A/N: This one was a fun challenge. This is actually a birthday gift for a friend of mine who wanted a Winnie the Pooh story revolving around Tigger, Roo and Kanga. I was hesitant at first as most of my stories are usually incorporated with more "grown up" themes but I couldn't say no to her. Plus it was fun to divert away from my usual stuff. So I hope you all enjoy it along with her.
All characters belong to A.A. Milne and Disney.
For you Cookie. Happy Birthday.
A soft wind blew through the snow covered trees of the Hundred Acre Woods. Snowflakes that fell from the sky were caught in its updraft and danced through the sky before finally settling into place on the ground or tree tops with their brothers and sisters. The winter that had finally arrived in the Woods not but a few weeks ago, was a gentle one so far. No blizzards or snow storms plagued the homes of Christopher Robin's best friends.
Speaking of friends, the all too familiar cheer of the Hundred Acre Woods best bouncer echoed throughout the forest.
Tigger bounced along the snow covered trail, his tail making a pattern of holes in the fresh powder with each spring. Over the creek, up the hill, around the rocks and under the log he bounced, a smile plastered all over his muzzle. He came to another hill and bounced with some extra vigor and launched himself down the hill on his stomach. The feline slid down like an orange and striped sled, laughing all the way down. Once hitting the bottom, he flipped head over tail back onto his feet.
"What a fantastical, stupendious, snow covered day-a-roo!" Tigger shouted, cartwheeling a few feet before resuming his bouncing.
And indeed what a wonderful day it was. Bouncing was always so much more fun in the snow. You could bounce as high as you want and land in the soft snow without getting hurt. It made for some excellent competitions like the one he and Roo had yesterday. And while Roo was not a professional bouncer like Tigger(who often proclaimed it proudly whenever he could), the joey was certainly no beginner.
Roo had bounced off nearly ten trees before sliding though the snow and into the creek. The boy had been embarrassed that he had not been able to stick the landing in front of his idol and most favorite person in the whole world. But Tigger dove into the creek beside Roo and picked him up, swinging him around in pride. It was a bounce worthy of a true Tigger he told him causing the young marsupial to grin from ear to ear.
"Roo Boy's becoming one heck of a bouncer! He might even be as good as my own handsome self-one day." Tigger chuckled to himself.
But Roo would need much practice if he wanted to be as good as Tigger. Which is exactly why they had another day of extravagant bouncing planned. He made his way over to the old bridge that crossed the river just near the center of the Hundred Acre Woods. Giving one more bounce, he shot himself up onto the railing, sitting down with his legs crossed and tail dangling over the side. He toyed with the frills on his scarf anxiously as he waited for his best little buddy to show up.
Time passed by rather slowly for Tigger and he did everything he could to occupy himself. He stood on his head, caught snowflakes on his tongue, made a tiny army of snowmen along the railing, skipped a few rocks and just about everything else you could possibly do on a bridge. At a certain point in his waiting, Tigger felt a shiver run down from the tip of his ears to the tip of his tail. Looking up at the sky, he saw that the clouds had become a bit darker and the temperature had dropped. Tigger frowned as he realized that most of the day had gone by.
"Well, where in the world is Roo? He's never been late for a day of bouncing!" He said aloud to himself, scratching the top of his head. But perhaps Roo had been side tracked or was helping to get Pooh out of another honey related incident. Tigger snorted a laugh at the thought of the silly old bear with his upper body stuck in a bee hive. So he decided he would wait some more.
He waited and waited and waited until the sky became black and he sat in the middle of the bridge in the cold night.
"But…but he always comes…" Tigger practically whispered to himself, his crestfallen features sagging lower than Eeyore's ears. It was completely confounding to him that his bestest little buddy had not shown up. At that point, a thought had suddenly alit in his Tigger brain.
"Wha-what if something happened to him!" Tigger cried out to himself, his paws covering the sides of his face. "Why, he could be out here all alone lost and maybe hurt!"
Tigger was not going to waste any more time just sitting on the bridge. He leaped off the railing and back onto the trail, running as fat as his legs could carry him. He ran through the darkened Woods which had become quite eerie and frightening. But that mattered none to Tigger. Roo was in trouble out here and he would face anything to get to the boy. No matter how scary things got.
