Author's Notes: All right everyone, here it is: the last chapter! Hooray! Thank you to everyone who reviewed and thanks for waiting so long. Hope it's worth the wait!
Six Weeks Later
"Perhaps a gold tinting, or – no wait! – persimmon. Yep! That's the one. Even the name sounds cool. Perrrrsimmonnn." Bonkers held the handheld mirror further from him and studied for a moment. "Hm. Maybe ocher. That's a real thing, right?"
"Sure," Marilyn answered with a shrug and a small smile. "But why mess with perfection?"
"You're right!" Bonkers declared happily, tossing the mirror up to Marilyn. "Orange is the new black. Netflix told me so."
He settled back into the chair while Marilyn began mixing up the same bright orange color they always ended up deciding on, and noticed with dismay that except for a few drops, the container was empty. "Shoot. I forgot that I was almost out of orange, after you – " She stopped short and shot a small, apologetic smile to the bobcat next to her.
" – after you used a whole lot of ink to save my life," Bonkers replied with no hint of hurt. She breathed a small sigh of relief.
"Yes. That. I'm sorry, it's just – that was such a terrible night, for everyone, and – "
" – and it's over now!" Bonkers said. "And I feel great, and if I'm being perfectly honest, I look great – and it's all thanks to you!"
Marilyn couldn't help but grin and give him a light noogie for good measure. "Anytime, Bonkers," she returned affectionately.
A new container of orange ink from the supply closet in hand, Marilyn got down to work on Bonkers' finishing touches. She'd never forget that night six weeks ago when Lucky had called her in a state of panic she'd seldom heard and told her to get down to the station as quickly as she could. He hadn't explained why, but there could only be one real reason why an animator would get called down at that time of the night – a dying toon needed her help.
Marilyn wasn't as experienced as many other animators, being so young, and had never responded to a repair job anywhere near as serious as the one that greeted her upon dashing into the station's re-inking clinic, of which she was the sole employee. Her heart had dropped upon catching sight of Bonkers, unconscious and looking decidedly less colorful as his life-source seeped out of him, ink pooling on the floor below. It was rare that a toon survived a turpentine bullet, but she had to at least try. She'd had to push past her emotions in order to work quickly and steadily. For several hours, Bonkers only had a tenuous grasp on life as Lucky and Miranda waited outside the clinic pacing silently. Marilyn continued working even as the sun broke over the horizon and other animators, who had been called in to assist, told her that it was over.
But she refused to stop. Every second she spent hunched over his limp form, memories of growing up with Bonkers and her father raced through her mind. Her last memory of Bonkers couldn't be like this – it just couldn't.
And then at last he'd slowly opened his eyes, looked at Marilyn, and feebly croaked, "What do you call a line of bunnies moving backwards? A receding h-h-h-hareline."
She very nearly burst into tears – and not only because it was a terrible joke.
The next couple of weeks had been rough; between Bonkers trying to recover from his injuries (with Marilyn doing patch jobs every few days as the ink dried) and Lucky wrapping up the Sugarfoot case, everyone involved was exhausted. Grating had given Bonkers six weeks of leave to recuperate, and Lucky had headed back to Washington shortly thereafter.
The last thing he'd done before getting on a plane was to make Bonkers promise not to quit the force.
The door to the office opened and Miranda stuck her head in, giving a grin to the bobcat in the chair. "Thought I'd find you here."
"Miranda!" Bonkers cried happily in greeting. "What are you doing here?"
"I came to attend this hoity-toity award ceremony for my favorite ex-partner," Miranda said, standing in the doorway and crossing her arms in front of herself. "He's getting a bravery award from the Mayor of Toontown himself. Any idea where I could find him?"
"If you're referring to the toon who saved Toontown from a fate worse than Sugarfoot Cartoons and who also happens to be a sporting a pretty spectacular ink-job if I do say so myself, he's right here," Marilyn said as she turned off her inking pen and patted Bonkers on the shoulder. "All right, Bonkers. You're as good as the day you were drawn."
