Disclaimer: Chip and Dale aren't mine. And neither are Gadget or any other characters or names you might know from Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers. Nope. They all belong to Disney. Laura Hackwrench from The Untold Ranger Tales belongs to Indy & Chris Silva. The only thing that's mine here is the story.
(This is loosely based on The Untold Ranger Tales, in which we learn Dale is much more than just a goofball—he's actually a skilled painter and fencer. And in those stories, he and Gadget fall in love and eventually marry.)
So let's get to it. Shall we?
There she was, Gadget Hackwrench—or Gadget Oakmont, as she would be in just a few days. Her fiancé, Dale, had surprised her with a beautiful painting of her in a very special white wedding gown. Then, proud either of his painting or his soon-to-be bride (she preferred to think both), he'd set it on display in the best-lit spot of the hollow just above Ranger headquarters. Right now, that hollow was his studio. But soon, it would be expanded into their home.
It was her mother's gown.
The normally bubbly and borderline hyperactive inventor mouse sat there, her eyes fixed on the work of art before her. Her hands, usually busy chiseling, torquing, or hammering something, lay cupped together across her lap. A smile played across her lips.
Mrs. Dale Oakmont. Who would've guessed?
She felt the smile struggle, grow...and then waver.
Their home. The gown.
It was her mother's gown.
A weight, a tiny nagging thing in the depths of her soul yanked and yanked, trying to pull her down. She spun away from the painting and jumped off the stool.
"Zowie! I must be slipping," announced a very familiar high but slightly rough-hewn voice behind her. "You look even prettier than Princess Falana of the Algoi people even without your dress on, but I didn't even come close to getting that down." Dale wandered up before her, eyeing the painting critically. Then he leaned over and kissed her gently on the cheek.
Bolstering her smile, she looked up to him. He could always brighten her day just by being there.
But they won't be there. That little voice nagged.
Her expression must've faltered again, because his face suddenly took on a frown of concern. Since he'd revealed his true self to her and the others, she'd come to realize he was a lot more perceptive than he'd ever let on.
"You ok, Gadget?" he asked. "You look kinda' sad."
He was perceptive—and he was right.
Gadget nodded. "Yeah," she lied. "That was my mom's wedding dress you painted me in, you know."
Dale walked over to a table and, setting down a painter's palette and some brushes she hadn't noticed him carrying until now, hopped up onto its edge.
"Yeah," he agreed. "I never met her. Bet she was real beautiful in it, though."
Gadget winced slightly. Her mother, Laura, and her father, Geegaw, had passed away long before she ever met Dale or the other Rangers.
"I wouldn't know," she muttered.
Dale shook his head as if trying to jar something back into alignment. "Huh? What're you talking about, Gadget?"
She sighed. "Well, you know how I had to clear out a lot of files on my computer the other day to make more room?"
"Well," she started, her throat tightening and causing her voice to choke up, "I must've...must've erased my old pictures without realizing it. I was so wrapped up in my work on the Ranger Wing, I...I didn't even think about it. And then, when I made a new backup of everything and had to erase the old one, I didn't even realize they weren't there!"
A wave of anguish crashed through her. Her legs gave out and she plopped back down onto the stool she'd been using, nearly missing it.
Dale jumped to catch her, but sat back down when she caught herself.
"Dale, those were the only pictures I still had of them!" she cried. "Even Monty didn't have any! How could I forget! How could I erase those! How could I be so dumb as to wipe them out?" She fell silent for a moment.
Dale worked his mouth silently, as if he were trying to reason something out. He fidgeted nervously with his paws for a moment, but then stopped and glanced over at something she didn't know what. A thoughtful look flashed onto his face and he rubbed his chin with his paw.
"Now, I'm getting ready to marry this great guy," Gadget continued, letting another small smile creep onto her lips.
Dale smiled back, but still said nothing.
And he was right to say nothing, for she was nowhere near finished. "I'm marrying a great guy," she repeated. "Mom and Dad always wanted to be there to see that. But, they won't be. And what's worse is that I was trying to picture them at the ceremony, trying to imagine what they would look like seeing me standing up at the altar with you..." All at once, the words and thoughts and emotions jammed up inside her, not letting anything out...
Finally, after several seconds of silence, Dale broke in. "Gadget?" he asked tentatively, clearly uncomfortable at this emotional moment. "Your folks would be real happy," he pointed out. "I know I am."
Gadget took his paw in hers, almost as if she were the one offering him emotional support. Dale, as open and caring as he was, wasn't really the most comfortable in situations like this.
She chuckled. His shyness was one of the things she loved about him.
But then, the weight of what she'd been about to say crashed down on her again and she hung her head. "I know they would, Dale. But I was trying to picture them-trying to imagine what they'd look like sitting there-but I couldn't! I couldn't remember! It's been so long! But how can I forget?" She threw her head down and began to sob.
