TaleSpin is property of the Walt Disney Company, 1990-1991. The characters here are used without permission, but without any financial gain on my part. Interpret; I'm just a poor college student, so *please* don't sue me!!
Again, all thanks for this story goes to many individuals who got me back on the path to becoming the obsessed TaleSpin fan that I was always meant to be. Dan Green, for his encouragement and boosts to my ego, and especially for his amazing stories that inspired me to try my hand at writing. Gregory Weagle, for his page on the greatest child character in the history of animation, and for his correspondence with *why* Kit is the best, and Disney just doesn't know it yet. Constance Cochran, who wrote the first TaleSpin fan-fiction I ever read, "Tail Winds", a story I still consider one of the best out there and finally, David Kimble for all of his patience in trying to help me get my stories on here in the first place. Whew, (not to mention all of the other great TaleSpin fans and writers out there, thanks guys!!)
E-Mail: Alyson Terry
Plot synopsis- this story takes place directly after Plunder and Lightning. Life's changing for all of the main characters, none more so than Kit and Baloo. Wildcat and Louie are attempting to adjust to the new addition to Baloo's life, his navigator. Kit is dealing with his first frustrations with finally having to really answer to someone and is feeling the pinch on his old freedoms, but is still surprised by the relative comfort of his new life. Baloo is dealing with the stress of having to take care of someone else. Rebecca and Molly are adjusting to life in Cape Suzette after Winger City and have found their new apartment. Then, on an important mission to the Island of Pinasta, the Sea Duck is attacked and crashes in the surrounding Sea of Lascal- (It took me forever to think of some of these names), where the on-gong Civil War on the island is about to life much more difficult for the pilot and navigator of the famous sea-plane. Consider it a jumping off point for the series and the many different adventures these characters will have.
Timeline- July 7, 1936
The Sea Duck's engines hummed with new life. Looking at the plane, one could never tell that it had been the main instrument in putting a stop to Karnage and his pirates when they had invaded the city nearly three weeks ago. Kit had had a difficult time convincing Baloo that he was the only pilot capable of taking out Karnage's lightning gun and Ms. Cunningham- Kit didn't know if he would ever be comfortable calling her Rebecca, certainly not Becky as Baloo did- had assured the pilot and newly restored navigator of the plane that rubber and electricity don't mix. But when the plane had been totalled on a wild ride through the Iron Vulture, Ms. Cunningham had paid the price of returning the now historic sea-plane back to it's original model. She had even managed to something more difficult than that, convince Baloo to be her pilot.
Kit chuckled, remembering that first flight with the plane. *That was some _great_ cloudsurfing* Thinking of his favorite pastime, the boy smiled and heard a now familiar voice break through his reverie.
"Man, Lil' Britches, it's like she just got out of the factory, smooth, what a great plane."
Kit rolled his eyes, "That's because it _did_ just come out of the factory, remember Baloo?" The gray bear didn't seem to hear him.
"Yeah, kiddo, never thought 'ol Baloo'd be flying this baby again, they can work miracles nowadays. Still don't have a lot of my personal modifications, though, guess there'll be plenty 'o time for that later." Baloo lovingly patted the console like Kit had seen him do nearly a hundred times before.
"But still no overdrive, huh, Papa Bear?" the cub asked without really thinking. It had been a sketchy explanation at best as to how Baloo had appeared out of nowhere to grab him as Karnage had gleefully dropped him to his death. Rebecca and more so, Molly had told him how the three had escaped from Pirate Island and the high speed modification on the engines.
"Yup, kid, had it when I needed it though." the bear looked over at his navigator with an odd expression on his face. He still really hadn't gotten used to someone else being there. Especially not an 11-year old cub- 12 soon!, Kit reminded him daily- who showed remarkable abilities in almost any area he applied himself to.
Baloo often found himself wondering at the strange partnership. Kit acted so much older than most _adults_ that it was often hard to remember that he was just a kid. *An independent one at that* the bear thought ruefully. Kit didn't complain, wasnt' demanding and wasn't obvious about anything personal, and so, he was about the opposite of any kid Baloo had ever been around. *That's what caught my eye, he's different. Nah, more 'n that, he's special.*
Looking over, Kit saw Baloo staring at him. "What?" he asked suddenly. "Nothin', just thinking, that's all. How far to Cape Suzette partner?"
