusion from the younger children. Children rarely saw beyond the hilarity of the silly costumes, and most adults were smart enough to keep the younger children away from those types.

In the human species, there was a special breed of people that liked animals a lot. A whole lot. Enough so that they would dress like them, pretend to be the animal of choice, make up names for themselves and do all manner of acts dressed up. Some even went so far to dress up like their favorite cartoon star, provided it was of an animal breed.

Most toons thought it was ludicrous but shrugged it off, simply seeing it as yet another odd human quirk and tried not to paint all humans with the same brush. As a whole, most humans didn't have this particular quirk, and ninety-percent of the ones who did were having harmless, if a bit weird, fun. Yakko had always thought them hysterical when he chanced to spy one; they looked odd in costume and it wasn't Halloween or for a job or anything. They wanted to dress like that.

What made it even funnier was that some of the humans had heard the term 'furry' from the toons. Now these humans in this special class had taken to referring to themselves as 'furries'. The 'furries' didn't seem to realize that it was a derogatory term; they actually seemed proud to be referred to as such and would preen as they awkwardly swung fake tails or patted down false ears and took pride in their 'fursonas'.

The cub had seen a human dressed as a skunk walking down West Alameda Avenue months ago and had promptly had a hysterical laughing fit. He had said it was great, now that he was finally old and knowing enough to understand all the nuances of the culture, thanks to a long but awkward conversation with Ms. Cunningham. A conversation that he had happily and promptly shared every detail of with Yakko, amusing him. Now that he finally understood the whole mystery surrounding 'the furries', he found them more hilarious than normal.

He was pleased too. At some point his curiosity about the entire culture would have made him go ask Bugs, and he could only imagine what that conversation would have been like. Awkward wouldn't begin to cover it.

Apparently, the furries enjoyed getting together with like-minded individuals and had huge parties and celebrations, some even so large they had to rent convention centers out.

While Kit had certainly thought the idea and concept was as hysterical as anyone else, his laugher had died the moment he saw a female dressed as a golden bear cub, complete with panties sticking out from underneath her shorts and fake bear muzzle. What had distressed him most was only seeing her from the rear at first. He had remarked to his mother that there was a few furries running around, then pointed to one girl and stated that at least that one had a nice ass, earning himself a pop on the head.

Ms. Cunningham had shaken her head at the time, wondering what went through some people's minds. Kit had said he was about to make a comment, but froze when the girl turned around and he, along with his mother, had both gotten a good long look at the girl and her outfit.

When they had recovered from their shock enough to realize it was supposed to be Molly, Kit claimed that he had dry heaved onto the floor board of the car. He also said the dry heaves almost became sobs when he had seen a human decked out as a cat come and kiss the girl passionately while grabbing at different parts of her body.

His mother had almost wrecked into a light pole and he was actually responsible for probably saving that girl's life. Ms. Cunningham, upon regaining her composure, had been revving the engine and making a beeline towards the girl in an attempt to run her over.

The entire idea that someone would look at Molly as anything other than a nine-year-old sent Kit into a dark rage. Despite his complaints about how much of a pest she was, Kit was as fiercely protective of her as Yakko was of Dot. Kit would ram his bike down someone's throat if they looked at Molly the way Ocho had been looking at Dot.

Not that Yakko had done much different.

Ocho was worse than a furry; he was a child molester in the making. The furries were boinking each other's brains out while dressed like animals, but at least they were consenting adults. He hoped; Yakko decided to just push the whole furry culture out of his mind. The whole toon culture was more than enough for him to handle at the moment without delving into the psyche of lunatics.

Kit had told him he thought he spotted a few adults running around dressed like the three Warners, but he wasn't sure since he was busy restraining his mother. After thinking about it again, Yakko definitely decided to push it out of his mind forever. Once he got his license, he did not want his first act to be calling Ms. Cunningham and arranging a time to go run over the next furry convention that came to town.

While Kit would be properly horrified at what happened - and what could have happened - he would get a chuckle out of the idea of Yakko punching someone. He had wanted to do it himself but hadn't had the opportunity since he had been busy restraining his mother.

Yakko had to admit that he hadn't consciously done it; it was an immediate reflex to the request for a good-bye kiss that had sent him over the edge. Ocho was looking at Dot like Yakko would look at…well, a girl. A girl well within his age group.

He was angry at Dot, not only at what she did, but just the fact she was growing up. Not even that; the fact that she was trying to grow up so fast. She was eight; she should be playing at tea parties and dolls and whatever else little girls did.

Yakko sighed; no more dates - play or otherwise - for her. She could date when she was thirty, well past the age that Ocho and people of his ilk would be interested in her. He could keep her locked in the tower like Rupunzel until then. Thank goodness she like her hair cut short.

He sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose, not wanting to admit it but unable to stop himself.

One of the people he was angry at was himself. Despite his and the studio's best efforts, something had gotten through that shouldn't have. He should have skimmed the letters better - hell, she claimed it had been an unopened letter. He definitely should have noticed that. No, she shouldn't have disobeyed him, but if he had noticed it this wouldn't have become an issue because it would never have ended up in her hands.

He should have been paying closer attention, not only to the letters, but at the mall. But, once again he had gotten distracted by a pretty face and had been busy flirting with the girl at the counter and ignoring what was happening around him. Bugs was there as backup thankfully and caught everything, but still, he would have to make a concentrated effort to keep his head in the game, at least around Dot.

He had managed to ask the girl for a date, but unfortunately, with Dot's current misbehavior, he was going to postpone that, at least for the time being. Since they were staying at Bugs' house, if he had any intention of punishing Dot, he was going to have to hang out as well. Bugs, for all his big words and experience with children, turned into a real sucker when it involved Dot.

That was the bad thing about grounding his siblings; he had to stick around to make sure it was enforced, thereby punishing himself as well. He was startled when he realized and made a mental note to rectify that situation as soon as possible.

He would speak to Bugs; if he decided to go out with her he would have to stress to the rabbit that Dot wasn't to use her powers of cuteness and charm on him. She was grounded, she was to stay grounded whether he was in the house or not. Especially this time; she was not worming her way out of this.

Yakko believed that Bugs would follow through. Not only was the rabbit as angry and concerned as he was, he had never really tried to undermine Yakko's authority. He helped out, he suggested - sometimes strongly - he advised or tried to guide, but in the end, whether he agreed with a decision Yakko made or not, Bugs had almost always stood behind him.

He wasn't sure exactly what his decision was going to be, but he supposed he had let her sit up there anxiously awaiting him long enough. Time to get up there and just figure out what happened and go from there. He supposed some sort of punishment was in order; a month's grounding ought to do it.

He'd go in a few minutes; he should probably talk to Bugs first, if nothing else to let the rabbit know he wasn't about to bite anyone's head off. Bugs had practically booted his ass into the den and locked him in when they got to the house, which, in hindsight, had probably been a wise rabbit had groused that now he had to do 'damage control' on top of scheduling some appearance or another for his upcoming move in-between bitching at Yakko for punching Romeo at the mall.

Yakko sighed, standing and flexing the fingers of his sore hand before giving a small, self-satisfied smirk.

He hoped there were no repercussions from his decking Ocho, though he doubted he would be that fortunate. Bugs had been ranting about a photographer in the mall he knew and he hoped he could convince him to put a lid on this before anything came of it. Bugs said a few phone calls or favors turned in now could avoid a problem down the road; that had actually been one of the things Bugs had lectured him on.

Thinking ahead; Yakko had to say that was one thing he rarely got told. He let Bugs lecture for a few minutes though since it seemed to make him so happy. Besides, he managed to pick up a few good things and filed them away for later lectures of his own.

But as far as any negative press, Yakko had to be honest with himself and admit while it was slightly worrying, he honestly didn't care. If there was some sort of repercussion, he would deal with it. They had managed to finally kill all the previous bad press; none of their names were in the paper at the moment.

Right now in the papers the current hot scandal involved Trix Rabbit and Tony the Tiger. In an interview inside the mental ward of Panic Pen, he admitted to hiring Tony the Tiger as a personal heavy. He had been able to gorge himself on as much Trix as his heart desired despite the clause in his contract saying 'no Trix' since he had Tony going around and threatening everyone for it. Tony got his Frosted Flakes and Trix Rabbit said it stood to reason that he would be able to do the same for the cereal he craved so much. After all, what sane being – toon or otherwise – was going to say no to a growling, seven-foot-tall talking tiger?

No one had known at the time that Tony was going around hijacking trucks delivering the cereal. When the two were finally caught, authorities found four missing trailers filled to the rafters with boxes of Trix and had no less than nineteen witnesses to the crime.

So now Tony was in Panic Pen awaiting trial and Trix Rabbit was undergoing a series of psychiatric evaluations. Yakko thought that all of it could have been avoided if they had just let him have the damn cereal from the beginning. But no, they had to just constantly tease him about the breakfast food and look what happened; bad press for both Kellogg's and General Mills.

It would take a hell of a scoop to knock this story out of the headlines, but with his little punch he risked putting them all on the front pages again. But it had been worth it. Yakko was pretty sure Bugs was right; no matter what, Ocho had been trying to set up an all-nighter with his kid sister. Even if Yakko looked bad for slugging the guy, Ocho was going to look worse.

His hand hurt like hell but giving the guy a one-way ticket to the floor had been a thoroughly fulfilling experience. If it wasn't hurting so bad he would pat himself on the back for a job well done.

He was both horrified and pleased with himself. Having never thrown a punch before, he felt he had done a fine job. His fist had connected with Ocho's muzzle with a hearty crunch and he had felt the flesh and cartilage collapsing in on itself. Either the boy wasn't gifted with Schlesinger Syndrome or he was so stunned with Yakko's throw that he hadn't Chucked himself. When Bugs was marching him out of The Harnell's food court, Yakko could see Ocho's face beginning to swell.

If nothing else, Yakko thought he could be proud of one thing; Ocho probably wouldn't be trying to kiss anyone else's kid sister for awhile.

XXXXXXXXXX

Damn it Dot, why did you have to do this? Because of you, you're making me yell at you and get mad at you, something I hate doing…

Sometimes it's hard being the oldest.

Inhaling Yakko knocked on Dot's door, just wanting to get this unpleasantness over with; he hated yelling at either of his siblings. He hated it, but normally they asked for it…well, Wakko anyway. Yelling at Dot for any reason was a much rarer event.

He waited a few seconds, not hearing any response. Grunting he knocked again, a bit harder this time. After a few tense seconds he heard a long sniff and a weakly muttered 'come in'.

Grasping the door knob, Yakko entered Dot's room, intent on not weakening. While he secretly rolled his eyes at Bugs' propensity to fall sucker to Dot's cuteness and wiles, Yakko knew he also had a tendency to do the same - with both siblings. In fact the damn rabbit had pointed that out to him in his office a few minutes ago, earning himself a scowl.

Fine, he was a sucker; he could admit it. Just not this time; if he was a sucker now, she might try something like this again. Next time they might not be so lucky.

But…

Yakko sighed. If Bugs could see what he was seeing now, Yakko was pretty sure Bugs would crumple too.

Dot was a pathetic sight, what he could see of her hidden in the massive bed piled with stuffed animals that had been sent to her since she hurt her leg. She was sitting there, clutching the long suffering Cupcake, the usual victim of her cuddling when she was scared or upset. He was surprised that the bear was still in one piece; even from the doorway he could see the bear's eyes almost popping off its head as she squeezed tighter.

While most of Dot's face was hidden in Cupcake's fuzzy head, she moved just enough to peek over the top of it to glance up at Yakko. He groaned at her sorrowful look; she probably didn't even realize she was making it and he fought the urge to just run over and cuddle her.

But, he couldn't, not yet anyway. These situations…these were the times he hated being in the position he was in. The oldest brother, the one who had to be the bad guy every time she or Wakko did something wrong. He was the one that had to step up and punish them, or tell them no when they wanted to do something desperately, even if it was something stupid or dangerous.

