A STAR IS TORN
(part 1 of 3)
(a parody)

 

TaleSpin and its characters are the property of Buena Vista Television/Walt Disney Co. This short story was

TVíS JOE:Something that weíve seen before a million times, yadda yadda...

†††††††††††††††††† adapted from the televised episode written by Dev Ross. No profit was made,

Baloo:I hope Dev takes it okayÖ

so please don't sue me. Some extra parts were written and minor changes were made in order to

TVíS JOE:differentiate it from what weíve seen a million timesÖ

improve the narrative flow for the written page. I would also like to thank my good pal Ted for his invaluable feedback and advice.

TVíS JOE:Oh sure.Thank Ted. No no.No need to mention little olí meÖ

 

KIT:Are you going to be like this the entire fic??

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† by Michelle "Gidget" Beaubien

†††††††††††††††††† During the daylight hours,

REBECCA: (sings) Donít you want somebody to love?

 

TVíS JOE:Thatís in the midnight hoursÖ

the downtown streets

BALOO: (sings another 60ís song) Downtown, everythingís waiting forÖ

TVíS JOE:I'm going to take a wild swing that you guys have been up here a little bit too longÖ

had been bustling with cars, people rushing in different directions to work and shop. But now, the nocturnal sky blanketing the metropolis was so infused with the neon signs,

KIT:Thatís one mighty big advertisement.

REBECCA:Saaay, that gives me an id-

KIT and BALOO:NO!

softly-lit street lamps and the occasional vehicle's headlights that it became a ghostly blue, almost violet.

TVíS JOE:How very anime-esqueÖ

It was Saturday evening and Baloo and Rebecca Cunningham had decided to try the newest five-star restaurant in Cape Suzette.

TVíS JOE:Because sheís a small business owner with a daughter to support, but she felt like having some chicken cordon bleu like her Mom used to makeÖ

†††††††††††††††††† Last week, Baloo had delivered his cargo to their various destinations on schedule. Much to her surprise and pleasure, Rebecca Cunningham was able to deposit ten thousand shaboozies into the

REBECCA:How sweetÖ She actually thinks thatís what we call money...

BALOO:You mean it isnít?

Higher for Hire bank account. For once, the habitual scowl was absent from her expression

REBECCA: Excuse me??

BALOO:There!There it is again!!!

as Baloo at last came in shortly after six o'clock that Friday evening. Without pausing to say hello, he headed straight for

KIT:the bathroom.Burrito night at Louieís againÖ

his favorite faded green armchair with an exhausted sigh and closed his eyes.

†††††††††††††††††† "Man, my dogs are barkin' somethin' fierce tonight,"

TVíS JOE:I could come up with any number of dirty things to compare that remark to but Mmmmmphmmmmph!!

BALOO:Just be good.This wonít last forever, you know...

REBECCA:No, it just seems that way, and looks that way, and feels that wayÖ

he complained, rubbing his aching feet. "And my back's killin' me too. All them crates of anvils I loaded onto the Duck did me in."

TVíS JOE:Yeah, the demand for anvils in the 1930ís was just tremendousÖ I think Gidg might have been a wee bit influenced by oh, I donít knowÖLooney Tunes when she wrote this?

†††††††††††††††††† "But you did deliver everything I gave you on time, and that's the important thing!" Rebecca assured him. "Oh, Baloo, I'm so happy I could just kiss you!"

Rebecca:I must be on some sort of really strong antibiotic, then... Was there a scene left out where they gave me a lot of pain killers??

Baloo:Speaking of which, would you happen to have any on you?

Baloo opened his eyes and gave her an odd, almost wary look.

(Becky turns to Baloo while theyíre in their seats) Becky:Hey, thatís what youíre doing right now!Pretty weird, huh?

She flushed and amended, "I mean, you do deserve a reward...um...

TVíS JOE:Ohhh, I gotcha...ĒrewardĒ...(makes clicking innuendo noise with tongue)

(Becky begins to throw things at an overtired TVís Joe as he runs around the theater dodging being pelted by any number of snack foods...

Baloo:Hey, I got those for my stomach; not your temper!

Becky: (gives them back moodily) Here!

you have been a model employee this week." An awkward moment passed,

Baloo:Why would that be awkward?She told me Iím great; I gracefully accepted it.

Becky:Does anyone have a paper bag?

then an idea formed, and relieved,

TVíS JOE:What?

she snapped her fingers.

TVíS JOE:Oh. Phew!

†††††††††††††††††† "I've got it. All right, Baloo, tomorrow night I'm taking you to dinner!" she said, grabbing her blue raincoat from the coat rack.

Becky:Better bring your checkbook, honey.And call the bank before you leave.Better yet, make a deposit and.

Baloo:We got the point!!!

†††††††††††††††††† He brightened. "Dinner? At Louie's? Or Joe's...aw, I keep forgettin' that Joe went out of business.

TVíS JOE: (blushes)Well, Iíd like to think Iím doing relatively okayÖ I not around as much as Id like, but stillÖ

†††††††††††††††††† Man, I sure do miss his chili...."

TVíS JOE:I only eat vegetarian chili.Pointless, but Iím bringing it up nonetheless.Why?Because I can.Now you know.Iím sure your lives are just enriched all the more for it, tooÖ

†††††††††††††††††† "Let's try that fancy new restaurant on Della Street.

TVíS JOE:Is that anywhere near Mitri Avenue?

Baloo:That went over my head so Iím sure it's completely obscure...

It's getting excellent reviews,"

TVíS JOE:Well, so did ďThe English PatientĒ, but that pretty much sucked, didnít it?

Rebecca suggested. She slipped her coat on and picked up her purse and briefcase. "Goodnight, Baloo. I'll come by the office at seven."

†††††††††††††††††† "Solid! Thanks, Rebecca." Baloo never turned down a free meal.

Becky:Thatís for sure!I could tell you stories!

Baloo:The fun just never stops with you, does it?

†††††††††††††††††† "You're welcome. Oh, and wear a clean shirt and tie too. Without stains this time."

†††††††††††††††††† "Awww..."

TVíS JOE: (Baloo)But those are my lucky stains!

he moaned as the front door closed behind her. "I knew there hadda be a catch!"

Becky: (sarcastically)Oh, poor thing!You have to go to a restaurant in clean clothes and make a pig out of yourself!†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ....

†††††††††††††††††† Saturday night, 6:00pm

TVíS JOE:(Mulder)Although we havenít yet found any reasonable explanation behind the strange lights emanating from Khan Tower, we can assume without a doubt that our contacts have significant evidence supporting my most outlandish theories about the origin of Sher-

†††††††††††††††††† Kit couldn't believe it.

