Written by: Ricca
DISCLAIMER: Blah blah blah yakity smakity don't own TaleSpin, Disney guys do. Don't sue me I have all of nothing to give you.
SPECIAL THANKS: Alyson for helping me get over my writer's block, Dan for telling me to write this. But the most thanks goes to the occupants of the SOL who will probably get stuck with this.
Where the Daisies Grow I'll remember when we met And all that we went through It pains me that I never spoke Of all I wanted to The days and nights that passed us by Did fade like a distant star And all the words that could be said Have been driven much too far Though our time was cut so short My heart will always know That love will guide us back one day To where the daisies grow
Rebecca Cunningham sat at her desk and stared at a corner of her office. It was a particular corner that she often stared at, as if her intense gaze could change it into something more pleasent to look at. The building was rickety, the paint job was horrendous, and the decor was pretty much like the rest of it. Rebecca sighed. It wasn't like she didn't love the old run down building. It was her business, her first attempt at making it in the world. Higher for Hire, the name of said business, did okay. It wasn't anywhere near the mega-monopoly that was Khan Industries but then again what was? Rebecca traced lines through the dust that had accumulated on her desk. When had she last dusted? She rubbed her eyes tiredly as she heard the familiar sound of the Seaduck hitting the water.
"Shoes!", Baloo, her pilot and one of three employees, yelled as he burst into the room. Kit Cloudkicker, the navigator walked right behind him and blinked at the large bears statement.
"Shoes? You are four hours late and the only excuse you have is shoes??? What about pirates? Rogue pilots? Mutant beansprouts from the fifth dismention?? Surely you can do better then shoes!", Rebecca shot back.
"It's not an excuse. It happened! Right Li'l Britches?", Baloo looked down at Kit who squirmed for a few seconds.
"Um...yeah Papa Bear. It was horrible! I almost got hit by a pair of clogs!", the small cub finally said.
Rebecca Cunningham, owner of Hire for Higher, stared at her flight crew. She didn't know whether to laugh, scream or fire them. So she didn't do anything at all. Baloo approached her cautionously "Uh...Becky? Aren't you going to yell or lecture or....something?" he asked looking concerned. Kit stared at Rebecca who glanced down at the cub and forced a smile. Kit looked relived and then startled as Rebecca grabbed Baloo's yellow shirt and hissed "If you're ever this late again and then have the audacity to give me the STUPIDEST excuse known to man I will personally turn you into a rug! Do you understand me?" The big bear nodded. "Good", she said, grabbed her suitcase and left.
Baloo and Kit gawked at the door for a few minutes. Finally Kit spoke up "Uh...Baloo, did Ms. Cunningham seem a little...uh..."
"Crackers?", Baloo finished.
"No! Stressed out. Maybe you should have told her the truth. You can't keep lying to her!", Kit said and hoped this time the pilot would listen. No such luck.
"Oh come off it Li'l Britches! Ol' Beckers just likes to yell and complain and lecture til my ears start to bleed. Who am I to deprive her of that pleasure?"
"Whatever you say Papa Bear", Kit stated and glanced at the door again.
"Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Look at me! Look at me!", Molly Cunningham shouted to her mother. Rebecca was curled up in the chair fast asleep. 'Poor Mommy', Molly thought as she placed a blanket around her and snuggled up beside her. Molly may have been young but she wasn't stupid. Her mother had seemed...off somehow. She didn't laugh as much and seemed tired alot. This was the fifth time she had fallen asleep on the chair. She told Molly it was because of work but it had never happened this much before. Molly scrunched up her face in thought. 'Mommy needs to relax. She needs a vacation' the little golden cub racked her brain trying to think of a way to get her mother to forget about work. Ideas spun through her head as she fell asleep.
Rebecca felt something hit her at full speed and a little high pitch voice ring out. "Mommy time to get up!"
"Wha...? Ow! Molly Cunningham you know better then to crash into people like that!", Rebecca lectured as she reached up to rub her already pounding head. 'Nothing like a migrane first thing in the morning', she thought drily. She suddenly noticed she was curled into the living room chair. "Did I fall asleep here again", she asked herself.