For what seemed like forever, the bouncing feline searched the Woods looking under rocks, up in the trees and over the frozen pond. But every search was in vain which only increased his level of anxiety. The wind had started to blow at a steady pace, sweeping snowflakes into his face and clinging to his whiskers. Tigger had no idea how late it was but he didn't care. He had to find Roo.
"Roo! " He called out against the wind, "Roo-boy, where are you! It's me! Tigger!"
He waited for a response but received no answer except that of the branches of the trees swaying in the wind.
"Roo! I'm over here! If you can hear me, come over here!" Tigger tried again.
"I say, what is all this yelling going about?"
A startled Tigger looked up to where the sound of voice was coming from and saw none other than Owl standing at his door, trying to keep the candle he had lit from going out. He squinted through the darkness and saw an orange figure below the branches of his house.
"Tigger? Is that you?"
"Owl! What are you doing out here? Are you lost too?" Tigger asked, pointing up at him.
"I live here Tigger." Owl pointed out with a chuckle. Tigger bounced his way up to Owl's doorstep, shaking the snow off his fur.
"You gotta help me Owl!" He shouted, grabbing the raptor by the shoulders and shaking him. "Easy my boy, easy! Now calm down. What's this you say about being lost?"
"He was supposed to meet me for some bouncing but he never showed up! He's lost out there and I need to find him!"
Owl stared at him for a moment before letting out a soft laugh. Tigger stared back at him like he had just lost his mind. Owl shook his head and gave him a soft smile with a reassuring wing on Tigger's shoulder.
"Oh my fine feline friend," He began, "Roo is not lost at all."
"No. He's at home, most likely in bed. Roo was supposed to visit me for his weekly history lessons but his mother told me that he unfortunately came down with a rather nasty case of Influenza." Owl explained.
"Influ-whatta? That's not a snake is it? He didn't get bit by a snake did he? I didn't know we even had snakes in the Hundred Acre Woods!" Tigger cried worriedly.
"No, no, no Tigger. Influenza is the flu. Roo is sick. Not feeling well."
The moment Tigger heard those words, his entire body practically collapsed from the relief he felt. Owl laughed as he watched him clutch the side of Owl's house in support. "Oh thank my stripes! I was so worried that the poor little guy was lost out here!" He exclaimed, wiping his forehead with his scarf. Grabbing Owl's wing, he shook it vigorsly.
"Thanks Owl old buddy old pal! But if you'll excuse me, I need to get over to Roo's p-r-a-w-n-t-o-e and check on the little guy. TTFN Owl and thanks again!"
With that, Tigger bounced off the doorstop and back onto the trail before Owl could even say a word. The avian just shook his head with another chuckle. He blew out the candle and headed back inside.
Tigger bounced his way past Rabbit's house, Eeyore's shack and Pooh's tree until he came to an all too familiar maple tree with two separate mail boxes outside. He ran up to the door and was about to give a holler when he realized something. It was indeed quite late and the last thing he wanted to do was wake up his favorite boy in the whole world.
Or his beautiful mother for that matter.
Tigger stood in front of the door, his mind furiously trying to come up with a decision. He really wanted to see Roo and make sure he was okay but did not want to intrude on the two marsupials. Raising his hand, it hovered just a few inches from the door, the urge to knock there but the courage sorely lacking. Dropping his hand with a large sigh, he turned away from the door and started to walk away.
But the sudden sound of the latch opening and the bright light of a candle caused him to turn around.
"Tigger? Is that you?" Came a voice as soft as the snow and as sweet as Pooh's honey. Tigger could already feel his face starting to heat up as the words graced his ears. He spun around and did his best to puff out his chest and look as dignified as he could.
"Oh, good evening Mrs. Kanga ma'am. I'm sorry if I woke you." He said trying to hide his lisp. He was always slightly embarrassed to talk that way around her.
"No Tigger, I was up." She replied with a gentle smile. "I saw you from my window coming down the trail. Is everything alright dear? It's awfully late."
"Everything is okey dokey hoo-hoo." He forced out the laugh. "It's just that, I heard that Roo had gotten a case of the Ila-sen-zea."
"That's Influenza dear." Kanga giggled.