Kit:Neither can I! (looks at Joe)Can I change seats?!

He sat on his bed watching as Baloo got ready.

Becky:Well, isnít he the little voyeur??

"You're going on a date with Miz Cunningham?"

†††††††††††††††††† "It ain't a date, Kit," Baloo said defensively. He sucked in his breath and

Kit:suddenly there was no air left for me and I began to suffocateÖ

buttoned his best white shirt. The buttons held, but barely. "It's just dinner--a reward for a job well done, she said so. Ol'

††††† ††††††††††††

TVíS JOE:Faithful is the largest geyser in North America.Thank you.

Baloo's gotta take care of the big guy." He patted his large stomach. "So, kiddo, which tie should it be?" He held up two, the only ties he owned. They were identical, both olive-green with brownish-yellow spots here and there. One was a pattern; the other used to be solid green at the time of purchase.

Kit: (Kit) Okay, Iíd go with the one that isnít covered with moldÖ

†††††††††††††††††† The boy hid a smile and pointed to the one without food stains. "Are you sure? Maybe it's a excuse to get to know you better."

TVíS JOE: (Kit, singing)Baloo and Rebecca sit-ting in a treeÖ

†††††††††††††††††† "That gal knows me far too well as it is."

Becky:Heck, I know more than I want to know!

†††††††††††††††††† The boy sniffed the air.

Kit:Has Wildcat been in my room today??

"Gee, is that the scent of soap? Did you actually take a shower?" Kit marveled, hands clasped to his chest in mock amazement.

Kit:Riiiiight.ďMockĒ.

†††††† ††††††††††††"Yeah, yeah, yuk it up, kid," Baloo admired his reflection in the portable oval mirror propped in a corner. A sight for sore eyes, he thought approvingly.

Becky:if those sore eyes are also blind, maybeÖ

Aloud, he added, "and don't tell her nothin', either, got it?"

†††††††††††††††††† "Got it, Papa Bear." Kit said.

TVíS JOE:Got what?A second-hand role.Just watch, Kit-fansÖ

He glanced at Baloo's favorite battered old brown bomber jacket laid out on the other bed; next to it was his brown flight cap, complete with a buckled chin strap. All he needs are a pair of goggles and a scarf, thought Kit. It was hardly suitable for a fancy eating establishment. "Uh, Baloo..."

TVíS JOE: (Kit)If you werenít feeding me Iíd laugh at youÖ

†††††††††††† ††††††Downstairs, they heard the sound of Rebecca's key in the lock and her voice rose, floating up the stairs. "Knock, knock, Baloo! Taxi's waiting."

†††††††††††††††††† "COMING!" Baloo bellowed back.

TVíS JOE:He has to yell for her to hear him, and yet they can hear her key opening the door.Hmmm...no plot holes hereÖ

Quickly he slipped on the jacket and cap, checked himself in the mirror once more.

Becky: (Baloo looking at himself)Mirror, mirror, what do you say?Is there anyone who looks like more of a shmuck, today?

"Wait'll she gets a load of me, eh, kiddo?"

†††††††††††††††††† "Yeah," Kit smiled weakly but gave him a thumb's-up signal anyway. "Have fun."

Baloo: (Baloo) Oh, I will.But you already knew that, because weíve already been through this.

Kit: (Kit) Oh, okay...

†††††††††††††††

††††††††††††††††† "Probably not, but thanks anyway." Together, they headed downstairs.

†††††††††††††††††† Rebecca's expression when she saw him descend the stairs was similar to Kit's. "Is that soap I smell?"

†††††††††††††††††† "Nope, just pure Baloo,"

Becky:Oh, wellÖ. (pauses) Thatís much worse.

he said, then, changing the subject, "My, Rebecca, don't you look nice!"The taxi driver honked his horn outside.

TVíS JOE:My, this fic is just filled with innuendo, isnít it?

†††††††††††††††††† She wore a smart, rather prim mauve frock, long-sleeved with a prim neckline. A jaunty lavender bow was tied at the collar, softening the severe outfit. She did own a couple of strapless gowns, but

††††††††††††††††††

Baloo:those were really more for her nights when she visited the Navy shipyardsÖ

(Becky grabs Balooís ear) OWW!

didn't think them appropriate attire for dinner with an employee. Was this a mistake?

Becky:YES! Run!Run now!

She smiled at him. "Thank you. We'd better get out there.Good-night, Kit."

†††††††††††††††††† Kit gave them a devilish grin.

Kit:Excuse me?Rebecca has a daughter straight out of the Book of Revelations and Iím described as having a devilish smile??

"Have a great time, you two!" he said. "Don't be late. Baloo has a curfew."

Kit: (mock stupidly) ErrrhÖme make it funnyÖuhhhÖ.

Both rolled their eyes and headed for the taxi.

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††.....

†††††††††††††††††† The French doors of Chez Juliette l'Enfante suddenly flew open;

TVíS JOE:Juliette wasnít that pleased with her nameÖit sounded so childish..

Becky:Buh dum-ching.

Rebecca charged through with swift, angry strides.

†††††††††††††††††† "I have never been so embarrassed in my entire life!" she yelled. Baloo dutifully followed her, a few steps behind. The clean white shirt he wore strained the buttons fastened across his middle even more than before dinner.

Baloo:I really donít like the way that this is goingÖ

Sure would be nice if my ol' pal Buzz could invent an elastic shirt for such occasions. At least he didn't spill anything on his tie. During appetizers, Rebecca had commented

Becky:SMALL bites, for the love of-!

†††††††††††††††††† that he looked almost respectable.

Baloo: Gee, you shouldnít have.Iím just one big goosebump of excitementÖ

†††††††††††††††††† "Aw, sure ya have!" he said helpfully, spreading his beefy hands in a placating gesture. "Remember the last time we went out?"

†††††††††††††††††† Furious, Rebecca wheeled to face him.

TVíS JOE:Her amnesia was nothing to make fun ofÖ

Kit:Especially when she was wearing roller blades...

With one accusing finger, she jabbed the air at his chest punctuating each word.

†††††††††††††††††† "Tonight you turned a perfectly charming dinner into a football game!"

TVíS JOE:They must be in Wisconsin...

Scarlet and Katarina (from behind clear their throats) Ahem??

TVíS JOE:(nervously) Aheh heh hehÖ

S&K (while throwing malt balls and popcorn and other candy at an again dodging TVís Joe)StopÖstereotypingÖWISCONSIN!!!

