AUTHORS NOTE: I'm trying something a little different here.
First off: If you do not read 'Family' this will make absolutely no sense. I'm putting out the warning now, do not bother to read this.
Second: If you do read 'Family', make sure you read Chapter 32 prior to reading this.
This takes place in the same universe; the same characters, rules, friendships, pairings, etc. all apply. It is simply a companion story - I wanted to write the boys camping but with the way I write I would add about ten chapters to the main story. If it goes well and gets good reviews I will probably continue to do companion pieces. If not…well, I'll probably still continue to do them.
While I certainly enjoy writing from the Warners perspective, I'm limited on what information I can reveal about the other characters since I can only write what the Warners themselves know. Thus bringing about the idea of a side story. This give me the opportunity to flesh out Montana, Buster, Bernie, Jeeves and some of the other characters without messing with the flow of 'Family'.
If nothing else, it amuses me and my friends. Plus, Montana Max is my favorite character.
This is mostly Yakko and Wakko. Dot in in the very beginning and will appear later at the end but she is definitely not the focus. This is not surprising since I don't like the character anyway. Please do not leave me reviews saying 'But I LOVE Dot and want to see one with her!'. It's very unfortunate, but I do not. At some point in the future I might do one with her - if I get really bored and this one goes over well.
This introduces the point of view of both Buster Bunny and Montana Max along with the Warners.
Thank both LittleTiger488 and DancesWithCorpses for using their skills to read over this. Without them it would probably be unreadable.
Chapter 1 - Big Doo's and Little Doo's
April 29, 1996
"But Dad - "
"Look in that box Buster," Bernie said, turning briefly to look at Buster before reaching up to absently straighten his glasses. Tugging down the front of his grey sweatshirt in a manner reminiscent of Captain Picard he added, "I know it's here, somewhere. And be careful, there's a lot of memories here."
Buster glared at his father's turned back, already feeling hostile as he stood, ankle deep in…memories…and stuff…in the attic. Who knew they had so many 'memories'? Didn't Dad ever throw anything away?
"What is all this junk?" he muttered to himself while digging in the closest box, looking for whatever the hell a 'camp stove' was.
Reaching in, Buster pulled out an oven mitt in the shape of a cat, a piece of blue ribbon, ear muffs, a chewed on pencil, stacks of paper…
Dad had to learn that sometimes, stuff just needed to be thrown away. Sometimes, stuff wasn't memories. Sometimes, stuff was just stuff.
Buster cut his eyes toward his father; he still had his back turned to him and was rummaging through the tall oak armoire in the corner of the attic. He could take a little break. He wouldn't even feel that guilty about it; it wasn't like he asked to come up there and help dig through the attic.
Quietly, he sat on the nearest box, a large cardboard square that had 'Bounty' printed on the side and wiped his head, feeling the sweat running down his skin and soaking his fur. Wiping his glove on his pants, he watched his father, a toon on a mission at the moment.
His father had gone insane. And he was trying to drag him along. And apparently everyone he knew while he was at it.
Buster honestly had no idea what had gotten into his father. He hadn't misbehaved - that Dad knew of - so there was no reason to punish him. Dad's punishments ranged from a spanking to an ear blistering lecture to cleaning the windows and not streaking them. One particularly memorable punishment had been to pick up all their shed fur in the carpet with tweezers...
Buster thanked his friends for that one…'Oh, Ralph's too fat to catch up…let's jack his ride!'
It was hard being the smart one sometimes. He did enjoy saying 'I told you so', even if most times he joined in with their shenanigans. More often, he helped plan them.
But this time, he hadn't done anything.
He hadn't stolen so much as a second glance at Babs yet here he was, in the hot musty attic on a perfectly nice day so it had to be a punishment of some sort.
The sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky, or so it had been when he looked out the window almost two hours ago. That had been when life had not taken a downward spiral. He had been in the living room happily playing his video game and not breathing in the stale air in the attic.
Dad had come into the living room, rolled his eyes at the fact that Buster was - again - playing a video game and snapped it off, annoying him. He had prepared for the inevitable lecture on going outside, calling his friends, doing anything else but sitting on the couch, not letting laziness overtake him now that he was no longer on a show.
Instead, his father had asked him to come up to the attic. When Buster declined, it had turned into an order...
Requests could be ignored. Orders could not.
Dad had wanted him to help find 'the gear'.
When Buster had asked what he was talking about, Dad had announced they were going…
Even two hours later, Buster shuddered at the memory.
What the hell?
He had never been camping before in his life. Up until a few hours ago he had hardly been aware of what the word meant. He had barely known that Dad owned a tent, let alone a 'camp stove' or 'sleeping bags'.
He had seen 'A Goofy Movie' and the countless other shows, movies and sitcoms of the father or some such parental figure wishing to strengthen his ties with a soon to be teenager and dragging the reluctant putz off for some bonding in the wilderness.
He had never thought he'd be the putz.
The shows or movies always ended with some sappy 'all's right with the relationship' moment, with tons of hugs and kisses and promises to always love one another because they were family and yada yada yada.
He loved his father, he respected him more than anyone he'd ever met, more even than his godfather. Dad knew that and he was well aware that his father loved him too. He didn't need to drag him out to the woods to prove it.
To add insult to this injury, Dad said it was going to be some sort of gigantic male bonding thing. So, not only had his father lost his mind, it was apparently catching. He had actually asked his father to repeat himself before laughing out loud.
If he was astonished at the entire idea of himself crawling around in the woods, the idea of Monty and Plucky there delighted him. He couldn't wait to see that; it'd almost be worth the entire hellish experience to witness.
And Max was bringing his butler - that was priceless... Buster had a mental image of Jeeves outside in his formal attire - that he had seen him wear exactly three times in all the years he had known Max - asking if the brat would like an extra sherbet to freshen his palette before dining on hotdogs and almost broke out into uproarious laughter.
He was judging his friend poorly; Max wasn't quite that bad. Luckily, the snobbery the Max family was famous for hadn't completely rubbed off on Monty, but he was still an extremely spoiled boy. He wished he could call him now, just to hear the variety of swear words Monty would no doubt use to describe this newest situation in his life. He was relatively certain a rousing game of 'blame the bunny' was in the works though. Monty loved to blame him, even if he had totally advised against something and they went ahead and did it anyway.
He honestly was surprised that Monty was going; this wasn't exactly something he was having an easy time picturing. Buster had at first assumed it was to be some sort of vain attempt at 'father-son' bonding and they would actually get to see Mr. Max in person instead of in the society section of some paper.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Max was not going. He was hobnobbing around Europe or something. This was the butler's doing.
Not surprising - it was always the butler.
Every now and then, Buster was almost jealous of Monty. At first he thought Monty answered to no one; he frequently got away with murder and usually if he asked for something, he got it within a day. Come to find out his butler was a lot more involved in his life than he ever let on. He might get away with more than most - more than anyone Buster had ever met - but when he finally crossed the line Jeeves came down hard.
And if he was confused about Monty, Plucky was just as much an enigma. The duck's father was also alive and well, still spouting off his racist thoughts at the dinner table, his mother joining in with her own thoughts. Plucky had been more closed about them though; perhaps the thoughts weren't as catching as he first had worried.
The day Plucky had spouted off about Mary in the music room Buster had been shocked. Not so much what he said - he had been to the Duck house plenty of times and had heard murmurings. Plucky had never repeated any of them.
No, what had surprised him most was that Plucky had even said them. He really credited the duck with more intelligence than that.
He shook his head, remembering when he dragged the duck out of the music room before Wakko accidentally let go of Max and the other boy killed him.
Plucky had been beside himself once he was outside, still blabbering off about Mary while in-between ranting that Max had actually hit him. Buster had to finally threaten to mallet him to get him to be quiet long enough to get a word in edgewise.
When he finally did, he discovered what he and Wakko had suspected anyway; Plucky was simply jealous that Mary had been getting what had used to be Max's undivided attention. When Buster pointed out that he might have pissed Max off enough the other boy wouldn't want to even talk to him anymore the duck had finally shut up long enough to listen to him.
He pointed out that he'd have a hard time staying friends with him after the comments, especially if he meant them. After all, Wakko was black...furred anyway - did that matter? No one held it against Plucky that he was a green duck and that was odd even in a town full of toons.
How about Yakko? Up until this spiel Plucky had never had a problem with the older boy. Hell, they all mostly watched him when he wasn't looking just to figure out what he was doing so they could do it too. And all the Warners used to be destitute; were they simply better now because they had money? Would they not be up to his level if they didn't have a show?
Not to mention Daffy – his idol – was covered in black feathers. Did that matter?
After that, Buster had been afraid the duck would start crying. Plucky, for all his big mouth and ego was probably the most sensitive of all of them. He could be a jerk at times, but he wasn't really evil.
Happily, Wakko had defused Max enough the boys had talked later. It had been tense for awhile but it had slowly died away. He sincerely hoped he never pissed Wakko off that much, or that Wakko never pissed him off that much either.
Wakko came close sometimes though.
It was hard being the smartest of the group. The unofficial leader - he knew that was how everyone looked at him. He didn't want the title; the last time he checked, his name wasn't 'Leonardo' and he sure as hell didn't have a shell on his back.
He usually got his advice about what to do from his father. Dad had a refreshing habit of trying to see everyone's point of view and usually tried to have him do the same.
But, in certain situations he said wrong was wrong, no matter what the reason behind it was.
Case in point; Plucky. He said that Plucky was at a crossroads and would begin to have to make a decision... Either he would take after his parents or he would begin to form his own thoughts about what they said and go from there. No one could decide what to do but Plucky.
Dad said the only thing they could do was hope that Plucky chose the right path, but he said there was nothing wrong with showing Plucky what the right path was. Plucky respected Max a great deal more than he would ever let on; Buster prayed that Monty's influence would have a positive influence on the duck's thinking.
He had no wish to end his friendship with Plucky, but he could see it being difficult to maintain if he stuck to his family's narrow-minded thinking pattern. Plucky seemed to be trying anyway, even grudgingly agreeing to sit next to Mary when she was eating with Max one day at the mall. It wasn't much, but it was a start.
Plucky was an attention whore but underneath his feathers there was a good heart.
And a couch potato. Buster could only imagine what Plucky would be like on a three day trip into the woods. The duck would probably shoot himself if he didn't have access to one hundred and twenty premium channels, a never ending bowl of popcorn and at least one game control. For everyone's sanity Buster hoped Plucky remembered his medicine. He did not want to see the duck off his medicine in the middle of a forest...
Buster sighed again, watching his father begin to dig in some boxes, wondering why he was doing this to him - any of them - but especially him.
Somehow his father had gotten the idea, spoken to Foghorn who, true to form was ecstatic about it. Dad had also said Bugs would be going, which only made Buster wonder if his godfather had lost a dare. He bet Bugs would rent some expensive RV to tool around in.
His godfather was many things; a 'true outdoorsman' was not one of them.
Daffy was coming along, probably as comic relief from what Buster could see. He liked Daffy, but again, he didn't see him being a real nature's man. And to top off the entire deal, Yakko and Wakko had been suckered into coming. Yakko should provide plenty of one liners and jokes to keep things halfway entertaining.
Wakko being there would make the entire ordeal bearable.
Dot, that lucky little snot, seemed to have gotten off Scot-free and had escaped the bonding ritual.
It was going to be the camping trip from hell. None of them would survive this.
Buster sighed, wishing he had known what this day was going to be like. He would have stayed in bed. Or hidden. Or called Wakko.
He shook his head, half annoyed with himself. Much like Wakko admitting to him hesitantly that he thought about Elmyra more than he had any desire too, Buster had found himself thinking about his pink former costar lately. Unlike Wakko though, he didn't find it all that upsetting and neither did Babs apparently.
He'd call her sometimes, under the pretext of asking advice on a video game or needing help with an assignment. Most times he didn't need it; his grades were above average and he could easily call Plucky for anything video game related.
The duck's hands were normally glued to a video game controller. Between him and Monty they had pretty much beaten anything Sega had released.
But he'd call Babs, and she'd giggle and coo in her sweet way at him, making him feel like her day was perfectly complete now that he had phoned. And she'd do these impressions of the others that made him laugh at how ridiculous his friends were sometimes before telling him no matter how insane they all acted, he was the brains and the most talented and handsomest of them. She even said she liked his gravely voice and longed for the day he would stop being so hesitant about it and would actually sing a song for her instead of passing it off to Wakko.
Wakko had a better voice, everyone would admit that. But she said Buster's voice had a charm all its own and was what she thought about when she fell asleep at night.
That always made him feel better, no matter how much it sounded like she pulled the line from some chick flick.
He had never been jealous of Wakko; after having fought with the boy for the first fifteen minutes of meeting him, they had been best friends ever since. Buster always considered himself fairly good looking; the constant fan letters he had rolling into the studio told him that much. He knew he was intelligent. He was certainly talented. Wakko had told him once he practically radiated self confidence.
Internally though he struggled. Especially if he saw Babs talking to Wakko.
From what he could tell about girls and what they liked, Wakko wasn't exactly hurting in the looks department either. And Buster figured he was right; Wakko had started to get more and more of them talking to him, something he didn't seem to care for much still.
Plus Wakko was talented in his own way. Smart, popular, a natural musician, easygoing personality…
Wakko had never looked at Babs twice, something that Buster was thankful for. He wasn't sure if he could or would compete with his friend. He wasn't sure if he would win.
Wakko talked to her sure - most of the boys did. Babs was this weird, wonderful wacky combination of all girl - pretty, feminine, charming - but with enough tomboy in her to give Gosalyn a run for her money. He didn't know any other girl that would join in a pie fight as quick as her, or volunteer to play in the outfield, even if it was still muddy from a recent rainstorm. Even Elmyra, who was a little tomboyish herself had refused to play out there.
Luckily Wakko had eyes for Elmyra. Everyone knew that, even if Wakko was still bashful about admitting it and would typically deny it if anyone said anything.
Buster wasn't that surprised about it - he wasn't trying to feel superior to his friend but he was a year and a month older. Sometimes that meant a lot. A year ago he would never had admitted to liking Babs as much as he did, even if he kind of did like her then. When she wasn't looking he'd watch her, or if they were standing in line he'd push the others out of the way so he could stand beside her, or accidentally brush her hand and laugh it off as an accident.