He snorted at himself; he rarely whined about it. He hadn't when he was younger, he refused to start now. It was just something that had to be done, and something he had always done. No one else was going to do it, and he had willingly accepted the role, almost before Dot was even born.

This would be a lot easier if it was Wakko, he decided. He knew what to do with him; as soon as he opened the door Wakko would be begging for forgiveness and saying 'before you yell let me explain' or blurting out some harebrained excuse for whatever he did.

Dot was different. Right now she was staring at him with watery red-rimmed eyes and half hidden behind a teddy bear. Her ears - still down he noted with a shudder - were brushing the tops of her shoulders and her broken leg encased in the brightly decorated cast was straight out in front of her. It was probably the most woebegone she had ever looked and he felt a little bit of his anger and worry melt away.

Besides, she wasn't even trying to give him some lamebrain excuse or saying 'it seemed like a good idea at the time'. She looked upset and worried but she wasn't begging for leniency, which was unlike her. Normally she would be batting her eyes and trying to cute it up for him, attempting to look as adorable as possible.

He sighed before stepping into the room and closing the door behind him. He had steeled himself for that, for her to try to talk him out of punishing her or yelling at her. She just looked worried and slightly miffed at him.

But, this was one of the first times she had been in any serious trouble. He supposed she had a right to be worried. Hell, Wakko was into something at least once a week and was used to being in trouble, and even he would be worried. Though chances were that the only reason Wakko would be miffed was because he got caught and was in trouble.

Yakko crossed his arms and glared down at her, attempting to buy himself some time and hoping she would speak first. She had thrown a wrench in his plans by not talking, and now he had to formulate some way to speak to her.

He was a bit miffed himself, for a new reason. For the last two hours Yakko had been mentally formulating a response to almost anything he imagined Dot would say, even discussing with Bugs the best way to go about things.

He had a response to any reason or excuse she could come up with. He wasn't going to let her out-cute her way around this. Even if she didn't understand what Ocho wanted out of her, she knew what rules she had been breaking.

He still had to struggle to restrain himself from running to her and holding her, to reassure himself again that she was safe in front of him.

If nothing else, Ocho shouldn't be able to get ahold of her again. Bugs had immediately called the phone company and had the number changed, while having Ocho's number blocked from the other lines in the house.

Bugs was happy she had only been calling from the phone line in the den; that was his 'public' line. He had two lines that Yakko knew of; the one in the den was the number he gave out to people he didn't want to talk to, and the number that fans occasionally got a hold of.

He narrowed his eyes at her, trying to will her to talk so he wouldn't have to speak first. No matter what, he could do this. He was the big brother, he could handle whatever she said -

"You coulda let me say goodbye to him."

Well, except that.

Yakko felt his glare melt away, the look being replaced by one of astonishment. She was serious wasn't she?

He mentally chided himself; Dot didn't understand what the issue was. He had to remember that. She saw him being a jerk, nothing more.

" - and you punched him!" Dot fumed. Raising her head more to give Yakko the full effect of her glare she added, "He was my friend - "

"I know he was your friend," Yakko said harshly, putting a nasty intonation on the word 'friend'. "That's what scares me!"

"Why?" Dot snapped. "Don't you want me to have friends? It's not like you - "

"Of course I want you to have friends!" Yakko snapped, cutting her off. He pinched the bridge of his nose and added, "Just not that kind."

"Well you don't act like it!" Dot huffed while Yakko mentally sighed in relief that she wasn't asking just what kind of friend he thought Ocho was going to be. "And you would have liked him if you got to know him - "

"Oh I doubt that - "

" - because you two were close to the same age - "

"Which is the problem!" Yakko interrupted her loudly, cutting off her tirade. "Do you see me trying to interact with your friends like that huh?" Taking a deep breath and trying to keep calm he added, "This guy didn't want to be your friend Dorothy, trust me. Don't you think it was a little funny that he lied about his age and looks?"

Yakko watched as Dot's face went from angry and sulky to a more contemplative expression.

"He said he didn't have any current pictures," Dot finally muttered with a sulky look. At Yakko's narrowed eyes she added hastily, "Well, it could be true couldn't it? He's not like us, getting photographed all the time!"

"Right, I know it's real hard to get a photograph taken for someone who's not in show business," Yakko said snidely. "And for someone so shy, you'd think he would have had a hard time talking, especially to me and Bugs…think it was a little odd that he seemed pretty mouthy?"

"Well…"

Dot trailed off and sniffed, looking like she was trying to come up with an answer to that question. Yakko waited, crossing his arm and tapping his foot while he watched Dot flick the tip of her tail and avoid his eyes.

Finally she gave a sigh and a shrug and Yakko decided to continue.

"You're not talking to him again, end of story. Now - "

"That's not fair," Dot muttered. "He's my friend - "

"Was your friend. Remember that. Bugs has already had that line cut off and since you won't be using a phone for a long while anyway, I think that friendship is over - "

"What?" Dot screeched. "You're grounding me?"

"Well, you're using your head about something; two weeks," Yakko firmly declared, narrowing his eyes at her incredulous look.

A month was slightly extreme and would probably kill her; having calmed down a bit and having a chat with Bugs had made him see that. Her summer was already half ruined with a broken leg and he didn't want her entire break from the show to be nothing but punishment. Besides, in a few weeks she was supposed to be getting her fittings done for her dress for Brain's wedding and doing some sort of silly rehearsal…

Yakko thought about that; sitting around getting fitted for a dress and rehearsing throwing flowers. Was that considered fun or a punishment?

He shrugged; to an eight-year-old, two weeks was an eternity anyway. He thought he was being generous bringing it down to that; maybe he should inform her that originally it was a month. It might get her to calm down and see reason.

"No phone, no going out, no nothing; the same thing Wakko would get so don't even look at me like that - you're actually getting off lighter because of your leg. Now…"

Yakko watched in trepidation as Dot's eyes began to water up and sighed again. Figures, he had been on a roll, laying the law down and being a somewhat authority figure and she just had to start crying.

"Stop it Dorothy," he finally sighed. "I'm not any happier about this than you are. You know the rules, you chose to break them - "

"I didn't have any choice," Dot said softly. "The rules are stupid and you weren't talking to me because you said you were busy - "

"I was, helping our friends, people who care about us and helped us out," Yakko answered, still glaring down at her. "And the rules are there so when I'm not, I have some assurance that one of the weirdoes out on the street isn't going to run off with either of you."

"He didn't want to run off with me - "

"That's debatable, but not the issue right now," Yakko said sternly. "What is the issue is how you met him…you lied to me Dot!"

"I…I didn't want to…" Dot said softly, a few tears leaking from her eyes as she lowered her head. "I - "

"But you did!" Yakko fumed, his arms crossed as his voice rose. "And a couple of different times! You know how I feel about that, but it didn't stop you did - "

"It's not like…I didn't want to - "

"And don't lie to me now!" Yakko yelled. "You had several opportunities to tell me what - "

"Well you might have said no so - "

"Oh you can bet on that!" He gritted his teeth in frustration when she huffed and buried her face in the bear's head. "Look at me when I'm talking to you!"

Yakko rubbed the bridge of his nose for a moment when she didn't acknowledge him and told himself to have a little patience with her. While his anger and annoyance was starting to ebb a bit, some of his anger was left over from his worrying about what could have happened.

He sighed deeply, restraining the urge to just grab her and raise her head up to look at him. He didn't think it was an unreasonable request; no matter what he was telling them, he always looked them in the eye. He expected the same courtesy.

Seeing that she probably wasn't going to look at him, Yakko slowly counted to ten before continuing.

"Plus you just knowingly broke my and the studios' rules - do not reply with personal information to any fan mail…do you think the studio or me just sit around making up rules for the hell of it?"

"I don't know - "

"I've told you before Dot - some of these people can be dangerous! If this guy - Ocho or whatever his name was - grabbed you while you were at the mall trying to hide from me and Bugs…" Yakko shook off the thought of what could have happened and continued. "If he did, what would you have done huh?"

"Hit him," Dot sniffed, squeezing Cupcake a bit harder as she began to wail. "Like I did Wakko and Plucky when they - "

"Right - he was twice your size!" Yakko said loudly, cutting her off. "Hitting him with your crutch wouldn't have done a damn thing - he'd be a lot harder to hit than Wakko and Plucky! And believe me when I say those two goobs weren't trying to do to you what he wanted to!"

"Ocho is my friend and you just want to yell at me!" Dot screamed into the unfortunate plush. "If it was Wakko you wouldn't be this mad- "

And nothing annoyed him as much as being accused of favoritism. He worked hard trying to make sure that both his siblings were treated equally. Yakko knew he messed up on occasion, but he honestly tried. Hell, he was pretty sure he was harder on Wakko than he was on Dot, especially before. Some of it was due to his own age and inexperience, plus their prior situation verses their current one.

If he told Wakko to be quiet when they were younger, it usually meant that if he didn't, he could wake their parents up - or worse if they were hiding, alert TIS or other squatters to their presence. If Wakko wasn't quiet, he normally got spanked, or at least threatened with one. At the time, it was one of the few punishments Yakko had in his arsenal that worked on Wakko. It was hard to ground him when they were younger; they hadn't had anything he could really ground him from.

Now though, things were much different. If he told one of them to be quiet, it was usually because they were being pains. While annoying, it wasn't going to threaten their way of life. Plus, he had so many more options now; he could ground her from her toys, going outside, calling friends…

And he had been much younger himself, and while he tried to read some parenting books and other sources of information on child rearing, he was hardly an expert. Hell, he felt like he was floundering as it was now.

Growing frustrated, Yakko stomped across the room while mentally reminding himself that Dot had a broken leg. Right now she should be happy she did; no matter how angry he was with her, he refused to spank her with half her leg encased in a cast.

But, broken leg or not, he could still grab her, and hold her and touch her.

He watched as Dot cowered back on the bed and gently but firmly grabbed her shoulders, standing her up on the bed. He crouched down so he could get nose to nose with her.

"Don't accuse me of favoritism Dorothy," he said in a low tone. "Wakko would be in the same amount of trouble - or worse. The only reason you aren't is - "

"I'm sorry!" Dot said hastily while a few tears trickled down her face. Several more ran paths down her face fur as she mumbled, "I didn't mean it. I didn't think - "

"That's becoming a real problem with you Dorothy; you didn't think," Yakko continued in the same low even tone. "You didn't think hiding all this from me was wrong; you didn't think outright lying to me was wrong. You didn't think ignoring my and the studio's rule was wrong - "

"I'm sorry - "

"You also apparently didn't think that giving out Bugs' phone number was wrong - a number that wasn't yours to give out in the first place! We've talked about this before Dorothy; respecting other people's property - "

"Yakko I'm sorry!" Dot interrupted inbetween cries. "I never meant - "

"Here's something else to think about; what if he had managed to find out where Bugs lives? You think this guy wasn't dangerous, but what if you're wrong huh? What if he came here and robbed Bugs? Or hurt him - or one of us?"

Like you…

"That isn't fair to any of us or Bugs is it?"

Dot, crying harder now, shook her head as Yakko continued.

"You not only lied to me - you lied to Bugs! Bugs! The guy who's helped us out how much? Were you trying to make him mad? You don't want Bugs to not like you or trust you - at the very least you owe him an apology."

Yakko stopped, half to calm down a little bit, but mostly because Dot was crying so hard that he doubted she was hearing anything he was saying anyway.

"You gotta think about these things Dot," Yakko continued, struggling to keep his voice quieter. He didn't want to scare her - well, maybe a little - but he wanted to impress upon her how dangerous what she did was. "I'm so disappointed in you right now I don't even know what to say…"

Yakko sighed, hearing her cries become heart-wrenching sobs and stopped. With her caterwauling, he shouldn't bother saying much; she definitely wasn't going to hear it now. He just hoped what she had heard sunk in and she wouldn't do this again; his heart wasn't going to able to take a second round of this stress. If things kept up the way they were, Dot was going to be responsible for his first grey hair.