TVíS JOE:Alright!Sheesh!

†††††††††††††††††† "Yeah," The gray bear preened, pleased with himself. "And I think some thanks are in order, Becky."

Becky:Yes, you should be thankful you have me as your boss...Otherwise you wouldnít get anywhereÖ

Baloo:Did anyone just feel a gust of hot air?

†††††††††††††††††† "That's Rebecca. Ree. Beck. Kaa." she bit out the syllables. Suddenly, an unwilling chuckle escaped her. "Though...the look on Mr. McSibble's face when you tackled him into the caviar...he always did have egg on his face. Get it, Baloo? Caviar? Egg on his face?" Her chuckle erupted into a full, throaty laugh at her own joke.

TVíS JOE:This feels familiarÖÖfor someÖ.reasonÖ.

Kit:It isnít an original fic, remember.

TVíS JOE:Oh right.Adaptation.Gotcha.

Kit:Can someone please change seats with me?!

Baloo grinned, relieved that Rebecca was back in good humor.

TVíS JOE:barsÖMmmmmÖ.Good Humor barsÖ.

Man, that gal gets mad quicker than swarm of wasps during tree-prunin' season.

TVíS JOE:Hey, that was an analogy that actually didnít annoy meÖMaybe things are looking up...

†††††††††††††††††† Mr. McSibble, a badger and an unpleasant business rival, had also opted to try the new restaurant that night. Seated at a table next to theirs, he had lit up a cigar after supper

Baloo:Think againÖ

and casually blew the noxious fumes in their direction. When asked to extinguish it, he had nonchalantly snuffed out the offensive object in the middle of Baloo's triple-scooped strawberry liqueur ice cream smoothy,

TVíS JOE:Whoa.Talk about a death wishÖ

Kit:Liqueur?Are you getting trying to get wasted without me knowing it, Baloo?

†††††††††††††††††† melting the center with a loud, wet hiss.

†††††††††††††††††† Baloo was incensed; this fancy dessert was no Krakatoa Special,

TVíS JOE:Its Krakatoa.No ďCĒ.Sorry, Iím anal.

Kit.Yes you are!

but a person just didn't do that to a poor, helpless dessert. Ever.So he stood up, backed up a few steps down a small aisle between the tables. Then, with a bellow, he charged

TVíS JOE: (Baloo, in Scottish accent)My name is William Wallace.. You can take my freedom, but you can never haveÖMY DESSERT!!!!

into the startled Mr. McSibble, plowing them both into the hors d'oeuvres cart. Rebecca had watched the entire thing with openmouthed horror.

†††††††††††††††††† But now it just seemed --- funny. She could never stay mad at Baloo for long.

Baloo:(skeptically) HA!

Baloo would never know that her threats were empty, that in a way, he had as much power over her emotions as she did over his future.

Becky: (same tone) HA!

It galled her to no end. It was better to keep him off balance, to make him wonder what she was capable of if he pushed his luck too far. But not tonight.

TVíS JOE: (Becky)Tonight Iím just too blasted.Another timeÖ

†††††††††††††††††† My paperwork is caught up and we've got ten thousand shaboozies in the bank. Life is good. Baloo grinned at her mischievously and a reluctant smile tugged at her lips. Oh, hell, she thought,

Becky:Heís coming on to meÖtime to fire himÖ

†††††††††††††††††† not tonight. It's been ages since I've gone out with a ma--she aborted the thought and revised it:

Baloo:A what?Major hunk?

Becky:Try major pain in the-

It's been ages since I've gone out for an evening. Satisfied, she relaxed into an easy stroll and fell in

TVíS JOE:a manhole.Oopsie!

†††††††††††††††††† step with Baloo. It was a lovely starry night, Kit was babysitting Molly, so she was free to enjoy the company of adults for a change.

TVíS JOE:RiiiiightÖĒcompanyĒ Okay! Okay! Ill stow it!Sheesh!

†††††††††††††††††† Adults? No, she thought wryly, regarding Baloo's attire with mildly annoyed amusement, but tonight I'll take what I can get.

Becky:Dang!There goes that jokeÖ

Baloo and fancy restaurants don't mix.

Becky:Neither do Baloo and hard work.Or Baloo and responsibility.Or Baloo and wealth.Or Baloo andÖ

You knew what could happen the minute you saw him in that get-up.

†††††††††††††††††† "Whoa, Becka--er--Rebecca," he said, slipping his arm comfortably around her shoulders. "You're startin' ta have a good time." Absently, Rebecca let it stay; it was a familiar, almost brotherly gesture

Becky:You said it.Oh, brotherÖ

and she didn't mind. Rough around the edges Baloo may be, but neither was he a wolf in

bear's clothing.

Scarlet:Was that a slight against me querida???

She could trust him.

TVíS JOE:And no one else.Fight the future, Becky!

Baloo:(looking over at Kit) Not a chance.You sat there.Youíre stuck thereÖ

†††††††††††††††††† Rebecca relaxed against him as they

Becky:Now I donít like where this is goingÖ

walked down the neon-lit sidewalk. "Yeah, well, maybe I am.So?"

†††††††††††††††††† "Well, you better be careful. Or someone might mistake us for friends."

†††††††††††††††††† Her voice softened. "Maybe we are, a little...Baloo."

†††††††††††††††††† "Well, stranger things have happened, Rebecca..."

TVíS JOE: (Becky) Well, there was that one time that I woke up in a cornfield wearing a sailor hatÖmusta been the aliensÖ

†††††††††††††††††† "Becky," she corrected him, smiling. The faint sound of voices reached them. They were approaching a small group of people talking animatedly to each other.

TVíS JOE:As opposed to them talking to one another in live actionÖ

†††††††††††††††††† "Becky. Just think of it, you and me --- friends! We'd talk more, trust one another, help each other out, and stick together through thick and thin ---!"

Kit:and various other clichťs...*sigh*

Suddenly, Baloo gasped and dashed forward--- and in doing so --- his arm resting across his boss' shoulders sent poor Rebecca spinning like a demented top on a freshly polished linoleum floor.

†††††††††††††††††† Finally, she staggered to a stop, holding her head to quell her dizziness. "B-Baloo?"

TVíS JOE: (in drunk voice)arrrent I already hung over enoughhhh?

She blinked, staring after him.

TVíS JOE:Because she was seeing in double vision...OWww!

Becky:Thatís for the joke, and this...

TVíS JOE:OWW!