Kit smiled, it was nice to have someone who not only called him by name, but by several nicknames as well. "'Bout an hour, not far. Say Baloo, how about letting me take the board out, thanks!" Kit finished without letting Baloo say anything and grabbed the foil out from beneath his sweater. He began to head to the cargo hold when he felt himself being picked up and sat back down in his seat.
"Just a minute, Kit." "Look, I don't know much about that thing and..." Baloo began.
"Come on, Baloo! It's safe, I _have_ done it before." Kit tried to keep the annoyance out of his voice but he wasn't used to having to supply explanations to anyone, usually he was the pesky kid everyone either ignored or told to buzz off. But the large bear not only liked to hear explanations, he seemed to expect them. Baloo seemed to think of Kit as a new part of the Sea Duck, and Baloo never let anything happen to his plane. At least that's what Kit thought about Baloo's concern.
"Yeah, I know you've done it before, kid. Who'da think was flying when you were out there?" "But this isn't yer old board, it it trustworthy?"
"I've used it before Baloo, don't you think I know how to build one?"
"I don't know kid, I didn't know anyone knew how to build one." "Besides, I thought about heading to Louie's, we got time."
Kit scowled at Baloo, something in him knew that Louie's was just the pilot's excuse for ending an upcoming argument. "Baloo, this is me, remember?" "I've been doing this a long time before I met you!" Kit said in a last-ditch effort to get some use out of the board.
"Well, when you're in my plane and when you're my navigator, what I say, _goes_!" Baloo sounded irritated, which he was, at himself for sounding and thinking like a ....well, parent, and because he knew the argument was about to ensue.
Kit was now definitely more than a little angry. Baloo sounded pretty serious and the boy wasn't sure he liked being told what to do. "I don't get it Baloo, why are you getting on my case now? My airfoil is safe, I did a good job building it and I know what I'm doing....quit treating me like a little kid."
"You're 11 Kit, I know, I know, 12 soon," the bear said when he saw that Kit was about to interrupt, "and sure, you don't act like a kid, but I'm not so sure that's a good thing. In my book, 11 means that once in a while you've gotta trust my judgement."
"What about my judgement? Here Papa Bear, take a look at it, it's fine." Kit made an effort to calm down, mainly because in the three weeks he had known Baloo, he didn't like quarreling with him. The pilot took the crescent-shaped board and looked at it dubiously. He then flicked it open and shut a few times, patted it, looked at it from the side, back and front then repeated the process before handing it back to a very impatient Kit.
"See, it's fine now...." Kit stopped when he saw Louie's place on the horizon and gritted his teeth in frustration.
"Sorry Kit-boy, looks like we're here." Baloo said sounding happy and a little....relieved? "Next time you can have a go at it." The pilot said to the cub who was fingering the board.
"Yeah, sure Papa Bear, next time," and was silent as the Sea Duck docked.
*Amazing* Kit thought, *he always seems to get twice as much energy whenever we get here* and smiled as the large bear bounded out of the plane and helped his navigator down, then both walked in.
"Hey, 'ol buddy, came by to see your pal Louie, huh?" came a colorful voice from behind the bar.
"Hey Louie, yeah, new job ya know, haven't been able to come by as often, how's business?" the bear looked around.
"See for yourself," the red ape motioned an arm to the near-empty room, "empty one day, full the next, kinda like your finances, heh Baloo?"
"Mostly empty buddy, but just wait...pretty soon."
"Yeah, sure cuz, howya doing shortstop?" Louie asked Kit who had stood quietly to the side feeling a little out of place during the good-natured bantering.
"Uh...fine, thanks....Louie." Kit had to stop himself from adding a Sir to the orangutan's name. He still didn't know the bartender very well, but being Baloo's friend and a pretty friendly adult, the boy included him into his ever widening circle of friends.
"Glad to hear it, Kit." "By the way, just 'cause you're hanging out with 'ol fuzzy here, don't pick up any of his bad habits, like an unpaid tab?" here Louie looked pointedly at Baloo who was fidgeting uncomfortably. Kit laughed and had a seat next to the big pilot.