"Yup. You were really tired. You're always tired", Molly voice took on an accusatory tone.
"I'm sorry honey, but things have been really..."
"Hectic at work", Molly finished.
Rebecca blinked. "Have I already said that?", Rebecca asked picking her daughter up and walking into the kitchen to fix breakfast.
The little cub nodded. "Can I come to work with you today? I'll be real good! I promise!", she asked pleadingly.
Rebecca sighed. "I'm going to be awfully busy, Molly. I probably won't have time to play with you.", she explained expectly Molly to look disappointed. Surprisly the little girl seemed apathetic to this fact.
"That's okay, Mommy. I know you work hard. I can play by myself", she said sweetly.
Rebecca looked at her daughter's angelic face and wondered what she was up to.
A loud crash echoed through the pier as Baloo and Kit attempted to load the morning's cargo. The grey bear stumbled backwards, almost pitching himself into the water. Kit grabbed frantically at the box and watched as Baloo regained his balance. The large pilot glowered at the offending box.
"I swear, Li'l Britches, Becky seems to take on clients with heavier, and more awkward cargo everyday! I think she does it to spite me.", Baloo declared rubbing the foot an earlier box had fell on.
Kit grinned. "Aw, c'mon Papa Bear! Do you really believe that?"
Before Baloo could answer Rebecca's voice rang out. "Baloo are you breaking our very important client's gumball machines??"
Baloo groaned. 'What a pleasant life this would be without her constant nagging', he thought as he and Kit placed the last box in the Seaduck.
Rebecca approached them with clipboard in hand. "Now the gumball machines have to be dropped off by ten and then the lobster bibs..."
Baloo's eyes glazed over and he just nodded. "Mmm hmm.", was all he said.
His boss glared at him. "You're not listening to a word I say are you??" she yelled.
"Ow!", he said rubbing his ears, "Well now everyone in Cape Suzette is listening to you."
"You-you-you...I swear I'm running out of synonyms for stupid and lazy!!!"
"Hey, I don't see you loading ten crates of gumball machines! But I'm sure sitting on your backside behind a desk takes a whole lot of energy!"
Kit just stood there watching the fireworks fly. The fights seemed to have gotten worse these past few weeks. It took less and less to set Ms. Cunningham off. 'She needs a vacation', he thought
Rebecca's face had turned crimson and she yelled at the top of her lungs "You will listen to me when I talk to you or...." she trailed off.
"Or what Becky? C'mon can'tcha even finish your empty threats?", he sneered and then noticed her swaying slightly, "Becky? Are you okay?", he asked concerned.
"Oh like you care!", she yelled half-heartedly as she reached out for something to steady her. He grabbed her arm and helped her regain her balance. "I'm taking you to a doctor", he said.
She shook her head. "Oh no you don't! You're not getting out of work that easily!", she stated shakingly as she started to black out.
"Ms. Cunningham??", Kit asked and grabbed her other arm. Rebecca went limp in their arms. "Baloo we have to get her to the hospital!" he said trying to support his half without falling.
Baloo picked up Rebecca and walked towards the office. "Call the ambulance, Li'l Britches!" he ordered as he put her gently on a chair. "C'mon Becky! This isn't funny.", he said softly. In the distance he heard sirens.
White petals fall too soon From my clinging grasp And as life plays its mournful tune I hear one last gasp I can't remember where I heard The song that haunts me in my dreams The breath one took to speak the word To calm my inner screams But I'll keep your hand in mine And pray you never go For I'll be standing by your side Where the daisies grow
It all seemed a blur. One moment she was yelling at Baloo like always and then... A voice. She could remember a pleading voice. Begging her to return. But whose voice was it? Her own? She was so tired. Too tired to try to remember, so she let the darkness come.
"What do you mean you won't tell me what's going on???", Baloo yelled at the guy behind the desk.
The young man, looked annoyed "Look Mr. Baloo, I told you I don't know anything. When we have word we'll tell you. Now please, either sit down or leave", he said bluntly.