"I-I'm s-s-sorry," Dot howled while her tiny shoulders shook with her sobs. Between two choking wails she hoarsely screamed out, "I didn't want to make you and Bugs mad but Ocho was my friend and listened to me and said he thought I was so mature and wanted to watch me eat ice cream and take me to breakfast and see me ride with stirrups…"

Yakko shuddered at the statements, once he was able to translate what she just screamed at him. He was probably never going to eat ice cream for the rest of his life, now that it had been tainted by Ocho's perverse wishes. The whole idea of 'riding' and 'stirrups' filled him with a nauseated fury.

Her face messy from crying she gasped out, " - and I'm sorry I don't want anyone to hurt you or Wakko or Bugs but he was lonely and no one else was around and I didn't think he was bad so I didn't tell you because he said…"

Whatever she said after that was lost in a choking sob and Yakko groaned, rolling his eyes before just holding her to his chest, letting her bawl into it.

"I know honey, I know, but you need to think of these things," Yakko whispered as he rested his cheek on her head. "But think of this Dot; he didn't want you to tell me about him, or meet him, or talk to him…doesn't that sound weird? Did any of your other friends say that?"

Dot shook her head no, but didn't raise it to look at him. She just continued to cry weakly into his shirt so he continued.

"And you've never hidden something before - well, that I know of." He looked down at her and keeping his face impassive he added, "Then lying about it; I don't know if I can trust you to…"

It was a low blow, and he knew it, but it worked. She pushed back slightly to stare up at him, aghast for a moment before bursting into fresh tears, flinging her arms around his neck, wailing into his shirt.

With a deep sigh he shrugged and said, "Plus, if you don't tell me things like this, it makes it seem like you don't trust me - "

He stopped, mostly because her grip tightened so much around his neck that it was beginning to cut off air flow.

"No nono," Dot wailed hoarsely. "I do! And please please please don't say that I'll tell you everything from now on like how I got a picture of a clown and put it inside Wakko's binder to scare him and how - "

Yakko snorted; she wasn't exactly revealing a big secret. He had known it was here the moment it happened. He hadn't said anything when Wakko was moaning about it, mostly because it had been funny. Plus Wakko had asked for it.

Wakko had almost fallen out of his chair in surprise when he found the picture shoved between two pages of his homework at six-o' clock in the morning. Yakko thought he had done an admirable job of attempting to offer sympathy to his brother in-between chuckles. The only thing Yakko had been curious about was where in hell she had managed to find a picture of Pennywise.

"That's…maybe a little too much information Dot," Yakko drawled. "But…some of these other things…there's a difference between playing a joke on your brother, and what Ocho was saying and doing, right?"

"But he was nice," Dot moaned in his shirt while nodding.

"They always are. Dot, he was doing what I've warned you about before. Basically he was waving a piece of candy at you and trying to lure you to him and away from your safe spots," Yakko stressed while stroking her hair and pushing her ears back. "We've talked about this before - "

"I know," Dot mumbled. "But he was my friend - "

"Dot - just…if anyone ever tries to lure you away; from me, Bugs, Porky, whoever - don't let them. They are definitely not your friend if they are trying that." Pulling back he took her face in both his hands to look at her and added, "Look, I know you said some of this was my fault; maybe it was. I should have pushed harder to find out more about this guy. I should have double-checked the mail; that's my responsibility, but I trust you to follow the rules. I don't expect perfection, but this is a really important one, just as important as never leaving the lot - "

"I know."

If you know, then why did you do it?

Yakko was close to demanding that answer out of her but decided against it. He was calming down and she wasn't crying as much. Hopefully what he had said was sinking in and she wouldn't do this again.

"Maybe I shouldn't have tried to help out the others and not been here for you - "

"No," Dot muttered, wiping at her eyes while pouting. "I shouldn't have called. You said before not to if there was a number and I did anyway." With a deep sigh she added quietly, "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to be bad and make you mad and not trust me. I'll say sorry to Bugs too if it will make you happy."

Embracing her he said, "Apologize to him if you're sorry; it doesn't count if you don't mean it, and trust me, Bugs will know." Picking her up, he sat on the bed, leaning against the wall and settling her gently on his lap he added, "And if you want to make me happy, stop putting yourself in danger. The thought of anything happening to you or Wakko just…"

He broke off when he felt her nuzzle into his chest, and he wrapped his arms around her.

"Your apology is accepted, like always, just don't do anything like this again Dot, please," he stressed. "I love you both too much to let…if you do anything like this again I'll lock you in the tower like Rupunzel for the rest of your life," he warned. "My heart misses a few beats every time I think about what could have happened."

"What could have happened then?"

Shit.

Yakko ran a hand through his hair.

"He didn't do anything mean or bad," Dot continued while making herself somewhat more comfortable on his lap and sniffing loudly. Stretching her injured leg out to prop it up on a pillow she added, "He was nice. "

"This guy…I know you don't think he's bad or weird or anything, but Bugs and I…ehhhh…we're of a different opinion - "

"Why?" Dot sniffed before rubbing her face in his shirt and looking up at him.

Yakko stiffened at the simple question.

How deep should he get into this subject? 'Because I said so' probably wouldn't be satisfactory. He wasn't uncomfortable discussing it with her…much…but still, she was only eight.

Then again, he knew pretty much what was going on at eight, including that some people took too strong an interest in small children. He had shielded Wakko from some of that knowledge until he was eight or nine and had started asking questions. While Wakko hardly knew everything, he was knowledgeable enough to know if an adult - or near adult - was saying or doing funny things around him. He also knew that if he ever felt weird or uncomfortable around anyone, he was to go straight to Yakko or any of the other trusted adults for help.

Hopefully Wakko would never have to experience that. Yakko had thought he was protecting Dot by shielding her from any of that knowledge, and maybe he had been, but now, she needed at least some basic information. Ocho wasn't slick enough to hide from him, but he had been slick enough to sucker a naïve eight-year-old.

Yakko finally sighed; a simple conversation wouldn't hurt, about sex or about the people that might look at her as dateable material at her age. If she knew about what to be wary of, she could better protect herself. Or even better; tell him and he would protect her. Ocho got off light with a bloody muzzle; the collie owed Bugs a big 'thank you' for pulling Yakko off him.

Besides, no matter how much he wished it, she wasn't going to stay his cute little eight-year-old sister - that no one in their right mind should ever look at.

No, she was unfortunately going to grow up. She wasn't there yet, and wouldn't be for a long time, but it was his job to prepare her for it, and to hopefully know next time to be wary around the 'Ocho's' of the world that were looking at her as some sort of sex symbol.

He was definitely going to have to see about getting the writers to work on some scripts showing her more sweet childish side.

"Some guys…ehhhhh…" He floundered for a moment, debating on the best way to phrase it. Yakko finally blurted out, "Some guys…like children way more than they should in ways they shouldn't."

"He said I was mature," she said quietly. "No one ever sees me that way, just the little sister that can't do anything. I always wanted to be seen like a grown up. It was nice that someone thought I was interesting to talk to."

Yakko stayed silent after she spoke, wondering on the best way of starting the conversation. He was even giving himself a mental pep talk; he had been through a similar talk with Wakko a few years back, and he had done well. He could do it again with his baby sister, even if the situation with her had a slightly more frightening backdrop than with Wakko.

And this 'mature grown up' nonsense…where was this coming from? He huffed to himself; he didn't want a 'mature grown up' baby sister that had guys falling all over her adorable eight-year-old self. He wanted his baby sister; no, he couldn't stop her from growing up, but he could stop her from growing up too fast.

He sighed, resting his chin on her head for a moment while she quietly sniffed. As he turned his head though he spied something out of the corner of his eye trailing from Dot's pocket, long and shiny and lavender.

Yakko smiled slightly, pulling Dot closer to his chest while grabbing the end of the ribbon, freeing it from her pocket.

"You are mature, for your age. But…you're eight-years-old; that puts a real limiter on your maturity," Yakko stressed as he smoothed back her ears. Taking the ribbon and ignoring the soreness in his fingers, he deftly began to tie a bow around her ears, adding, "But you're my eight-year-old sister and I like you just the way you are, even if you have occasional bouts of immaturity."

"No one else does - "

"Wrong again sibling; the people that count - your friends - seem to think your interesting to talk to. Trust me; I'm probably going to get grief from a few of them because you're not going to be able to talk to them for a few weeks."

He bit back a snicker at her indignant huff. He wasn't mad at her too much now, not as mad as he had been anyway, but she was still grounded. He wasn't that much of a sucker. She was going to remember this, one way or another, and if the fates looked kindly on them, they would never hear from Ocho or any of his ilk again.

"So, we're gonna have a so-called mature conversation for a bit, just so I can fill in a few gaps for you. Then, how about humoring me for a few years and just concentrate on being my baby sister and not so grown up and mature, OK?" He added, finishing the bow and happy to be looking down in the childish yet adorable face of his youngest sibling. "Take my word on it; doing so will add years to my life."

At her frown he sighed again, wondering how to start off this conversation. With Wakko it had been slightly easier. He had actually just come out and asked, giving Yakko something to work with when he started the conversation. With Dot it was a cold start.

He pulled her tighter to his chest for a moment, thinking while she sniffed quietly in his lap. Moving slightly, Yakko's hand rested on Cupcake, lying forgotten on the bed beside him. Looking down at it for a moment, he then looked over.

Further down the pillow was the stuffed horse he had bought her years ago, half hidden under a plush Sonic, a green CareBear, a few stuffed rabbits, a Mickey Mouse and several other unidentifiable characters. Yakko turned from them with a sigh before giving several of them an appraising eye.

An idea had struck; he wasn't sure how clever it was, but it was an idea. He wouldn't use the Mickey or CareBear or any of the real cartoon characters; that would be almost creepy. Unfortunately for them, being toons, Dot really could see Mickey, and somehow Yakko doubted the real Mickey would appreciate a plush in his likeness being used in this conversation.

But Cupcake and the Lipizzaner weren't real, and could actually be useful. A conversation like this would be easier with props, especially for him. At least he would have something to do with his hands besides awkwardly wring them while wishing he was anywhere else.

Wondering what Goose would say if she could see how Cupcake was going to be used as a teaching aid, Yakko picked up the bear and the Lipizzaner horse and held them up with a small smirk. On a side note, he hoped the use of props wouldn't scar his baby sister for life.

Looking down at Dot who was still gazing at him with a watery pout, Yakko said, "OK Dot, let's have a conversation. You see, when a boy and girl love each other very much…"

XXXXXXXXXX

July 3, 1996

" - and I know that green's gonna clash with her face fur 'Myra - "

"What is this 'Tiny Toons' you speak of? It is not on in - "

"Quiet! If Yakko hears - "

"Yakko? Is he here? Quick, 'Myra, hand me my lip gloss!"

"Yakko is girl's oldest brother, yes?"

"Oh yes pretty fluffy-head he - "

Dot giggled at the look Anastasia shot Elmyra upon being called 'pretty fluffy-head''. Elmyra's interesting way of speaking didn't translate well with the Russian polar bear; it seemed to confuse her why someone who looked normal enough addressed her in such an odd manner.

With a small contented sigh, Dot settled back into the couch as Babs and Elmyra fiddled with her hair and applied more layers of makeup to her face. They rarely wore any themselves, but they - Babs especially - seemed to have tons and they liked nothing better than coming over and putting it on her. Wakko said they didn't know what they were doing and were just using her to practice on.

Dot wasn't sure if he was right or not. Babs claimed to know what she was doing but would never allow her to look in the mirror to see what she had done.

She was still technically grounded, but thankfully Yakko was a forgiving sort. She wasn't allowed to leave and visit anyone, she couldn't watch TV or play video games. She wasn't a huge fan of video games, but she found she wanted to play them more when she wasn't allowed to.

She couldn't even listen to the radio. Plus, he wouldn't give her any allowance, but she couldn't get anywhere to buy anything anyway.

She had to write tons of lines and polish a bunch of stuff while sitting down, but that was it. Her broken leg was working in her favor at the moment; in the heavy awkward cast, she couldn't get down on the floor and scrub or anything.