Becky:Is for mentioning THAT FIC!!!

†††††††††††††††† Baloo turned his head to call back excitedly, "A movie, Becky! They're shootin' a movie!"

Becky:I wish someone would shoot this ficÖ

Baloo:That doesnít make any senseÖ

He pushed through the throng of onlookers, earning several glares. Oblivious,

Becky:Is he ever anything else??

he made his way to the front.

"Move it, folks...comin' through...MEDIC!"

†††††††††††††††††† Filming a movie was always a huge event, ever since the first talkie, The Jazz Swinger. A visit from Starrywood was a taste of magic.

TVíS JOE:The taste of degradation of women and broken dreams and drugsÖYummy yum yum!

Everyone on the set was hard at work,

TVíS JOE:They must not be teamsters thenÖ(dodges rotten fruit)

adjusting spotlights adjusting a large, dimly lit street lamp, focusing cameras or memorizing their lines. It was a world far removed from the everyday one of Cape Suzette, with access granted only through the purchase of a movie ticket. The director, a short, portly platypus, watched the proceedings with a critical eye.

†††††††††††††††††† Standing next to him was his assistant, a lanky gander, wore a large cylindrical megaphone

TVíS JOE:You donít need the word ďwasĒ in that...

Kit:AAAAUUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

†††††††††††††††††† strapped around his long neck. He seemed nervous and kept glancing at his boss every couple of seconds.

†††††††††††††††††† Oh, boy, thought Baloo. I hope they're doin' an airplane picture. Maybe Airol Flyin will be in it!

TVíS JOE:(groan) Or Leslie Neilson!

†††††††††††††††††† The director suddenly grabbed the handle of the megaphone around the gander's neck, jerking it toward him like reins,

TVíS JOE: (director) Yeeehaw!Ride emí gander!

nearly strangling him. A reverent silence fell over the crowd. He raised the mouthpiece to his beak and barked, "Quiet on the set...lights...cameras...ACTION!"

†††††††††††††††††† A crew member snapped a "Take seventeen!" clapboard shut.

†††††††††††††††††† Then Baloo's heart skipped a beat.

Baloo:Must be all that rich foodÖ

†††††††††††††††††† Moving so fluidly that she seemed to float, a beautiful blonde

TVíS JOE:shapeshifter from DS9Ö

feline emerged

from the darkness and leaned gracefully against the set street lamp. She gazed out at the audience dreamily, with a small

†††††††††††††††††

Becky:liquor bottle in her handÖ

smile at no one in particular. Her long, blonde hair fell down her back in a smooth tumble. The numerous sequins of her indigo blue gown sparkled like a thousand stars; the fabric clung to her curvaceous figure as though painted on. Her gown was long-sleeved, high-necked yet daring, emphasizing every luscious curve

TVíS JOE:Hi.I just wanted to stop a minute to tell you all that I never, ever got hot watching this scene.It doesnít really doing anything for me, what with her being a cat.Thank you.

and her skirt was slit high, displaying one long, shapely leg. She was the envy of every woman and the desire of every man present. And she knew it.

Baloo: (with Austin Powers voice) Yeah, ba-by!

†††††††††††††††††† Baloo gazed at her longingly. Oh, baby, I musta died an' gone to Heaven 'cause I see an angel.

TVíS JOE:And a Buffy.And a Xander.And a WillowÖ

†††††††††††††††††† Then her lips parted like two pale rose petals and, sirenlike, she began to

Becky:Lure Baloo into the cave where he was eaten aliveÖ

croon in a husky, sultry alto: "La, la-la-laaa...la, la-la-laaa..." She began to stroll down the walk, still singing to herself.

TVíS JOE:Oh, yeah, sounds like one hell of a movieÖ(makes snoring noise)

Her honeylike, dulcet tones soothed and teased, seeming to wrap themselves around Baloo's slowing brain (never quick to begin with),

Becky: (starts laughing) What?That was very well writtenÖ

overwhelming all thoughts except, Oh, man....He swallowed until

††††††††††††††††††

Becky:an entire table of refreshments suddenly disappeared from sight...

his mouth went dry. "Ohhh, Kitten-ka-boom!" he breathed aloud, "It's Kitten Kaboodle!" He leaned forward, resting his elbows on the shoulders of a man and woman on either side of him and rubbed his face with both hands. It was the woman whose face was the last he saw at night (when he

TVíS JOE: (covers ears) Donít wanna know!La la la la la!

wasn't thinking about flying or enjoying a juicy hamburger). In his daydreams, Baloo would save the tightly bound Kitten from oncoming trains, buzzsaws, man-eating sharks,

TVíS JOE:Oddjob, Dr. No, Jaws, etc., etc.,

angry bosses...Baloo flew the Sea Duck above endless clouds, while the lovely Kitten kissed him between regular servings of hamburgers, fries, cookies, a Krakatoa Special with sprinkles. Mmmm, sprinkles.

Becky:(oomph, makes googly face) Is this making anyone else sick?

†††††††††††††††††† Directly over the actress's head, one of the overhead spotlights creaked loudly, then snapped!

Kit:crackled and poppedÖ

†††††††††††††††††† Kitten Kaboodle gasped, looked up and pointed.

†††††††††††††††††† "Oh, no! Another accident!" Her eyes widened with fear and she seemed rooted to the spot.

Becky:Isnít she the little model for self-preservation?

†††††††††††††††††† "I-I'll save ya, Miss Kaboodle!"

TVíS JOE:Heís a televangelist now, you seeÖ

People cast startled glances for the source of the rough voice. A big, burly bear broke their ranks, charged forward and dove into the

TVíS JOE:English army...

obstacle's path! Kitten found herself scooped up and lifted out of harm's way. The heavy light struck Baloo squarely on the head.

†††††††††††††††††† Still gazing adoringly at Kitten, he felt a dull thud on his tough skull, but no pain.

Kit:Those pesky aliens...

†††††††††††††††††† "Oh! My hero!" Kitten sighed as she raised a hand to her dainty brow, eyelashes fluttering. Then she swooned in Baloo's arms. Dazed, he couldn't have been happier than at that moment.

†††††††††††††††††† Suddenly, a swarm of photographers surrounded the two of them; an explosion of flashbulbs dazzled Baloo and bright spots danced before his eyes.

TVíS JOE:That only he could see.Spoooooky, huh?

Then they were gone in a cloud of dust.

TVíS JOE:and some crop circles..

†††††††††††††††††† Disoriented, he shook his head to clear it and

Becky:succeeded easily.

gently laid Kitten's unconscious form on the ground.Then a familiar female voice cut through his fuzzy thoughts and he winced at the sound.