"So, how is that new job, Ms. What's-her-name treating you two alright?"
"Cunningham," Kit said as Baloo said "Becky" at the same time.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever. She working you boys like a pair of pack mules, what's the scoop?"
Kit was about to explain that their new boss was actually pretty likeable when Baloo started in on a long tirade about the agony he had suffered under Rebecca. Halfway through Baloo's bluster Louie winked at Kit and flipped him a key.
While Baloo was still complaining, (and showing no sign of stopping), Louie leaned over to whisper to the cub. "Fuzzy here told me how hung up you are on airplanes. Got me something special in one of my rooms, go ahead and take a look, I'll have to tell you about it some other time. Second floor, Sixth door on the right." and the ape leaned back over to nod sympathetically to the bear's tale of woe.
Kit was a little touched, first that Baloo had mentioned his all-time passion to Louie and second, because the ape had taken the time to single him out. A warm feeling spread in his chest as he walked up the stairs holding the key. Baloo had stopped complaining and watched Kit ascend the staircase.
"I tell ya Louie, sometimes I don't know what I'm doing here."
"Whatcha mean, Baloo?" Louie asked, surprised. "Man, I thought you and the kid was gettin' along just fine."
"Well, we do, most of the time, but it's like what happened earlier, before we got here." Baloo explained about the small fight he and Kit had had in the plane. "Kid sure is stubborn, an' I feel like I don't know nothin' bout him most of the time." "Don't get me wrong, I really care about him, but...." Baloo stopped here.
"Yeah, go on, I'm listenin'"
"Well, what happened to his folks?" "What if all of a sudden he decides to up and leave again, he's done it with other places, what's stopping him here?" "I tell ya, buddy, don't know how I ever got so attached so fast but I don't think I could handle it if he left, of it something happened to him." "He's still just a kid and I feel sort of responsible for him, trouble is, he won't open up, and he just does what he wants." "Don't get the wrong idea, he's a good kid, but he's done everything by himself for so long, he doesn't think about asking about something, and I really can't say much about it, or try to stop him." "It's as if, maybe, if I push him too far, he'll just move on."
Throughout this long speech, several emotions had crossed Louie's face; concern, surprise, worry, but when the bear stopped talking, his friend just looked thoughtful. "I don't know what to tell you, Baloo." "I don't really know a lot about shortstop there and I ain't promising a solution to your problems. But Baloo, that kid thinks the world of you, you haven't known each other for very long but this old ape hasn't seen anything like the way you two connected." "Besides, can't spend all your time worrying?"
"Man, four weeks ago I thought you had to be the luckiest so-and-so in Cape Suzette, but I sure wouldn't trade places with ya now, cuz!"
Here Louie laughed uproariously while Baloo just looked at him and raised an eyebrow.
"Just wait, Louie, your time's coming, then I'm guessing I'll have the last laugh."
"Well," the bartender said, wiping him eyes, "the kid looks better now than when he first came crashing through those doors."
"Yeah," Baloo smiled at the memory. "He's put on more weight, couldn't convince him to give up that old sweater though. I would at least like him to wear something newer, and that patch makes him look like he don't have a place to call home."
"He'll grow out of it, you watch, Baloo." "Kid's that age grow like the jungle on this island, you blink and it's caught up to you." Both friends stopped when they saw the subject of their discussion descending the stairs two steps at a time.
"You wouldn't believe the stuff he's got in there, Baloo!" "Old flying manuals, autographs, even stuff from the Great War!" the cub said excitedly breathing hard.
Both Louie and Baloo grinned at the boy's enthusiasism. "Well, guess we'd better pull chocks, Lil' Britches, be seeing ya, inn-keeper." Baloo started to walkout, Kit on his heels.
"Glad you liked that shortstop, guess I'll seeing you two later. Don't want Ms. Cumbersome blowing her top, huh?"
"Cunningham!" was the last thing Kit said before walking out to the Sea Duck with Baloo.
Near late afternoon, they arrived at Higher for Hire with ,surprisingly, some time to spare. The city of Cape Suzette was just getting on it's feet again after the vicious attack weeks ago. The re-building as already well under way, with the first things to be put back into place being the necessary defensive cliff guns.