He wasn't being too mean though; if people came to visit her he let them stay. Dot had a feeling that part of that was because Yakko still felt bad that her leg was broke even though that wasn't his fault. When Wakko was grounded - especially for a long time - he wasn't allowed any visitors.

It hadn't been pleasant; Yakko was still kind of mad at her. For a few days he had given her hard looks and she had been so mortified and scared that she wished Porky had already taught her how to paint tunnels. She would have crawled into one and never come out.

Bugs had seemed sort of mad too, but had accepted her apology. Porky had been mad at her for a while as well; that hadn't been any fun.

But, a week later, no one was mad it seemed. If they were, they weren't outwardly showing it. She pouted to herself though; she was hoping when Yakko wasn't around she could get Bugs to at least let her watch TV, but the rabbit had been surprisingly firm about refusing. Even Porky wasn't proving to be quite as malleable as normal, though that wasn't saying much. Even when he was mad at her, Porky proved to be as pliable as taffy.

It hadn't been all miserable though.

Wakko, whom she thought would laugh at her misfortune and tease her simply because for once he wasn't in any sort of trouble, had been surprisingly understanding and sympathetic to her plight.

She had been confined to her room at first, only to come out to eat and use the bathroom. Wakko had waited until Yakko was distracted with Bugs and snuck to her room, knocking softly on her door.

Upon being given permission to enter, Wakko had crept in like he was going to rob her, even going so far as to stick to the shadows in the corners. Looking over his shoulder like he expected Yakko to spring out of her closet, he had almost run to the bed and actually hugged her for a moment, stunning her. Wakko didn't hug her often, but it was always a pleasant surprise when he did.

He had talked to her for a few minutes, ears extended as he tried to listen for Yakko. According to him, Yakko had talked to him when he got home again about the dangers of giving out personal information when responding to fans.

Wakko, surprisingly, took that one to heart. He said in one way he was mad at Dot - even he respected that rule. It might be the only rule he respected, but he had never actually broken it.

He said on the other hand, he had to give her credit. He hadn't gotten Yakko that mad in awhile. He said she had guts to do that, even if it was stupid.

She managed to choke back several comments, most of them along the lines of 'you're one to talk'. This was the guy that helped steal a golf cart, that snuck off the lot and rampaged around Disney studios, that had locked Ralph in a porta-potty several times…not that anyone knew that. Dot was pretty sure everyone knew Wakko and the other goofballs did it, but there was actually no proof.

But, Wakko always trusted her, so she knew. She had tricked him into telling her.

She appreciated the visit; Wakko had been out with Foghorn doing some stupid car thing and hadn't returned by dinner. Dot had wondered how long it was going to be before she actually got to see him since she was pretty much locked away.

Wakko had surprised her though, not so much with going behind Yakko's back to sneak in and try to cheer her up. With Wakko that was expected; if he wasn't supposed to do it, it was almost a guarantee that he would..

What she hadn't been expecting though was for him to hand over what he termed 'The Precious'.

She had stared at him when he reached into his Hammerspace and, cutting his eyes worriedly to the sides for a moment, pulled out an old but familiar handheld version of 'Donkey Kong'. She had forgotten about that thing but apparently Wakko had held it near and dear to his heart.

He said he treasured it. Before her astonished eyes he cradled it close to his face and whispered 'Precious' to it and got a glazed, possessive look in his eyes.

She went to ask what he was doing, but before she could he snapped out of it, saying the name came from something Max had said about a book he read and it fit. Wakko claimed it was his 'emergency entertainment', something he could pull out and play whenever he got in trouble and needed his video-game fix. He said she couldn't have it; he was in trouble way more than her and generally had a greater need for it. The 'Precious' was his and he needed it like air and insulin for his daily survival.

But, he didn't mind sharing, especially at a time like this. It wasn't the greatest game in the world he said but it killed time. Wakko said he still got a certain thrill whenever he pulled it out, just because not only was he pulling one over on Yakko every time he turned it on, but Dot always was too.

In these situations, they had a common enemy: Yakko.

Dot had almost burst into tears at the strange yet oddly sweet gesture. Wakko, willingly parting temporarily with his 'Precious' for her. She would definitely remember this the next time Wakko got in trouble for one of his brainless stunts. He had even brought fresh batteries for it.

So, when she was locked away in her room not doing some mindless task, in between schoolwork or extra assignments, she busied herself by trying to beat Wakko's high score on the game. Plus Wakko was occasionally sneaking in her room to visit her without Yakko breathing down his neck in case he was trying to discuss anything 'fun'. Discussing 'fun' things with Wakko usually meant something he or one of the others did that they weren't supposed to do.

Dot snorted; if she was an evil sister, she could have blackmail material on Wakko for the rest of his life after she heard some of his stories. And Wakko always did such fun things! But he said she couldn't do any of the stuff he did because she was a girl and little. It was usually at that time Dot said she could hear Yakko coming which would cause a panicked look to cross Wakko's face and he would bolt out of her room like a frightened kitten.

Stupid boys.

But besides Wakko, she was getting lots of visitors; people that didn't care if she was a girl.

Molly and Webby were over almost every day, to giggle and gossip and play. Sometimes they would even do their homework together. April had come over several times to visit and bring her small gifts to cheer her up. Today she had even brought her friend over, a Russian model that was going to engage in a few photoshoots with April. 'The Diamond Tiara' was thinking of expanding into a new market overseas.

Babs and Elmyra had come over several times, saying they were visiting. Dot wasn't sure they were trying to visit her, not all the time anyway.

Babs still tutored with Bugs, so she was over anyway. But Babs spent an awful lot of time either trying to talk to Yakko, who seemed to spend an awful lot of time trying to leave quickly when she arrived. And if Babs wasn't trying to talk to Yakko, she was trying to talk about Yakko to Dot or anyone else within hearing distance.

Elmyra…Dot honestly thought the girl was over to visit her most times. She was a dingbat, but she had a good heart and at least wasn't trying to talk about her brother every other minute.

Though Elmyra did spend quite a bit of time shooting glances in Wakko's direction whenever he happened to appear…

Dot shook her head. No matter what reason they were over, she appreciated the company. Sitting at the kitchen table polishing silverware that she had already polished the day before was boring. Luckily she had overheard Bugs telling Yakko that he didn't want his silverware polished anymore. If she did it one more time, she was liable to destroy it.

Dot wondered if Yakko would find something else for her to do. He didn't seem that mad anymore, so she was hopeful that he would let it go.

Just like Yakko said, she hadn't heard any more from Ocho. She ignored the girls talking around her for a moment, casting a glance towards the phone. Bugs had immediately had the line shut off and she wasn't allowed near a phone right now, so she hadn't heard from him. She wondered if he had tried to call, or was ever going to send another letter.

Now that she knew - sort of - what he was doing and probably wanted, she was happy Yakko had jumped in. She just wished he had been a little kinder about it.

And Yakko…she almost snickered at remembering her brother's sex ed talk. He had been trying to make it fun, she knew that, but honestly, she just wasn't going to ever be able to look at her bear and horse the same way again. Even now she would occasionally cast suspicious eyes at the two plushes and made sure to keep them separated on her bed.

Yakko wouldn't get into great detail, especially about Ocho and 'others of his ilk' as he liked to say, but she got enough. She hadn't totally understood why Ocho liked her 'like that' and Yakko had said he didn't have a good answer for that and he probably never would. But Ocho wasn't the only one in the world with those sorts of ideas; she had to be careful to make sure that no one like him ever got around her again.

The world was a scary place sometimes, filled with scary people. Dot wished every girl had an older brother like Yakko to look out for them.

She had continued to ask questions about this new subject. Sure, upon further review and with the new information brought to light Ocho was a creeper. But the whole other stuff, like how babies were made was pretty interesting and she wanted more information.

All this time she really had thought they were found under leaves in the cabbage patch. Who knew? But Yakko had answered; he even said she could ask him more questions when she wanted.

Yes, everyone should be lucky enough to have a brother like Yak-

She was brought out of her contemplations by a gasp and a shriek of glee as Elmyra spotted Wakko walking by the den with Plucky. Actually, Wakko had been trying to sneak by, even walking on the tips of his toes and Plucky had yelled a loud 'hello' to Elmyra, attracting her attention.

Within two seconds, Wakko was engulfed in a large hug from Elmyra while Plucky leaned against the doorframe and laughed at his friend's predicament. Dot shook her head, once again mystified at the boys.

Wakko had said he kinda liked Elmyra…sometimes. The pained look on his face now though told Dot that this was probably not one of those times. But she couldn't tell if that was because everyone was laughing at him, because he was being held up from going to do something, or because Elmyra was simply squeezing to tight.

He always got to do fun things. Like today he and all his little butthead friends were going off to go play paintball. Dot sighed; that had sounded like fun.

But he said she wouldn't like it because they got messy, sort of like he said she wouldn't like camping because it was dirty. Dot snorted; she could get as dirty as the next person. Sure, she liked being neat and clean, but if push came to shove she could get as filthy as any one of the boys and still look good doing it.

Plus, he said it was because she was little. She had pointed out Wakko wasn't that much bigger than her, and Plucky wasn't exactly a giant either.

Still though, Wakko shrugged her off. Even Yakko wasn't much help this time around, though he at the moment was using the 'you're grounded' excuse, not to mention recovering from her leg injury. She had tried to point out she wasn't going to be grounded forever and her leg would heal but once again her reasonable arguments fell on deaf ears. He told her he had seen the little runts in action before and she definitely did not want to be in a war between them.

Sometimes, she really had to wonder what it was like, to have people actually pay attention to her when she talked.

" - said gerroff 'Myra - "

"Oh I missed my cuddle-head - "

"I'm not your cuddle-head!"

Dot snorted in barely contained mirth, forgetting her prior annoyance with this brother. He may not think he was her cuddle-head, but Elmyra sure seemed to think differently.

Wakko struggled mightily, but was unable to break loose of her grip. Finally Elmyra weaved her arm through his, clinging tightly to him and resting her head on his shoulder with a content sigh. Wakko rolled his eyes while Plucky continued to laugh at him.

"Can you stay and visit cuddle-head? Just for a little - "

"No 'Myra!" Wakko snapped, finally managing to pull away from Elmyra. He clutched his chest and gasped for a few moments before pulling himself together and adding, "We've got plans."

Dot raised her ears at that one. Plans. Figures, he was going to go do something fun - again - while she was stuck at home, and not only because she was in trouble.

Babs looked up with a curious glance. April didn't even bother to look up from her magazine. Anastasia continued to file her claws.

"Plans cuddle-head?" Elmyra asked with a small frown.

"Yeah, plans," Plucky said before Wakko could speak. Pulling Wakko's free arm he stated, "Paintball - "

Dot didn't hear the rest of what the duck said, mostly because he was drowned out by several new, loud voices entering Bugs' foyer.

Loud unwelcome voices, the voices belonging to several individuals who were going off with her brother to have fun.

And leave her alone again. She had almost been happy at one point she got in trouble. Because of the danger she had unwittingly put herself in, everyone was paying a lot more attention to her.

Especially Wakko. When Wakko wasn't being a giant pain in her tail, he was actually quite sweet to her, almost doting. He hadn't been doing any of the stupid gross stuff he normally did; he was actually risking getting into trouble himself by sneaking around so he could come in and play games and stuff with her.

But now he was going off and acting like his usual goofy self again and she sighed. She appreciated her friends being there, she really did. Yakko and Bugs and everyone else was great. But sometimes she really did miss her other older brother.

"Settle down - I say - settle down!" A raucous voice bellowed from the foyer, only slightly dimming the roar of the crowd of boys.

Dot winced but looked up as Max and Buster came barreling into the room to stand next to Wakko and Plucky, all of them talking excitedly. Behind them she could see Foghorn and Jeeves speaking to Bugs and Yakko, Kit leaning against a wall beside them.

She shook her head; Yakko and Kit had been alternating between hiding from Elmyra and Babs while trying to flirt with Anna. At first they had both been flirting with April, until they spied the statuesque bear towering over her.