"Er…yes…that. I just wanted to see how the little guy was doing but as you said it is quite late." Tigger murmured, his nerves seeming to have increased.
"That was very sweet of you Tigger." The female kangaroo said, giving him a sweet and gentle smile. Tigger's blush quickly returned as he toyed nervously with his tail.
"But I'm afraid Roo is already in bed. He has been up most of the night with a coughing fit. He only just fell asleep a few minutes ago." Kanga sighed, the worry in her voice evident. Tigger just hated to hear her in distress.
"Well then I'll leave you to tend to him. I'm sorry I bothered you." He muttered embarrassingly. As he started to hop away, Kanga's voice graced his ears once again stopping him in his tracks.
He turned around and watched as Kanga hopped over to him, the candle in her hand illuminating her lovely features as she drew nearer.
"I'm sorry Tigger, I have forgotten my manners. Please, won't you come in?" She asked.
"I really don't want to intrude Mrs. Kanga. That wouldn't be very Tiggerish of me, no indeedy-do." Tigger replied although he wanted more than anything to accept her offer. Kanga smiled at him again and grabbed his paw with her own. With a gentle tug she started to lead him back to the tree.
"Nonsense. You are always welcome in our home. And you can stop calling me Misses. Kanga is just fine."
Tigger's will had been completely broken at the touch of her paw and he no longer put up a fight as she urged him on with another gentle tug. Kanga lead him into the house, the warmth instantly hitting them both. Tigger hung his scarf on a nearby coat rack while Kanga placed the candle back on the kitchen table.
"Can I make you some coco Tigger?" She asked, lighting a few more candles.
"I wouldn't want to be a bother ma'am." Tigger responded standing near the table, watching the tiny flame flicker. "Nonsense. It will only take a moment." Kanga assured him. Tigger sat down at one of the kitchen seats as she fixed them both their beverages. With the sweet smell of chocolate suddenly filling the air, Kanga hopped back over to the table.
"Thank you ma'am, er, I mean, Kanga." Tigger said sheepishly as she handed him his coco. Kanga only smiled sweetly at him which caused the feline to blush profusely. She fixed herself her own cup and sat down on the chair opposite to him. There was a tense moment of silence as both Hundred Acre Woods dweller seemed short on words. Kanga was the first to speak up.
"Thank you so much for wanting to check up on Roo, Tigger. He was so looking forward to seeing you today."
"Feh!" Tigger proclaimed with a wave of his paw, "It was nothing! He's my bestest buddy in the whole world! Why, I'd bounce through a dozen snowstorms if he was in trouble!"
Kanga smiled at him again and took a sip of her drink and watched the tiny flame flicker and dance on its wick. Her smile faded though and she let out a quiet sigh. Tigger's keen ears picked up the sound and his usual jovial expression transformed into one of concern. With the addition of extra light, he could see Kanga's usual upbeat and happy features were now tired and worn out.
"What's wrong?" He asked.
The single mother looked up and smiled at him. She always liked that about him. He knew when something was bothering her and the eagerness to make her feel better was written on his face. "It's nothing dear." She told him but Tigger was no fool. He knew he wasn't the brightest creature in the woods but even he knew when something was wrong with someone he cared about.
"Are you scared about Roo? He's a trooper that kid! He'll beat this flu thingy faster than you can say presto!" He exclaimed, snapping his fingers to emphasize his point. Kanga tried to smile at his enthusiasm but it faltered and she shook her head. "No Tigger, I'm not worried about Roo's flu."
Kanga was silent, her eyes focusing on the flame of the candle. Tigger waited for her to say something, anything. What happened next was not what he expected. Kanga choked out a sob and turned away from him, softly weeping, face in her paws. Tigger bolted out of his chair in an instant, paw on her shoulder.
"I'm sorry Kanga!" He apologized quickly. "I didn't mean to make you upset! Whatever I said I'm sorry! Please don't cry…"
Kanga wiped the tears away only to have them replaced by new ones as she grasped his paw on her shoulder with her own. "It's alright Tigger. You didn't say anything wrong." She told him.
"Then what's wrong? Please Mrs. Kanga ma'am," He began, completely forgetting about what she told him about addressing her, "I don't like seeing you like this. Please tell me and I'll do everything in my Tigger power to make it better."