†††††††††††††††††† "Baloo! Are you all right?"

Kit:(to Baloo) Oh, yeah.Sounds terrible.My heart bleeds at what you have to go through every dayÖ

Becky had fought her way through the spectators and was at his side in an instant. She caught his shoulders.

TVíS JOE:before they ran away.

"Speak to me --- say something!"

†††††††††††††††††† He blinked; his head felt like it had been rammed repeatedly into a stone wall.

Baloo:JacksonÖ

He peered at her blearily. "Cowabunga! Did--did anybody get the license number of that

TVíS JOE:Ninja turtle??...

piano?"

††††††† †††††††††††.....

†††††††††††††††††† When he came home at eleven that night, Baloo entered the bedroom, singing softly to himself "Dooby-dooby-dooby-doo-wah..."

TVíS JOE:Am I the only one whoís ever noticed Baloo sings about doobies a lot?Isnít that disturbing?Ö

Baloo: (sings) Dooby-dooby-doo.I see you.You know weíve got some work to do nowÖ

His head still throbbed, but Kitten's sultry voice made it a pleasant sensation. My hero. My hero. My hero.

Becky:Heís thinking about food before going to bed.Whatís so unusual about that?

He took an aspirin and flopped into bed, not bothering to change into his nightshirt. Kit was already in bed, reading his favorite flight manual.

Kit:called ďHow to get attention from people who donít appreciate or deserve your talentĒ...

He looked up.

†††††††††††††††††† "So how was it? Didja have a good time?"

†††††††††††††††††† "Oh, yeah, great. Played football and saved her from a knock on the noggin," Baloo said dreamily.

†††††††††††††††††† "What?" Kit put down his book. "Baloo, you're not making any sense.

Kit:Not that thatís a change of pace or anything..

Football?"

†††††††††††††††††† "Sorry..." Baloo yawned mightily, exposing his back teeth. "Big night with the most gorgeous gal in the world. Long story. Tell ya tomorrow."

†††††††††††††††††† "Wait! Does that mean that you and Ms. Cunningham...?"

TVíS JOE: (Kit) are gonna shack up together??Itíd be like The Real World.Only violent...

†††††††††††††††††† "Who?" was Baloo's sleepy reply before the rumbling, loud snores began. Sighing, Kit inserted his earplugs and clicked off the lamp.

.....

 

†††††††††††††††† Higher for Hire, Monday, 9:05 am...

TVíS JOE:(Scully)Although the dancing lights over Cape Suzette have left little to no evidence, we have located a few of the witnesses who..

†††††††††††††††††† A very excited Kit Cloudkicker ran into the office, that morning's Daily World tucked under his arm. The headlines screamed, "Pilot Saves Movie Star!" and a large picture of Baloo, holding the swooning Kitten Kaboodle dominated the front page.

†††††††††††††††††† "Hey, did you see this?" he shouted. Then he stopped short.

Baloo:Like he could stop any other way.. HA HA HA HA HA!...

Kit:Just remember.We sleep in the same room.Things can happen while youíre asleep...

No one was here. Piles and piles of today's newspapers were stacked all over Rebecca's office; on her desk, the floor, and the chairs.

Kit: (Kit) Hey, is Ignatz back??

†††††††††††††††††† Two stacks of papers toppled over the edge of the desk, revealing Rebecca, her expression that of puzzlement at being surrounded by

Becky:morons...

a fortress. Kit was somewhat crestfallen. "Oh. I guess you already have."

†††††††††††††††††† Wildcat walked in triumphantly, carrying more newspapers. "Wow, I didn't even have to pay for these! I just found them lying on a bunch of doorsteps." Rebecca and Kit exchanged amused glances and Rebecca shrugged. Wildcat was...Wildcat. Kit grinned.

TVíS JOE: (Martin Lawrence) Heís so craaazy...

†††††††††††††††††† Baloo came in next, and it was obvious that he was still in high spirits from

his brief brush with

Kit:death...Nothing like a hit on the head to make you feel alive again...

a certain glamorous movie queen. "Hey-hey, Becky! Do ya think I could get these bronzed?" He regarded his hands,

Becky:No, then you wouldnít be able to get any work done.

Baloo:Youíre just all heart, Beckers...

the very ones that had held Kitten for an enchanted moment with wonder. He hadn't washed them since Saturday night.

Kit:Theeeeeereís something I could have gone without knowing....

†††††††††††††††††† Rebecca was disgusted. "I'm gonna get your head bronzed, Baloo, if you don't get to work." She shoved one pile of papers off her desk onto his hands. He staggered a little under the weight.

Becky:Poor Baloo.Poor, weak, out of shape, flabby, with no stamina,or energy, Ba-

Baloo:Shut up.

†††††††††††††††††† "Aw, yer just jealous 'cause ya didn't get your picture in the paper."

††††††††††††† †††††"I am not."

Kit: (Becky) amused...

†††††††††††††††††† "You are, too," Baloo sang, leaning towards her, enjoying himself. Sometimes I just can't help it.There were days when it was just plain fun to rile up ol' Beckers.

†††††††††††††††††† "Am not!Ē

†††††††††††††††††† "Are too!" Suddenly, the telephone rang loudly, unseen. Kit, who sat on one paper pile reading the article, finally

Kit:couldnít take this mind numbing argument and headed for the door...

found it on a neighboring pile, under the top page, and picked up the receiver.

†††††††††††††††††† "Higher for Hire...what?...sure, we'll take the deal!" He hung up, excited once more. "Baloo, Tantamount Studios wants you to fly a big, important

TVíS JOE:shipment of illegal extras in...

stunt in Miss Kaboodle's film!"

†††††††††††††††††† Baloo couldn't believe it. "Wha-? Yahooey!" he threw up

Becky:Much like Iím about to do...

his hands, tossing the newspapers he'd been holding into the air. They floated back down and a couple of pages landed on Rebecca's head. "Starrywood!" he sang, "Hoo-hoo--and I'm gonna be with Kitten!"

†††††††††††††††††† "You think maybe I could get a part in a movie?" Kit asked eagerly.

TVíS JOE:Since we all know he wonít, can we just forget this fic?

Baloo and Becky: NO!

†††††††††††††††††† "And I could see a star?" Wildcat added. Baloo caught them both around the shoulders under his massive arm.

Becky:His massive, flabby arm...

†††††††††††††††††† "Oh, you better believe it. In Starrywood, anything's possible!" Baloo swept his other arm before them, in a 'can you see it now?' gesture.