Rebecca was putting some tape on the last boxes which contained the possessions she and Molly had brought with them while looking for an apartment. She had found one a few days before, it had been difficult with many buildings destroyed by the pirates. Kit hadn't seen it but from Molly's glum expression he drew the conclusion that it was _nice_, meaning expensive and not the place for a six year old to run wild.
They were going to spend their first night there tonight, but Molly wasn't going quietly. She followed her mother around begging to stay at Higher for Hire one more night, much to the amusement of the pilot and navigator of the Sea Duck.
Kit was feeling some unexplained pangs when he thought about the fact that Ms. Cunningham and her daughter wouldn't be staying there anymore. *It won't be the same* the boy thought. It was nice having them altogether, especially with what the group had gone through the first week that they had known each other. *Like, a family* Kit shifted his feet thinking about the closeness they had felt, even taking into account Baloo's resistance. Kit wasn't sure, but felt that the other three had taken their time together for granted, but the cub had never had any similar experiences to compare it to, so the expression on his young face was mixed.
He laughed at Molly's carrying-on, but it didn't quite reach his eyes. "Mommy, it's nice here!!" the little girl tried again, "Lucy doesn't want to move _again_" with emphasis on the last word and with tears welling up in her brown eyes for effect.
"Molly, I told you, that's enough," Rebecca had reached the end of her patience. Balancing looking for a new apartment, getting her business started in the current economy and dealing with her daughter was too much for the efficient lady.
"Baloo, would you give me a hand with these last boxes? The taxi's here."
"Sure, Beckers." Baloo easily picked up three packages, then took the other two from the faltering Rebecca and walked outside.
Rebecca blinked, then smiled. *Sometimes he can be such a gentleman. Can't let on that I'm getting soft, though* she thought with an inward smile. She turned around to see Molly being comforted by Kit.
"See Molly, you can come and visit anytime and I'll go over there to check up on you. Besides, I heard that there's a waterfall by your window, neat, huh?" "And," he added quickly when the little girl's face threatened to make a waterfall of it's own, "uh...Danger Woman!....yeah, uh, Danger Woman needs to move to a new location! Think of it as going undercover, ok?" then the boy gave the little girl a tight hug. "Cheer up button-nose, you're gonna love this." Molly hugged him back.
Rebecca, still standing in the doorframe, felt her heart melt at the touching scene. Kit had to be one of the most considerate young men she had ever met. Molly adored him and Rebecca knew that she herself was having a hard time leaving the earnest young navigator. He never asked or openly showed it, but she knew how starved he was for love and affection. *Well* she thought with a touch of happiness and ....something else touching her, *now he has us, we can make up for lost time, I hope* Caring for Kit was probably the easiest and the most worthwhile thing she had accomplished since coming here.
She heard Baloo softly clearing his throat behind her and saw him taking off his hat when she turned around which tipped her off that he'd had just seen, and more importantly, felt the same thing she did.
The two cubs walked over to the adults and Kit took off his baseball cap. "Take care, Ms. Cunningham, guess I'll be seeing you in the morning," Kit mumbled suddenly very interested in a crack in the floor.
Rebecca felt her throat tighten and impusively gave the boy a hug. "Right Kit, get a good night's rest and I'll be here bright and early.." they both heard Baloo groan," to start things rolling." She finished giving the pilot a scowl. Then she turned back to Kit, they looked at each other, she lightly brushed his hair out of his face, gave him a small smile and stepped outside and into the cab.
Baloo was desperately trying to disengage the howling Molly from the doorframe and put her in the cab with her mom. "Come on...ah!.....muffin, you don't want.....ouch! don't be doin'....umph! Kit! give me a hand here!" Baloo, finally appealed to the boy. Gently Kit pulled on Molly's small fingers until she finally released her iron grip, then he handed her doll to her and walked inside, a pained expression on his face he didn't want them to see.
"Bye, Baloo." Molly said tearfully.
"Bye for now, cupcake," the large bear said quietly, "come visit 'ol Baloo anytime." Then he gave Molly to Rebecca, shut the taxi's door and watched as the two drove off.
Rebecca was as good as her word the next morning and since it was still summer, Kit accompanied Baloo on a 8:15 a.m. flight to Spango-Bango. It had been decided by both Baloo and Rebecca that Kit would start sixth grade in the fall.