Maybe, one day he'd kiss her. He had thought about it, once, when they had all been playing on the lot. She had sprained her ankle and he was helping her limp back to the infirmary and she had her arm around his shoulder while making soft mewling sounds. And he appreciated her trying to hold back her tears; he knew it probably had hurt. He had seen her slender ankle starting to swell almost as soon as she fell.
He had tried to carry her and had only managed to make himself look like an idiot when he couldn't lift her. Even while the others laughed at him and Wakko volunteered to grab her arms and Buster could just grab her legs, Buster had stopped him. He could help her by himself.
And he had, and while she limped along with her head on his shoulder he had almost leaned over and kissed her, if only to cheer her up some but had stopped himself. He would rather she remember him kissing her; if her mind was half clogged in pain she probably wouldn't. And it wouldn't be very nice, trying to kiss her while she was incapable of kicking him if she didn't want to be kissed.
Not that she had ever acted that way; he thought she was going to kiss him a few ti -
"Get off that box!"
Startled, Buster started to jump up, thinking that something horrible and monstrous was coming up from the flaps. Before he could fully stand his father had bodily picked him up from it and was clutching him to his chest. Buster looked up at his normally sane father before looking down at the box again as with a shaky sigh Bernie lowered him back to the floor.
"Something wrong Dad?"
Besides the fact that you want to take me…camping.
"Nothing, nothing," Bernie said, waving him off and kneeling beside the box. "Just important…"
Buster watched his father trail off and frowned.
Dad was a writer, not an occupation that was normally at a loss for words. He watched as his father knelt down, running his hand over the box with a small smile.
Tapping his foot, Buster waited for him to do one of three things. Open the box, get on with looking for 'the gear' or - best of all - tell him they were done. Maybe he would even announce that he had regained his lost sanity and Buster could go back downstairs to the air conditioning and do whatever he pleased.
He prayed for number three.
Instead, Dad sat fully on the floor, crossing his long legs in front on him before looking up at Buster, who continued to look down at him in annoyance.
"I forgot some of this stuff was up here," he said. "Well, I knew, but…never mind," Bernie said, smiling and patting the floor beside him.
Buster raised an eyebrow but finally sighed and sat beside him on the dirty floor, glad he wasn't wearing a pair of pants he actually liked. Other than Dad snapping at him earlier for not wanting to come up to the attic to look for 'the gear' his father had been in a good mood.
Best not to jinx it. Besides, whatever was in the box was important to his father; it might be interesting.
Scooting closer he leaned up on his knees and asked, "What's up Dad? Find a missing manuscript?"
Dad had a billion of those things. That was another puzzler for Buster; his father was a writer. What was with the sudden desire for adventure in the great outdoors? He tended to sit in his study and just steadily type at his computer as his hands wrote out jokes and plots for several shows. If Dad was in the study Buster was welcome; he remembered being younger and sitting on his father's lap as he typed out those first early scripts for 'Tiny Toons' or just tinkered around with his own book ideas.
Dad never wrote any scripts for him; he said he wouldn't feel right about it.
Luckily 'Tiny Toons' had such a large cast there was any number of other scripts he could be working on. When 'Animaniacs' had come into being he had moved over to that show, finally earning the title 'head writer' that Buster thought he deserved years prior.
Sometimes Buster missed those days, when he was small enough to sit in his lap and just be close to him while he worked. His recent growth spurt wasn't enough that he still couldn't do it but he would feel awkward. Besides, he was going to be thirteen soon. That was way too old to be perching in his father's lap.
He had his own memories of it though; that was enough he supposed. He still sort of missed it, now and then.
"Look at this," Bernie said quietly, interrupting Buster's musings.
Buster wrinkled his lip as he looked at it. That thing was old; a stupid picture he had drawn for his father when he was maybe four or five. The two of them in his study, nothing more than stick figures with long blue crayon marks for their ears. There was another stick figure outside the crudely drawn square that was supposed to be a window.
"You kept this?" He asked, almost stunned. "Why?"
He had thought the picture had depressed his father when he had drawn it; he could have sworn his father had thrown it out. When he had given it to him, he had just been told - in baby talk - that his mother was dead. She would not be coming back but he was going to be taken care of and safe no matter what and that Dad was just going to be sad for a little while.
Buster tumbled back into his own memories, remembering that. Bugs had explained it - again in baby talk - but Buster had always respected both his father and his god father for not lying to him and saying she 'went away' or 'went to sleep'. Just because he was young didn't mean he was stupid or couldn't grieve; he understood perfectly well that something was missing in his life and that his father was hurting. He remembered not really understanding why she wasn't coming back and he remembered sobbing in their laps, confused about why his mother had left him.
At some point he had stopped crying and sat down to draw something to make his father feel better. When he had handed the picture to his still grieving father Bernie had started crying again, harder, and just held him while he sat at his desk.
He didn't remember much after that; he just remembered that at the time all he knew was he made his father cry which had made him cry. Other than a few times right around then, Buster couldn't remember seeing him ever cry.
"Of course I kept it," Bernie snorted. "I took great comfort in this when you drew it; if nothing else I knew you'd remember her, even a little. And just so you know mister, I kept everything you did. That's half of what's in this box."
Buster cringed; he could only imagine.
Leaning inside to look he almost hid his face in embarrassment. Dad wasn't lying, he kept everything. Every stupid drawing, every dumb story and poem he tried to write, pictures from photo shoots and magazine articles…
Maybe Dad wasn't all rabbit; maybe he had ferret or rat or some other hoarding animal in him. Dad was the living personification of the term 'pack rat'.
"Dad - just put that stuff away," Buster said, desperate. "Look, tell me what a camp stove looks like. I'll find it! I'll build one if I have to! Just don't pull that stuff out and - "
"Look Buster - the figure you made of me in clay!" Bernie said, proudly holding up what Buster had previously thought was a rock. "And the paper you wrote about me!"
Buster squirmed, remembering that paper he had to write for Flemeil. 'Your Ideal Role Model'. He had chosen his father and caught hell from Flemeil, who had wanted him to choose someone famous from history. Luckily Dad had gone down - with some assistance from Bugs and Yosemite - to get his failing grade changed to a passing.
Bitter old prune. He was glad he'd never have to see her again.
"And look - "
"Do I have to?" Buster moaned quietly. He had seen what his father grabbed.
"Your first ear warmers! We had them bronzed."
Buster rolled his eyes. Other kids had their first pair of shoes bronzed - well, except Max; no doubt his parents had the silver spoon he was born with gold plated. But rabbits didn't wear shoes; rabbit toons had ear warmers bronzed.
"Exciting Dad…can I - "
"Oh look, a photo album! One of your early ones."
"If there's a picture of me naked on a bear skin rug I'm leaving," Buster muttered, but he still scooted closer anyway, curious despite his feeling of dread about what may be in there.
Bernie, looking excited, began to flip through and Buster watched him as his face began to change expressions; from excitement, to longing, back to happiness, regret…
Buster moved even closer, putting his head under his father's arm to see better. This was prior to his days on the set of 'Tiny Toons' and he was always curious about that. Dad had never refused to tell him anything if he asked about Mom; in fact he had always seemed to welcome any opportunity to talk about her. This was a new album though, an album he hadn't seen before and despite his attitude about being up there in the first place he wanted to see.
Besides, it seemed to be making Dad happy.
"Look, there's Holly," Bernie said, pointing to a photograph of a slim white rabbit dressed in a chef's jacket and plaid pants, joyfully waving at the camera while her belly bulged out in front of her. "She always could cook well."
"Mom was a cook?"
Bernie nodded, still smiling at the picture. Using one long gloved finger he stroked the photograph.
"That's how I met her," he said quietly, hugging Buster closer. "I was one of the lower writers - not even a writer. I was still just a typist, putting the scripts in order after someone else wrote them. She was one of the cooks in this little diner across from the lot." He sighed before saying, "I'd go over there every morning to get coffee and try to see her, then back for lunch, then still go by there for dinner." Laughing he said, "I think I spent a good portion of my first year's paycheck there before I finally got the nerve to ask her to lunch."
"And she said yes," Buster guessed.
"No, she didn't," Bernie said. "She said no, she wanted to go to dinner. And she insisted on Italian."
"She liked Italian?"
"Oh yes," Bernie sighed. "And she craved it when she was pregnant with you, like she was here." Still giving his lopsided smile to the picture he added, "The house smelled like garlic until the day you were born."
Buster found that odd, only because he couldn't stand the smell of garlic himself. He wasn't even that overly found of Italian; he usually preferred Mexican.
Well, pizza was Italian…sort of.
"I told her not to go to work like this," Bernie was saying, drawing Buster back into his conversation. "It was tight, but we could have made it on my salary. But she was stubborn, she insisted on working up until about seven months along. She finally yelled at me and stopped answering the phone at work because I called every hour to make sure her - and you - were OK."
Buster looked up at his father, grinning, until he saw that his father was no longer smiling as wide. Now he was regarding Buster, most of the humor gone from his face.
"Do you remember her? Really?"
Buster looked at him, wondering if it would do any good to lie to him. Dad would go nuts if he lied. And Dad could always tell; usually no matter what, he found it was less painful if he just admitted what he had done and faced the consequences for it.
But would a lie here be appropriate? Wouldn't the truth hurt more?
"Some, not much," Buster finally admitted. "I remember her singing. I remember her making pancakes with faces on them for me - "
"You loved those - you'd sit and talk to them - "
"Until she came by and started feeding me," Buster finished, glad that his memories of her were starting to come back. "Then she'd hand me the spoon and let me take over. I kinda remember her picking me up and holding me."
He struggled to recall anything else but was unable to do so. Almost all his memories involved his father...
One of his early birthdays and his father wiping a tear back as he talked to himself while looking at a picture of Mom, telling her that Buster had turned five. His father putting the gloves on his hand, in front of the picture and the bookcase with the white urn that contained Mom's ashes. His father holding him while he cried because the kids on the set had been mean to him his first day there even though two of those kids ended up becoming his best friends a week later.
His father teaching him to ride a bike. His father taking him to the zoo. His father teaching him to swim.
His father spanking him for lying to him about not leaving the yard without him. He had done it anyway though, getting on the bike, so young the training wheels were still attached and peddling down to the next block before coming back. His stupid ass trying to lie about it even though his father had been standing on the sidewalk outside the house glaring at him when he rode up; he wondered if Dad had been watching him the whole time.
Dad cuddling him after he got in trouble, telling him no matter what he did he'd still love him. Dad holding him when he got hurt, like when he ripped his knee open after falling out of a tree. Dad drawing goofy faces on his cast when he broke his leg years ago. Dad sitting down on the couch with him and helping him learn lines or do his homework.
Dad clapping and saying he was doing great at the guitar and that he was going to be the next Jimmy Hendrix when he grew up even though at the time he was still learning and it probably sounded like several small rodents being tortured.
Dad holding his hand and standing beside him when he first went to a real audition for 'Tiny Toons' - just because he was the child of a writer at the studio didn't mean he could just walk into a part. Dad later standing beside him when he finally told Plotz and Mr. Spielberg that he no longer wanted to star on 'Tiny Toons'.
Dad sitting in his study, leaned back in his chair, reviewing contracts with Bugs.
Dad reading books on ADHD and diabetes and seafood allergies so he was informed about the diseases his friends had. It also made his friends feel they could come to his house and always be welcome no matter what illness they might have. Dad finding a tutor for sign language so Buster could learn. Dad even sat in on some of the lessons himself so he could do more than wave at his son's deaf friend.
All this on top of his own schedule; his job, trying to have a social life. Buster scooted closer to his father, almost sitting in his lap while Bernie buried his face in his ears for a moment.
"You wanna go camping really bad don't you?" Buster asked quietly as he continued to watch his father turn the pages in the book. As the book went from being halfway done, the chubby blue baby bunny grew to be a toddler, the familiar white bunny behind him disappearing shortly before the last page.
Despite what had happened, Dad had kept the book going until he turned five and entered childhood. Buster knew the 'childhood' book was downstairs in the study. He knew at some point that would be filled - probably soon - and Dad would no doubt start a new book for his teenaged years.
Buster internally cringed at the thought; he was already growing gangly and felt awkward in his own body. He was doubly glad he had decided to leave the show when he did. The thought of being on the air and being scrutinized as he went through puberty was humiliating.
He was just waiting for his voice to begin changing. While he wouldn't have to worry about that being broadcast, he was pretty sure that Max would laugh his head off about it, if only because they had all laughed at him. He had tried not to laugh much, but it had been funny at the time. He just knew Max would be getting his revenge on them all soon.
"I want to do something with you really bad," Bernie corrected. "You're going to be thirteen soon, an incredible young man. I don't want you to ever look back and say we never spent enough time together." Waving his hand at the now closed book he added, "I don't know if one day something may happen to me- "
"Don't say it Dad," Buster said, returning his father's hug. "If you really want to go, I'll go." Somewhat embarrassed he added, "Sorry about before, not wanting to help."
"Don't worry about it," Bernie said. "If you really don't want to go, we don't have to. I'll be taking my vacation and had the idea, and with Foghorn being experienced in it…we just started talking." Laughing he added, "Somehow it went from our trip to a whole outing involving half the studio."
"So?" Buster shrugged. "It might not be that bad, and besides, it'll do Monty and Plucky some good. They hardly realize there's a world outside the couch half the time."
"Wakko and Yakko too," Bernie pointed out. "Remember, they weren't born with some of the same opportunities you and the others got; another reason Foghorn got so excited..."
"What about Bugs?"
Bernie paused before shrugging, grinning and standing up.
"I think he might have lost a bet. Bugs isn't what I consider a camper."
Buster sighed before saying, "My thoughts exactly. Neither am I though; I'm worried about it. I saw 'Deliverance' and now - "
"Where'd you see that?" Bernie said, fully turning back toward him.
He'd forgotten that was one of the 'I got the damn movie but don't tell your dad' flicks Max had brought over one time. The four of them had watched it then tortured Hampton for days, asking him to say 'you got a pretty mouth boy' or even better, telling him to 'squeal like a piggy'. It had confused him but delighted them.
There was simply nothing better than an in-joke.
"Uh…I didn't," Buster said, turning away from his father and hoping he wouldn't notice. "I just heard about it. Um…about a bummer of a summer trip."
"You could say that," Bernie muttered.
Buster waited in trepidation, wondering if his father was going to ask further questions.