"You bet I am! Even better! I'm the latest model!" he declared, jumping down from the chair flexing his non-existent muscles. "Featuring a fresh coat of orange, brand new gloves, a new uniform with no bullet holes in it, the shiniest badge in the department, and a clean bill of health, this bobcat's rarin' to go!"
Miranda gave him a crooked smile and motioned towards the door. "Well then, shall we?"
"You go ahead Miranda. I'll be right there," Bonkers replied, and watched as Miranda left the office and closed the door behind her.
"What's wrong?" Marilyn asked in a concerned voice. "Did I miss a spot?"
In response, she suddenly found herself the recipient of one of Bonkers' patented bear hugs. "Nah. I just wanted to thank the best animator on the West Coast for saving my life and giving me the best looking ink-job in the Toon Division, that's all." He leaned in next to her and whispered, "Thanks for not giving up, Marilyn."
Marilyn blushed and smiled broadly. "Don't mention it. Go on. You're going to be late."
Miranda was waiting for Bonkers in the hall and gave him a playful look of scrutiny. "You're right," she admitted. "You do look better with black spots."
"Of course I do! Now that Sugarfoot and Gimblebee are in prison – where they belong, thank you very much – and Barney's been demoted again for excessively long lunch breaks – who needs three hours to eat a burrito? Geesh! – who knows what new evils will rear their ugly heads on the mean streets of Toontown? Or even the nice streets of Toontown, the ones that have those well-manicured medians with little friendly signs asking you not to litter and wide curbs so you aren't constantly in danger of hitting them when you're trying to change the radio sta – "
"Well, you get the idea," He beamed up at Miranda. "I'm glad you made it today, Miranda. The only way it could be any better is if Lucky was here, too."
"I know he wanted to make it, Bonkers, but the FBI keeps him pretty busy," Miranda answered with an apologetic shrug. "We're a long way from D.C."
"You're right," Bonkers conceded with a small sigh. His brow furrowed in concentration. "I've had a lot of time to think over the last six weeks. I just wish I could tell him that being his partner again made me realize that being a cop is what I'm meant to be – not a writer, or an advice columnist, or anything else. I'm meant to be here," he said. "Even if I'm not as good a cop as Lucky."
"Now that's where you're wrong," a voice called behind them. Miranda and Bonkers turned to see Lucky striding down the hall towards them wearing a genuine grin.
"Lucky! You made it!" Bonkers cried.
"Well, I couldn't leave things the way they were when I left," Lucky asserted. He yanked the bill on Bonkers' hat good-naturedly. "Though I'm glad you took my advice to reconsider quitting. The Toon Division needs cops like you." He knelt down to Bonkers' level. "Look, I'm sorry for not believing you about all those clues – and about not believing that a toon cop could get the job done." He patted Bonkers on the shoulder. "I don't always understand how you get the job done – but you always do."
"Thanks, partner – er, ex-partner," Bonkers said, quivering tears brimming in his eyes. "You're the best cop I know."
Despite himself, Lucky pulled Bonkers into a hug. "Right back at you, buddy," he replied sincerely.
"Six weeks ago, Toontown was in chaos. Er, more chaos than it normally is, I mean. An excessively excessive amount of chaos. Anyway. You know what I mean. Ahem. The former Mayor was on the run, Toontown was broke, and a studio tyrant was on his way to gaining power over every toon in Toontown. Luckily, there was one toon who wasn't afraid to stand up, to fearlessly defend his city, and to set right the wrongs of the past. That toon – " the Mayor paused dramatically, " – was me, Mickey Mouse, elected in a landslide special election. Let me say that again. A landslide."
He looked eagerly out at the audience of police, reporters and other elected officials. The deputy mayor alone clapped meekly.
Mickey cleared his throat awkwardly and continued, "But of course, that's not why we're here today. Today, we're here to commemorate the brave actions of an officer who very nearly gave his life in the line of duty to protect the citizens of Toontown. If it wasn't for his skill and his bravery, the criminals would have never been brought to justice. But." Mickey's expression darkened somewhat."If it wasn't for him being a toon, no human on this police force would have had the slightest idea of how to crack the case." He crossed his arms stubbornly. "I invite any of you to refute that fact."