Kanga could only smile at him as the tears ran down her cheeks. Without hesitation, she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled herself into his warm body, burying her face into his neck. Tigger froze upon the sudden closeness but found his arms automatically wrapping around her own shuddering body. He could feel tears dampening his fur and it only made his heart ache more for her.
"I miss him." She whispered through sobs. "I miss him so much."
It was then that an instant understanding hit Tigger's brain like a lightning bolt at those few words. It had never been talked about before. Not when the two kangaroos moved into the Hundred Acre Woods and not a time after. Until now.
"I'll hear Roo crying out for him in his sleep." She wept. "He wants him, needs him but all I can try and do is comfort him when all I want is the same thing."
Tigger knew nothing of Roo's father. Nor did anyone for that matter. It had never been brought up before out of respect for Kanga. It was a popular question for sure but if the mother kangaroo never talked about it then there must be a good reason as to why and everyone accepted that. Whether her husband had passed away or simply left the picture was unknown and would probably stay that way but whatever the reason, it caused this beautiful creature in his arms an immense amount of heartbreak. Tigger let her cry into him for as long as she wanted, not saying a word. They sat in the dim light of the candle, coco getting cold and muffled sobs echoing throughout the room. When it seemed her crying fit had died down, Tigger finally spoke.
"Kanga," He breathed softly, "I wish I could bring him back for you." He told her. He meant every word of it. With every fiber of his being, he wanted nothing more than for her to never be sad again.
He loved her.
From the moment he laid eyes on her. The way she smiled at him that made his heart bounce as much as himself. Her sweet nature that made him feel safe and at peace if something was ever bothering him. How she laughed at his exuberant and often rambunctious nature that could be considered annoying to others. But not her. She was perfect. Tigger would do anything in this world and the next to bring back what was impossible to bring back.
Even if that meant to never bounce another day in his life if he could bring back what was impossible to bring back.
"You…you lost someone you love. I'm lucky because I've never lost anybody. Everyone I love is here in the woods and especially under this roof."
"Oh Tigger…" Kanga sobbed, pushing away from him slightly. But he held tight, halting anymore retreat from him.
"It's true." He said sternly. "Roo is the greatest kid I've ever known. I wish I could see him every day and tuck him into bed every night. I want to take him on camping tricks and go fishing and wipe his tears away when he scrapes his knee. I love that boy. And you…"
Tigger paused in his sentence, the words suddenly drying up in his mouth. Kanga locked eyes with him and softly asked, "And me what?"
This was it. For years Tigger had kept his feelings for Kanga under lock and key. He was never very good at rejection and it would be more than he could ever take if Kanga denied his love. He couldn't stand the thought of her laughing in his face. But the way she was looking at him now and the feel of her heart beating against his own was enough to cross the threshold of fear.
"I'm not him." He found himself saying. "I wish I was because you love him but I'm not. I'm just me. I'm just a Tigger. A Tigger that will never leave your side or make you sad. I'll be there when you need me and when you're alone. I'll bring you flowers every day and write you poems. I'll be everything you need me to be because…I love you."
Kanga stared at him with her mouth slightly agape. Tigger's ears then sagged as did his long whiskers and he looked away from her. "But I'm not him. I'm just…me." He repeated. Another uncomfortable silence filled the room and Tigger could feel his cheeks burning furiously, still unable to look at her. He felt her slender paw cup his cheek and turned his head back towards her.
Her smooth and gentle voice forced him to meet her eyes again. They were full of tears again. Only this time, she as smiling brightly at him.
"You're right. You're not him. You're you. A Tigger who never ceases to amaze me with his generosity and kindness. Who's bouncing and laughter fills my heart with joy. A Tigger who loves my son so much that he braved the cold of a winter's night looking for him. Yes, I love him. But I love you too. Because you're you" Kanga whispered to him.
Tigger could only stare back at her, a shocked expression written clear across his face. If there was one way to express joy for a Tigger, it was bouncing. And this Tigger was seconds away from perhaps the most craziest, most epic, most happiest bounce of his entire life. But Kanga had her own way of showing happiness it seemed by leaning forward and kissing him softly on the lips.
