River Rocks or Wishing Stones Chapter 3
Tigger sat on a bench outside the grimy apartment building he now called home.
Although it was now midday, the sun had yet to come out – it was hidden at the moment by a thick patch of clouds which Tigger watched intently.
Looking at the cottony expanse above him, he saw a rolling wave of white moving across the sky, carrying a raggedy pirate ship with masts drawn and cannons firing in the wind, which was then bowled over by a large whale who had crept up behind it as it sailed.
Tigger turned his attention to another part of the sky where a dragon lay curled around a pile of treasure, and suspected he saw a knight on horseback closing in from across a bridge of blue.
These images were quickly shattered however as a shiny, metallic object zoomed right through the dragon, destroying it and disrupting it's hoard, while the machine simply droned on through the sky.
Tigger sighed loudly, slumping forward and wrapping his arms around his knees which were pulled up on the bench.
What kind of place was this where you couldn't even cloud watch properly?
He sat there for what seemed like hours, in what was decidedly a most un-Tiggerific mood.
The shock of having woken up just that morning to find he no longer had springs or rubber or stuffing or any tail to bounce around on was still weighing on him, putting him in a funk he wasn't sure he'd be able to shake off.
His usual method, bouncing, was out of the question.
He had tried.
He wasn't used to pain, and that only made his mood worse.
The thought hit him to go find Rabbit to cheer him up, but he quickly put that out; Rabbit was tearing his hair out trying to figure out what had happened to make them all human, while doing his best to take care of a depressed Kessie as she adjusted to her wingless form.
No, Rabbit was not in a cheering-up kind of mood.
Tigger had thought that going outside and exploring might help things, though secretly he just wanted to get some fresh air away from the stuffy building and perhaps take his mind off of his current situation.
However, what he had found when he opened the front door was a busy street filled with noisy cars and air he could barely breathe.
He had quickly closed that door and headed back inside.
After some exploring, Tigger had chanced upon a back door leading to a spacious playground surrounded by high brick walls and shrubs.
There were a few children playing on the equipment, and the sound of their laughter was a welcome reprieve from the cacophony he had experienced all morning.
He had watched them for a while as they climbed and ran around, and was struck by a familiar itch to bounce up and join them.
This feeling dissipated as he realized none of them would want to play with - *yeaugh* - an adult.
So there he sat, too melancholy to move and play like he wanted, but too restless to go back inside.
Cloud-watching had proved fruitless, and he was starting to reconsider asking Rabbit for ideas (despite the short fuse he was sure to have at this point), when he felt the other side of the bench shift and heard the creak of the rickety old boards as someone sat down.
He was almost too apathetic to bother looking, but his curious Tigger nature got the best of him, and he raised his head to see who had joined him.
A woman sat beside him, her brown skin contrasting nicely with her purple dress, her dark hair pulled into a loose ponytail as she rifled through the large bag on her lap.
She looked to be older than Tigger but not quite as old as Rabbit, though the only real indication was the calm and mature manner with which she carried herself.
Tigger watched her for a while, though he wasn't quite sure why, and if she noticed she didn't make it known.
Suddenly she lifted her head to look out at the playground, and a soft smile grew on her face as a little boy came bounding up to her, skipping and hopping and laughing merrily.
His skin was the same brown as hers, and his messy dark hair fell in wisps around large and somewhat pointed ears.
The boy's dark eyes sparkled, despite the lack of sun, as his arms waved wildly in his blue turtleneck sweater as he tried not to trip over the hems of his beige khakis.
"Did you see me mama? Did you see me? I climbed all those bars and even swung around on one of 'em!"
His mother's smile didn't quite reach her eyes as she said "That's wonderful dear. Now, come here and let me brush that hair of yours. It's not even been a day and already it's a mess!"
The little boy dutifully climbed onto his mother's lap as she began tackling the tangles on his head with a large wooden brush.