Baloo fought the urge to throttle the youth and marched back over to Kit. The boy ,holding a crying Molly in his arms, looked up. "No luck Papa Bear?", Kit asked trying to comfort the small girl.
"No Kit.", he said and picked up Molly. "Don't cry Pigtails, I'm sure everything will be fine. You're Mama's gonna be just fine"
The little girl sniffed. "Promise?", she asked tears brimming in her eyes.
"Promise.", Baloo answered. 'Oh please God, don't let me be lying', he silently prayed.
Darkness. A flicker. Reach for the light....always out of grasp. Where? 'Baloo you can't leave me here You wouldn't just...leave'
The hours crept for the three anxious bears waiting for any word...hoping they were wrong in their assumptions. That their darkest fears would not be confirmed.
Baloo was sick with worry. He barely noticed the two cubs clinging to him. All thoughts were of Becky. The arguement that seemed to have triggered it all. Maybe it was his fault. Why couldn't the doctors tell him what was happening? 'Oh Becky...I'm sorry'
Kit snuggled closer to Baloo. He noticed how tense his Papa Bear was. 'He can't stand to wait', he thought. Kit tried to tell himself everything would be fine but if life on the streets had taught him anything it was that everything was very rarely fine. He looked over at Molly who had long since cried herself to sleep. He suddenly felt tired and fell into a fitful slumber.
'No...please! Don't go! It's dark...'
Baloo opened his eyes and was suddenly aware of a hand shaking him. A tall black fox looked down at him. "Mr. Baloo? I am Dr. Cadeever. I'm Ms. Cunningham's doctor.", he stated.
Baloo was instantly awake. "Is she okay? Where is she? Can we see her? What took you guys so long??", he asked rapidly. The two cubs stirred awaked and looked at the two men.
Dr. Cadeever looked down at the two children. "Perhaps we'd better discuss this in private, Mr. Baloo.", he said gesturing to a small room adjacent to the waiting room.
Kit opened his mouth to protest but Baloo raised his hand. "Keep an eye on Molly, Li'l Britches. I'll tell you about it after.", he said his voice shaking.
Molly's eyes filled with tears. "Mommy's not okay...is she?", she whimpered.
The doctor's heart went to the small child. So young...too young. And her...brother? He looked tired and ill. His face tear-streaked.
Baloo stepped into the doctor's office and sat down. "Okay doc, I can handle it. What's Becky got?"
"Mr. Baloo, we've run countless blood tests. We ran so many tests, hoping it wasn't true"
"What? Doctor what is wrong with her?"
The world stopped. For one moment all movement ceased. Baloo could hear his scream but it was like it was coming from all around him. He vaguely felt a hand grasp his arm.
"Mr. Baloo? Are you alright?", Dr. Cadeever's voice came through the haze.
"Becky...aw no...not my Becky...please God not her"
"It's not fair. Not her..."
"I know this must be tough for you, but you have to be strong. Think of the children."
Baloo's mind snapped back. "Oh my God! Kit! Molly! How am I gonna tell Molly?"
Kit stared at the closed door. He wished he could hear what was going on. The doctor... Cadeever? had looked regretful. It was bad news, he knew that much...but how bad? He held Molly. Poor Molly, all the family she had was her mom. Her world hung in the balance and what Baloo said as he opened the doors could tip the scales.
'Baloo? Molly? Kit? Please don't leave me here. So dark and lonely I don't want to be alone.Not here. Not now...I remember how you held me. Kept saying everything would be okay, if I would only wake up. I want to be awake I want to be okay Where are you now?'
Down they flutter as they fall How I wish I could keep them all You were swept away before my eyes Unheeding to my deperate cries Oh please believe my heart was true And I did all I knew to do This spot is marked by cleansing tears Which will roll and break throughout the years Until the moment we meet again And though I've no way of telling when My heart can rest in your afterglow And our souls will stay where the daisies grow
Four days. It had been four days since Rebecca collasped. Four days, but for the occupants of Higher for Hire it might as well have been four years. Baloo had closed up Higher for Hire telling the customers there was a crisis. Most of their regular customers were sympathetic to Baloo's problem but a couple were being more difficult.