Chastened, the human members of the police audience awkwardly fumbled with their ties, hats and anything else to avoid Mickey's gaze.
"Right. I think that settles that," Mickey said resolutely after a long moment. "Without further ado, it is my privileged duty to present the Toontown Medal of Bravery to Officer Bonkers D. Bobcat, in great appreciation for his long record of extraordinary service, and especially for his work on the Sugarfoot case."
After Mickey's reprimand, the audience seemed almost over-eager to burst into applause as Bonkers hopped up the steps, where Mickey shook his hand vigorously. "Hiya Mickey!" Bonkers whispered excitedly, shaking Mickey's hand with far more force than necessary. "I just knew you'd make a great mayor! Everyone who says your ears are too big to ever be taken seriously as a politician has pudding for brains! You'll be an inspiration to all the freakishly-eared toons in Toontown who want to make something of themselves!"
"Uh…gee thanks, Bonkers, but I'm going to need my arm back if I'm going to award you this medal."
"Hm? Wha?" Bonkers looked down to find he was still pumping Mickey's arm with just slightly less force than one would use to pump a dry well. He tittered nervously. "Sorry about that, Mic – I mean, Mayor Mickey."
Mickey smiled; no matter how many times someone said that, he still hadn't gotten tired of it. Retrieving a shiny gold medal from a plush velvet box that the deputy mayor held out to him, Mickey draped the medal around Bonkers' neck. Before pulling away, he whispered to Bonkers, "I had a little talk with Captain Grating after the election regarding the future of criminal justice in Toontown. Now that you've proved that toons can do just as good a job as humans, I think we're going to see some changes at the Toon Division!"
After a solid hour of cameras flashing, reporters asking for interviews, and handshakes, Bonkers was finally able to escape into the hallway. "Whew!" he breathed, wiping his forehead. "Who knew award ceremonies were so physically demanding?"
"Bobcat!" Captain Grating's voice thundered down the hallway. Bonkers instinctively stood to attention as Grating approached him, eyeing him somewhat warily. "Feeling better?"
"Yes sir, all bright and shiny and new! Ready to get back on the beat!"
"Good. Come to my office, Bobcat, there's something I want to discuss with you."
Bonkers hesitated. "Well gee Cap, I was hoping I could catch up to Lucky and say goodbye before he left for Washington."
"Don't bother. He's in my office too."
The two began to walk down the hall together. "What's Lucky doing in your office?" Bonkers asked. His face lit up. "Wait a minute! Our zany adventure convinced him that his true home is in the Toon Division, that I'm the best partner he's ever had, and he's quitting the FBI to move back to L.A.? Is that it? Tell me that's it!"
Grating scoffed. "No. Are you crazy? The FBI's benefits package is far better than ours. No, I just had a matter to discuss with you, Bobcat, and I asked that he be there." He stopped short at the door of his office and cleared his throat gruffly. "While we're alone and away from prying ears, I – I wanted to personally commend you for your work." He fidgeted uncomfortably for a moment before admitting, "I do confess that I initially thought it was a bad idea for Piquel to take you on as a partner in this case, but he tells me that you were responsible for all the breaks in the case and that he has rarely worked with a finer officer than you. Those were his exact words." Grating peered down at Bonkers with something akin to a small amount of respect. "That's pretty high praise, Officer. Well done."
"Th-Thanks, Cap," Bonkers managed to squeak. He sniffed and wiped a finger under his nose. "You know, I never knew my father – " he began in a wavering voice.
"Oh criminey. Bobcat, let's not – "
"Well actually I did, he was a 3B lead pencil. But nevertheless, he was sharp and only ever thought in black and white and although he left his mark on the world, it left him dull."
Grating's expression was deadpan. "Because he was a pencil."
"Yes, because he was a – but Cap, the Toon Division has been sort of like a – a – second family to me! I mean Marilyn and Miranda and Lucky. You know I was actually considering leaving the force for a while?"