"I won't ask," he sighed. "I can only imagine the response."
Buster sighed in relief. He wouldn't have to lie or risk getting his friends in trouble.
"But here's a question I want an answer to; before I yanked you off the box, you were sitting there with a silly smile on your face." Smiling he asked, "Babs?"
Buster sighed again, this time in irritation. Screw Max, he'd rather his father ask him about the movie... It'd be less embarrassing than talking about her.
Listening to his father's quiet chuckles and pronouncement that this was a 'man's only' trip, Buster rolled his eyes and wondered just how much this trip was going to suck.
April 29, 1996
Yakko turned from gazing out the window and watching the activity on the street to stare at Bugs like he had grown a second head.
Perhaps he misheard. He must have; it was the joy of finally getting the learner's permit. He was almost a licensed driver - only five more months, he'd turn sixteen, he could take the road test. He had scored one-hundred percent on the written. Now, Plotz could actually start to find 'the chosen few' that would actually let him do the practical, hands on portion of driving.
Yeah, being proud obviously made you hear things. Things that made no sense. Because there was no possible way Bugs Bunny - city boy - just said -
"You heard me right doc," Bugs said, forking a spoonful of salad in his mouth. "Camping. C-A-M-P-"
"Yeah, sleep on the ground, eaten by a bear," Yakko laughed, already gazing back down at the permit beside him on the table. "I know what it is and I know how to spell it. I just want to know why you're talking about it."
"Because we're going," Bugs said in a voice that didn't exactly convey joy at the thought.
Yakko raised his ears in alarm before lowering them.
He had heard wrong. Misunderstood.
Bugs wouldn't have said 'we're' and been referring to the occupants at the table…which was just them. No, 'we're' obviously meant Bugs and some friends of his.
A friend that wasn't him.
Yakko nodded to himself, comforted. Foghorn would probably like something like that; he could picture him out there chopping down a tree or…something. Whatever they did out there.
"All of us. Me, you, Wakko, Buster, Bernie - "
"What?" Yakko laughed in astonishment with just a trace of worry being displayed in his tone.
He turned to look at Bugs, wondering if it was some sort of joke and he just wasn't getting the punch line.
"Camping Yakko, camping," Bugs grumbled in a sour voice as he cut his salad, stabbing at the croutons with his knife. "We - you and me - and the others."
"OK, slow down, hold the phone," Yakko laughed. "Look, I'm a little old for the Cub Scouts Bugs; I think - "
"It's to say congratulations for passing your test," Bugs said, not looking at him as he continued to shred his salad.
Yakko watched him, finally raising an eyebrow; Bugs should know better. Bugs was so full of shit at the moment that if he wasn't careful he'd go from being grey furred to brown.
"Right," Yakko said, smirking. "Ya know, the lunch is more than enough. I'll forgo any extra activities this weekend - "
"Extra?" Bugs raised an eyebrow at him. "What do you have planned?"
Yakko thought quickly. He didn't have anything 'planned' per say, but he knew even his non-plans included not sleeping on the ground in a nylon bag while owls hooted over his head. He'd had enough of sleeping on the ground in his youth.
"Um…reading, and studying…"
"Yeah, studying. Got a paper to write for Flameil," he said easily. "And the sibs - "
"Wakko wants to go, and I already know Dot's going to Molly's for the horse show in Sacramento ," Bugs said. "Try something else."
"Wakko wants to go?" Yakko asked, finally giving up on eating his club sandwich in light of this startling new revelation. Narrowing his eyes at Bugs he asked, "Did he say that because he sure hasn't asked me - "
"Well, he doesn't know yet, but I bet he will, once someone asks him," Bugs interrupted him. Rolling his eyes and muttering, "Hell, no one else got asked, he can consider himself lucky."
Sighing, Yakko finally said, "All right Bugs, what's the game? You're not what I'd consider an 'outdoor recreational' type."
"I like being outdoors!"
"Lounging on your deck with a smoothie isn't exactly what I was referring to," Yakko drawled. "Buster finally succeed in hitting you on the head with a mallet didn't he?"
"Nothing going on," Bugs said, eyeing him carefully before returning to decimate his salad. "And Buster finally succeeding in hitting me…oh no, no doc. He and the rest of the little terrors…I'll get them for that stunt a few months back…"
Yakko winced, feeling a slight touch of sympathy for Wakko and the other boys.
He wouldn't help protect them of course; he was no fool. They simply couldn't toilet paper Bugs' car - right before a rain storm - with about eighty rolls and not expect the king of pranks to get some sort of revenge on them.
And the rabbit was devious and clever; no way he was getting on the wrong end of him. The Fab Four were on their own. He'd sit back and just enjoy the show.
Yakko pulled himself back to the conversation when Bugs started speaking
"I just thought it would be nice to take you camping, do something fun with you. It's been a rough month, and now we have something to celebrate."
Yakko started to feel bad, wondering if Bugs was being straight with him.
Really? That's nice, that Bugs wants to do something with me…
Who the hell does the rabbit think he's fooling?
"Again, I think I'll pass - "
"You can't," Bugs said, sipping his water and not looking at him. "I already bought you a sleeping bag."
Oh God please return it because the thought of having to use it -
"I can't - besides, you owe me," Bugs said, smirking and nodding his head toward the permit still sitting on the table... "Don't think Plotz was the only one that had to do something. Besides, who drove you there and signed the paperwork as your guardian? Who helped you study that book? Who saved you from gnawing the fingertips off your gloves while you sat there anxiously awaiting the results of the test?"
Yakko, eyes widened, stared at Bugs in horror while his mind quickly worked.
OK, that was true. And God knew he owed the rabbit more than he could ever repay and not just for getting him through the last hellish month since Goose died. It still hurt to think about, but he was slowly getting over it. Bugs had said, in time, the pain would be there, but it would be easier to talk about.
Yakko knew that; while he hadn't been quite as close to Mom as he was to Goose, it could be painful to talk about her as well. But, as time had gone by, he was able to speak about her. Luckily, Wakko and Dot had seemed to handle things well; they had been distracted though with school work, the Spring Fling Function, sleepovers at different houses…
There was simply too much the rabbit had done for him alone - not to mention his siblings - that he could ask him to do anything and Yakko would gladly do it.
OK, he had to think. Bugs had helped him get his permit, and he wouldn't take it back. His permit was safe, Yakko was sure of that.
"Um…can I just give you some gas money?" Yakko asked, wishing his voice didn't sound like a whimper.
Camping…the damn rabbit was insane.
"I don't want your money," Bugs scoffed before putting on a smile faker than the Joker's. "I just want your company for the weekend to celebrate your big accomplishment! Just a getaway with the men!"
Not even any girls?
Yakko continued to stare at Bugs momentarily before asking, "OK Bugs, what's really in that salad? You got some of those crazy mushrooms I've heard about in there don't ya?"
"Don't be lippy Yakko; if I did I wouldn't share 'em with you," Bugs said in a very upbeat voice before muttering, "I'd be saving them for the nature hike
Something wasn't adding up. Bugs wanted to take him camping and…
Yakko thought about that.
OK, he was still trying to wrap his whole mind around the phrase 'Bugs wanted to take him camping'. Anything beyond that couldn't be comprehended until he puzzled that out.
"It's gonna be fun," Bugs said, sounding almost like he was on the verge of a breakdown he was talking so loud. Waving his fork around with a tomato still speared at the end he added, "Just imagine, you and me, out on the trail, roughing it - "
"I don't 'rough it'," Yakko said, hoping he didn't sound too haughty. "I 'roughed it' through half my childhood. I have no desire to - "
"This is different!" Bugs insisted, still with the large fake smile. "This is just us - with people who care about you!"
Yakko rolled his eyes. He wasn't going camping. Period. He would be willing to think about it for a quarter of a second if Bugs would just be straight with him. It was obvious that the rabbit was lying through his big front teeth.
"No Bugs," Yakko said, swallowing and hoping he'd be able to return to eating, but with the way his stomach was now twisting he wasn't that optimistic. "Thanks but no thanks."
"Oh please?" Bugs said.
Yakko looked up at him and groaned out loud. He thought Wakko and Dot were bad at the 'oh please oh please oh please do whatever because I love you' face.
Bugs could actually give them lessons.
What the hell was going on?
"I just…wanted to do something with ya doc…" Bugs said before trailing off with a sad sigh. "You know, you called me 'da-doo' a couple of times - "
Never ever doing that again.
"And I always tried to help you out, be a good role model - "
"Up until this idea you were!" Yakko insisted, despite the fact he was well aware the rabbit was using trickery on him to get his way. It was hardly the first time he had done it. "You know I respect you more than anyone I've ever met and - "
"And all da-doos want to take their little doo's camping," Bugs said, sniffing and getting a wet look in his eye. His ears folded down behind his head and he sniffed again, staring at Yakko, looking for all the world like a kicked puppy.
Yakko stared back at him like he was deranged. Bugs was crying - that was more than he usually did to get his way. Jokes, trickery, bribes, teasing threats, threats actually carried out…he could handle all those.
It's a trick Yakko…he's an actor, a very good, devious, diabolical, clever actor…
Could anyone actually fake the wounded look that well?
He had been amused, then horrified at the idea. Camping. It dredged up all manner of frights, from rousing renditions of 'Koombaya' to 'Deliverance' to having to choke back a 'smore' - whatever the hell that was. Something nasty having to do with marshmallows and Graham Crackers was all he had figured out.
He shuddered as he imagined ticks getting in his fur, nettles stuck in his hair…having to bathe in a filthy creek. Then he said 'others' - Wakko was somehow getting suckered into this little outing though for the life of him he couldn't figure out how or why.
He watched as Bugs continued to look at him, one single tear slipping from his left eye and making a small wet path down his cheek and Yakko groaned, hiding his face in his hands. If he couldn't see Bugs, he might not feel as guilty about saying no.
He wasn't saying no - he was being forced to go... Well, not really forced - Bugs hadn't said 'you have to go or I'll take your permit back'. No, the rabbit was doing something far worse…
The 'guilt trip'.
Dirty, sneaky, underhanded -
"Please tell me you'll go," Bugs asked hopefully. When Yakko finally glanced back up at him he clasped his hands under his chin and widened his eyes anxiously.
"I don't know Bugs - "
"Please? For me? Do it for…your da-doo?"
Oh. My. God.
Yakko mentally screamed to himself. He should never have jokingly called Bugs that; the Warner siblings' Da-Doo. He damn sure shouldn't have given Bugs an early Father's Day card. He knew the rabbit liked it.
He had gathered his siblings up and bought the card a few weeks ago, after they had gone through the entire service for Goose. Luckily, like with most holidays, stores started selling cards and accessories for the holiday many moths prior to the actual event.
Spying a Father's Day card, they had bought it, crossing out the word 'Father' and writing in 'Da-Doo' instead. After handing it to the stunned rabbit they had taken him out to lunch, sort of a 'thank you' for all he had done for them. God knew his real father wasn't worth the price of the card, let alone a stamp.
Bugs had said he was flattered they thought that highly of him. He had never received any sort of card for that particular reason from anyone, student or not, let alone received the honorary title of 'Da-Doo'.
The rabbit had obviously been touched.
Yakko just hadn't realized it was in the head.
"Can't I just think about it?" Yakko begged, desperate.
Maybe if he had a little more time he'd be able to think of a logical explanation for why Bugs had gotten this idea. With any luck he could also hopefully come up with a better reason for not going.
"I have to know now, to plan our trip," Bugs said.
"But - "
Bugs then dramatically threw his arm over his eyes before sighing loudly, "It's OK Yakko. I understand you don't want to hang out with a stupid boring old hare like me - "
"Now hold on! That's not what I meant and you know it!" Yakko said, standing and pointing to Bugs.
He also said it more loudly than he intended. He knew that as soon as he heard most of the restaurant fall silent behind him.
He cast a glance over his shoulder before just groaning and closing his eyes. Half the people in there were looking at them, forks or sandwiches half raised to open mouths or drink glasses clutched in hands.
A few were even glaring at him, eyes narrowed and making 'tsk tsk' noises. He heard one man say something about the boy should be ashamed of himself for treating his father that way. Yakko was hard pressed not to tell the man to mind his own business. Someone else said something about the rudeness of 'today's youth'.
Yakko cast a panicky look at them before glancing back at Bugs, who had now hidden his face in his hands with his shoulders slumped in defeat.
Bugs Bunny. For Christ sake if someone lived in a cave they would know the name 'Bugs Bunny' and it was common knowledge that he had no children. And Yakko himself knew he wasn't exactly an unknown either. Everyone knew Bugs wasn't his father.
Though he's been more of one than I ever had…
"OK Bugs, OK," Yakko finally sighed, sitting back down. "If it will make you that happy than I guess I can do it for you - "
"Excellent doc," Bugs said, snapping right back to normal and going back to his salad. "You'll spend the night with me Thursday and we get going early Friday."
Yakko, stunned, felt his head reeling at the speed of Bugs' recovery. He narrowed his eyes at the now grinning hare; he sure snapped out of his little melodramatic mood quick enough.
He had just been 'had'. Again.
"Fine, you got me," Yakko hissed. "Now what's really going on?"
"What?" Bugs shrugged. "I wanted to do something with you and this opportunity…sort of got presented to me. In a forced way."
"Oh, like with me then?" Yakko asked, still glaring at the now triumphant looking rabbit. Tapping the table in annoyance with his finger he asked, "Fine, I'll get to experience the closest thing I'll ever get to a father-son bonding moment in the woods. Now, wanna tell me what's up…doc?"
"Do you think I always have some ulterior motive?" Bugs asked, looking slightly hurt.
Looking somewhat hesitant Bugs said, "It's not like that Yakko, really." Looking uncomfortable he added, "In fact, you'll probably laugh."
"Trust me, I could use some humor right now," Yakko said tightly, still tapping on the table.
"Oh all right, fair's fair," Bugs muttered, tossing his napkin down in disgust. "I was talking to Foghorn - "
"Knew he was involved in this somehow," Yakko muttered quietly.
" - and Bernie wanted to take Buster camping."
Bet he's as thrilled as I am.
" - and after talking, then Jeeves decided it would beneficial to 'Young Master Montana'. Then Daffy got involved, before you knew it they were all going and Foghorn and I got to arguing and I got sort of…dared," Bugs finished off, swallowing.