It was perhaps the only time that Tigger thought something was better than bouncing.
They broke apart and leaned their heads together, Tigger pulling her closer to him and Kanga sighing again, only this time, it was a sigh of content. Tigger maneuvered them both away from the table and onto and old stuffed couch just a few feet away outside of the kitchen. Kanga leaned her head on his shoulder and Tigger wrapped an arm around her waist, a soft purr emanating from his throat.
Kanga wiped away her remaining tears and kissed him again, a little longer this time, his grip tightening around her.
The two broke away at the sound of the quiet and somewhat hoarse interruption. There at the bottom of the stairs, still in his pajamas was Roo. His always bright and happy face was now thick with distress and heavy bags under his eyes. He was holding onto the support of the bannister to keep himself from falling as he swayed heavily from left to right. He coughed a few times and almost fell onto his tail.
"Mama, I can't sleep." He said, his voice cracking and a few tears running down his cheek. Kanga hopped off the couch with Tigger in tow and scooped up her son in her arms.
"Shh, it's okay baby. Mama's here." She cooed to him. The little joey grasped onto her and buried his face into her fur, crying much like Kanga had done with Tigger not long ago. She rubbed his back and whispered comforting words. Tigger watched them and again he felt a pain in his chest at the sight of another he loved in so much anguish. Kanga noticed him staring and she smiled slightly before turning to him.
"Roo," She softly called his attention, "There's someone here who wants to see you."
Roo slowly lifted his head from his mother's body and was staring back at a warmly smiling Tigger. "Hey little buddy." He said softly. Roo wiped away the effects of his runny nose with his sleeve and coughed again.
"Tigger?" The little kangaroo asked, his eyes squinting through the darkness of the room. When he realized that it was indeed Tigger who he was talking to, the poor boy broke down again. Tigger almost took a step back in surprise. This was the second person he loved that he made cry today!
"Hey, hey, what's with the waterworks little fella?" Tigger asked, stepping closer this time.
"I'm sorry I couldn't come bouncing today. I didn't mean to get sick Tigger. I didn't want to be. Please don't be mad…" Roo explained before going into another coughing fit. Tigger could hardly believe his ears. Him, angry at Roo? The always vertical bound cat gently took the boy from his mother and held him close, one arm supporting his weight, the other cradling his head against his own chest. Again, fresh tears were felt on his coat as Roo clutched himself to him as if he was being pulled away. Tigger could feel his own tears starting to form as he whispered to him.
"I'll never be mad at you Roo-boy. Ever."
He looked back to Kanga who gave him a smile full of love and happiness. He let go of Roo's head and reached out with his paw, bringing her into the embrace as well. Kanga wrapped her arms around him and they both pressed against the child whose crying seemed to have lessened.
"I don't wanna be sick anymore." Roo cried, his voice scratchy and tired. Tigger looked down to him, then back up to Kanga who stroked her sons head. She met his eyes and nodded as if reading his thoughts.
"Well…how about if I stay until you feel better?" He asked the little one. Roo made no comment but simply nodded his head in agreement. "Then I will." He looked up from Roo and noticed that Kanga was now resting her head under his own chin, eyes closed.
"And…I'll stay even when you don't feel sick anymore." He said. Roo didn't respond, no coughs rattling his little body or sobs drying out his eyes. The joey was sleeping comfortably now, nestled in between his mother and his hero.
"And I'll stay so you'll never have to cry again." He said to Kanga, a few new tears slipping out from her closed lashes.
"I'll always stay. Always."
The three stood there, in that very spot, neither making a sound nor moving a muscle. The weather outside continued to worsen but it made no difference to Tigger. He wasn't going anywhere. He meant what he said. The entire Hundred Acre Woods could be blown away in a snow storm and Tigger wouldn't care. He wouldn't leave them. Not now, not ever. So there they remained, Roo sleeping and Kanga finding comfort in Tigger's arms. Three beating hearts swelling in the presence of one another for now and forever. They were one.
One heart, beating in the cold winter night.
A/N: Whew! Finished. This was quite hard for me. I was never a big Winnie the Pooh fan so I had to do a lot of research before I wrote this. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed it Cookie and anyone else who was kind enough to read it. Cya!