Two furry arms wrapped around her, pulling her in close. For several minutes, Dale just patted her on the back and let her feel his warmth.
Finally, though, he pulled her up from her seat.
"Shut your eyes, Gadget," he said, again glancing behind her. "And come with me."
"But…but where are we going, Dale?" she asked, turning to see what he was looking at.
He dashed to block her view. "Just keep your eyes shut and…and follow me," Dale said again, his voice unusually serious. Then, he added in a lighter tone, "and, while you're at it, tell me about your mom and dad."
Gadget complied, then, fighting the temptation to peek as Dale led her wherever he was leading her, sniffled out, "But…but what about them?"
"Well..." Dale began, pausing as if he were thinking something through on the fly. And, knowing him, he probably was. "Ah-hah!" he blurted out. "Tell me about the time you showed them your first-ever invention! Your first big success! I bet it was bigger and better then Captain Panthero's giganto ray!"
Gadget nodded as he led her. "Well, Dad was always off a lot, you know. On duty with Monty. A lot of times it was, it was just me and Mom."
Gadget felt herself being lowered gently onto a stool. There was some scraping and rustling about. But she kept her eyes closed. Whatever Dale was up to, she wouldn't spoil it.
"And what about when he was there?" he asked.
Gadget felt her face melt into a smile. "Oh, golly. When he was there, he spent all kinds of time with Mom and me. He even listened when I talked about the devices I was building. He didn't understand all of it, of course. I know he didn't understand but he listened and he grinned and he seemed to get really excited about it too when I got excited. But of course, being a father I guess he really was supposed to get excited when I got excited, you know."
She paused for a moment—mostly to catch her breath—then continued.
"Anyway, this one time Dad had just come home from one of his adventures with Monty. I'd been working on this little plane of mine. Mom had looked kind of worried when I got in it for the test flight. Of course, I guess I had forgotten to bolt the wings on the first time but, you know I really didn't came that close to that tree and I'd gotten more lift and Mom was a really fast runner..."
Then she sighed again, "'Course I forgot something. I forget a lot of things."
Dale squeezed her paw lightly. "But what did your mom and dad do when they saw you flying around in it? When you really got it going?" he asked.
Immediately her spirits soared again. "You mean when Mom and Dad got to see it for the first time? When they got to see it working for the first time?"
"Well, golly. I didn't even know he was coming home that day. I mean I knew he'd be coming home soon how could a daughter not know that? So I was up there in that workshop trying to fix that plane as long as Mom would let me because I so much wanted them both to see it working when he came home," she said in what she was sure was another continuous babble.
"Then, I finally got it going. I was in the seat. I got it going and it was…it was, wonderful! I mean Dad had brought me up lots of times in his old plane, the Screaming Eagle—that's what he used to do whenever he came home. Mom didn't like going up so much I think. Her face turned green whenever he started doing his tricks."
"And what did you do when you saw 'em there?" Dale asked, nudging her back on course.
"Oh. Golly. Gee, I…I landed fast as I could," she stammered. "They were smiling so big!"
"How big?" Dale asked, a huge grin clearly audible in his voice.
"At least a mile!" she blurted. Then, ever the engineer, she caught her own exaggeration. "Of course, a mouse can't really…"
Something pressed into her paw. She opened her eyes.
It was a paintbrush. And there, in front of her, was a canvas—a blank canvas. And Dale. In his paw was a now fully-mixed and prepared painter's palette and on his face was a grin so big it might gobble up planets.
"Paint it," he said.
Gadget tensed. "Paint what, Dale?"
Dale tapped himself on the head with his paw. "That picture you just had right here—the one of your folks when you ran up to them."
She shook her head. "Oh, Dale…I can't! I've never painted people!" He had been giving her lessons, but so far they'd only done still life. "I'll never get it right! I'll mess it up!"
"Shh," Dale said, turning her toward the canvas. "Don't get it right. Just get it down," he urged. Then, he took a tube of orange acrylic and squeezed it into his paw. "And as for messes…" He then smeared it across his face, up his arms, and under his armpits for good measure. "Now it'll have company!"
Gadget laughed. Suddenly, all the weight—all the pressure—all the self-recrimination—was gone.
She closed her eyes, pictured her mom and dad again, and dabbed brush to paint.
A few days later:
"I now present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Dale Oakmont," the preacher announced, setting off a round of thunderous applause from all gathered.
Dale and Gadget's eyes fell on Chip, the best man (or best 'munk, in this case), as he beamed and gave Dale a thumbs-up.
They then looked out onto their retinue of friends and relatives. Almost immediately, their eyes fixed on the front pew, where sat the closest members of their life. Monty, Zipper, and Zipper's friend Honey watched happily. But, sitting not in the pew, but on an easel set up just in front of that pew, were two extra special guests.
Two guests with smiles that were indeed a mile wide (if that were possible).
Two guests Gadget would never forget.