Becky:and of course didnít say anything...What a visionary!!

They could. The excitement was definitely catching.

†††††††††††††††††† "Ahem," Rebecca cleared her throat loudly, halting their celebration. Uh-oh, all three of her employees thought, their hearts sinking, Here it comes.

†††††††††††††††††† "Since when do you accept a job without asking me--your boss--first?"

Kit:I can do anything I wanna do!

Baloo and Becky:(start laughing hysterically)

Kit:(sulks)Shut up!

†††††††††††††††††† Baloo thought fast.

Becky:Oh, so this fic is fantasy...

"Oh, but you're comin' too!" Rebecca started to wave him off and push past him, but he suddenly let go of Kit and Wildcat and caught her up in his arms, lifting her off her feet to get her attention. "Besides, I'm not askin' my boss, I'm askin' my

Baloo:shrew of a boss!

friend." He chucked her under the chin playfully and set her down.

†††††††††††††††††† She felt a myriad of emotions---feeling strangely manipulated by flattery, but also...pleased. Damn the man, he knew how to be charming when he wanted to be and

here she

Becky:grew incredibly nauseous and slapped herself back to reality!Nice try, Gidg...

was, letting herself be charmed. "Well...."

†††††††††††††††††† Kit spoke the magic words.

TVíS JOE: (in booming voice)KLAATU BARATA NICTO..

Becky:Bibbety bobbety boo...

Baloo:Would you like that supersized?

"They're paying three big ones..."

†††††††††††††††††† Rebecca brightened. "When does he start?" Three thousand shaboozies. She could buy Molly piano lessons and a piano first, of course...renovate the office...hire a secretary...get her hair done...

Baloo:And what am I gonna get?

Becky:Increasingly annoying and egotistical..

Kit:You pretty much asked for that one, Papa Bear...

Baloo:Donít you have some skydiving lessons or something??

†††††††††††††††††† The sharp honk! of a car outside interrupted her daydream. Baloo opened the front door and poked his head outside to see an elegant, sleek silver-gray limousine parked in front of Higher for Hire. "Wow! Talk about service."

†††††††††††††††††† The others eagerly followed and gaped in delighted awe at the gleaming vehicle, the magic carpet

TVíS JOE:accidentally dropped them and they splatted on the ground.I guess it was back to Aladdin now.

†††††††††††††††††† ride to Starrywood, the town of dreams.

TVíS JOE:and where people sold their souls..†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† .....

†††††††††††††††††† Tantamount Studios, Starrywood

TVíS JOE: (Mulder) Nothing remains of our search for the unknown assailants who were last scene abducting many fattening foodstuffs from the now closed ďJoeísĒ, so weíve packed up and headed out in search of new clues, other pursuits...

†††††††††††††††††† The ride through Tantamount Studios was a bizarre, yet strangely entertaining one. They passed

TVíS JOE:Some people screaming about the apocalypse, some near naked chicks, some tattoo parlors, some people getting mugged...

††††††††††††††††††

smoothly through the arches separating the real world from one that was manic.

TVíS JOE:depressiveÖ

†††††††††††††††††† They passed sets, witnessed a shoot-out between cops and gangsters with tommyguns. Like a traffic light changing from green to red, the hail of bullets (blanks) stopped suddenly to let the limousine pass, then, without missing a beat, resumed the make-believe carnage.

Scarlet:This fic could use some Karnage...

Kit:Wrong kind of carnage...

Scarlet:Shut up, kid...

†††††††††††††††††† In the back seat, Kit peeked through the right-side rolled-down window past Baloo and caught his breath. "Wow! Isn't that--?"

†††††††††††††††††† A half-dressed woman in curlers ran across the street, screaming.

TVíS JOE:Robert Downey Jr. was on parole again??

Chasing her were four odd-looking men, the leader chomping on a cigar and wriggling his eyebrows and bringing up the rear was a blond fellow with curly hair and long coat, honking a little horn. It was the hot new comedy team, the Narx Brothers.

TVíS JOE:(in stoned voice)Hey, man, we donít need any narcs, man...

†††††††††††††††††† "Oh, yeah! It is, it is!" Baloo was thoroughly enjoying himself, recognizing actors as though they were old friends.

Becky:Hey, he was hit on the head...Iím not expecting sparkling recognition here...

†††††††††††††††††† "And here's some of my favorite stars!" Two comical characters, one tall and thin, the other short and rotund, stepped off the curb into a puddle, and sank to the bottom, leaving two derbies floating on the surface. The only signs of Plural and Tardy were

Becky:the recent tattoos they got of little double circles with crosses...

the air bubbles.

†††††††††††††††††† "My favorite star is the North Star," Wildcat confided. The limousine driver gunned the motor and

Kit:Wildcat was thrown out the window.What a shame...

††††††††††††††††

they sped off with shrieking tires.

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††.....

†††††††††††††††††† Kitten Kaboodle, leading lady and glamour queen of the silver screen was a pirate today.

Scarlet:Yeah. Sure she was. (laughs sadistically)

Standing on a small rocking platform designed as the prow of a pirate ship, she gripped the wheel, pretending to guide her ship home.

Becky:Weeell, look whoís little Miss Cutthroat Island...

A prop man sloshed a bucket of water on the 'deck', simulating a 'storm'. The actress wore a very abbreviated costume, looking better than any buccaneer ever could:

Scarlet:Except for me, of course...

A low-cut white silk blouse was tied snugly in front and her black ragged shorts displayed her long, shapely legs to excellent advantage.

Becky: (to Joe)Are you sure this isnít turning you on?

TVíS JOE:Iím more turned on by the fat muse in ďHerculesĒ

All:Speeew!

Perched on her head at a rakish angle was a large black pirate hat, adorned with a "Jolly Roger" skull-and-crossbones motif. A well-behaved parrot perched upon her shoulder.

†††††† ††††††††††††When the limousine finally parked in front of Kitten's set, Baloo jiggled

Becky:his stomach and it grossed everyone out...

the door handle impatiently. Rebecca, sitting at the far left, with Wildcat and Kit between them, couldn't see anything.

Becky:How could I with Baloo blocking the way?

She watched Baloo, somewhat amused at his eagerness to get started.

Becky:Heís just so cute when heís drooling like an idiot... Actually, heís pretty repugnant, but you get the idea...

That's the first time I've seen him so anxious to go to work. This one-day job is definitely worth more than three thousand shaboozies.

Baloo:Unless Kitten wants me as her love slave...