Yakko went back to staring at Bugs for a second, trying to take it all in.
So many questions and what if scenarios…
Dared? He wanted to take him after he got 'dared'? And the others…what a crew.
Max - the billionaire brat…in the woods? With his English butler who would no doubt be trying to serve tea and biscuits at four PM sharp every day? This would be a trip.
There would be Wakko, no doubt burping his way through campfire songs…no, he'd set the woods on fire. Then he'd probably sit there and fiddle like Nero while the entire forest burned around their ears.
Plucky would be whining about not having a video game to play or worse, lose his medicine.
Buster, just being moody and whiny in general, would encourage his minions in the mayhem.
That was just the younger portion of this crew. The adults…Yakko closed his eyes, continuing to imagine...
Mr. Bunny would probably be sitting around with a pad and pen writing everything down to put in a script for an upcoming episode. Bugs would be making jokes.
Than there's Foghorn, who was probably the only one of any of this motley crew that could correctly read a compass let alone do anything else. His booming voice would be echoing through the woods with enough volume that most local wildlife would be scared off…Good lord what if something happened to him?
Daffy and his egotistical attitude would try to take over. He'd fight with Bugs, then get them all lost and they'd have to dine on berries and C-Rations until they were picked up, dehydrated and starving a week later. To top it off, there would probably be a bazillion paparazzi standing at the edge of the forest taking pictures of their stupid asses when they were finally rescued.
He saw this playing out in his mind like the latest comedy to come out of the studio. It was as vivid as if he was watching it on a screen in front of his plate.
Holy shit what had he just committed himself to?
" - but it wasn't just for the dare, I thought you might like to go so I said yes and then - "
"Dared?" Yakko asked in a hard tone. "Dared? How old are you again? I barely accept 'it was a dare' from Wakko for some of the lame-brained stunts he pulls and he's eleven. And now you're telling me - "
"You don't understand doc!" Bugs exclaimed.
"No I don't," he muttered, slumping back against his seat and crossing his arms. "I'm getting dragged out into the forest during flea and tick season because a rooster challenged your manhood."
"I'll buy you a Hartz two-in-one collar if you're that worried about it," Bugs joked.
Yakko just glared at him. The only good thing about this was that Dot was going to be spared the entire experience.
Lucky. He almost wished he was female at the moment.
Standing up to sit in the booth next to him Bugs put his arm around Yakko's shoulders and said, "Look, one time thing, I promise. And it's only three days - and I really did want to do something with you, I just didn't know what. I mean what did you want to do to celebrate?"
"Going to Disney World mighta been nice," Yakko muttered. Looking up at Bugs he sighed and said, "Fine, fine, I'm going, but you owe me one now."
"I owe you a few I'm sure now. Anyway, we sort of need you there anyway," Bugs said. At Yakko's puzzled look he said, "You know we use you as the go between sometimes; whether you like it or not the younger boys look up to you - "
"Don't remind me."
" - and trust me, with those four, we'll need the extra set of eyes and mature attitude you'll bring along. You really are an incredible young man doc; we need you there."
Yakko scrutinized Bugs briefly; the rabbit didn't seem to be joking. And he had known Bugs long enough at this point to figure out when something wasn't right. It didn't stop him from getting played every now and then, but…
He shrugged. It was three days... No, it didn't sound fun, but Bugs actually looked halfway excited about it, now that he was grudgingly agreeing to accompany him.
Not to mention he had again acknowledged that Yakko was mature enough to help the adults, at least with the younger children... He had said it before, but Yakko had no objections to hearing it again, simply because it was true.
They didn't always listen to him, but the younger boys listened to him no less often than they did the adults, which was about seventy-five percent of the time.
That other twenty-five percent though…
Yakko shuddered as Bugs continued to talk about how this trip might not be that bad. Yakko wasn't that optimistic - it was a boys only trip. He hoped that there really was some hot girls going on the same type of shindig somewhere close in the woods because he had zero hope for any entertainment from this trip.
Then he heard Bugs say putting up a tent can't be that hard; pull a string, pound a stick in the ground like in the shorts he filmed and it would simply spring up. Foghorn was full of malarkey - there was nothing to camping and living in the woods for three days - dare him, Bugs Bunny - to camp? The rooster was a crazy as he was loud.
Bugs started scoffing at Foghorn's planning and warnings and advice. And they were going to have to rent a four-wheel drive vehicle because they were going 'off-roading'.
Yakko smirked to himself. OK, there was going to be entertainment after all. Watching Bugs set up a tent by 'pulling a string and pounding a stick in the ground' should be one of the many highlights of the entire weekend.
But, it was still going to suck.
April 30, 1996
" - and Master Montana, this will be an adventure - "
"If I desire adventure I shall brave the depths of Plucky's room," Montana muttered, slumping further down in the passenger seat of the Camry.
He cut his eyes to Jeeves, glaring at him while he continued to talk about this frightening new idea for 'weekend fun'. Didn't Jeeves realize he was interrupting a perfectly good brood with all his talking about adventure and male comradery?
"This is a rite of passage for all boys," Jeeves said.
"I am not all boys," Montana argued in an arrogant tone, watching him and hoping he could figure out what game Jeeves was playing with him.
Jeeves was up to something. Perhaps it was a gag of some sort.
His butler…camping? Montana had almost been stunned into speechlessness when he was first informed. Jeeves was old - would he survive?
Well, he wasn't 'old'… Montana studied him for a second, momentarily being distracted from his anger. Jeeves was forty-four - he couldn't believe that asshole Darkwing had the nerve to even suggest Jeeves was 'old'.
OK, he wasn't 'old', but wasn't forty-four too old to wish to go play Daniel Boone in a forest? Had he taken leave of his senses?
Jeeves normally wore a suit, or at least a blazer and slacks - hardly appropriate attire for 'camping'. Montana wasn't sure if Jeeves owned a pair of jeans.
And the guy was balding, his salt and pepper hair thinning at the top… Montana smirked; perhaps that explained it. Jeeves had been outside too long, and the sun had addled his brains. It all made perfect sense now -
"No, but you are currently a boy who is looking at the threat of something far worse than a weekend camping trip."
What the hell does that mean?
Deciding he didn't much care, Montana went from internally studying Jeeves back to glaring out the window. He decided his sulk was much more satisfying than contemplating his butler.
The only reason he was in the car was because Jeeves had bodily picked him up - kicking and screaming like a four-year-old - and put him in the car. The threat of being trussed up like a Christmas ham and being hauled to the rental lot in the trunk was the only reason he had stayed in the car.
He was unsure if Jeeves would actually do that or not. He probably wouldn't shove him in the trunk.
Most definitely the back seat.
He hated being forced to do something, especially 'learning experiences'. And this was going beyond Jeeves' usual 'learning experiences'. This was almost cruel and unusual punishment.
Mostly, Jeeves let him get away with murder. Nine times out of ten, the worst he would get out of Jeeves would be a lecture or a threat of more dire punishment should he do whatever he had done again. Normally, the threat was severe enough that Montana would be extra cautious if he decided to do whatever it was again.
Every now and then though, if he pushed too much, Jeeves would put his foot down. Normally it was a lecture, but he certainly made threats of punishments he was more than happy to carry out if need be. And Montana had ignored many threats and received some rather horrid punishments as a result.
Camping had never been one of the punishment threats…
He frowned again, confused. Jeeves had to have found out he did something; usually he was more forthcoming about what he was being punished for though. He never made it a guessing game.
Montana knew from prior experience that Jeeves loved two things: 'learning experiences' and 'building character'. And Jeeves loved nothing better than being able to combine those two items and welding them into a punishment.
Which sucked. What was the sense in being filthy rich - or being the son of people who were - if he couldn't do what he wanted? Or not do something if he didn't want to? Especially if he didn't do anything to deserve it.
At the top of his 'want' list currently was Jeeves' resignation notice.
At the top of his 'do not want' list was 'going camping'.
The old chap had obviously been knocked in the noggin with a tin of biscuits if he thought Montana was going to willingly go camping.
Montana shook his head, annoyed with himself. He had to constantly watch what he said around the others. Having grown up with mostly Jeeves as his primary caregiver, he had picked up some of the Englishman's sayings. The first time he had said 'Cheers' to Plucky the duck had laughed at him for five minutes.
Plucky was used to it now being a frequent guest at his house. When he first had heard Jeeves talk it just had surprised him since he had never heard someone from outside of the United States .
Montana wasn't sure how the others would react. He would not have Buster or Wakko - who hilariously enough sounded like he just fell off the damn British Isle - laughing at him for saying 'cheerio'.
Luckily, when he was with just Jeeves, he didn't have to watch his tongue and could speak as he pleased…as far as that went.
But still, if nothing else he could take comfort in the fact that he was well spoken.
"Why are we required to rent a vehicle?" Max grumbled, crossing his arms in front of him. "What's wrong with yours?"
Hell, they drove it all the time.
That had always cracked Montana up; his family was rich. They weren't the richest in the world, but they would never be considered 'hurting financially'. As such, everyone always assumed he was driven around in a limousine. Truth be told, he had never actually been in a limousine, unless the one used for his scenes in 'Tiny Toons' counted.
And it shouldn't - that thing was about thirty years old.
His father owned a car, a Mercedes-Benz 420SEL that he occasionally drove when he was home…which was only occasionally anyway. Mother had an Audi A4 that she also drove occasionally, since she was home even less than Father was.
On the rare occurrence his parents were in town and actually needed to be driven somewhere to show how rich they were, they would simply rent a limousine. Jeeves would drive, acting in his 'chauffeur' capacity and showing just how much of a 'jack-of-all-trades' he really was.
Other than that, he just drove his own car, a 1993 Toyota Camry, whether it was to go to the grocery store or to take Montana to a friend's house or lessons or something.
Montana didn't mind. Much like the butler himself, he had grown to like the car, if for no other reason than its reliability. It wasn't exactly a TownCar, but it was nice enough that Montana saw no reason to complain about it. Even Wakko - who would probably end up being a mechanic the way he was going - said the Camry was a good reliable car. The completely stunning thing was, he'd probably know.
Stupid Mime, being a mechanic. So much wasted potential. He could probably be a singer or a world renowned violinist and yet he got his jollies getting greasy under the hood of a car. Montana had a horrible vision of his friend in a dirty sleeveless shirt and filthy jeans. He'd probably be wearing a worn stained ball cap on his head and have a large glob of grease at the end of his tongue that was constantly hanging out of his mouth.
Montana pictured it and shuddered. Wakko would end up like that and Montana wondered if he would still continue to hang out with him. He certainly could never be seen in public with him like that. But, he'd miss his friend. He would definitely still hang with him but he'd have to meet him in dark out of the way places –
"We will be going off the roadway," Jeeves explained in his insufferably calm way and jerking him back to the conversation. "I hardly think Mister Foghorn would be impressed if we show up in this - "
"Fog…Foghorn?" Montana managed to sputter, feeling his anger mounting as hope plummeted when he looked out the window.
Jeeves, damn him to the bowels of hell was pulling into a car rental lot. This was no twisted prank of the man's and it was not a dream that he could at least pray he would awaken from at some point. The butler was honestly going to make him go 'rough it' in the damn woods for three days.
Montana briefly scratched his head, thinking. Had he just annoyed Jeeves more than normal and this was the result? His parents hadn't been home in two months; he couldn't have pissed them off, not that they would have done this to him anyway. No, they would have more than likely handed him some money and told him to go away - that was the usual thing they did.
Camping. With Jeeves. And Foghorn.
Montana swallowed, feeling a knot of dread twisting in his stomach. If he was to be honest to himself, he didn't dislike Foghorn. The rooster was friendly with most of the children on the lot, Montana included, playing games or making jokes. After Bugs, Foghorn was probably the most laid back of the adults that they routinely came in contact with. But like with Bugs, the rooster was not someone they messed with overly much.
Unless they had a chance to get away with it. He smirked as he remembered them toilet papering Bugs' car. He bet the rabbit still hadn't figured out it was them.
And the mess it made when the surprise rainstorm had struck…
Wakko was creative, Montana had to give him that.
Stupid Mime…he wondered what he was doing right now. And how the hell he was lucky enough to get out of this horror. This would be something his mechanically inclined friend would probably like and Montana knew he just about worshiped the big chicken.
Let me do him a favor then; don't wanna hog all the fun for myself…
"Foghorn huh? Well, let's ask Wakko to come - bet he would enjoy the whole rustic experience."
"I told you Master Montana that others would be going," Jeeves said, shutting off the vehicle. "He will be accompanying us on this outing, as will his brother."
Montana smirked wider; Yakko was a hoot. There was promise of some laughs if Yakko was going to be out there, forced to use the bathroom in a bush.
Then he paused, thinking. That would mean he would have to as well.
"And Master Plucky. And Mister Daffy."
Montana started before bursting into gales of laughter. Daffy huh? And Plucky would probably kill himself. He had to find a phone and call the duck just to get his thoughts on it.
First though, he had to get himself out of this. There would be time to find the humor in the situation later.
He would do almost anything for his best friend; Plucky had always stuck beside him no matter how he acted. But the key word in that thought was 'almost' - Montana simply could not be forced to endure a hiking expedition through the wilderness for him. It was not to be born. The dippy duck was on his own - every man for himself and all rot.
"Sounds like you'll have a blast. Count me out," Montana said in a bored tone, sitting back in the seat.
Reaching into his Hammerspace, he pulled out a pair of sunglasses and put them on his face. He reached over, reclining the seat back and folded his arms behind his head, knowing he was being rude but not much caring. Sometimes, if he was really fortunate, if he ignored the butler he would give up and go away.
Today was obviously not one of those days.
Jeeves reached over and gently took the sunglasses off his face before reaching over him and bringing the seat back to the upright position, earning himself a scowl from Montana .
"Come Master Montana, we will be getting back to nature - "
"Well, I refuse to go back. Not to mention, how can I get back to something I never left?" Montana shrugged. "I never ventured there in the first place."
"Precisely Master Montana," Jeeves answered. "I believe this will be a learning experience for you.
Knew it…knew he was going to say it at some point.
"Come, we will need to reserve our vehicle - "
"No." At Jeeves' look he said more firmly, "Nu huh. Told ya Jeeves, count me out. You make me do a lot of shit but this ain't gonna be one of them. Fu- I mean no way."