After that they had pretty much ignored the petite bunny for a time, focusing instead on the beautiful foreigner with the thick exotic accent. April had seemed annoyed by it; Anna had seemed bored and ignored their attempts to gain her attention.

While it didn't stop Kit from trying to talk to her, Yakko seemed to lose interest in the snowy bear and tried talking to April again. By that time though April had begun helping Babs and Elmyra put makeup on Dot's face and was decidedly chilly towards him.

Dot knew they didn't think she was watching, but she was. She didn't understand all that was being said but she was pretty sure some of it was 'innuendo', a word that she had heard Yakko use before. Maybe she could get Wakko to explain some of it to her. If they weren't supposed to know about it, chances were Wakko did.

"These little boys…so rowdy, so…immature," Anna sniffed at something Babs said, causing the bunny to giggle and nod in agreement.

"Settle down please," Jeeves asked in a pleasant voice before giving Foghorn an unreadable look. "Really, are you sure this is the best idea?"

"Taken the boy lots of times," Foghorn said loudly, barely turning to clasp a large hand on Jeeves' shoulder. "He's a natural! Been trying - I say - been trying to get this one to go too," he added, giving Yakko a sharp nudge and almost sending him careening into the wall beside Kit.

"Ehhh…I don't think paintball's my thing - "

"Paintball?" Anna gave a haughty sniff before looking over at April. "These little boys…all this excitement…over paintball?"

April shrugged and Dot turned curious eyes toward the bear and said, "They go a lot, and really like it…" She trailed off and mournfully looked down at her cast. "I want to go sometime, but with this I - "

"I will be here long time," Anna interrupted firmly before roughly grabbing April's hand. "Here with friend. We will go when you are well," she determinedly stated, even standing up and clutching her hand to her chest.

Dot grinned; she wasn't sure she wanted to play against the large polar bear, but if she got a chance to at least try it, she wasn't going to complain. She wished Molly was there; paintball would probably be right up Molly's alley. She could envision her hyperactive friend now with a paintball gun, screaming like a rebel solider as she topped a hill and aimed -

Her thoughts were broken off by a rude snort and several snickers that rose into a loud laughter that echoed off the walls of the room.

"She sounds like a vampire," Plucky whispered loudly, causing Wakko and Buster to snicker.

"OK, OK. Jeeves," Max said, turning to look at his butler. "Call the post office, they delivered someone's mail-order bride to the wrong house." Getting a crafty look on his face he added, "Or maybe Bugs - "

The sharp smack Jeeves gave him to the back of his head almost sent the boy crashing to the floor, causing the rest of the boys to burst into gales of laughter. Max moodily glared at his butler and rubbed his head but made no further comments.

"I do not get joke…ah, I do," Anastasia said with a firm nod. "It is amusing, little loudmouth - "

"Ignore them Anna," Dot sighed while Elmyra began to fiddle with her hair. Sometimes she felt like a doll, the way Elmyra and Babs wanted to play with her. She wasn't even sure why they bothered; whatever they did Yakko always made her wash it off right away, even while they were still there. "I do - "

"Little boys…pfft," Anna snorted, waving a dismissive hand at the snickering boys as she turned to Dot. "We go when better. It will be good time. I shoot well- "

"I doubt that; you come from a country where the population stands in line all day for toilet paper that - ow!"

Dot didn't even turn to look as she heard the pleasing sound of Max's head being smacked hard enough to hit the wall. In the chair, Anna stiffened with an insulted look. Dot heard the various sounds of the other boys chortling and laughing before Babs spoke.

"Oh stop laughing Buster - for all you know, she could be a good shot."

"Her? I doubt it," Plucky answered with a defiant lift of his bill. He went to say more but was cut off by Foghorn.

"Don't discount - I say - don't discount the ladies son; girls shoot just as well," Foghorn pointed out. "Lots of ladies have good aim - "

"Oh yeah?" Wakko asked. "Name one."

"Annie Oakley."

"Besides her."

Dot watched, waiting for Foghorn to answer. The rooster got a look of deep concentration on his face as he thought.

"Any girl in the military," Yakko finally shrugged, leaning against the door frame with a bored expression.

Dot watched as Babs almost dropped the eye shadow brush she was holding when Yakko spoke.

"Well, I don't know about those girls," Plucky said with finality. "I do know that these girls wouldn't like paintball."

"I would," Babs said firmly. "I'd play - and I'd beat you too. All of you."

Dot winced at the loud laughing that greeted Babs' statement.

"Well," Wakko snickered while pointing at Dot. "Maybe you could; it does look like you paintballed her face."

"Hey! We did a good job on her!" Babs spat, shooting Wakko a nasty look.

Dot frowned. Babs and Elmyra had been working on her for a long time. Figures, Wakko had been so nice lately, but as soon as his friends show up he turns into a butthead again. Then again, she could feel the slick layer of lipstick they had slathered on her mouth. She wished they would let her look in the mirror to see what she did look like.

"Bit heavy handed on the eyes Babs," April answered, glancing up from her magazine. With a sigh she grabbed a towel and began to wipe at Dot's face. "Maybe try a lighter shade…and not so much of it."

"See?" Buster shrugged, turning his back on the conversation and walking out of the room. "These girls can't even paint someone's face correctly; how could they hit a target?"

Dot watched as Babs glared at Buster's back for a moment, clenching her fists. Then she calmly stood, snatched a tube of lipstick - 'Jessica R's Ultra Color Extra Plump in PassionBerry Punch' off the coffee table and hummed it at the blue bunny's head. Wakko and Plucky went to ground just as it struck the center of Buster's head with a loud 'thunk' before tumbling to the floor, leaving a long bright streak of color on his fur.

"Ow! What the - "

The other boys burst out laughing as Buster gingerly touched the top of his head. Dot watched as Buster swiped his hand over the spot then looked at his hand with a frown. The lipstick had smeared a dark streak on his glove.

Yakko and Kit started clapping, and Babs began to bow and curtsey, shyly shooting looks at them beneath her lowered lashes.

Meanwhile Buster had a horrified expression on his face.

"I'm bleeding! Thanks a lot - "

"It's lipstick doc, calm down," Bugs said, lounging against the wall near Yakko and rolling his eyes. Looking at Foghorn, he asked, "Weren't you going to get these maroons out of my house for awhile?"

"Nice shot Babs," Dot congratulated the pink bunny, who preened at the praise as she sat down. "I couldn't have hit him that far - "

"Sure you could have," Babs countered with a smirk. "As big as his head is, it'd be impossible to miss - "

"I heard that!" Buster snapped as he scrubbed at his head. "It was a lucky shot!"

"Is that right?" Babs stood back up, grabbing a tin of powder as she did so. She pulled her arm back to throw it again, causing Buster to dash behind Yakko as she did so when Bugs stopped her.

"Not in the house!" Pointing to the door, he added, "Beat him up outside! There's nothing breakable out there!"

"Thanks a lot," Buster muttered, heading to the door. "I'll wait in the truck."

"Girl's got nice aim though," Foghorn mused so quietly that Dot could barely hear him. As it was she was trying to drown out Babs' and Elmyra's talking to hear the adults. "Can't take that from her - "

"Course she does," Bugs said proudly. "Taught her myself."

"Nah, that's not it. If she learned from you, she couldn't hit a cow's backside with a banjo -"

"Loudmouth."

"Well, everyone in here would have decent aim," Yakko interjected with a small shrug, turning his head from Kit for a minute to glance around. "Not much different from throwing a pie and we've all done that. It's not that noteworthy."

Dot shot a glare at Yakko as Babs frowned prettily at his comment.

"There would be differences Master Yakko," Jeeves countered as he began hustling the boys towards the door. "If given the opportunity, I believe the girls could give these four a run for their money, and not just in paintball - "

Tired of listening and getting a headache from Elmyra's less than tender ministrations to her hair, Dot muttered louder than she intended, "So give us the chance instead of laughing about us."

All the little side conversations she had barely been paying attention to ceased and she looked up with a frown. Everyone was watching her; the boys with an amused gloating look, the other girls with curiosity, Yakko and Kit with surprise, and a few adults with shrewd contemplative looks.

It wasn't that strange a concept was it? The next time they went to play paintball - when she wasn't in trouble and had her leg encased in a cast - the girls could go too. Or at least her; she didn't know if she could see April and Elmyra playing. Babs definitely. Anastasia…the bear had a weird gleam in her eye and a dangerous smile playing upon her lips.

"Is good idea; I would like to play paintball…could show little loudmouths how to shoot correctly."

"Right Vampira," Plucky shrugged, going to stand beside Buster and Wakko. "We'd still be aiming as you guys were running for the hills - "

"I would caution you to not underestimate her Master Plucky," Jeeves said, turning to look at him. "The Russians are known to be excellent shots."

"Until they swill too much Vodka," Max muttered, earning himself another shot on the head. Dot watched as he shook it off, sighed, and went to stand beside Buster at the door.

"Well give her - us - a chance!" Dot insisted. "I wanna play it too! Why - "

"Just let her go one time," Wakko said from the doorway. "It will only be five minutes before she's crying to go home - "

"Or five minutes before you are," Yakko snickered. "I could see it now - you four covered in pink paint and pinned in a tree by her."

"See?" Dot said triumphantly over the laughing. "I could be a good player - "

"We all could," April stated. She glanced at Elmyra, who was still playing with Dot's hair and seemingly not paying any more attention. April shrugged before saying, "Yeah, I think we could even get Elmyra up to standard - "

"I don't wanna shoot the cuddly-wuddly's," Elmyra said firmly before getting a dreamy look and hugging herself passionately. "I wanna love them and squeeze them - "

"Mister Foghorn, I suggest when Miss Dorothy - "

"It's Dot! Dot!"

Why did he always insist on calling her 'Dorothy'? She hated her name and always wondered why her parents had given her it. It sounded like an old lady's name. Dot wasn't as bad. Whenever she heard 'Dorothy' she assumed she was in trouble.

" - is healed, perhaps we could allow her and the other ladies to accompany us, at least watch the boys to see - "

"I don't watch anyone play," Babs interjected forcefully. "I jump in - and I win."

"Fine, fine," Buster said with a smirk, leaning against the door. "When 'Miss Dorothy' -"

Dot snatched the hairbrush from Elmyra's hand, preparing to throw it at Buster herself, but a look from Yakko stopped her. Besides, the bunny hadn't noticed her movement and was continuing.

" - is all better, we can play her." With a shrug he said, "All of them, who cares? It won't take that much to beat them, and we can put this to a rest."

"Not gonna be fair like that," Foghorn said, glancing over at Bugs. "Six of them, four of you - "

"We can do it with just the four of us," Buster shrugged, not looking concerned. "Or grab some others."

"We could all go," Jeeves suggested.

"Count me out doc," Bugs stated, raising both his hands and backing away. "I saw those little heathens in the woods with just rope. You're not getting my fuzzy grey tail anywhere near them with paint guns."

Dot watched, amused. She really wished she could have gone camping with them, just to have seen it. Bugs still said he had mental scaring from the ordeal and a haunted look would appear in his eyes whenever anyone mentioned the trip around him.

She looked around, spotting Yakko and Kit, who were ignoring the conversation, talking and snickering with each other.

"How about them?" she suggested, pointing. Right now, she wouldn't mind going after Yakko with a nice big paintball gun. Maybe if she shot him enough times he would relent and let her go back to riding. He was proving to be stubborn about it. Of course he was still sort of mad at her about the whole 'Ocho' ordeal. Maybe she wouldn't shoot him too much. "It would be six and six."

"Huh?"

Kit turned to look at the group with a confused look. Yakko glanced around, gulped audibly and slowly backed out of sight around the foyer wall. He was dragged back by Bugs.

"Perfect!" Forhorn said loudly. "Wasn't looking at you anyway rabbit - was looking at the boys; perfect additions to the team. Little Miss thinks like I do."

"Team? What's he talking about?" Kit hissed to Yakko.