All:(laugh at Baloo)

The slow-moving, slothful pilot was definitely not himself today.

†††††††††††††††††† Kitten saw them and her lovely face lit up with pleasure. A bird-wrangler took the parrot; then Kitten abandoned the ship's wheel and made her way down the gangplank, her hips undulating enticingly.

Becky:The little skank.

†††††††††††††††††† "Ho-ho, does she shiver my timbers!" Baloo said fervently.

Kit:What a great role model you are for me, Baloo...

†††††††††††††††††† "Darling!" she drawled the endearment, so that it came out as "dah-ling". The driver depressed a button so that Baloo's door came unlocked.

Kit:I really hope to God that wasnít metaphorical...

He tumbled out, followed by Kit and Wildcat. Rebecca started to emerge, only to find the door slammed rudely in her face! She started to protest, "Hey--!"

TVíS JOE: (Becky) No, We wonít go!

Becky:I would!In a second!Can I go right now?!

and saw Kitten briefly through the window; the other woman's face was bland and innocent. Didn't she see me?

†††††††††††††††††† Kitten Kaboodle was saying to Baloo, "I'd hoped you'd do the stunt, you big hunk of a bear!"

Kit:Oh, no, this isnít a setup...

Her drawling voice was husky and smooth, making Baloo's fur tingle.

Becky:I really donít need to know this...

It was a foreign, yet not unwelcome feeling for him. He was not used to women, yet she made him feel kind of...manly.

Kit:Now, thatís something I really donít need to know.

Up close, she was even more beautiful than on a remote flickering screen. Her long silky hair draped gracefully past her shoulders, dipping over her right eye in the latest 'peek-a-boo' style. Her sky-blue eyes absorbed him,

TVíS JOE:and then there was nothing left.It was handy being from another dimensionÖ What other tricks can she do?!?

gentle and sweetly alluring. Her lips were as pink as rose petals and perfectly shaped; They seemed to beg to be kissed.

Becky:Yeah, by every guy in town...

A tiny brown beauty mark on the left side of her chin accentuated her beauty.

†††††††††††††††††† Giddy with awe, Baloo squirmed with embarrassed pleasure. "Hubba-hubba-hubba! Show me where!" Laughing lightly, Kitten reached up and tweaked his nose with a little honk!

Baloo:Was that a literal honk?Does my nose really make that noise??

Kit:Not in the day...

†††††††††††††††††† "Silly, " she said, "that's not till tomorrow. Let me give you a personal tour of the studio first, hmmm?"

TVíS JOE: (Kitten)Leeetís see...thereís where people sell out, and thereís where people write garbage, and over there is where people write ripoffs of said previous garbage...and right over there is where they rip that off...at ABCís sitcom division..

Playfully she reached up and patted his cheeks. She held out her hand and dazed, he took it. Her elegant hand disappeared into

TVíS JOE:Penn and Tellerís box of mysteryÖ

his large, meaty one. A little thrill went through him at the contact. Guess I can't wash my hand today either.

Everyone but Baloo:Uuughh. Gross. I donít need to know! That!Sick! Iiiiii!

†††††††††††††††††† "Oh, solid! Delighted!" Still dazed, Baloo followed her happily off the pirate set, with Kit

Kit:completely bored...

and Wildcat bringing up the rear. Something in Baloo's slow brain nagged at him, but he blissfully ignored it.

Becky:Like everything else important...

It wasn't often that a beautiful woman showed interest in him.

Becky:No $h!t, Sherlock!

Am I forgettin' somethin'?.nah....

†††††††††††††††††† "Guys! Wait for me!"

†††††††††††††††††† As the distance grew further between them,

Kit:How deep and metaphorical...

Rebecca continued to struggle with the locked car door. It was locked from outside and only the driver could deactivate it. He had seen the little group follow Kitten and relaxed in the knowledge that his job was done until the next one came.

TVíS JOE:Either that or he was high...

Rebecca rapped on the soundproof window dividing the front and back seats, yelled until she was hoarse but to no avail. Then she noticed that the side door window was still partly open, just enough to admit her slender frame. Grunting, she managed to

Baloo:communicate with the gorillas of the MiSTs..

Kit:Okay, that was just bad...

wriggle through, lost her balance and fell flat on her posterior.

†††††††††††††††††† Swearing softly, Rebecca rubbed her backside to numb the pain and started to walk. She could still catch up if she hurried...

†††††††††††††††††† "Excuse me, miss, you forgot to tip," a soft, pleasant voice startled her.

Becky:Never run with scissors.Run along now...

The limousine driver, a monkey with large, jug-like ears and heavy-lidded eyes put out a hand, an obvious hint.

Baloo:That he wanted to go to Marsha Bradyís school dance?...

Becky:Buh dum-ching.

†††††††††††††††††† Rebecca thought, oh, well. When in Rome... She quickly fished around in her hip pocket for a tip. Nuts. "Can you break a ten?"

†††††††††††††††††† "Frankly, my dear...I don't have a dime," the monkey driver told her. Grumbling, she handed the bill over and hurried away, muttering under her breath.

Baloo:And you complain that I spend too muchÖ

Becky:I was intending on taking it out of the three thouÖ

†††††††††††††††††† Kitten drove the caddie, pointing out different parts of Tantamount Studios, a pirate queen playing tour guide. Baloo sat next to her in the front. Wildcat and Kit managed to squeeze into the back.

Kit:Well, I couldnít squeeze into the front, thatís for darn sure...

†††††††††††††††††† She drove quickly and expertly, maneuvering several sharp turns around crates, sets and passing crew members. Actually, she drove a little too fast, just out of Rebecca's reach as she ran to catch up. She seemed oblivious to the other woman's faint calls to please wait.

Becky: (to Kit)Hey, why didnít you say something?!

Kit:Like Baloo even noticed me in that little episode...

Baloo:Episode?

Kit:Yeah...the episode you had...the major ego trip where you lost your mind and-

†††††††††††††††††† Wheezing, lungs on fire, Rebecca continued to chase the elusive speeding cart. She imagined that she saw Kitten take a quick glance in her direction but that was all. "BALOO! Here I am, guys!

Becky:Now I know why they call it la-la land...

Baloo:You didnít know what she was like then..

Becky:(laughs) Like you could have gotten anywhere with her anyway...

†††††††††††††††††† BALOOOO!" Her normally clear, crisp voice was spent, could not compete with the vroom! motor noise of the caddie. At last she slowed to a walk and gave up. Then: did I hear something? It sounded like a groan, coming closer....