Thinking that far into the future used to a pastime that Baloo avoided, but thinking of Kit still being in the navigator's seat come fall was something that made him strangely happy.
The two arrived at the small city hours later. Spango-Bango was located on a plateau and was known for it's dense surrounding forests. It was also known to pilots by it's tricky wind currents. Pilots made sure their planes were in tip-top shape before attempting the plateau's hazards, even ace pilots like Baloo. Any kind of engine trouble and the Sea Duck would do a swan dive right into the outlying forests surrounding the boom town, and Baloo certainly knew that land was much less forgiving than water. However, the bear had been here a few times, although he didn't like the shady atmosphere that prevailed throughout the location.
A town with everything vested in mining, with hundreds of men desperately looking for work and quite a lot of bootlegging and gangster problems occuring about a decade ago, was a recipe for churning out unsavory individuals and businesses. The large pilot had never been here with Kit, as well.
Baloo looked over at the boy who was watching the dock workers unload the cargo and nearly told him to stay close to him, then stopped himself, remembering Kit's comment about treating him like a little kid and thinking that the cub had been in worse spots, but without him. Sighing and shaking his head, Baloo motioned to Kit.
"Come on, Lil' Britches, got to check in with," he stopped to squint at the paper he was holding," Rastan Lumber Inc."
"Sure Baloo, you know, I've never been here," Kit remarked off-handedly as they walked down the crowded streets.
"Yeah, basic boom town. I doubt it'll be here in 10 years, too much mining means no more profits, then this place'll dry up faster than a drop on a skillet." As they continued to walk something caught Kit's eye. Located next to the post office was a small building that had several old, battered guns and helmets on display. Kit recognized their origin and stopped to stare interestedly.
Baloo, already ahead, looked back and called his name. Snapping back with the sound of Baloo's voice he jogged to catch up and they both turned the corner, Kit checking his bearings so he would remember to come back.
Baloo had been haggling with the burly-looking otter for some time. Only half of Ms. Cunningham's order was there to ship back to a waiting client in Cape Suzette and Baloo's argument was that he was _not_ going to take the heat for their mistake.
Kit, sitting on a chair against the wall had long since grown fidgety and kept thinking of that display. The more he thought about it's contents, the more he wanted to see it. His mind elsewhere, the boy began retracing his steps out the door, back down the street and to the place of destination.
Inside was dusty, but filled to the brink with old photos, some artillery, basically any kind of memoribilia from the Great War, twenty years ago one could imagine. Ever since seeing pieces of Louie's collection, Kit's interest in the well-known conflict had grown. He had almost been tempted to ask Baloo if he had fought overseas, but for some unknown reason, decided against it.
"Can I help you, son?" came a raspy voice behind the dark counter. Kit jumped not realizing someone had been there.
"Oh, I'm sorry, sir, I was just curious and...."
The voice chuckled and the navigator could see it's owner step out, an old koala who had a cane and was visibly feeble and shaky. "No trouble son, came to see what I got here in me collection, eh?" Kit could now hear a faint accent in the voice.
"Where did you get all of this stuff.....sir." Kit asked, his eyes taking in the various pieces of history that could probably tell quite a story if allowed.
Again, the koala chuckled, "Well, my boy, you don't serve with Her Majesty's army for 'bout four years, beginnin' to end and not come away with a bit o' junk, eh?" He now had Kit's attention.
"You served for four years in the war?"
"Sure, from the Marse, to the great defensive at Vernun, to the offensive at the Solme." "Seen me a bit o' action in me younger days." The koala looked at the boy sharply. "You like learnin' about this stuff, son?"
"For the moment," the cub said nonchalantly prompting another chuckle. "Can I take a look around?"
"Sure thing." the koala slowly made his way over to an interesting looking gun. "Want to hear the story about this lovely?" he asked with a twinkle in his eyes.
Kit walked over to him and the old koala pointed out many other items, telling a different story with each one and losing track of the time as they covered nearly the entire, crowded room.
"What's this one?" Kit pointed to a picture of four dirty, grinning young soldiers. "One of them looks like you."