Dot shot another triumphant look at Wakko. She thought just like Foghorn - and Wakko adored Foghorn. So there - great minds think alike.

"I see where this is going…ehhhhh, no," Yakko said emphatically. "Just…no." He pushed Kit towards the front of the group. "Kit though…adrenaline junkie…bet he'd love - "

"Uh no," the cub muttered. "I don't even know what's going on but forget it."

"Come on!" Wakko went over excitedly, grabbing Yakko's hand and pulling hard enough he almost jerked him off his feet. "It'll be faboo! And we'll win for sure!"

Dot smirked, seeing a look of comprehension finally register on Kit's face. The cub looked around for a moment with a frightened expression before slowly backing away behind Yakko.

"This isn't my thing - ask Molly though," Kit said. "Being hyper and making a mess is right up her alley."

"But I want Molly with us!" Dot insisted.

Then it was seven to four - or six if they could get Kit and Yakko to agree. Darn. And it sounded so fun too…

"There is no 'us'," Yakko said, sparing Dot a glance. "You could get hurt - "

Oh this again?

"Yakko," Dot whined, doing her best to not go over the top. Whining didn't always work with Yakko…but most of the time it did. Especially with a pretty pout. "That's not fair!"

"Neither is worrying me constantly with injuries and secret rendezvous with people who think you're available for breakfast, but yet here we are." Yakko spread his hands out with a dramatic flair before adding, "Life is unfair."

Dot opened her mouth to respond, but Jeeves jumped in.

"Perhaps at a later date we could organize teams," Jeeves said, interrupting what was shaping to be a decent fight. "That way we can assure ourselves of no injuries. The girls can pick a certain amount of players and the boys match it so both teams are even."

"Girls against boys," April said from the couch, where with a bored expression she gently pushed Dot back against the cushion. Dot closed her eyes as April began applying a thin layer of paint to her lids. "By default I'm already on the winning side."

Dot could hear the adults quieting the scuffling boys by the door. She could hear the younger of her idiot brothers laughing obnoxiously with his idiot friends at April's comment. The rest of the sounds seemed to result from the adults restraining Yakko and Kit from running out of the immediate area. If she wasn't afraid of April stabbing her in the eye with a mascara wand, she would have loved to open her eyes to look.

Yakko wasn't being fair. She knew she did wrong, she was being punished for it - did he have to continue to mention it? She hadn't meant to cause trouble and she didn't mean to upset Yakko.

Dot was aware that Yakko was overprotective; Wakko had complained about it enough. But he never seemed to curtail Wakko's activities like he did her. And Wakko was playing with cars - that could be as dangerous in some ways.

"Older boys worse than younger boys," Anastasia said in an impassive manner. "Refuse to play from fear. Not on team; too many excuses."

Dot winced as April pressed on her lid firmly as she leaned over toward her friend. After a moment the pressure lessened and she hesitantly opened her eyes.

April, a reluctant looking Anastasia in tow, was walking towards Yakko and Kit. To their credit, they looked almost as surprised as she was. The other boys were slowly backing away, Buster's hand going behind him and wildly groping for the doorknob. Meanwhile, Bugs and Foghorn were furiously whispering back and forth while Jeeves was examining his fingernails calmly.

"Oh Anna, they're not refusing to play," April said in a low tone that reminded Dot of a cat purring. "And I just bet they're not scared. They'll be along. They just need more…persuasion."

Dot glanced over at Babs who was watching with a look of annoyance and interest. After a moment the pink bunny shrugged, reached into her Hammerspace for paper and began to take notes on a small pink steno pad.

Not sure why Babs would want to take notes on the conversation, Dot turned back to watch April. The lavender bunny had reached a very startled looking Yakko and was slowly walking her fingers up his chest with her eyes half-closed and a dreamy smile. Meanwhile, Anastasia was stalking up to Kit. The brown bear looked torn between absolute elation and running for his life.

"Right Yakko?"

Yakko backed away from her, a look of wonder and suspicion on his face.

"I'm a lover, not a fighter," Yakko answered, backing into the wall behind him and groping feebly around, trying to escape. "And I'm sure I'll have plans…whenever it is."

Dot started paying as much attention as Babs now; anyone who could make her brother react like that was worth watching. She even debated taking some notes herself.

"Oh I bet," April purred, getting up on her toes so she could put her face inches from his. Pursing her lips and thumping his chest she added, "But just think, it won't take too long right? I mean, it's just like tossing a pie."

"But messier," Kit muttered with a slight shiver while warily looking at Anastasia. "That's not gonna disappear in a few minutes and I hate washing paint out of fur."

"I help you lapochka," Anastasia said, getting a soft smile on her muzzle.

Kit instantly perked up at that statement as Bugs groaned and hid his face in his hands. Dot continued to make mental notes while Babs furiously scribbled beside her. Meanwhile, Elmyra continued to pull and tug; Dot winced and hoped she still had hair by the time the redhead was done.

"We promise to play fair and not hurt you too much," April continued on in a throaty purr.

"Hurt us? You got to be kidding." Yakko tone had a scoffing quality to it, but he was looking decidedly more interested now than before.

"And besides," April added so softly Dot had to strain her ears to hear. "It could kinda be like…a first date. And when we're done with them, we could do…other things." At Yakko's look she added while twirling a long purple ear around her finger, "Well, you did ask me out."

"Damn it she talks too quietly," Babs muttered. "What did she say?"

"She said it would be her and Yakko's first date," Dot muttered.

Babs made a rude snort before looking up.

"So, first date huh?" The bunny muttered. "Good. If I can't have him, then I want Buster."

"Uh…no."

Buster made a move to open the door, but was stopped when Foghorn put his hand on it.

"Come on boy, you're being challenged now."

"I don't want to go out on a date - "

"I do!" Elmyra cheerfully added, bouncing on the couch cushion.

Dot yelped in pain when Elmyra, in her enthusiasm yanked the brush through her head so roughly she was convinced she was going to be bald when she was done. She gingerly reached up, happy to not feel a bare spot as the conversation reached a deafening roar of protests and threats and challenges issued. She glanced up, saw Elmyra glancing at the smirking Wakko, and quickly grabbed the brush off the couch and tossed it in her HammerSpace. With a brush, Elmyra could be considered armed and dangerous.

Finally, Bugs stepped forward, waving his arms and asking for attention. No one noticed. Dot watched as the rabbit shrugged and reached into his Hammerspace for a bullhorn. She managed to cover her ears just as the rabbit yelled into it, bringing all conversations to a screeching halt.

"Quiet!"

When everyone stopped in mid-word to look at him, Bugs calmly continued without the bullhorn, pausing to stare hard at everyone.

"Now, while I enjoy all this camaraderie in my den, this is getting us nowhere. How about this docs - the losers take the winners out – winners choice." Bugs shook his head before adding, "Or whatever. Just as long as it doesn't involve, shedding blink, scattering fur around my den or me in any way."

"Dinner and a movie," April stressed, crossing her arms. "I don't do things halfway and if I'm going to get dirty, I want to be compensated accordingly."

Dot heard Plucky mutter something that sounded suspiciously like 'greedy'.

She settled back into her cushions, ignoring the conversations around her while thinking. Dot was positive Molly would want to get in on this. Probably Webby too. She racked her brain, trying to think of any other players who would want to get involved. Then she shrugged; it wasn't just her decision. The others might have their own friends who would want to play and if they were going to help her get a team going, it would only be fair to let them include people as well.

"Whatever," Buster muttered. Looking over at a resigned looking Max, he said, "It's not like we have too much to worry about."

"Wait a minute," Wakko said, causing all eyes to turn to him. "You act like we don't have a chance. What if we win? Maybe we don't want dinners and movies!"

"Well, what do you want?" Yakko asked, finally taking his gaze from April to his brother.

Wakko glanced over at Plucky, who shrugged.

"We'll think of something," Plucky said with another shrug. "Maybe a free night at the arcade?"

"No," Elmyra said, finally giving up on fixing Dot's hair to join the conversation. "I want to go to the movies with the cuddly-wuddley's too."

"Only if you win, which you won't," Max said. "Can we continue this some other time? Like in twenty years? It's not like we'll be doing anything soon anyway, since she's got the broken leg and is stuck because of her little letter writing escapade gone bad."

Dot leveled her glare at Max. Figures, out of everyone in the room, he was the one who just had to bring it up. No one had forgotten what she did and she sure hadn't, but was it necessary to point it out? She sighed; Yakko was glaring at her again.

"Correct," Yakko said. He looked back at April and put his arm around her waist.

Dot winced at the nasty hiss Babs made.

"So, the idea of an all-out battle is gone for the foreseeable future." Yakko wiggled his eyebrows and asked, "How about you and me just do the dinner and movie instead?"

"How about we wait until everyone can go?" April said, giving a graceful turn and unwinding herself from Yakko. With a wide smile she asked, "So…does this mean yes?"

Dot watched as Yakko sighed, running a hand through his hair before looking over at Kit. The bear stopped leering at Anna long enough to give a noncommittal shrug.

"Ehhhhh…"

"And Dot will be with me; right under my personal protection the whole time." April narrowed her eyes and said quietly, "And believe you me, I can take care of myself." Giving another small smile she perkily added, "You'll have nothing to do but sit around and wait for me to decide what movie I'd like to see."

Dot waited with baited breath. Yakko's face was running through a gamut of emotions; hesitation, amazement, fear, excitement.

Oh come on…

"Ehhhhh…fine, fine."

Dot mentally pumped her fist in the air at the victory. Apparently a mix of sweet and sour worked well on her brother.

The younger boys began to hoot and holler, and Dot distinctly heard Wakko and Max laughing at her, saying that even with the extra time the girls were getting waiting for her leg to heal, there was no way they would possibly beat them. Even with their eyes closed and their Hammerspaces off limits they could beat them.

Dot huffed and flopped back on the couch again. She'd show them - she already had some decent players to go with, Molly would be a real asset to them. Beside her she could hear Babs and Elmyra already whispering about girls they knew that might be worth bringing in.

"You will go," Anna stated, giving a hard look at Kit.

Kit gave a withering look at Yakko before looking back at Anna. He licked his lips nervously before nodding once, head hanging, resigned to his fate.

When Yakko looked at him with one eyebrow raised, Kit shrugged and said, "What? I like a strong woman."

Dot grinned at the noise that came from the group around her. Foghorn and Jeeves were already making plans while Bugs frantically attempted to stay away from them. Foghorn finally just grabbed the rabbit's ear and held him there. The younger boys were jumping around, while Yakko and Kit were watching April and Anna like they had transformed into spitting vipers before their eyes.

"Alright," Babs said, tossing the compact she was holding to the floor with a contemptuous sneer. "We need to plan."

"But fuzzy-head," Elmyra said, shoving Dot to the side as she began to dig through the cushions of the couch. "It'll be months before we - "

"All the more reason to start now," Babs said firmly, grasping Elmyra's ear and dragging her into the huddle beside Dot. Narrowing her eyes to small slits, she gave a tight smile and added, "I won't let those idiots beat us. We can beat them, especially with a bit of extra time…and it's all thanks to Dot and her leg."

Dot grinned weakly while looking at the bunny. She wasn't quite sure what she started, but be that as it may, she was glad the bunny was working with her instead of on the other team.

With the look on April and Anna's faces, plus with the quietly cackling Elmyra beside the smug Babs, Dot had a feeling that instead of being annoyed with her brothers, she should probably be feeling sorry for them.

XXXXXXXXXX

July 6, 1996

" - and everyone's gotta start somewhere; ignore them. I'm not taking you to some public course, especially for your first time. Trust me doc; I'm not gonna steer you wrong."

Worried, Yakko shot a look towards Bugs but nodded once, tightening his grip on the club and happy at least that his knuckles were not as sore today. He slumped his shoulders miserably as Jeeves graciously waved a faster group behind them ahead to play the empty hole. Bugs nodded to the group as he put his arm around Yakko's shoulders; according to him, you always invited a faster group behind you to play through.