"No you can't talk to the manager! Cause she's in the hospital! No we can't deliver your blueberries!....Cause we're closed buddy!....No! We....are...CLOSED!!!", Baloo yelled slamming down the receiver. The phone rang almost immediately. "Now you listen here Mr. Kendall, we're not delivering your blueberries, strawberries or huckleberries! What part of "no" don't you understand??", Baloo snarled into the phone. A timid voice responded. "Um...Mr. Baloo? It's Dr. Cadeever. I thought you'd like to know Rebecca is awake. Her fever is slightly lower then before...not much but...if you have anything to say to her, now would be a good time.
Baloo realized what Dr. Cadeever was saying "now would be a good time" cause now may be the only time. His eyes filled with tears as he remembered the first time he had visited her...
Kit and Molly were both in school and Baloo had run out of things to occupy his mind. He found himself at the hospital, looking at Rebecca's sleeping form. Dr. Cadeever stood by just in case anything went wrong. It did.
It had started so calmly and innocent. Dr. Cadeever had warned Baloo that with her fever Rebecca was likely to become delirious and say strange things. She was in and out of consciencness at that point. She said things...but it had started out so innocently.
"Baloo?", Rebecca's voice was barely a whisper.
"I'm here Becky", Baloo replied his voice catching in his throat.
"She can't hear you Mr. Baloo...or rather she can't acknowledge you", Dr. Cadeever informed him.
Baloo ignored him and continued to listen. The doctor stood by quietly.
"Baloo...why did you have to leave?"
"I'm right here Becky. I ain't going nowhere."
"I never thought you hated me that much"
Baloo felt as if he had been punched in the stomach, "Hate you?! Becky I don't hate you! I could never hate you! How could you think that? Becky?? Can you hear me? I don't hate you!"
"All you ever wanted was your plane"
Realization and guilt hit Baloo all at once. He staggered while Dr. Cadeever tried to hold him steady. "No, Becky. Keep the plane. Just come back to me Boss-lady"
Baloo shook his head. She was delirious. She hadn't known what she was saying. Or did she? Part of Baloo, a part he would sooner ignore, told him she might have. After all, the only reason he had become her pilot was to get the Seaduck back. But that had been at the beginning. They had been through so much since then. How could she think his plane was all that mattered? How could she think he hated her? Baloo wouldn't be able to live with himself if he didn't try to tell Rebecca some degree of truth.
Rebecca's eyes fluttered open. She was surprised to find herself in a field. 'Must be dreaming', she thought. A hand touched her shoulder. She turned around and gasped at the sight. A tall golden bear smiled sadly at her. Rebecca's hand flew up to her mouth while the other touched the cheek of her late husband. "Evan, is it you?", she whispered. She closed her eyes, "I don't want to have this dream, it's too painful.",she said. She felt a hand gently touch her face "It's not a dream Rebecca. Well not really. I'm real but everything else is a dream...well not everything...it's kind of hard to explain"
"Why are you here? Am I dead?"
"No...you have some time"
"I'm not going to lie to you dearling, you don't have much."
He gestured with his hand. Suddenly they were standing in a hospital room. Rebecca looked at herself, "I look awful.", she whispered.
The door opened and she looked up. Baloo, Kit and Molly stood in the doorway looking lost. Baloo picked up Molly and approached the bed.
"Becky?", he said softly.
Evan looked at Rebecca, "Becky? You never let me call you Becky. Should I be jealous?", he asked slightly amused.
Rebecca motioned for him to be quiet. She stepped cautiously towards her friends. Molly and Kit were both crying. Baloo reached over and brushed the hair away from her face. She wanted to rush over and embrace them all and never let go. Evan looked at her with pity, "You're getting a chance here Rebecca. A chance I never got. It's time." Light flashed before Rebecca's eyes.
"Baloo? Molly? Kit?"
"Boss-lady you're awake!", Baloo rushed over and grabbed her hand.
"Mommy!", Molly cried jumping up besides her mother.
"How do you feel Ms. Cunningham?", Kit asked sitting at the foot of the bed.