The brush quickly snagged a knot, and the boy let out a loud "ow!" turning to frown up at his mother.
She only chuckled lightly, saying "I'm sorry dear, but you shouldn't have let it get so messy!"
At that the boy crossed his arms and slumped forward slightly, but as he turned his head back around he noticed Tigger staring intently at them both, a slight smile on his face.
The boy stared back at him, and Tigger froze.
Neither moved as their eyes remained glued to each other's, and it was only after a sudden breeze that Tigger was forced to blink.
The young boy smiled triumphantly, shouting "Ha! I won! You blinked!"
Tigger stared at him, wide-eyed, when suddenly a smile cracked his face, which then turned into a chuckle, which quickly evolved into loud guffaws of laughter.
The boy's smile widened, and soon he was laughing as well, the mood catching and brightening the gloomy atmosphere that had previously enveloped the bench. Even the boy's mother was smiling, happy to the friendly stranger for distracting her son from the constant pulling at his hair.
Wiping a tear from his eye, Tigger looked down at the boy still being brushed by his mother, and said jovially "That was just a practice round! Next time I'll win for sure! Why, starin' contests are what… uh, *I* do best!"
It was still odd to hear himself speak – his lisp was all but gone due to his new mouth, and every time he'd say something he'd catch a glimpse of his tennis shoes or pink hands and not even know if he was really a Tigger anymore.
He was shaken out of his reverie as his new friend reached over to tug on the sleeve of his orange hoodie.
"Hey Mister, wanna come play with me?"
Tigger smiled warmly but shook his head.
"Sorry pal; not today. Besides, ain't you a little busy at the moment?"
He pointed at the brush still being run through the boy's hair, at which the boy deflated slightly.
"Well… what am I supposed to do right now? What're you doing out here?"
Tigger wasn't quite sure how to respond. He didn't want to lie to the little boy; he seemed like quite a cool little guy. However, given the circumstances, Tigger didn't think anyone would really understand his reason for wanting to be outside doing nothing.
But he didn't want to look boring either.
"I'm cloud watching of course!"
This seemed to pique the boy's interest.
"See anything interesting yet?"
Tigger smiled brightly, leaning down to the boy's level and pointing up at the sky.
"Just look over at that cloud there! That's a lion that is! And over there across from it – looks like a bear, huh?"
His friend bounced happily in his seat, eliciting a soft giggle from his mother as she tried to keep him from jostling too much.
He pointed a tiny finger into the air and said "And look at that one next to them! It looks like it has stripes!"
The man looked where his little companion was pointing, and immediately sank back onto the bench.
It did have stripes. Just like a… Tigger.
The little boy must have noticed his change in expression, as he looked inquisitively up at his new friend saying "You alright Mister?"
Tigger looked into the worried little expression and put on a fake smile.
"Why sure kid! I just… haven't been feeling like myself today."
"Really?" The boy gasped loudly, alerting his mother, who was working out the last few knots on his head, to listen more attentively. "That's funny – I've been feelin' that same way too! Ever since this morning! I mean, you wouldn't believe what happened to us!"
The woman froze momentarily in her brushing, looking down at her son, her arm tightening around him as he spoke.
Tigger was also intrigued, wondering how such a happy and rambunctious kid could feel out of sorts.
"Get this – I went to sleep last night in my own bed in my own house, and BAM! I wake up this morning in a completely different house!"
"Dear…", the woman started in a stern voice, pulling her son further onto her lap as Tigger looked on with growing confusion.
"But that's not the worst part! When I woke up I didn't even have a tail anymore! Can you believe – "
"ROO! That's enough!"
The little boy deflated, turning sad eyes up to his mother as he said, "but mama…."
"No more stories Roo. Come along, we're leaving. I'm sorry to bother you sir."
Tigger sat dumbfounded, watching the mother stand to pack up her things and seeing her and the boy in a whole new light.
Roo? He didn't know if many children were normally called Roo or not, but as other pieces of the puzzle began to lock in place, he found it immaterial.