Yakko glanced up, seeing Richard Karn and Tim Allen in the group and sighed, sending an irritated glare at his ball. They at least gave a friendly wave as they passed them; earlier, Jane Seymour's group had breezed by with barely a glance at them. Hell, they'd even been passed by a group that had counted among its members Stu and Didi Pickles.

Why Bugs had chosen to come here of all places was a mystery Yakko was sure he'd never solve. Sure, Lakeside Golf Club, was the most exclusive country club in the area and was less than a mile from the lot but jeeze, Bugs never half-assed anything. It was lousy with high-rollers and celebrities.

Unfortunately, it was clear to Yakko that they all played much better than him; he had almost tried to crawl in the second hole when he saw Plotz, clad in a ghastly yellow polo and bright red Bermuda shorts being followed by an unfortunate caddy. The poor girl was barely taller than Plotz and he had the tiny brunette loaded down with a wide variety of clubs. If he hadn't been so nervous and in a bad mood he would have at least talked to her; at best he thought he gave her a grimace. Yakko took comfort that at least their caddy would probably get a few laughs out of watching him.

Plotz had appeared calm for once, almost happy even, and had greeted the four of them, expressing surprise that Yakko even had a clue what golf was. He had hurriedly left though; he spotted José Carioca, Ed McMahon and another man Yakko was later informed was the head of Touchstone Television waiting for him to complete their foursome.

He knew that he was attracting some attention. It wasn't because he was a star for once; apparently at this place, being a celebrity was almost a requirement. Bugs was a member of the club; surprisingly Foghorn was as well, though he admitted he rarely went. With a little finagling and a couple of twenties slipped to the right people, Bugs and Foghorn managed to get around some pesky rule that stated that guests were not allowed on Saturdays.

Yakko was beginning to wish they hadn't bothered. This hadn't been what he was expecting. He had visions of a nice empty green lawn where he could putter around and try to learn all these new rules and what club was supposed to do what and exactly when he was supposed to use them and the difference between 'birdie' or 'budgie' or whatever they were called. Worst case he was hoping Bugs was just going to take him to the Goonie-Golf course in ToonTown; that would have been vastly preferable. He probably wouldn't be making a total ass of himself there.

No, Yakko knew he was attracting attention because he clearly had no idea what he was doing. Bugs was probably upset he had firmly stuck with his plan of making Yakko his partner on this little outing; if he had intended on beating Foghorn and Jeeves he might as well toss that plan out the window. Bugs was apparently an above average player and everyone knew the rabbit liked to compete. While Foghorn seemed to have some basic knowledge of the game Yakko had the feeling that Jeeves was far better than he was letting on.

He supposed it was better than being at a public course. Bugs had stated he refused to take him to a public course; here it was other celebrities and higher-ups, who were there for one reason…golf. Nothing else; no one cared if Yakko Warner was playing golf at the next hole. At a public course, he would be dealing with fans who might be there for golf too, but could get distracted by attempting to say 'hi' or get an autograph. Plus there was the constant paparazzi and news people attempting to get stories; Bugs thought that with it being Yakko's first time, a more secluded place would be better and put him at ease.

It didn't.

Yakko hadn't been sure what to expect when Bugs had told him their tee time and it was bad etiquette to be late and he had to be up with the sun. He'd been confused when told he couldn't wear jeans and that he was required to don a collared shirt. He had sighed in relief though; golf had a long association with phenomenally stupid ugly clothing he had no desire to be spotted in. At least the other members of this party were clothed similar to himself, meaning he didn't stick out that much.

That didn't mean he had not enviously watched Wakko and Dot, attired in shorts and t-shirts, trip out the door this morning to the Bunny's vehicle.

Dot. Yakko snorted; she was so lucky he was a sucker and didn't want to upset Bugs. After pronouncing her punishment - which he had firmly intended to enforce - he had caved.

But only for the day. She was still being punished, but she got a get-out-of-jail-free card today. It wasn't everyday they got to go to an amusement park. Yakko had been unsure what to do with Dot and Bugs had suggested she go with Wakko. At first he had refused; she was in trouble; he wasn't going to give her a day at the park. He had even intended to ignore her pleading and begging and done what he thought was an admirable job of it.

But she was persistent and got help. Wakko in a fit of brotherly-camaraderie had pleaded to him on her behalf several times. Hell Dot had Wakko bringing him jars of cherries at one point while chanting please.

Mr. Bunny had called Thursday offering to let Dot accompany them. He claimed he wouldn't mind; she would be less of a headache than any one of the boys. For the most part she could ride any attraction she would normally be able to even with the cast so she could still have fun.

Yakko sighed, running a hand through his hair. Eventually he had relented; it wasn't like he had another option. She either went with Wakko and the Bunny's or she came golfing too, something she hadn't seemed that interested in.

There was the other option; Yakko had debated several times on simply not going. He was somewhat looking forward to it, but not enough to actually let Dot get away with murder. It wasn't like he couldn't go another time, and he was positive that Bugs could find another partner, and probably one that was more competent.

But the rabbit had surprised him - he wanted Yakko. Another da-doo/little-do bonding opportunity for him apparently, and he claimed it was a chance for Yakko to pick up a new hobby that he may find relaxing and challenging at the same time. Bugs said he would be busier than normal for the next few months as the premier date for his movie approached. He wanted to be able to spend some quality time with Yakko doing something enjoyable now, while it was still summer break.

Besides Bugs had rightly pointed out another problem - what else could Yakko really do? The options for Dot this weekend were slim.

The Cunninghams were busy with something to do with Disney; Nurse Miller was attending a convention. Slappy had prior plans he wouldn't ask her to change. Porky was an option, but Yakko had snorted at the thought. Dot would whine and beg most prettily, and knowing Porky he would end up taking her to the amusement park on his own all while trying to be firm with her. It was easier to just allow her to go with The Bunny's and Wakko.

Besides, Bugs claimed Yakko needed the break too and really, there was only a few days left on Dot's restriction anyway. Bugs had pointed out that Dot had obviously learned her lesson; hell she looked at any fan mail that came in like it had mold on it and refused to send a letter out unless someone else read it.

Yakko finally agreed. He chose to make himself feel better by ordering Dot to not have too much fun at the park. He got a sloppy kiss on his check for that and he wondered what else she would get away with in the next couple of days. He always turned as spineless as a feather duvet when she was begging and pleading.

Stiffening his resolve and happy there were no more groups behind them at the moment, Yakko studied his ball again. It was his turn to hit the silly thing. He ignored Foghorn's muttering as the rooster moved behind him. Not that he could blame him; on one of the previous holes, Yakko had taken a page out of his book, hitting the ball as hard as he could.

It hadn't worked any better for Yakko than it did for Foghorn. Unfortunately the ball had gone sideways, ricocheting off a nearby tree. The next thing anyone knew Foghorn was on the ground, gasping and moaning because the ball had hit him in the groin like a small missile. The rooster had stayed clear of him when he swung now, eyeing him warily and trying to hide behind a very amused Jeeves. He claimed that his feathers didn't cushion a hit that much and he hadn't been prepared to Chuck his body.

Bugs told him to hush and he should always be prepared; he knew better. Thankfully the rabbit had managed to choke back most of his laughter when he said it. Yakko couldn't even laugh; he was too embarrassed.

"Remember what I said Yakko," Bugs said quietly. He leaned over Yakko's back, placing his hands over Yakko's and readjusting them, trying to avoid his knuckles. "Don't choke up on the club. Hold higher up, towards the grip doc. And don't hold so tight; you're clutching it like a mallet."

Apparently satisfied, Bugs stepped back, eyeing Yakko's stance critically.

"Relax doc; you're too stiff. Bend your knees. Just follow through on your swing this time. Remember, this is supposed to be fun."

Fun? This is not fun.

He was having fun spending time with the group; this was probably one of his first adult activities he had done with any of them. Camping barely counted; the younger boys were there and he was stuck in the middle of the two groups. Here though he was clearly accepted as an equal; an equal that was woefully ignorant of golf, but a full-fledged functioning member of the party regardless.

He just hadn't expected it to be so hard or confusing or nerve-racking. It made him sorry he had laughed at all of the tacky and utterly juvenile ball jokes Wakko had been spouting. He was worried about hitting Foghorn or anyone else unlucky enough to be on the course at the moment.

Yakko took a deep breath and released it slowly, focusing his attention on the ball and ignoring everyone around him. Foghorn was making a surprisingly valiant attempt at being quiet when someone swung, but he still had plenty glib quips to mutter to Jeeves.

"Just be quiet Foghorn," Bugs mumbled. "You're making him nervous."

"He's nervous?" Foghorn replied sourly. "Imagine me. Boy's gonna need another mulligan again ain't he?"

"An Irish phone book does not have as many mulligan's as we have seen this morning," Jeeves mumbled back, earning a snort of mirth from Foghorn.

Yakko gritted his teeth. Mulligan - a do over - he'd found out all about them today too since he had one on about every hole. He wasn't even supposed to have one on the first hole; the club had a ton of weird rules. But, as was typical with Bugs, the rabbit had just ignored that rule and had Yakko do it again anyway.

OK. Those two wanted to make jokes; he knew they weren't trying to be mean, they had been offering helpful advice before but still it was irritating. Bugs was watching him with an encouraging expression, whispering hints and advice at every opportunity. The caddy who had dutifully been following along behind them was gazing at the group ahead of them with a wistful expression.

Yakko took one more breath; he could do this. Maybe not get it in, but he should be able to get it near the hole.

"It's like driving doc," Bugs said quietly beside him, putting his hand on Yakko's shoulder for a moment. "Patience and practice. It was hard the first couple of times right? You were nervous but you got through it fine and you'll be ready to test soon. This is the same way."

"But Bugs," Yakko muttered back. "Everyone - "

"No one's watching - so hit the ball like I showed you." Glaring behind him for a moment he added, "Go make your da-doo proud and shut those two up."

Fine.

Yakko sighed but nodded. Half the time he missed on his first swing; when he did hit the ball it went in pretty much every other direction except the one he wanted it to go in. He wasn't going to miss it again.

Bugs had been going over technique and rules and etiquette with him for awhile, even having him practice in the back yard. Especially in a sport where no Toon Theory was allowed, he had to rely on only his brain and skill, but he could do that. He had already bruised his ego and a certain part of Foghorn's anatomy; there wasn't much more he could do right?

He gripped the club in his left hand, his thumb extending down the shaft with a determined air. He placed his right hand on the club, his pinkie finger interlocking with his left index finger, allowing the club to rest in this fingers.

He was lined up properly; the club face was aimed at the target and his feet were parallel to where he wanted the ball to go. In the hole, he'd take near the hole, as long as he wasn't sending it hurtling towards anyone or anything living.

Here goes…

Yakko swung the club back, turning his shoulders before bringing it down. He felt the club hit the ball and instead of stopping, he followed through, shifting his weight as he did so.

He was almost afraid to watch where the ball went this time. It didn't seem like it was on its way to injuring anyone. In fact, it almost looked…

Yakko watched, unblinking and gripping his club as the ball soared through the air before landing on the green and begin rolling. It neared the hole and he assumed it was going to roll and hit the pin; that had happened to Bugs earlier, resulting in some good-natured grumbling from the rabbit.

The ball rolled toward the hole. He breathlessly watched, even going so far as to cross his fingers as Bugs gripped his shoulder painfully. Yakko didn't even care if it went in, though no one would hear any objections from him. He was ecstatic that it got anywhere near the hole he was aiming for.

Foghorn and Jeeves had thankfully stopped talking a few moments earlier. Now they were watching, arms crossed with disbelieving expressions like someone had just come and hit them in the face with a large trout.

Yakko ignored them as the ball reached the hole and balanced for a moment like a ballerina before it tumbled in. Still unblinking Yakko could barely comprehend what just happened.

No one else had any problem comprehending though; Bugs let out a whoop of elation in his ear that made him wince. Jeeves, looking uncharacteristically animated, shook his hand vigorously. Foghorn gave a 'that's the way to do it boy!' before slapping him on the back with enough force that Yakko stumbled forward several steps. At the next hole, Yakko could see the group that passed them waving and calling back while pointing at the green. Hell even the bored caddy was smiling and clapping passionately. He could hear far off cries of congratulations coming from different areas of the green, but he barely paid any attention to them.