Always prudent to not swear but so much in front of Jeeves. He'd get the 'gentleman can express their thoughts in more proper ways' lecture, and he just had that earlier in the morning when first told about this entire idea.
Jeeves would over look minor swearing. This morning though Montana had a five minute swear-a-thon when informed about the weekend plans. He would have continued on longer but Jeeves had interrupted him and told him he had no choice in the matter.
Montana had realized that after Jeeves had simply used his given name, dropping the 'Master'. He had learned that the hard way after having to deal with Jeeves for the past eight years. The use of his given name was a step away from a 'final warning'.
'Final Warnings' were bad. Usually anything done after a 'final warning' was a grounding…or worse. He didn't get them often anymore; after a 'final warning' was issued, he was wise enough to back off, sulk about whatever had been denied him, then find another way to get what he wanted.
If nothing else, he was resourceful.
"I had hoped you would be interested in at least assisting me in selecting a vehicle," Jeeves said before shrugging.
"Whatever the hell gave you that idea?" Montana muttered to himself as Jeeves stepped out of the vehicle.
He glared through the windshield as Jeeves walked around the front of his car to speak to a human that had run up, practically dripping hair grease on the ground he was so slicked up. Jeeves better be careful; he could slip in that and hurt himself.
He narrowed his eyes at Jeeves, swearing he would get revenge for this indignity. He'd demand that Jeeves be fired when he got back, dock his pay, have his green card revoked or something…
Montana sighed. No he wouldn't, his parents weren't home. Again. He snorted to himself; after almost thirteen years he'd think he'd be used to it.
Besides which…he wrinkled his nose. He liked Jeeves. A lot. As much as he angered and frustrated and cut into his fun and lectured about being a 'proper young gentleman' sometimes, he liked and respected the man enough to never hurt him.
He was the only one who knew most everything that went on in his life and actually seemed to give a shit. He'd done everything from nurse colds to self esteem boosts when the other kids called him fat. He taught him that there were other ways to get what he wanted without always throwing a tantrum.
The guy even chased away nightmares. Montana almost rolled his eyes at his own idiocy. When he was younger he was terrified that there was a monster in his room, no doubt left over from a horror movie marathon. Movies that Jeeves had actually told him not to watch, which meant he had watched them as soon as the butler's back was turned.
All he had done was terrify himself and he begged Jeeves to sleep in his room. Jeeves said he couldn't do that, but had presented him with a walkie-talkie, saying he would have the other one. If he ever got scared, even a little, all Montana had to do was push the button and call him and he'd come running back.
Montana snorted to himself, remembering; he still had the damn walkie-talkie in the nightstand by his bed. He hadn't used it in years…he wondered if the batteries were any good... One of these days he might haul it out and yell on it, just to see if Jeeves would come barreling back in his room like he used to. He bet Jeeves had tossed that thing out in the trash years ago.
Through his intervention he had ended up meeting Plucky, even though he had resisted tooth and nail at the time. And through Plucky he had finally become a 'normal' kid as opposed to a five-year-old hermit, meeting other friends - and enemies - because of the duck.
Jeeves had taught him how to read, write, count, swim, etiquette…
The man - the damn butler - had put the gloves on his hands when he turned five. Right before Montana went to bed because he had been waiting, however much it was in vain, for his father to do it because that's what fathers were supposed to do.
Montana scowled at the memory. He had waited all day for Father to appear, anxiously watching the door and mostly ignoring the pile of presents that were in the fancy dining room that was rarely used.
He remembered watching the ice cream slowly melt, Blair and Jeeves trying desperately to make him feel better, finally giving up so they could light the candles, sing, and attempt to eat the birthday cake. They tried, he had to give them that, and it was more than his own parents had done.
He had gobbled his dinner down quickly so he could scrub his hands and make sure they were clean. It wasn't everyday he turned five and had this event and Father was coming home for it.
Father had shown up about ten minutes before his bedtime. Montana sighed to himself; his father had greeted him with his usual formal address, speaking to him like he would a casual business associate. Father had simply handed him the box containing the items before turning, wishing him a 'Happy Birthday' and announcing that he had to leave again on an extended business trip.
Jeeves had silently kneeled beside Montana and taken the box out of his hands when he had tearfully watched his father depart. He had slipped the gloves over his chubby fingers and hugged him while Montana cried, again wondering why his parents seemed to dislike him so much.
Thinking back on it now, he wondered if Jeeves had known that something like that might happen. The man had presented him with a golf ball as he put him to bed, telling him he would begin his training in 'Toon Theory' in the morning. And he had, working with him daily until he breached his Hammerspace and was able to begin storing his gloves in there, only pulling them out when necessary like all the human toons.
Mother had phoned the next day to wish him a 'Happy Birthday'.
Montana sighed again; he'd never tell anyone, but he was well aware that if it hadn't been for Jeeves he would have no idea how to tie his own shoes let alone do anything else. No one ever took the time to teach him until Jeeves.
Montana tried to think about the former family butler, Richard. He barely remembered what the man looked like anymore. He had been four when Richard was fired for embezzlement of the household funds and Jeeves had come over from England as the new butler.
Montana remembered resenting him at first, if for no other reason than Jeeves was a pain and Richard had mostly left him alone. He remembered Richard was younger than Jeeves, or he thought. He felt his face twist as he continued to reach into his memories.
He simply remembered that Richard would come in, wake him up at some point, dress him because it was easier than teaching him how to do it, and dump him in front of the television with a bag of cookies or cake. No wonder he was the worlds chubbiest toddler. Other than that Montana could recall no real memories of the man; he wasn't sure if these were all his memories or things he managed to find out later. He only truly remembered that Richard rarely interacted with him.
Jeeves didn't; the man wouldn't stop interacting with him.
Pain in the arse.
Jeeves was his legal guardian when his parents were out of town and he took the role very seriously. More seriously than Mother and Father; obviously the terms of their marriage contract had been fulfilled. They met long enough to conceive him, give birth, and dump him off in a house while they continued their lives somewhere else besides where he was.
And still did; with them owning several residences around the world, their lives were nothing but one big globe trotting adventure. He knew when he was very young, before he could really even remember, they would occasionally bring him with them before deciding the hassle of dragging a small child along wasn't worth it.
Hence him getting dumped at the house with first Richard, then Jeeves.
Montana sighed again. When he had been very little he had liked to pretend that Jeeves was his father.
Sometimes when he was feeling particularly lonely he still did.
He jumped when the passenger door opened and Jeeves leaned in, unclicking his seat belt like he was an infant. Montana watched him with narrowed eyes, still suspicious. Jeeves was behaving too oddly for him to be comfortable. This camping business was a sure sign that the man had obviously gone mad.
"I have politely asked you to exit the vehicle and assist me," Jeeves said. "Hopefully this excursion will help you continue your journey - "
"On the road to manhood," Montana muttered while rolling his eyes and taking his sunglasses back out of Jeeves blazer pocket.
He wished Jeeves would come up with something slightly different. He heard this same lecture all the time... He'd find the damn road when he was ready; did he need it forced down his throat?
"Come Master Montana, let us pick out a vehicle that will carry us on our great adventure. I believe this will be an enjoyable experience."
Montana looked at Jeeves, stunned. The butler was spewing so much bullshit at him he was surprised he hadn't been blown out of his seat.
This was going to suck and blow at the same time, totally defying the laws of physics. It was going to be a very wretched experience and he wanted no part of it.
It might not be all bad; though he had a hard time admitting it, he didn't mind spending time with Jeeves doing stuff.
Sometimes. Definitely not camping.
And Jeeves had already said the others were going, Buster included. Buster was a damn good friend; if nothing else Montana admired the rabbit's sharp mind and his ability to stay calm in most situations that had the rest of them running rabid. He had good leadership qualities, something else Montana admired - not that he would tell the rabbit that.
But right now Montana was pissed at him. He couldn't imagine that Buster was any more excited about this jaunt into the wilderness than he was, but it was his father that seemed to get this whole mess started. Guilty by association - Buster was at fault too.
Montana decided he was pissed at all rabbits at the moment, just on principle.
And chickens. Damn Foghorn. Montana was demanding KFC for dinner tonight.
Plucky being there would be a god send - the duck got on his nerves constantly - he had since the moment he had laid eyes on him. But, he was his best friend. Not being friends with Plucky was almost unfathomable.
One time when they had been younger they had fought; something so petty and stupid Montana couldn't even remember what it was anymore. The duck had sputtered and lisped and ordered him out of his house and said he didn't want to be friends anymore with him.
That had been the longest two days of his life. If at the time he had any idea how to Fritz a noose, he probably would have hanged himself by the fourth hour. Luckily, Plucky had broken down and called him, saying he wasn't mad anymore and he could come back over to play.
Of course he had, but not before gloating to himself that Plucky was the sucker and he hadn't had to apologize. While he couldn't remember what they had fought about, Montana had no illusions about what happened. At that age if Plucky had been pissed off he was more than likely to blame for it.
Yes, Plucky being forced to do something besides play video games or read 'Star Wars' books and comics would provide ample opportunities for amusement.
And the Warners would be joining the party. Montana rolled his eyes at the thought; Wakko would probably get some thrill out of it. The Mime was a very close friend, probably his best after Plucky.
He was also an idiot. Only kid he knew that would let himself fall into a
hypoglycemic state simply because he hadn't wanted to interrupt a game.
Dipshit scared him half to death. He still owed him an ass kicking for that move. Perhaps he could beat him with a stick while they were out in the woods.
Montana wouldn't change him for the world, but he was so damn slow to catch on sometimes. Just sometimes - other times he was damned brilliant. Of course he chose not to show those times often because - again - he was an idiot.
But when he did show those times…the Mime amazed him.
And Plucky owed Wakko big time. That day Wakko pulled Montana off Plucky he had been about to clean the duck's clock over the comments he made about Mary. He understood to a certain degree - Plucky would pick up what his parents said. That much was obvious to any fool - he himself picked up speaking habits from Jeeves.
Luckily Jeeves wasn't prone to racism. Plucky's parents were.
After his punch in the mouth though he seemed to reconsider. Plucky was greedy, egotistical and judgmental, but he was also capable of thinking for himself and had a decent heart buried deep in his scrawny little chest. Even the Mime had agreed and said Plucky was probably just saying what he had heard because he had no ammunition against Mary other than her being black and poor. And he really had never cared before. It was only an idiot toon that would, and Plucky was no idiot.
Hopefully he was changing his mind. Montana hoped so; he had no intention of not seeing Mary but if Plucky didn't…could he choose between the two of them?
He shuddered; he hoped he never had to. His loyalty was to Plucky - 'bros before ho's' and all that nonsense. The duck would win hands down.
But he liked Mary. A lot. She did amazing things with her tongue with his tongue when they were able to sneak off by themselves long enough to do more than hold hands.
And she let him -
"This is the final time I shall request that you exit the vehicle Montana ."
Montana snapped his head around to look up at Jeeves. The butler was now glaring down at him from the doorway, his arms crossed. Montana returned the glare before popping the glasses back on his face and learning the seat back again. He noted the use of his given name but shrugged it off; Jeeves rarely did much to him in public.
Besides, no 'final warning'. He was defiantly safe.
"And this is the final time I shall request that you sod off Jeeves."
Rude as all hell, but adequately conveyed his feelings.
"I absolutely refuse to leave this vehicle," he added, closing his eyes behind the glasses. "Nothing will make me leave."
"Very well. If that is the way you wish to be."
No fucking way - did that work?
Montana opened his eyes, seeing the world through the dark glasses and peered at his butler who had turned to speak to the salesman. He shrugged before closing his eyes again.
Maybe Jeeves would go on the camping trip without him. That would be fantastic - maybe, somehow, he could find a way to get Mary up to the house. Without an adult there they could really -
Montana was cut off from his internal musings by Jeeves tugging on his arm, hauling him out of the car. Before he could even begin to register what was happening he felt his sunglasses pulled off before he was hoisted in the air, the world spinning before something roughly jabbed into his stomach.
Jeeves had flung him over his shoulder, continuing his conversation with the oily rental agent while carrying him like a sack of beans. He began to walk away from the vehicle, giving Montana an upside down view of the world.
"Jeeves, put me down!"
"Absolutely not. You are liable to dash out into the street as if you were again a four-year-old. Since this is exactly like how you are behaving, I am afraid I will - "
Damn it. Jeeves latest technique - embarrassing him.
And damn the man, he knew it worked.
"Fine, fine! I'll look at the cars anything just put me down!" Montana screeched over his lecture, pounding on Jeeves back with his fists and feeling the blink rush to his face. "Jeeves! Put me down!"
Jeeves wasn't putting him down; he was giving no indication he had any inclination to release him. In fact, Jeeves was acting like he wasn't even paying attention to him as he continued to carry him, arse over tit across the parking lot. He was just talking louder so he could be heard by the alarmed looking agent.
Montana tried kicking him, but with Jeeves' arm wrapped around the back of his knees he wasn't being terribly successful. His fists appeared to be having no effect.
Jeeves shoulder was shoving into his abdomen though; Montana decided to take heart. If Jeeves continued to bounce him much more over his shoulder he might sick up on the man.
And it would serve him right.
"Jeeves you son of a bitch - "
"If you continue to speak like that I shall be forced to put a pacifier in your mouth."
He probably would to.
"Perhaps if you tried being polite you would get further."
Fine. I'll be polite…
"Jeeves you son of a bitch please put me down!"
Please was polite…
When he got no response and was still being carted across the parking lot he finally begged, "Jeeves I'm sorry! Please put me down! Now!"
"If you think you can behave as a proper - "
"Young gentleman yes I know!" Montana said in a panicky voice as his hair fell into his eyes briefly. He swept back what he could and looked up; people were now looking at him. Mortified he begged again, "I will just please let me go!"
His yelling had attracted everyone in the area, several people shouting out it was 'that Max kid from TV!' while others pointed. A few had even begun to laugh.
Including the agent.
And he had also gotten the attention of two rather nice looking girls coming out of the store across the street. Both girls were watching, the blond with a stunned look on her face, the brunette watching briefly before taking out a camera.
Montana flushed in embarrassment. His day just could not get any worse. He half wanted to go to the woods now. He could hide in a tree and not have to worry about seeing a picture in 'TTD' or 'Entertainment Weekly' of him being carried across the parking lot like a tantrum throwing toddler.
"If I have your word on it."
"Promise! Just put me do-ow!"