Rebecca stared at them. How could she tell them? Evan had said she didn't have much time. She sat up slightly and stroked her daughter's hair. She started to speak, her words sounded strangely calm, "I may not have much time", she waved away the protestations she knew were coming. "I want a chance to say good-bye...to all of you"
Molly, who had realized what her mother just said, cried out, "But I don't want you to go! I'll be all alone! Who will take care of me? Why do you have to go?"
Rebecca held her daughter close, "Oh baby, I don't want to go either. I have to.", she pulled Molly up and looked her in the face, "But Mommy loves you very much and I'll always look after you. I'll be in every star, in every gust of wind...and every night when you fall asleep I'll send you sweet dreams. I promise"
"I still don't want you to go."
"I know honey, but you won't be alone. You have Kit and Wildcat...and Baloo.", she looked up at the large bear, "You'll take good care of her, won't you Baloo?"
"Of course Becky", he whispered picking up the small cub.
Rebecca smiled at him. "Thank you."
"For taking on Molly? Don't thank me Becky I'm happy to do it. She means alot to me"
"Not just for that. You were my strength, Baloo. All the times I didn't have enough of my own you were there. I don't think Higher for Hire would have made it without you...I don't think I would have made it without you."
He stared at her, tears brimming in his eyes, "Becky...I...I'm sorry."
"Sorry? For what?"
He handed Molly to Kit and faced Rebecca, "For letting you think you weren't important to me. For taking you for granted! For...", his voice broke and he grabbed both her hands and held them tightly, "I'm your pilot Becky, no matter where I end up or who I work for I will always be your pilot...til...til...I join you."
Rebecca was touched. "Oh...Baloo.", she breathed. "I think I needed to hear that more then anything." She reached up and touched his face. A throat cleared next to her. She looked over and saw Kit trying not to cry. 'So brave', she thought.
"Come here", she said holding her arms open.
Kit broke down and flung himself at her. He sobbed into her shoulder while she rocked him back and forth. "Oh Kit, don't cry. You'll be okay angel. You just have to be strong"
"I've been strong all my life. I don't want to be strong! I want my Mama Bear."
She smiled at that, "Kit you are the most incredible person I've ever known. You have so much compassion and intelligence. You'll make some girl very lucky someday. I need you to be brave for Molly. I need you to keep Higher for Hire going...and keep Baloo away from the business stuff. You'll always be important to me. You're like my own son. Can you be brave for me?"
He sniffled and nodded. She stroked his face and handed him to Baloo. She looked at them. Her family and her friends...one in the same. She laid back down and smiled. "Alright Evan. I'm ready."
And with that whispered phrase, Rebecca Cunningham was gone.....
Gentle breeze and quiet mist Tell of joys and mindless bliss How I remember the brilliant past As I let the stem fall at last And my memory will never fade My debt to you never paid I'll keep you forever in my mind And hope that joy one day to find A pile of petals on the ground And in the air a soothing sound The words at last "I love you so" Bring me to where the daisies grow
Baloo was numb. Rebecca, his boss, his friend, his....? It didn't matter anymore. She was gone.
Dr. Cadeever had given his condolences and asked if there was anything he could do. Baloo remembered shaking his head, picking up Molly and Kit and leaving.
How he got home he had no idea. Molly sobbed on his lap and like him, Kit stared vacantly into space.
Gone. Never again would he hear her yell at him, or nag him for being lazy. Never again would he have to put up with her hair brained schemes. Never again would he see her smile or the bright flash of her eyes. Oh to be yelled at once more! To hear her voice echo through the docks. Never again.
Gone. Never again to see her mother's smiling face. Never to hear a whispered lullybye or her delighted laughter. Never again to feel her embrace. Oh to be held forever there! Safe and warm. Never again.
Gone. Never again to see her pride in him. Never again to hear those words of encouragment. Never again to know she's standing by his side. Oh if she were only there! Comforting him. Never again.
"Baloo?", Molly broke the silence.
"Yeah Button-nose.", Baloo answered.
"I miss Mommy", she sniffled.
Baloo wrapped his arms around the little cub and kissed the top of her head. "I know you do Molly. We all do."