That brown skin… the blue sweater… his bubbly cheerfulness… her sweet, serene smile and dark eyes… of course, why hadn't he seen it before?
She gasped and spun around to face him, confusion evident in her eyes as she looked at him – really looked at him.
Roo's face also showed confusion as he stood by his mother, but as he stared at the man before him, realization dawned across his face, lighting it with a smile, and he sprung on the man with a joyous cry of "Tigger!"
"Roo-boy!" Tigger exclaimed, holding onto the child tightly, "Am I ever glad to find you!"
"Me too! It's been a really crazy day!"
"You're tellin' me!" Tigger said, pulling back from Roo and setting him on the bench next to him, "You shoulda been there this mornin'! Though I'm guessin' from what you were sayin' earlier, you had quite a morning yourself!"
Roo smiled widely and said, "Yeah, it was actually kinda exciting though! But I don't think Mama thought it was… Mama?"
Tigger followed Roo's gaze to Kanga, still standing and staring at Tigger, though hardly focusing on him anymore.
She was shaking, and Tigger could almost hear her breath as it came in short, sharp bursts.
Worried, he stood and approached her, slowly putting a comforting hand on her shoulder.
She flinched and stared at his hand, and Tigger almost did too.
Flesh and bone were so different from stuffing.
Kanga looked into his eyes – they were almost the same height – and for the first time it seemed that she was actually seeing Tigger.
"I thought it might all be a dream…" she whispered, her voice shaky and uncertain, "A horrible dream about Roo and I. I thought if I just went along with it that eventually it would end and I'd wake up, and we'd both be normal again. But… you're here too. And I can feel it. I know that it's real."
She took a moment to breathe deeply and collect herself, and looked back into Tigger's eyes, deep into his eyes as if searching for something.
Apparently she found whatever it was she was looking for, as she smiled a serene Kanga-smile, and Tigger felt something stir in his chest – a light pattering that was at once foreign and yet… not uncomfortable.
Then suddenly she was next to him, her arms wrapping around his lanky frame as she pressed her head to his shoulder. He stood frozen, vaguely aware that the pattering in his chest was quickly becoming a heavy and constant thud which he could not explain.
He almost missed her whisper his name, but his brain caught up quick enough to catch her saying "I'm glad that you're here with us."
The thudding in his chest slowed, becoming a steady beat, and he closed his eyes as he wrapped his arms around her as well.
He always did like Kanga's hugs, even if the fit now was a bit different than what he was used to.
He felt little Roo wrap his arms around the both of them as well, and he melted, his face lifting in a loving smile as he held onto his family.
"Of course. I'll always take care of you guys."
He held her for a moment longer as memories filled his head, and with a happy sigh pulled away, keeping a hand on her small shoulder as he smiled widely at her and Roo.
"Well, now that you guys are here, we better go see old long-ears so he can figure out what the heck happened to us all!"
Roo's eyes widened as he asked "Rabbit's here too?"
Kanga also looked surprised. "I wonder if everyone is here… like this."
Tigger shrugged, saying "Well, he and Kesserino – you remember Kessie, right? – they're both all crazy lookin' too now, but I ain't seen anyone else yet. Who knows though? Maybe they're there already! How 'bout it Roo? Wanna lift?"
Roo's face lit up gleefully as Tigger knelt down for the boy to scramble onto his back; he was a bit big now to ride on Tigger's shoulders.
Steadying his hold on his buddy and giving a bright grin to Kanga, Tigger led the way back into the gray apartment complex and towards their friend's room, where they all hoped to find some much needed information.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaalrighty. Finally getting back into my stories.
So yay! We now have the fates of two more characters! The rest are soon to follow.
Hopefully sooner than it took for this chapter to make it up.
And yes, there will be some answers next time. *SOME*. ;)
Thanks again to all of you wonderful Reviewers, Favoriters, and Followers! You guys make my day! :,)