Montana cut off as Jeeves dropped him not quite as gently as he could have on a bench outside the office of the car lot. He stared up at the butler, slack jawed and unbelieving that he just did that.
"You may not like what I do and you may not like what I say," Jeeves said, looking down at him with the barest trace of a smirk on his face. "But you will speak to me in a respectful tone. Is that clear?"
"Respectful?" Montana hissed, slowly coming off the bench and heading to the side of Jeeves. He was going to be wary; Jeeves might toss him over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes again. "You called what you just did to me
"No. I call it effective," Jeeves said dryly. "If you look around Master Montana, you have left the car."
Got me there.
"Now, if you have finished with the histrionics, I believe we still have a vehicle to rent."
Son of a…
He just wasn't getting out of this it seemed.
Well, he might have to go. No one said he had to be pleasant company.
"Fine, whatever," Montana muttered, falling into step beside Jeeves. "This sucks. You work for me yet you're allowed to bully me around - "
"I am a Max family employee," Jeeves corrected with a slight disapproving tone. "And I am employed by your father, not you. If he was unhappy with the job I am doing I am sure he would have replaced me by now."
"I am allowed to make decisions concerning your welfare and I believe this trip will be beneficial to you."
"Yeah, learning experience, I remember," Montana muttered, rolling his eyes before stuffing his hands in his pockets. "God forbid you make a learning experience out of something I would actually enjoy."
He sighed and kept step beside Jeeves, figuring he didn't have many options. The only other one he could see would be to run, and Jeeves would catch him; he was quick as hell. And when he caught him he'd probably put him on a leash or something.
Muttering rude comments under his breath he continued to follow Jeeves and the oilslick around while they looked at all manner of wretched and ratty vehicles. Most Montana wouldn't even consider getting in he didn't care what Jeeves did to him.
He gazed around the lot, bored and disgusted. If Jeeves was making him go on this little trek, the least he could do was rent a decent vehicle. Currently he was looking at a Jeep Wrangler…what the bloody hell were they supposed to do with that thing? The doors were canvas partially, not to mention the top. Montana shuddered at mental images of his body being hurled through the thin material as they careened off a cliff.
He was a toon and he was damn good at Chucking. Chucking couldn't save you from everything though, especially in a surprise situation or if you didn't see it coming. Look at Yakko; didn't help him and everyone knew how skilled he was.
Curious despite his annoyance, Montana went toward the vehicle, listening to the man talk about how wonderful this vehicle would be for 'off-roading adventure'.
Peering in the window Montana almost sneered.
No leather, a basic radio, no air conditioning, manual transmission…the damn thing didn't even have carpeting on the floor.
"No way," Montana said. "I'm not riding around in this bare bones death trap."
"Master Montana - "
"I'm serious Jeeves," Montana said, pointing a finger at him. "You might be able to bully me into going but I will at least go in style."
Jeeves finally sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose as the agent continued to watch them.
"Fine Master Montana, what would you have us get? Perhaps a Rolls Royce? I feel I must inform you - again - that this is hardly going to be the occasion for us to consider a luxury vehicle."
"Nothing about this is going to be a luxury," Montana countered. "But the least you could do is supply me with air conditioning. I feel I need to point out it's the middle of summer - you do realize it's hot? Or can you, always walking around with a blazer on?"
"Appearances Master Montana - "
"If I may gentleman?"
Montana turned to glare at the car rental agent, wondering what he thought he was doing. This was obviously a conversation between a guy and his butler; he did not need to be involved. Jeeves was looking at the agent with a curious expression.
"I believe I have a solution."
Waving for them to follow the man began to march across the lot. Exchanging a look with Jeeves , Montana shrugged and followed him, wondering what new horror he would see now.
He frowned before feeling the barest traces of an approving smile on his face.
A Toyota of some sort.
"This is the Land Cruiser," the rental agent said proudly. "Only one on the lot at the moment - very popular."
Montana studied it for a moment. It was quite a beastly looking thing - would no doubt guzzle gas…giant tires, but looked a damn sight better than the Wrangler. And not a shred of canvas in sight.
This was what Wakko would probably refer to as a 'snob-mobile'.
Much more like it.
Walking quicker, he went to look inside the vehicle as Jeeves made disapproving sounds behind him.
Air conditioning, heated leather seats, CD player…It looked comfortable and stylish. If he had to get dragged out into the woods, this would be preferable to the jeep. The damn thing looked more solid than Fort Knox , which would be great for when they all plummeted off a cliff.
"This seems like more than we would require for a simple camping trip," Jeeves said, frowning at the vehicle before leaning in to begin looking at it.
"It has a four wheel drive, new inspection, new tires - "
"I wish to rent the vehicle, not buy it," Jeeves said.
" - and a built in power inverter," the agent said. "With the built in TV - "
"Excellent," Montana beamed, going to the rear of the vehicle. Peering in the window he could see the small television monitor folded up against the ceiling.
" - you can hook up a VCR or a game consol," the agent finished. "You can play your games as you go down the road."
"I want this one," Montana said.
"Part of my goal in agreeing to this was to get you away from your video games for one weekend," Jeeves sighed. "You should be able to unhook your hands from a controller for seventy-two hours - "
Shrugging, Montana said, "Look Jeeves, I don't want to go. I think I've made that abundantly clear. You want me to go for whatever reason - you've also made that abundantly clear. How about just cutting me some slack and renting this? At least I can have some entertainment on the way there." Smirking, he added, "Besides, if I'm playing a video game, it's less complaining you have to listen to."
Studying him for a moment, Jeeves finally sighed and said, "Agreed." Turning to the now beaming agent he asked, "Can we have it delivered to the house Thursday?"
Montana nodded. He hadn't gotten out of the little expedition, but at least he got to pick the vehicle he would ride to his death in.
Who knows, maybe it wouldn't be that bad. He could hide in the car and challenge Plucky to a Mortal Kombat tournament all weekend - Jeeves had promised to get him the new game. Perhaps Jeeves would get eaten by a bear.
No. He wasn't that fortunate...
This weekend was going to suck.
May 3, 1996
" and then he said 'we're going camping'." Buster sighed. "I thought he'd lost his mind and I'd have to call Scratchy - "
"Oh you think you got it bad Bunny? I got dragged through a car rental facility."
"Shut up Monty," Plucky laughed. "You got a damn car with a TV in it - "
"You're riding with us moron! You should be down on those skinny orange knees of yours and kissing my ass for arranging that!"
"What is it with you wanting me on my knees near your ass - ow, asshole! Let that go!"
Wakko sighed, listening to his friends argue and complain and very likely beating each other into stew meat as he continued to secure the cheap CB radio in the Bunny's Jeep. It was too early to listen to this. The sun was still coming up.
Satisfied, he looked at the radio securely nestled between the passenger seat and the center consol and grinned to himself. Foghorn had wanted everyone to be able to stay in touch when traveling and had managed to dig up the smallest, cheapest radios Wakko had ever seen. He had hooked them up and had Wakko help him with that. When the adults had all wandered off to stand in a sleepy huddle he had asked Wakko to secure them so they wouldn't flop around.
Unfortunately he had to secure them without damaging any of the vehicles. Bugs and Jeeves had rented vehicles. He had some doubts that Mr. Bunny would allow him to drill anything on his car, especially his dashboard.
Foghorn already had a CB. He had also threatened to use his hide as a 'chammie' to buff his truck if Wakko even thought about attempting to drill a hole anywhere on his vehicle.
He noticed that Foghorn had been having him help more, or at least more than before. He even had him check over the Bunny's Jeep earlier when they arrived when Buster's father had been worried that their car was slightly older than Foghorn's truck and the two vehicles Jeeves and Bugs rented.
Wakko knew that Foghorn was watching him as he went through the Jeep just as a double check, but he was actually quite proud of it. He let him do it by himself while everyone either watched him or tried to wake up.
Or made smart assed comments like his friends. He snorted; Max wouldn't know a dipstick from a Pixie Stick but he had sat behind him and made jokes the whole time about him getting filthy before they even got there. Plucky had constantly made comments about the 'gear head' missing something and blowing the Jeep up.
At least Buster had the tact to stay quiet, occasionally telling them to shut up. At some point they'd be driving and probably need Wakko to help them change a tire. They wouldn't even know how to take the jack out.
Max had just countered with he would have road service; how dare Buster presume he'd change a tire?
Wakko had done his best to ignore the others but damn, he didn't pick on them for their hobbies. He had less than no interest in European history or fencing, but he didn't routinely tell Max he looked like a fruit with his skinny little sword and reading about some old dead king from a billion years ago. He didn't attack Plucky for interests in his dorky sci-fi stuff or computers or his video game obsession.
Well, not much anyway.
Plucky really should see a doctor about that.
He glanced over at his friends outside the vehicle. Buster was leaning against the open door watching him and holding the extra cardboard Wakko was using as a brace to hold the radios firm in their positions. Monty and Plucky were still in the middle of some argument over a video game.
Wakko shook his head and decided to be thankful that he was going to be riding with Foghorn. At least Foghorn was gung-ho about the entire thing. The big rooster loved camping. With him being so experienced, Wakko figured he had better odds of surviving.
He had serious concerns about Yakko surviving the entire ordeal. His brother, while not exactly thrilled about the entire idea, had seemed at least accepting of it. He had said that he was simply going to view the entire thing as an opportunity to see Bugs completely out of his element. Now though he was propped up on Bugs' rented Mercedes W463 and looked half dead.
Honestly, Wakko was looking forward to it…sort of. He wished that they didn't have to start quite so early and maybe with at least not half the party looking like they were going to their own hangings, but he didn't see it being all bad. The whole 'roughing it and living as real men' thing sounded cool. Not to mention he had heard Foghorn muttering and laughing to himself last night about the silly hare going to make a fool of himself.
Wakko assumed it was Bugs he was referring to. And Yakko was with Bugs. He liked Bugs and he was really smart and all, but the rabbit had said that he had never been camping. He had also said it simply couldn't be as hard as Foghorn was making it out to be. Wakko figured Bugs was in for a surprise…
His poor brother.
He shrugged it off. Yakko had said he would stick with Bugs 'for as long as it was safe to do so' whatever that meant.
Buster, true to his nature seemed to be just rolling with the punches. He didn't want to go, but his father did. And Buster had told him watching Monty and Plucky blunder their way through the woods with the butler should be worth its weight in comedic gold.
Jeeves was the one Wakko really felt sorry for. As if the poor guy didn't have enough to deal with having to put up with Max every day, now he was going to have to deal with Plucky too...
Wakko shook his head, figuring that Jeeves was just a glutton for punishment.
Daffy had to bail out the last minute to re-record lines and one scene for their movie. Something apparently got screwed up when the film had been dubbed in Spanish and he had regretfully backed out, leaving Plucky without someone to team up with.
Or that's what Daffy told everyone. Bugs said Daffy had just wimped out.
But Foghorn and Jeeves had both volunteered to take the little green duck with them. His father was definitely not the 'outdoor' type from what Wakko had heard so if neither of them had, Plucky probably wouldn't have been able to go.
And the duck jumped at the opportunity, but all he did was complain. Wakko thought Plucky should be a little nicer about it. Foghorn and Jeeves could have just said 'sorry kid, tough luck'.
Backing out of the Jeep Wakko looked at the others.
"All finished there Cooter?" Plucky asked snidely.
"Piss off Plucky," Wakko muttered. "I don't see you doing anything. This is - "
" - a gigantic waste of time and energy," Max finished, looking bored and tired. "I can't believe you're even pretending to support this."
"I can believe it," Plucky said. "This is the type of shit gear heads love; an excuse to drive around in the mud in big trucks and be tough."
"This coming from you," Wakko snorted, feeling himself growing annoyed. "Dot's tougher than you are."
He sighed; Dot wasn't coming along. She didn't seem that upset about it since she was getting to stay with her friends and have a slumber party. He thought she seemed a little upset, if only for the fact that she was going to miss out on toasting marshmallows.
But, it was 'boys only'. He felt like he was in some exclusive club.
"Knock it off guys," Buster moaned. "It's way too early - "
"Tell me about it," Max said. "I had hoped when the series was cancelled I wouldn't ever be up to see the sunrise again, yet here I am - "
"Come on Monty," Wakko said. "Its not gonna be that bad!"
"Yes it is; we'll probably all get blown off a cliff."
"We're going with Foghorn - "
"Yeah, that sweetens the pot," Max mumbled.
Annoyed, Wakko said, "Look, think about it - "
"I have. All week."
"We get to sleep in a tent - "
"On the ground like a group of vagrants."
"And roast hotdogs on a fire - "
"Jabbing my food with a dirty stick and throwing it over an exposed flame like a cave man?" Max snorted before giving him a nasty look. "The closest I want to get to cooking my food over an open flame is using a fondue pot."
"Look, just drop it guys," Buster said again. "It's gonna be a long three days. We all got suckered into this little trek, let's try to get through it without killing each other. At least while they're looking."
Wakko looked up when Buster used one long ear to point. The adults - and Yakko the almost adult - were watching them and talking.
It was never good when the adults got together to discuss things. When they did, they came up with crazy ideas like camping trips. Or comparing notes on stories to see whose alibi they could bust. Yakko had groggily informed him earlier that he had already busted one of his this morning. Buster said he had lost about three.
"So, what the hell are these things?" Plucky finally asked, frowning as he leaned into the Jeep to pick up the handmic for the radio and pressing the button repeatedly.
"Redneck telephones," Max said sarcastically. "I've seen them on television. Instead of saying 'hello' as a greeting you simply scream 'ye-haw' in the receiver."
"Max, you're an asshole," Wakko said, snatching the handmic out of Plucky's hand while Buster laughed.
"What?" Max said, a grin on his face. "I watched 'Dukes of Hazzard'."
"You did?" Buster asked, sounding surprised and wiping at his eyes. "Figured that would be too lowbrow and common for our little snob."
"I like seeing how the other half live."
"No, they're CB's," Wakko explained, half pleased that he was able to tell his friends something, and half worried that they all appeared to be ignorant on what they were. "We make up names for each other to use - "
"Handles. They're called handles. You use them to find out where the cops are and communicate with your fellow 'good buddies'," Max said in a matter of fact tone. When the others gaped at him in surprise he shrugged and added, "Hey, I've seen 'Smokey and the Bandit' too."