How could he - a hole-in-one? What were the odds? A billion-to-one?

Yakko stood dumbfounded for another moment, still not daring to believe what just happened. He eventually decided to blink; his eyes were getting dry. Despite hearing about a hole-in-one, he hadn't fully understood all the fuss that went along with it. He hadn't even expected to see one; Bugs had explained that a hole-in-one was a rather rare occurrence; something always strived for but rarely attained. It was obviously so exciting that even golfers who weren't in their group waved and hooted to express their satisfaction; they'd celebrate anyone's ace.

Yakko felt the shock start to drain, to be replaced with a great sense of self-satisfaction. Then he let out a whoop and jumped in the air, yelling like a referee during the World Cup at his victory. He had been told golfers go years trying to get a hole-in-one; he did one in his first game. It hadn't been intentional, he'd probably never be able to do it again and it was a total blunder and pure luck, but he was quite proud of himself. Lady Luck was obviously on his side today; perhaps he should go buy a lottery ticket or ask out the cute caddy working for Mr. Plotz. Today he was invincible and could conquer the world.

What a thrill - and he thought this was awful a few minutes ago and wanted to leave? He was crazy. Yakko was trying to stop himself from running over to the hole and taking a picture of the ball sitting in the cup - it was simply that exciting.

"Now that's what's up doc!" Bugs crowed, waving his arms around and seemingly forgetting his own golf etiquette lessons of attempting to stay somewhat quiet on the green. Grasping Yakko and giving him a hard hug and spinning him around like a roulette wheel he yelled, "Knew ya had it in ya!"

Yakko heard Foghorn directing the caddy to take a few pictures; wasn't every day that the boy scores a hole-in-one. And he should definitely keep his ball.

"See? Wasn't this great?" Bugs was continuing to gush. "And you - you're a natural - rocky start but you might have potential doc." Finally unhanding Yakko and watching him stagger slightly he added, "Knew you'd be a good partner - and you look tons more relaxed - admit your da-doo was right!"

Yakko ran a hand through his hair, taking a deep breath. Between the hole-in-one excitement and Bugs' spinning him around he was pretty sure he was going to be on a golf-based high the rest of the day.

"Yeah, fine, it's…not as bad as I thought," Yakko finally said. "Oh hell, it's…Ok I love it!" Narrowing his eyes at Bugs playfully, "Wanna bet I can do it again?"

"Don't get cocky; it's gonna get rough ahead doc," Bugs cautioned while still wearing a silly grin. "Be pleased you got this one – there are guys who have been playing here for years that haven't got one yet."

Right. OK. Not cocky. He could be proud of the accomplishment, take the congratulations gracefully and continue on with playing, not feeling like the nitwit he felt like a few minutes ago.

That didn't stop him from turning with a gloating expression to the still grinning Foghorn and Jeeves and asking sweetly, "What was that about me needing another mulligan?"

XXXXXXXXXX

July 17, 1996

"You want me to what?"

I'm not doing that!

"You brought it on yourself doc."

"No I didn't! I just - "

"You just swung your fist into some kid's muzzle," Bugs patiently explained before taking a bite of his carrot. When Yakko went to protest the rabbit continued, holding up the half chewed vegetable to silence him. Yakko knew better than to argue with that.

"I'm not saying he didn't deserve it doc, really, and I can't fault you for protecting your sister."

Damn right.

"But this…"

Bugs broke off his speech for a moment and Yakko watched him, fuming before glancing at the black-and-white pictures that had been faxed to them.

The rabbit had lost his mind…again. First the whole camping fiasco, now this? Yakko wondered if the rabbit secretly drank and he just didn't know. It would actually explain quite a bit.

Damn these media types with their constant ability to grab photographs at any opportunity. And just his luck, there was one at the mall during Dot's ill-fated date. Of course Bugs had spotted him, on the far side of the mall near the cookie store, and this bozo just had to have a camera. Yakko had been praying that Bugs was just being overly dramatic.

This guy got several good photos, Yakko couldn't take anything from him there. Even one photo of Yakko making a fist, glaring at someone touching his sister was a good enough story to sell a few papers.

But with more photos – such as the one where his fist is actually making contact with the collie's muzzle…

Yakko wondered why he had to have such crummy luck. He thought things were going better.

Dot was well on her way to being healed, having been put in a walking cast and going to physical therapy twice a week. She was off restriction and now understood fully what she had done wrong. They both had had a long talk and he had finally relented, agreeing to allow her to return to her riding as soon as her leg healed and the doctor cleared her.

Wakko was more or less behaving himself. He somehow managed to busy himself with friends, music, whatever the hell he was doing to that car with Foghorn, some tutoring and still found time to be an annoying pain in the tail.

The summer away from the tower had been relaxing for the most part, with just enough fear and anger thrown in to keep things interesting. He had discovered that he quite liked golf, even though he was pretty sure his chances of hitting another hole-in-one were about the same as his odds of getting to third base with Michelle Pheifer.

Now this.

He sighed as Bugs droned on, having long since gone into lecture mode. Yakko had stopped listening somewhere around 'it's only one night doc; is it really worse than the alternative?'"

This journalist was not as bad as Globe, but that wasn't saying much. Yakko had never had a very low opinion of the media before, but after the last few months he was beginning to see that thinking change.

It might not be as horrible as he was thinking…he shuddered before covering his face with his hands.

The journalist worked for 'Teen Toon Dreams', a magazine that Yakko tried to avoid whenever possible for a variety of reasons. While Bugs didn't know the journalist well at all, he did know one of the higher ups at the magazine. Bugs said they weren't exactly friends, but they did go way back and occasionally would do each other favors.

While sales at 'Teen Toon Dreams' were not slow by any means, they were certainly interested in obtaining a larger portion of the teenage girl market. Hence where Yakko came in.

He hadn't objected too much at first, thinking it was only going to be an interview. It would probably not have been a very interesting interview, but he figured he could pose for a few photographs, spout off a couple of cheesy lines to make the little girls swoon, and be done with the nonsense.

Nothing was ever that easy for him though.

This higher up – Bugs said her name was Rannva – had been interested in the pictures to a certain degree, but it wasn't exactly what her magazine was known for. Pictures of a teenage boy punching another teenage boy who was trying to flirt with a little girl were the bread and butter of a trashy magazine like 'Tasty Toon Gossip', but wouldn't project the right image for 'TTD'. But, they would be worth a lot of money to the right person…

So, Rannva had explained on the phone to Bugs, she had a dilemma. What on Earth could she do with such titillating photographs? She had teased Bugs for a few minutes with the idea of calling 'Tasty Toon Gossip'; perhaps they had a story that her magazine would be interested in and she could propose a swap?

Bugs had tried to call her bluff, but she blew that out of the water, being kind enough to fax several of the photos over for his perusal. That was when he bellowed up the stairs for Yakko, surprising him. He had been attempting to practice his Air-Walk; currently he could stay suspended for almost twelve seconds.

When Bugs bellowed for him, he had just walked off the bed. The stupid rabbit had startled him so bad he fell, tripping up in the bed sheets and winding up face first in the garbage can and had gotten an apple core stuck in his ear. He had not been in a great mood when he came down, and having Bugs babbling about this had not improved it any.

"Are you even listening to me doc? This will keep it out of the papers and you like girls anyway. Least this way I know it'll be a totally controlled date – I just know Foghorn lets you go crazy out there when he's the chaperone."

Which is why he tried to have Foghorn with him as much as possible. The rooster was loud but managed to practice discretion.

Yakko glanced at the photos again; Dot sure was causing him a lot of problems lately. First she scared him, then she scared and angered him, and now she was going to put a serious crimp in his social life.

Well, one night of it anyway. But it would be better than the alternative.

Bugs had managed to talk Rannva out of calling 'TTG' for a story swap, but she said if she was losing a story, she wanted compensation. Yakko had been all for paying her whatever she wanted until he heard the proposal.

She had been toying around with the idea of having a contest for the girls –a way to get the female fan community more involved in the magazine and hence sell more issues. Her bright idea was to have a contest for the fans; have them write-in with who they thought was the biggest heart-throb in ToonTown and why they felt this way.

A contest - and he'd be the boobie-prize. An all-expenses paid dream date with the one and only Yakko Warner.

Yakko pinched the bridge of his nose. Where the hell did people get these ideas?

He pointed out several problems he immediately saw with this idea, the first being he didn't want to do it. The second was that what if no one wanted a dream-date with him? That was unthinkable of course; Yakko figured he could in all honesty say he thought he was a handsome guy and any girl should give her left arm to go out with him. But it was a possibility that had to be considered.

Bugs told him he had an ego as big as Dodger Stadium and he wasn't going to make him do it…yet. But he had said that if he were Yakko 'he'd definitely think about it'.

Yakko had tried whining about it briefly; he did try to avoid whining like a six-year-old but thought it might work. He accused Bugs of whoreing him to this magazine and he was going to inform Plotz.

Sadly, this threat had no effect on the rabbit. The smart-ass even handed him the phone and told him to call Plotz. He had already talked to the CEO about it, leaving out the entire reason for this fiasco. As was typical with Bugs, if he didn't like a situation, he simply redefined it into something more palatable.

Even more upsetting, Plotz had heard 'rumors' about the 'situation' at the mall. He stressed – strongly – that he hoped not to see any of these rumors in print. Not only would the publicity be bad – the season would begin filming soon – Yakko's birthday was coming up. His sixteenth birthday – Plotz said he would hate to think that he'd have to refuse to allow Yakko to get his license because of a 'rumor'.

Yakko sighed – he was pretty well screwed on this one.

Maybe it wouldn't be too bad; Rannva did say it would take several issues to get the word out to the readers, have them submit their entries, do the judging and decide on a winner. It would keep the pictures out of the paper – Dot was in a few of the photographs, looking upset and confused. While Yakko was sure no real blame would be placed on him for his actions and Dot was essentially harmless, it was still something he didn't want to see on the front page of a tabloid. Maybe he'd be lucky and they'd forget about it – or no one would enter.

Hell, that would be worse. And of course, unthinkable.

He tapped his finger on the table for a moment, annoyed with the situation, pointedly ignoring Bugs, who was still staring at him, waiting for an answer.

It would suck, but like Bugs said, it would only be one night. He could keep all this unpleasantness out of the papers, he'd get a free meal at a presumably nice restaurant, and he'd make some little teen girl very happy. Rannva promised that if Yakko behaved and would be willing to do this, the pictures would be destroyed and no one would ever hear a word about it.

He finally looked up at Bugs, who was still looking at him with what appeared to be a smirk on his face.

"You think this is funny don't you?"

"No doc, not at all," Bugs replied, folding his hands underneath his chin with all the angelic devotion of a choir boy.

Yakko glared at him. Bugs was acting so innocent he almost expected a halo to appear over his head.

"It won't be that bad doc, really. You should be happy this is all she wants. It could be worse."

Yakko couldn't see how; as it was he wanted to go sob uncontrollably in the corner, maybe bang his skull on the wall until a blessed unconsciousness kicked in. Then he could pretend this wasn't happening.

Nah, he was no coward. He could do this. Maybe he'd luck out and a decent looking girl would win. He gave Bugs a hard nod, while imagining what Kit would say. The cub would laugh himself sick over this.

Yakko mentally shrugged. It would solve the problem. He and Bugs had been waiting for some form of repercussion for his act; it could defiantly be worse. Ocho could have spoken to the papers or even worse, a lawyer.

He just hoped he wasn't going to be responsible for reading the entries too. He didn't mind taking one for the family, but he couldn't be expected to read such mindless drivel.

The others let him have mulligans all the time when they played golf. He wished he had mulligans in life too. If they did, he wouldn't have punched the deprived idiot; he would have beaten him to death with one of Dot's crutches.

End Chapter 37