The koala's eyes grew sad, "Yep, that's three of me mates from school. Thought we'd have an adventure, real punch-up with the Almenians, you've heard the stories." Kit nodded. "I remember it, minor battle to the experts, I'd wager, but going over the top weren't easy." "It was Courcelette, first wave took two of them, but me and me best mate, Chester, tha's him, grinning fit to kill." he motioned at one figure.
Kit, by now, had sat down and was oblivious to the growing darkness.
"Yeah, him an' me were holed up, pinned you could say, in a pit made by one of those Howitzers, nasty piece that." Again he motioned to a shell fragment on the opposite wall, Kit was still all ears. "Well, he says,-Alec-, tha's me for sure, -Alec- this is it, our last chapter. Chester was always sayin' rot like that, and I sez, - Clam up you fool!, those bastards don't need any help from you!- and then I smelled the acidy odor. I had my mask on before me brain knew what the problem was. It was just, danger! Look out!, I weren't about to end up like those poor sums-bitches I heard about, coughing up on themselves, not able to breath through that filth."
"Gas, son!" Alec snapped at Kit's blank look, "but poor Chester, he grabbed for his mask and put it on, but boy, mask's no good with a bloody crack in it! He died spitting up heaven knows what and alls I could do was watch him." The room was eerily quiet as the old koala waded through memories best forgotten.
Kit felt sympathy. All of the war stories he'd heard weren't like this. Where was the glory, the conquest? At 11, even after what he had seen, the boy had a little idealism in him, but the koala's hard, matter-of- factness was something new to the cub.
"Well son, guess I've chewed your ear off, you didn't come here to hear me sniffling." Alec's sharp eyes seemed to glaze over as he tucked those four years back into the private places of his mind.
"Actually Mr....," Kit stopped when he realized he didn't even know the koala's last name. "Sedgwick"
"Actually Mr. Sedgwick, I think this is exactly what I came in here for," the boy said quietly showing a disturbing amount of understanding on his face.
Suddenly, an unsettling emotion hit Kit, twisting his stomach as his mind remembered something important he had forgotten. "Baloo!"
"Excuse me, son?" Alec turned to the boy.
"Mr. Sedgwick, thanks for everything, but I really need to head out."
"Sure thing, son, time to be closing up for me too." "You got somewhere to be?"
Kit groaned inwardly. He had forgotten to tell Baloo where he was going! And it had been hours now, he might miss his ride back to Cape Suzette!
"Thanks again, Mr. Sedgwick, I appreciate your showing all of this to me," and Kit was running out of the door.
"Anytime, son," the koala said softly, still staring at the photograph, "Anytime"
When Kit arrived back at Raston Lumber, Inc. the building was dark and all of the doors were locked. *Rats!* the boy thought, not relishing the thought of having to spend the night in this cold place if Baloo was already gone. He then headed back to where the Sea Duck had landed.
When he was in sight of the sea-plane but still quite a ways away, he stopped in surprise. Not only was the Duck still there, but flashing red and blue lights indicated two local police cars there as well.
Kit's stomach was now in his heels as he made his way to the plane. Baloo was standing by the cargo hold and was twisting his cap in his hands talking to an officer while another officer was on his radio. Kit's sharp ears picked up a description of himself being radioed out as he approached Baloo from behind.
"Yeah," the large bear was saying, "one minute he was there, then _poof_ he had disappeared! I scoured the streets but I'm just one guy, how much ground could I cover?" "Look," the bear had genuine fear in his voice, "I don't have a lot in the way of money, so a ransom's no good if he's been....kidnapped." The pilot seemed to have trouble saying the word. "But I'll do whatever I have to."
Kit was stunned, not only had no one ever bothered to check up on him wherever he had gone, certainly no one had acted like this. Kit plucked up his courage. "Hey, Baloo," the cub said sheepishly.
Baloo whirled around to stare incredously at his navigator. "Well, that was easy," the one officer said to his partner, "guess we're done here." Baloo didn't seem to notice when they left.
Kit was wincing, expecting the gray bear to start screaming about how much trouble he'd cost him and how late they were going to be getting back. Instead, the boy found himself in a large hug from the pilot. Both were silent as Baloo held the boy tightly, visibly showing his relief. He didn't release Kit until a few minutes later, then he stood eye to eye with the cub, places his paws on Kit's shoulders and looked him over as if to reassure himself that the boy was here and in one piece. Then he hugged the cub again. Kit was more than slightly surprised.