Rolling his eyes, Wakko said, "It's not all like that…OK, it sort of is, but we can think of handles for everyone - "
"No thinking required for you," Max said with another shrug. "You're Mime."
"And you're Mongoloid," Wakko shot back, tossing the handmic back into the Jeep. "Give it a chance Monty, it might be fun."
"So might bungie jumping but I don't want to try that either."
"Breaker One Nine this here's the Rubber Duck..."
Wakko turned to see Plucky's rear end leaning out of the Jeep as he happily talked into the microphone. Looking up he could see Max scrambling to the Land Cruiser parked behind it in the driveway. Buster just hid his face in his hands and shook his head, muttering about getting the adults pissed off before they even had their coffee.
Max looked up at them, smirked, and grabbed the handmic while hanging out the gigantic Land Cruiser they had all christened the 'S.S. Max' upon its arrival.
"Ya know a Rubber Duck is just slang for condom right?" Max asked sarcastically over the radio.
"Idiot!" Buster hissed before snatching the handmic out of Plucky's hand. Leaning out of the Jeep enough to see Max he added, "A rubber is a condom, not a Rubber Duck!"
"I don't care," Max answered him, still grinning at him out of his vehicle. "No difference. Both are full of splooge."
Wakko leaned against the Jeep, laughing with the others until a voice stopped them.
"What are you - I say - what are you four doing?"
Foghorn reached in the Jeep, hauling Plucky out by the back of his shirt and depositing him next to Buster. Max meanwhile had come barreling back out of the Toyota to stand near Wakko.
"People will hear you talking on the radio!"
"Thought that was the point," Wakko said.
He wondered why Foghorn just shook his head at him and sighed.
"Boy just…just hush son," Foghorn sighed, patting him on the head before getting a smile on his beak and rubbing his hands together. "Now, you four wanna play with the radios - gotta get ya'll handles first." Raising one eyebrow he added, "Almost afraid to ask - you four got names?"
Wakko happily called out nicknames - most fairly clean - for the others. They did the same - most of theirs were fairly clean as well.
Except Max's. Foghorn didn't appear to like the name 'splooge-catcher' for Plucky.
"Never mind! Never mind!" Foghorn said loudly, waving his hands at them. "I'll come up with names."
"This should be good," Max muttered as he crossed his arms. At Foghorn's look he leaned against the Jeep and asked, "So then, what's yours?"
"Rhode Island Runner," Foghorn said proudly, puffing out his chest. "My old boxing - I say - my old boxing name!"
Wakko watched as Max rolled his eyes before looking at the ground, shaking his head.
"Oh that's so lame Foghorn!" Buster laughed... "That's the best you got and you want to name us?"
"Lame huh boy? Know I'm gonna regret it, but what do you suggest?"
Wakko laughed and shouted out 'Loud Mouthed Schnook' as Foghorn sighed.
The others threw out a few clever ones, ranging from 'hayseed' to 'The KFC Special' to 'inspiration for my dinner Tuesday night'.
After a few seconds the laughter died down and Foghorn began contemplating the four of them.
Wakko, already bored, looked around Foghorn's bulky body. Yakko was still propped up against the Mercedes half asleep but looked like he might be soon joining the land of the living. He was groggily looking around, every now and then pausing to send a sleepy glare at Bugs.
Yakko tended not to be a real early morning type of guy. When he finally did go to sleep and they didn't have a shoot or something to do the next day, Yakko usually tried to sleep at least until dawn.
Wakko was doubly glad he stayed with Foghorn instead of at Bugs' house. Bugs was not exactly an early morning guy either; he bet the two of them had been lots of fun this morning.
He had fun, until he had to get up so early anyway. And Foghorn had him helping him get ready for the trip; checking over his truck and stuff. Plus he had bought a winch and a new bumper that he said he wanted Wakko's help putting on.
He said that he had wanted one anyway, and if they were going off into the woods - especially with Bugs at the wheel of a vehicle - it would be a good idea for someone to have one. Wakko had nodded; it had been fun to put on, and
Foghorn was probably right. They might need it; at least Foghorn planned stuff well.
He felt more assured that he would be the only one to last the entire weekend and not have lost a limb.
"Can't take this lightly kids," Foghorn muttered. "Handle's are serious business."
"Sounds like the Mime now," Max muttered.
Wakko kicked him. Max might have a good time if he'd lighten up a bit. He'd definitely have a better time if he shut up; Wakko figured him shoving a wrench up Max's ass would sort of ruin his weekend for him.
He'd hold off; he'd have to find a wrench and they were going to be out in the woods for three days. He had time.
"Gotta come up with something for ya," Foghorn was muttering as he studied a nervous looking Buster, his hand on his chin. Then he nodded. "All Star."
Wakko burst out laughing at Buster's look of shock. It wasn't a bad name. Better than 'Smurf'.
"What?" Buster sputtered loudly over the others laughing. "All Star? What's that supposed to mean?"
"What? Good at sports, good grades…It's a compliment - I say - it's a compliment son!" He shouted in the startled rabbit's face while waving his hands in the air. "All American kid - you're decked out in red, white and blue anyway!"
Buster apparently decided to not argue any further. Wakko thought it was a good idea; the rabbit was wearing a red jacket and jeans. And he was a white and blue bunny. There just wasn't much to argue there; it was better than 'flag boy' or 'Captain America ' or something.
Looking over at the smirking Max, Foghorn went quiet before nodding and saying, "No thinking here. Silver Spoon."
"Ha ha. Clever," Max drawled, trying to look annoyed, but he failed. He actually looked pleased.
"Moving on to Plucky," Foghorn said, turning to the smirking green duck. "Got one for you already too. Bank Note."
"Is that some sort of veiled insult?" Plucky asked suspiciously.
"Could be," Foghorn shrugged. "Could be a compliment. I could see you ending up - I say - I could see you ending up being a banker or lender, handing out money - "
"I gotta hand it out? Like let people have it?"
Shaking his head, Foghorn said, "Perfect banker." Turning to Wakko he said, "And you. I got the perfect name for you."
Wakko waited, holding his breath and hoping Foghorn had come up with something good. He was tired of being referred to as 'Gear Head' and 'Grease Monkey'. Foghorn would come up with something cool and badass –
"Huh?" Wakko said, sounding slightly put off as the others around him roared with laughter. Disappointed he pointed to them and said, "That's what they call me!"
"So what?" Foghorn said grinning and ruffling his hat again. "Nothing wrong with that. Get called that myself all the time." Turning to the other three he added, "You boys get your laughs now. When you three are broke down because you can't change a tire - "
"I'll call AAA," Max laughed. "Or the Mime."
Wakko started looking around for a wrench.
"What's gonna happen when they're too busy and you have to wait an hour or two?" Foghorn asked. "Don't matter how much money you got boy, gotta do stuff for yourself sometimes."
Wakko smirked at Max's look of befuddlement at the idea of doing stuff for himself.
"They ain't gonna have a tow truck following you around…or they might - I say - they might; heard about your little driving stunt at the lot. Wrecked into the Batmobile and it wasn't even being driven."
That completely wiped the smile off Max's face.
"Besides, you three will be waiting for a tow truck and won't be able to get Wakko here. He'll be too busy beating all the girls off with a stick. Girls love a guy that can work on their car."
Wakko turned a slightly triumphant look at them, having some more confidence in the name even with the thought of having to 'beat girls off with a stick'. Buster had stopped laughing at that statement and Max was looking surprised again.
It was probably true. Elmyra and Babs were both tomboyish enough, but he couldn't envision either of them under the hood of a car.
He wondered what sort of car Elmyra would have. He could see her in a big station wagon, like an Outback. Probably stuffed full of cats and dogs and rodents, going down the road and picking up strays like Sonic going after gold rings.
That was the only thing about this little camping trip, he couldn't call her for three days. Three days of not hearing her giggle about him being her 'cuddle head'. It was exhilarating and horrifying all at once.
"You three try to keep the noise down - neighbors still asleep," Foghorn said, walking back over to the group of bleary-eyed adults. "And keep it clean on the radio - or better yet, just stay off it. We'll be heading out in a minute."
"Yippie," Max muttered, slumping back against the Jeep. "Head 'em up, move 'em out."
"Cheer up Monty," Buster said. "The ride's only going to be about four hours - "
"Shit, that long?"
"Yeah, overheard Dad going over the route while Gear Head here was tuning up the car or whatever," Buster laughed and nudging Wakko in the abdomen. "You got the video game - what are you two worried about? Me and Wakko here have to deal with four hours of small talk."
"You two can ride with us," Max said, nodding his head to indicate himself and Plucky. "If you want... We've got plenty of room; I think the back seat could hold all of us."
Wakko shared a look with Buster. It was tempting. It was going to be a long ride, and he worried it was going to get boring. That long with no television or other form of entertainment sounded dull. Monty was being nice by offering.
But, it would be a slight against Foghorn. The rooster had been talking about this all week and genuinely seemed excited about the whole thing. Wakko didn't want to insult him. Foghorn had gone out of his way to include him in this little adventure and he had never run out of things to talk to him about before.
And like Yakko had pointed out to him, these guys went out of their way to help them any chance they got. If extended talking and trooping through the mud or whatever the plan was for three days was going to make them that happy, did they really have any right to refuse them?
Beside him Buster looked doubtful as well. Wakko understood; Buster had told him that his father had fallen into some sort of 'I need to spend time with my son before he moves away or I die' mood. It seemed odd; normally Mr. Bunny was pretty happy and laid back about things, but adults did get weird sometimes. And Buster not riding down with him would probably hurt him, especially since the whole thing had originally been his idea.
"No, thanks, I think I better stick with Foghorn," Wakko shrugged, happy that Buster was nodding as well. "I think I'll be OK."
"Same here; Dad's been weird the last week or so," Buster said. "I think I'll survive a road trip."
"Suit yourself All Star," Plucky laughed. "Don't go crying on the radio to us; we've got a copy of 'Ultimate Mortal Kombat Three'."
Wakko scowled; he'd been waiting for that game too. Another one of the 'it's violent so not appropriate for children' games and it wasn't due out for another five months. Damn Max and his butler for getting the games early and tempting him with the forbidden.
Wakko hesitated for a moment before sharing another look with Buster. They both nodded; they'd have to pass.
Satisfied he had made the correct decision, Wakko shrugged. Max would bring it over to Buster's house; he'd get to play it eventually.
He hoped Max and Plucky realized they wouldn't be able to play it all weekend. Be ugly if they tried playing it for too long and the vehicle wasn't running. He wouldn't tell them that now though; it'd be taken as more talk from the 'Gear Head'.
Hearing them start laughing at each other's names again, especially his since Foghorn had picked the name they called him. Not really as annoyed with it as he had first been he started chasing them, laughing himself as a game of tag broke out.
He reached for his mallet, narrowly avoiding getting hit by Plucky, who by default was 'it'. He was quick, but out of the four of them, he was still the slowest.
He sighed in relief though; Max was laughing again as Plucky turned to chase him. Maybe he'd lighten up and actually have a good time.
They weren't optimistic that the weekend would be fun. He had hopes it'd be OK.
Come on turn…turn…Yes!
When Bugs had completely turned to speak to Mr. Bunny, Yakko snatched Bugs' coffee cup and swallowed several times, feeling the hot liquid shoot down his throat. He'd been greedily eyeing the giant cup for the last five minutes like a starving man. Pretty much since the last time he had grabbed it and taken a few swallows.
Bugs liked his with cream and not as much sugar as him but Yakko didn't care; at the moment his one goal was to make it through the morning. He'd worry about the afternoon later. Coffee was probably one of the only ways he was going to make it through this odyssey with some portion of his sanity intact.
He quickly put the cup down on the roof of the car before the rabbit turned again to reach for it. Yakko bit back his laugh as Bugs picked up the cup, gave a slight frown as he lifted it and took a small sip before muttering the coffee was weaker than usual because he wasn't waking up and he'd drank about half the cup already.
Yakko smirked to himself. Too bad but it was the rabbit's own fault. If he had just let Yakko get his own damn coffee it'd probably be working better for him.
He was the one that kept insisting that 'young kids' shouldn't drink coffee. Yakko felt the grin slip on his face - he was just a 'little doo'. All 'little doo's' want to be like their 'da-doo's' and drink their coffee.
That should teach Bugs to pull out that card again.
Well, it wouldn't, Bugs didn't know he was grabbing his coffee every time he turned his head, but Yakko knew. He was quite pleased with his secret yet childish revenge. After all, it was waking him up and he was pulling one over on Bugs who looked like he was seriously reconsidering the entire idea.
Yakko briefly looked out at the street; a tall blond fox was jogging down the sidewalk. He let his eyes move up her body; he appreciated a good body, especially if it was outlined in tight green and black spandex. It was like she gift wrapped it for him.
He couldn't wait to move from the lot, if that was what he had to look forward to. Just looking out the window and seeing visions like that - he was definitely moving to this neighborhood when he was older. Yakko tried to be subtle but still crane his neck enough to watch her as she disappeared around the corner.
"Got the kids calmed down," Foghorn said loudly, coming from around the side of the Mercedes and making Yakko jump.
Yakko looked up and watched Plucky brain Buster with his mallet. Up in the large tree he could see Wakko hanging upside down from a branch while Max was bent over laughing under it... Max threw a very well aimed pie, hitting Wakko in the head and almost sending him tumbling to the ground.
Yeah, they looked real calmed down. The only good thing about them running around acting like a bunch of goofs now was that hopefully they'd all sleep well tonight.
But, they seemed to be having a good time. Max in particular seemed to have a worse disposition than he usually did. Yakko liked the boy, but he was mouthy and sarcastic at the best of times. And from what little bit Yakko had been able to pick up in his half asleep state, Max was not in anything remotely close to a good mood.
Plucky had seemed to be in one, not doubt delighted he was still going at all since Daffy bailed. Then he did a complete turn-around and was picking up Max's bad disposition.
Buster, already starting to display teenage moodiness, seemed resigned to his fate, making Yakko feel like he was a very odd comrade in this entire ordeal. Yakko also felt like all decisions regarding going along had been taken from him and he may as well just shut up and deal.
"Gave all the boys handles," Foghorn said.
Yakko frowned before shrugging. Chances were, if left to their own devices the boys would have come up with their own handles, undoubtedly all unbelievably filthy or rude. The rooster had probably been creative - and clean.