Grating's face fell. "You mean I could have gotten rid of – uh, I mean…we would have been deprived of your company?"
"No worries, Cap! This little escapade has showed me that this is right where I belong, and I'm not going anywhere!" Bonkers crowed heartily.
Grating's shoulders sank but he tried to keep his expression upbeat as he opened the door to lead them into the office. "Well, we're – we're glad to have you, Bobcat," he said – and he was pretty sure that he even meant it. "Sit down, please. I have something I want to announce."
Bonkers leapt into the seat beside Lucky, who gave him a wink.
Grating cleared his throat again and folded his hands in front of him as he sat behind the desk, hoping he looked somewhat stately and authoritative. "In light of your long experience as an officer in this department, and the exemplary manner in which you carry out your duties, I have decided to promote you directly to Lieutenant, not only because you probably deserve it, but also because anyone could do a better job than that oaf Barney – "
Grating didn't get to finish his sentence, as Bonkers had launched himself from the chair and began to shower Grating with kisses in between proclamations of, "Oh you won't regret it, sir! Mwah! Mwah! Mwah! I'll be the best Lieutenant the Toon Division ever had! Mwah! Thank you Captain Grating! Mwah! Mwah! Mwah! Thank you thank you thank you!"
"All right, all right!" Grating bellowed, disentangling himself from the toon and setting him to the floor. He smoothed out his uniform. "That's all, Bobcat. I'm sure you want to clean out your desk downstairs, and – "
"No way!" Bonkers burst. He caught himself and saluted. "Captain Grating, I request that I be allowed to keep my office in the basement, sir!"
With Grating only too happy to comply since it would keep a level separating he and Bonkers, Bonkers and Lucky exited the office a minute later and began to make their way towards the basement office.
"Brings back a lot of memories," Lucky said wistfully as they came to the door of Bonkers' office.
"Do you ever miss it?" Bonkers asked. "Ever consider, say, coming back to the Toon Division? Now that I'm an authority figure in this department, I could probably swing it!"
"What, you kidding? And miss out on the FBI's benefits package?" Lucky caught himself and cleared his throat. "I mean, uh – thanks for offer, Bonkers, but I'm happy where I am." He smiled with his hand on the doorknob. "But I know there are a lot of people here who are pretty happy you're back."
Lucky threw open the door to reveal Marilyn, Miranda, Fall Apart Rabbit and Mickey inside the office. "Surprise!" they all shouted in unison, before Mickey came forward to shake Bonkers' hand.
"Good job, Bonkers! Oh, all of Toontown is sure proud of you! The very first toon to make lieutenant!"
"I'm proud of you too, Bonkers," Miranda said with a smile, ruffling Bonkers' hair as she so often did. "I knew you could do it."
"And you know anytime you need a touch-up or just want to drop in, I'll always be glad to have you down at the clinic," Marilyn added.
"Did you know there are little bugs that live in our eyebrows?" Fall Apart chimed in from the back.
"I wanted all of them here to make it official," Lucky explained, pulling a black velvet box out of his back pocket. Bonkers looked skeptical.
"But Lucky, I thought you were already married."
Lucky grimaced. "It's not a ring, it's – oh, for Pete's sake." He opened the box, and a gold bar signifying the rank of lieutenant gleamed back up at Bonkers.
"Wooow," Bonkers intoned in awe.
Lucky deftly pulled it out of the box and pinned it to Bonkers' new uniform. "There," Lucky said, satisfied. He turned to the others in the office. "Ladies and gentleman, may I present to you Lieutenant Bonkers D. Bobcat of the Toon Division of the LAPD." He slapped Bonkers on the back affectionately. "How's it feel?"
Bonkers looked to each of his friends slowly, and sighed contentedly. "You know, there's only one thing that could make this better."
"What that, Bonkers?" Marilyn asked.
Bonkers licked his chops. "Some of Big Louie's famous hot dogs with extra relish! My treat! Let's go!"