"Um....Baloo, I'm sorry...are you okay?" Kit looked at his friend who was wiping his forehead.
"Kit," Baloo said with uncharacteristic seriousness, "I'm only gonna say this once, when we're in a strange place or any place for that matter, you stick close or at least tell me if you're gonna run off! Do you know how bad you scared me? One minute my navigator's there and when I blink, you're gone! I didn't know what happened or if you'd been hurt..." Baloo stopped.
Kit felt strange and was pretty sure it showed on his face. The bear was sure acting funny, Kit didn't know what to make of it, but he felt guilty for causing the pilot such a hassle. In spite of himself, the boy felt a deep emotion relatively unfamiliar spread through him. *He was worried about me, he'd would have had the entire police force out looking.*
The expression of concern marked by the deep shadow caused by worry on the big bear's face made Kit feel really....strange, almost good, like he was wanted, no, even needed by the pilot.
Baloo gently manuevered the still pondering cub towards the cockpit, boosted him up, then walked around to climb into the pilot's seat. There was an awkward tension in the air as Baloo tried to find the right words to use for really chewing the kid out, without sounding too parentish. Unfortunately, words like, responsibility, maturity and consideration kept popping into his head.
Kit was looking at him strangely, still. Baloo sighed and said, "Ok, kid, from the top. Just tell me where you were at."
So, Kit explained about the store, Alec Sedgwick and the story he had heard.
"I can understand all that, Lil' Britches, next time, just _tell_ me, got it?"
"Well, Baloo, I would have been back sooner, but I went to the lumber building first"
"Why didn't you just come back to the Duck, Kit-boy? That's where I'da been."
"I wasn't sure it would still be here, and...." Here Baloo interrupted,
"What?, course it would be here, whadya think, I was just gonna pull up stakes and leave you here?"
Kit didn't respond but the expression on his face made it obvious. Baloo now gave vent to all of the pent-up feelings of frustration and helplessness he'd been feeling for hours, in the form of anger.
"Kit, do we gotta have this conversation again? What you did today was not only thoughtless, but selfish, too! You could have at least told me that you were gonna run off like that, given me some warning! Instead, you just waltz away like everything you do won't matter later on and not have a thought in your head that someone else could be worried sick! Spango-Bango, or anywhere else if you get right down to it, is no place for a kid to be running off! You're a smart boy, Kit, but I wonder if you have any sense of self-preservation, sometimes!"
Kit now felt a touch of anger besides his shame. His cheeks were flaming and his temper mounted at Baloo's lecture, mostly because of how bad he felt at causing the big bear to worry. The boy wondered if he would ever get used to asking someone beforehand, maybe never. He was in the habit of doing things for himself.
"I didn't _waltz_ off Baloo, I said I was sorry, ok!" "Don't you think you're making a big deal out of this? I'm not used to begging to go anywhere and even if I had asked, you'd probably had said no! I'm your navigator, that's it. You really don't have any right to tell me off or to give me orders. We're partners, that's all! And as for my _self-preservation_, Baloo, if I didn't have any, you'd never have met me!" The boy ended, his voice up to a shout, and with that ugly truth finally brought to light. It was one of the first times Kit had talked about his difficult past, willingly
Baloo immediately felt saddened because he knew Kit was right on almost every count, he didn't have any right to lecture and order. He didn't even have the right to worry. All the rights he had were those that Kit gave him and if the boy decided that a line was drawn at the pilot-navigator symbiosis, then Baloo really couldn't overstep that and try to protect someone who didn't want to be protected.
The bear cleared his throat self-consciously and Kit, who'd been staring out of the window, turned to look at him. "Um...Kit, look, I didn't mean to jump down yer throat. It's forgotten, ok? Water under the bridge."
Kit smiled, "Sure Papa Bear, sorry I was yelling...and sorry again...for...you know."
Both bears smiled at each other and the flight back to Cape Suzette occurred with small talk between the two, but not much else. Both, however, knew things were unresolved and the problems of each still hung between them, creating an invisible barrier.
To be continued.....