"Gotta get ya'll handles now."
Yakko felt his eyes widen in alarm, something they had been doing a lot this week. Especially the past twenty-four hours. At his house Bugs had declared he was going to beat Foghorn at his own game; he had been studying the 'Acme Guide to Camping'.
Yakko had cringed. Acme's guides to anything were notoriously bad; he wouldn't trust an Acme guide to baking a cake let alone surviving in the mountains and sharing living space with wild animals. Bugs was going to get them all killed.
Bugs' obsession with labels had led him to go out and buy or rent 'the best'. Yakko supposed it was nice he wanted to get 'the best' but he wished sometimes Bugs would listen to others.
Especially if that person obviously knew what they were talking about - hadn't Bugs asked the same thing of him several times? Foghorn was younger than Bugs and had a bigger, louder mouth, but he did know what he was talking about.
Foghorn, in a rare moment of seriousness had told him that just because 'Eddie Bauer' charges more and has a wider selection of tent colors, it didn't necessarily mean it was 'better'. And he offered to just let Bugs and Yakko stay in the tent with him and Wakko. He said 'the boys - I say - the boys are brothers and I've dealt with your snoring before. And the boys can just get earmuffs'.
Yakko had been amused. Bugs hadn't.
Bugs had bought a tent and other…stuff. Yakko was positive Bugs didn't even know what half the stuff he bought was. The rabbit had torn through the camping supply store like a small tornado buying everything in sight but seemed to have no clue as to what any of it was.
Yakko had no problem admitting he didn't - he was still trying to figure out how he let Bugs talk him into this.
Mostly now, his plans for the weekend included staying out of the way, getting plenty of chuckles, and follow Foghorn. At the moment, Foghorn was his assured meal ticket.
Bugs had also gone out and rented the most expensive vehicle he could find. The Mercedes W463 was a very nice car - top of the line.
Wakko had immediately crawled all over it upon their arrival to inspect it even while Foghorn had turned his nose up at the 'German engineering'.
Later Wakko had whispered to Yakko that Foghorn was a car snob; he really only liked American cars. Wakko appreciated a good car no matter where it was from.
And this Mercedes was apparently amazing; some of these models were actually hand crafted. He would have gone on for hours about the vehicle's speed and luxury additions if Yakko hadn't fallen asleep on him.
Yakko didn't care but had let Wakko have his thrill. Wakko had been halfway excited about the whole thing, and the cars were just the icing on his little cake this weekend.
Yakko could tell his brother had been extraordinarily proud that Foghorn let him do a pre-trip on Mr. Bunny's vehicle. He got to show off in front of his friends - nothing wrong with letting him have his moment in the sun.
Personally, Yakko didn't really care that much about any of the vehicles as long as they ran but was secretly pleased with Bugs' choice. All he knew was that it was big enough to haul all the extra crap Bugs insisted on bringing despite Foghorn bellowing that they weren't going on a month long excursion and he wouldn't even be able to use half the junk in there. And the Mercedes rode well and was built like a tank.
That would be useful; he was still concerned with the phrases 'Bugs at the wheel' and 'mountain roads so rough no choice but to use four wheel drive'.
Bugs. Rough roads. Mountains…they were going to die, horrible violent blinky deaths.
Or he was; he was going to be riding with Bugs.
He cast a longing look to Foghorn's Chevy, wishing he had said he would ride with the rooster. As he had surmised, Foghorn was the only one that had more than a passing knowledge of camping.
Jeeves seemed like he might be the second best informed, but Yakko guessed the man had just read it in a book. He seemed well read and spoken, which was probably the one reason Max didn't sound like more of a wild man than he did.
Yakko looked at the man before biting back another laugh and reaching for Bugs' coffee when the adults' heads were turned. He and Bugs had shown up right after Foghorn and Wakko to Buster's house.
When the Land Cruiser had shown up, Jeeves had stepped out wearing the most ridiculous outfit Yakko had ever seen. Khaki pants, tall boots, white shirt and a black jacket. He looked like he was about to go on a jungle safari - all he needed was a Pith Helmet.
He, Wakko and Buster had all looked, laughed and immediately began to sing 'Hooray for Captain Spaulding'. Yakko could immediately tell how tired he was; he had forgotten several of the words.
To Jeeves' credit, he was able to answer 'Did someone call me schnorrer' in his dry tone, earning him several points in Yakko's book.
It also shut up the unmelodious singing.
Almost snorting into the coffee cup, he looked up and saw the man watching him with an unreadable expression. Yakko froze, the cup still to his lips before the man turned up one side of his mouth in a small smirk. He then turned to look at Foghorn again.
Yakko sighed in relief, thankful for the butler's discretion and quickly took another few sips. He put the cup down just as Bugs reached over for it.
"Weakest coffee ever," the rabbit muttered.
Yakko grinned; it was actually pretty damn strong... He'd have to frequent StarBucks more often.
"Gonna have to call Bugs Leadfoot - "
"Leadfoot!" Bugs sputtered, glaring at Foghorn. "I haven't gotten a speeding ticket in months!"
"It's better than Rommel," Yakko shrugged before grinning at him. At Bugs' glare he smiled sweetly and added, "He did call your rental a German tank."
"Thought you were on my side doc!"
"I'm on the side that's gonna get me through this alive," Yakko muttered.
Bugs sent him a final glare before going back to making snide comments about Foghorn. Yakko reached for his coffee again, hesitating when Bugs turned, then downed the rest of it. He'd be awake for the morning anyway - with him drinking all the coffee he'd probably have to stay awake to keep Bugs awake.
He wondered if he could talk Bugs into letting him drive. He did have a learner's permit now and wasn't too proud to listen to someone tell him something.
"We'll call you the Captain - "
"I am known as Jeeves - "
"Not here you're not," Foghorn said, slapping the man on his back and making him stumble forward a few steps. "You're piloting - I say - you're piloting that there land yacht, you can be the Captain."
"Bernie - just call you Shakespeare - two talented writers."
"Amazed you know any writers beside Stan Lee," Bugs drawled.
Mr. Bunny looked pleased though.
"Need something for Yakko," Bugs said.
"Perhaps Juan Valdez," Jeeves suggested wryly... "Or Conchita."
"No, really, I'm fine," Yakko said, closing his eyes at Jeeves' less than subtle name choices.
Luckily no one seemed to pick up the jokes because they all looked at him like he was insane before turning back to Yakko. Jeeves seemed to find this particularly amusing.
Yakko didn't - he could just imagine the names they would come up with for him.
"Ladies man," Foghorn said.
"Saw him eyeing the girls on the sidewalk - "
"Girls?" Yakko questioned, turning to Foghorn... "Like plural?"
"Guess he missed the red head in the micro shorts," Bugs said with a shrug.
"And the cat girl."
"There was a redhead and a cat girl? I missed two?"
Damn, I need more coffee.
Sighing, Mr. Bunny said, "So, are we ready for this?"
"Yeah," Bugs said. "Let's get this show on the road doc."
"Allright, let's round up the kids," Foghorn said, giving Yakko a nudge. "I'll give Wakko the map - give him something to do besides try to crawl out the window or whatever he'd find to entertain himself with."
Yakko closed his eyes.
Wakko - with a map. In the lead truck.
He hoped Foghorn had a real good idea of where they were going or they'd definitely be spending the night in a hotel. Wakko would have them all lost before they left ToonTown.
"You're giving the eleven year old a map?" Bugs asked in a snide tone. "What, not able to read it yourself?"
"I'd give - I say - I'd give it to you, but you'd have all of us end up in Albuquerque. Think you're famous for wrong turns there."
"Oh that's a laugh," Bugs said. "Coming from a guy famous for smacking a dog in the - "
"Watch the language rabbit, got a kid here."
Yakko scowled at Foghorn. This was gonna suck. He was sort of stuck in the middle…again. Not quite an adult, but not one of the younger boys either.
"Perhaps you should continue to insult each other instead of the young man," Jeeves drawled again, attracting attention back to him. "Or better yet, get this expedition under way."
"Agreed," Mr. Bunny said. "It looks like Plucky has been 'it' too long - he's resorted to tossing smoke bombs at the others. I'd rather we get them out of here before they begin to lob lighted bombs. I rather like my yard hole free."
Yakko snorted, mostly amused that this statement was coming from a rabbit, toon or not.
"Fine. Now, Mister Foghorn - "
"Stop that nonsense," Foghorn snapped. "Told ya before, I'm not Mister anything. I ain't no duke or lord or whatever you served over there."
"Yes, well, I can quite agree with that," Jeeves said. "Be that as it may, we are to follow you, correct?" At Foghorn's nod he said, "Fine then. I shall round up my reluctant charges and we shall be underway."
"Uh, right," Foghorn said.
Yakko heard him mutter 'uppity manservant' as the butler walked off and sighed.
He sort of liked Jeeves, not that he knew the man well. But he seemed like a good sort and having to deal with Max and Plucky together he thought the man deserved some sympathy. At least all the other adults only had one reluctant kid to deal with.
"Let's go Ladies Man."
With a sigh at his new handle, Yakko turned to head into the Mercedes, ready to get the weekend over with already. It was going to be worse than he even imagined. Before he figured most everyone would be somewhat optimistic about it.
Bugs and Foghorn - normally the best of friends - seemed to be arguing more than normal. Foghorn seemed to dislike Jeeves for some unfathomable reason. Poor Mr. Bunny seemed stuck in the middle. The younger boys already were rambunctious and the sun had barely risen. He could already hear Max's loud voice complaining about something or another, Plucky's higher voice chiming in with Buster telling everyone to shut up...
He had never envied Dot so much in his entire life. He had sort of wished she was coming, just so she could experience something new. Now he was doubly glad she was staying with the Cunninghams. She'd be safe, have a good time, probably stay clean the entire three days and not have to deal with everyone around her fighting.
He wished he had the same hope for himself.
He felt the car give a small jump as Bugs half stumbled into the driver's seat moaning. Yakko turned to watch him put his empty coffee cup in the holder.
"We're gonna have to stop at some point," Bugs muttered. "Weakest coffee I've ever had. I drank the whole cup and feel like I didn't get more than three sips."
Yakko went back to staring out the windshield.
Dot snuggled deeper into the lavender sleeping bag. In the dim early morning light though, it was a muddy looking gray color. So was the material overhead.
Rubbing her eyes briefly, she yawned and crawled out of the material to look outside it, revealing Molly's bedroom that just last night had been their own wilderness adventure. Molly's closet made a good pretend cave.
She turned to see the clock on Molly's nightstand.
Six-o-seven. They're probably already gone.
With a small sigh she crawled back to her bag and laid on top of it, comfortable and warm. She could get up in a few minutes. She'd have to; she heard Molly giggling and talking in her sleep in the sleeping bag beside her and she was hungry.
Molly loved to be able to use her sleeping bag; she was actually envious of the boys, getting to go sleep in a real tent. She only had the little one that wasn't a real tent to be used outdoors. Her mom was nice enough to let her put up the little 'Pocahontas' tent in her room though so she and Dot could pretend. And she cooked them hotdogs and let them eat the food in Molly's room.
Dot was a little jealous. Once again, the boys got to do something fun and she was being left at home because she was little.
And because she was a girl; Wakko and Buster told her that. They said it was 'boys only'. No dumb girls.
Stupid boys. She bet she could survive out there. She liked being neat and clean, but she could get down in the dirt if she needed to or help out.
The boys hadn't minded her help when she suggested taking all the toilet paper out of the public restrooms on the lot, since they were to dumb to figure it out themselves. Wakko had gotten as far as 'let's toilet paper Bugs' car!' before he went silent. Then they all had sat there and racked their brains on where to get that much toilet paper.
When she had finally screamed the most obvious solution to them, they had said she was 'awesome' and then ran off to raid the restrooms, even having her go in and steal some out of the girls room...
She backed out of actually doing it though; she wasn't stupid. Let the boys get all the glory - and blame - for it.
She sighed. She hoped they had fun, but she really only half wanted to go. She would honestly rather go to the horse show and stay clean and be able to draw and stuff. She wrinkled her nose at having to use the bathroom in the woods and having to wash in the lake or stream or whatever.
She preferred a bathtub. With lots and lots of bubbles.
"Good morning! Whatcha doin?"
Dot jumped as Molly sat up suddenly, one bow untied from her ear, the other one just missing.
"Just thinking…I'm gonna miss them," Dot sighed, hugging her knees to her chest. "They're gone already."
Yakko had hugged her and Bugs had to practically Fritz a crowbar to remove her from his grasp. She didn't think Yakko really wanted to go. She asked if he wanted to stay at Molly's and go to the horse show too, but he said no, he was the oldest, it was his 'cross to bear because he was the oldest 'doo'.
She had no idea what he had been talking about.
Wakko had hugged her, more reluctantly but it was still a hug. But he was more excited about the whole thing she thought. He had been babbling about putting a winch on Foghorn's truck and doing pretrips and using radios.
She had no idea what he had been talking about either.
"Oh, the stupid boys," Molly scoffed. "It's too bad that Yakko didn't wanna stay here because I think he'd like the show I know I am and I think you will too! And in a little while we're gonna go pick up Webbigail and go and see it! And then Mommy said we might go to the berry farm and she might make up some smores for us she said you don't need a campfire for that the boys will kill themselves with the sticks - "
Dot listened as Molly happily rattled off the itinerary for the entire weekend and her thoughts about everything. That was one thing Dot knew she was annoyed about missing.
Yakko hated marshmallows in any form, but she didn't. The more she got the happier she was. Yakko said that sometimes her hot chocolate didn't look like a drink but just a cup full of nasty melted goo.
She didn't care; she'd eat them with the spoon when she ran out of the actual beverage. No bag was safe around her.
The idea of shoving them, half melted into graham crackers, then adding chocolate on top of that…she had practically been singing at the thought. If Ms. Cunningham knew how to make them and not have a fire blazing in her kitchen, she was all for it.
"-and hey, don't worry about those dumb boys," Molly said, scooting closer to her and putting her arm around her. "I know you could stay out there and be OK. They'll probably be scared of every leaf falling on their tent."
Dot nodded, imagining Yakko and Wakko screaming as a squirrel ran past them while they were hiking along.
"I know, I'm just gonna miss them. And I'm worried about them."
"Them?" Molly laughed. "I'm not worried about them; I hope someone warned all the bears they're coming!"
End Chapter 1