Molly was quiet for a while then, "Baloo...you're not going anywhere are you?"
Kit looked up in horror as if the thought of Baloo dying suddenly occured to him too.
Baloo picked up Kit and held both him and Molly in a tight hug, "No. Baloo's going to be here as long as possible. I can't live forever but I can sure try my hardest to live for a long long time."
That night Kit fell asleep quickly. He was emotionally exhausted. Molly on the other hand was harder to deal with.
"Baloo? Are we going to be okay? Without Mommy?"
Baloo scratch the back of his neck and looked down at the small cub, "Molly, I'm going to try my hardest to take good care of ya. I know I'm not your mother and I can't replace her. All I can say is I hope I do as good a job as she did" Past tense. They had both noticed it.
"She's really gone. Isn't she?",Molly asked so softly Baloo barely heard her.
"Yeah, pig-tails I'm afraid she is. But I'm still here, and Kit and Wildcat and Louie and we're not leaving. One of us will always look after you."
Molly's eyes drooped. "Thank you", she whispered and shut her eyes.
Baloo sighed and walked away from the bed the two cubs slept in. He heard a small voice. "Baloo?", it was Molly.
"Can I call you Papa Bear?"
Baloo turned and gathered the girl in his arms. "Sure Molly. I loved for you to call me Papa Bear", he whispered to her but she was already asleep.
Baloo walked down to the office and sat down at the desk. He opened up the desk drawers and pulled a pile of business papers out. He and Kit would have to go through this. He wasn't a business man but he couldn't let Higher for Hire go out of business. He had to keep it running. For her and for the kids. He was surprised to find a framed picture in one of the other drawers. It was a picture of her and him at the Pilot's Ball. He smiled at the picture, surprised and touched she had kept it and deemed it worthy of a frame. He touched the photograph. She had looked beautiful in that dress. He didn't look that bad either considering he had just broken out of a Thembrian prison camp. A tear hit the glass. Baloo sobbed over the picture. His Becky was gone and it hurt. It hurt so much. Despite all the arguements he had cared deeply for her. The tears continued for a good portion of the night and the next morning Kit and Molly found Baloo asleep at the desk clutching that picture to his chest.
The funeral was small. A casket stood surrounded by daisies in the front of the room. Rebecca hadn't had many friends and no family besides Molly. Baloo spotted a few of her business associates looking somber. 'They're probably happy to be rid of the competition', he thought wryly. The priest was still talking about how a gentle and delicate creature had been lost and part of Baloo wanted to look around and see if there was another funeral going on. Becky? A gentle and delicate creature?? Despite himself Baloo chuckled softly. He could just imagine Becky's reaction to that. Slowly the small smile on Baloo's face faded and was replaced by a look of pain. She wouldn't be reacting to anything anymore. He stared at the coffin. No matter how hard he tried not to look he always did. He was holding Molly and Kit in his lap. Both were crying. The priest finished up and asked if anyone else would like to say a few words. All eyes turned to Baloo. 'Why me?', Baloo wondered. They'd all known her too. Baloo sighed and walked over to where the priest was standing.
"Um...I-I want to thank all of you for coming here. I'm sure Becky would have appreciated it.", he began shakingly. He looked down at the coffin. Her coffin., "Becky was one of my best friends. She meant...so much to me. She wasn't perfect no...I remember one time..."
And Baloo launched into a long set of stories. Stories of get rich quick schemes, arguements and a few of their disastrous dates. People laughed and Baloo thought he even saw Molly and Kit smile a few times. It was then that Baloo realized that Rebecca would never truly be gone cause she'd always remain in their memories and in their hearts.
Later Baloo, Kit and Molly stood in the graveyard. A small stone marked the place she was buried and a thousand daisies protected it from harm. The stone's inscription had been Kit's idea and Baloo and Molly had both agreed to it.
Rebecca Cunningham Mother and friend May you find peace where the daisies grow
The small family walked away hand in hand towards Higher for Hire, a picture of Rebecca etched in their souls. They would never get completely over her loss but they could continue on. For each other and for her.