Baloo:Something tells me weíll be hearing a lot of groans through this...

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† .....

†††††††††††††††††† "...and over here is where we build sets for my fabulous movies, " she could hear Kitten telling her little tour group a few feet away, when she again caught up.

†††††††††††††††††† Rebecca caught a glance of the retreating wheels of the caddie just before it rounded another pile of crates. "Here I am! Baloo--!" Suddenly, a big bandaged thing staggered in front of her,

Baloo:The Thing?The one by John Carpenter or the old one where itís like a toaster?

cutting her off and she yelped in surprise. Then she relaxed. It was only a harried-looking elephant, his pudgy features almost completely hidden by clumsy, unraveling bandages and even a plaster cast.

†††††††††††††††††† "Oh! You scared me with that mummy costume. Are you doing a horror film?" The elephant looked at her as if she was insane.

Baloo:Thatís alright, sheís used to itÖ

Becky:Eh heh heh...

†††††††††††††††††† "Costume! Mummy!"

TVíS JOE:I thought that movie sucked myself...

he cried indignantly, as though she should know who he was. "I'm the cameraman of the Kitten Kaboodle flick.

TVíS JOE: (elephant) And you wonít believe what she wanted me to film her doing!I hit the jackpot with this flick!

Every ten minutes---something goes blooey!" his voice broke and to Rebecca's astonishment, he began to cry!

Baloo:Sissy...

A large wooden set of a hotel front creaked nearby; but both were too distracted to notice.

†††††††††††††††††† Rebecca laughed kindly, "You show business types are so dramatic. I'm sure accidents just...!"

†††††††††††††††††† Crash! The wooden structure suddenly swayed and fell on top of them! Coughing from the cloud of dust rising from the impact, Rebecca managed to step aside so that she was standing in the middle of the square hole "window" cut out of the set . Unhurt, she looked for

TVíS JOE:Larry H. Parker..

the cameraman. A painful moan came from underneath the debris. He was sore but alive.

†††††††††††††††††† "...happen." Rebecca finished lamely.

†††††††††††††††††† The flustered businesswoman frowned.

Baloo:His blood would never come out of her skirt.. Damn!

Suddenly, she was blinded by flashbulbs. The same aggressive group of newshounds from the scene of Baloo's 'rescue' of Kitten Kaboodle,

TVíS JOE:They certainly get around, donít they...

Kit:You travel well when digging up trash..

Becky: -y actresses..

ever attuned to scandal and public suffering, fired their shutters at her and the poor cameraman, then dashed off for their next scoop. Rubbing her eyes, Rebecca looked around in bewilderment.

TVíS JOE:(Mulder) Where had these mysterious lights come from?Why couldnít she remember??!!!

"Then again...?"

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† .....

†††††††††††††††††† Baloo sat in a folding chair, doing his favorite thing,

Becky:Slacking off?Collecting dust?Eating his weight in crap?...

relaxing.

Becky:Ah.Numbers one and two, then...

†††††††††††††††††† "BALOO!"

†††††††††††††††††† Startled, Baloo found himself face-to-face with a panting, red-faced boss. "Well, Becky, where ya been?" he asked genially. Just ol' Beckers, he thought.

Becky:Moron...

†††††††††††††††††† "Where haven't I been?" she snapped. "I thought friends were supposed to stick together!" That man has the attention span of a fruit fly.

Becky:Did I mention how much I like the descriptions in this?

†††††††††††††††††† "MAKE-UP!" Without warning, a gravel-voiced make-up assistant drew back his arm and hit Baloo, full force with a giant powder puff,

TVíS JOE: (sings)FIGHT-ING CRIME, TRY-ING TO SAVE THE WORLD...HERE THEY COME JUST IN TIME.. THE POWER-PUFF GIRLS...

Kit:That was pointless...

TVíS JOE:My mind is a precious thing to waste...

emitting gritty powder which drifted over Rebecca as well, who began to cough, her eyes and throat itching. A backdrop of igloos and a snowy landscape magically dropped behind them.

TVíS JOE:It wasnít the props people or anything...just ďmagicĒ...

Rebecca moved to the side to avoid being in the shot.

†††††††††††††††††† "Kiki wanted me to take some publicity shots,"

TVíS JOE:KIKIíS DELIVERY SERVICE??!!!THAT MOVIE RULES!!!!!

Baloo said. Oh boy, she thought, he's got the same look he gets when Louie has that Two-for-One Krakatoa Special on the menu.

TVíS JOE:Again, no ďCĒ (ducks an anvil) Hey, watch it up there Gidg!

†††††††††††††††††† She raised a cynical eyebrow. "Kiki?"

†††† ††††††††††††††"You know. Kitten,"

TVíS JOE:Oh.I knew it was too good to be true...

he explained, as though to a slightly backward child.

Becky:I like that!ďBackwardĒ...Ha!As in hick, right?A total retard!

Baloo:Shut up.

She didn't like the was this was headed. What in the world was so fascinating about that rude, flashy blonde? I bet she dyes it.

Becky:The little skank...

Why on earth was she taking such a shine to Baloo, who was someone who was, say, a

person one had to get used to. He shouldn't be interested in such a woman.

TVíS JOE:I have news for you, Honey.Baloo isnít the brightest bulb in the room... At his age, Iím surprised he hasnít tried sucking her neck like a vacuum cleaner...

Becky:Iím still not used to him, just to clear that up...

Why was he acting like such a ninny over someone like that? Typical man, she thought sourly, and stopped.

†††††††††††††††††† "Ready, Mr. Baloo? He assumed what he considered to be a heroic pose.

Kit:When he actually just looked backwards...

"Smile!"

†††††††††††††††††† Every ten minutes...something goes bloody.

TVíS JOE:(Admiral Grimace from Ducktails)Well, I just love it when things go ka-bloody...

The cameraman and the near miss with the falling hotel set. She had to tell him.

TVíS JOE:(starts singing the song ďTell HimĒ) if you want him to be...

†††††††††††††††††† "Never mind that, Baloo! Something weird is going on around here."

TVíS JOE:(Scully) I think that theyíre trying to influence you...Fight it!

†††††††††††††††††† He started to ask what, when a sexy female voice interrupted them.

†††††††††††††††††† "Oh, Baloo!" Kitten smoothly moved in front of Rebecca, accidentally-on-purpose giving her a hard, vicious nudge with her hip, knocking her off-balance.

Kit:Which of course Baloo didnít notice because heís a moron...

Baloo:Iím going to leave soon...

Rebecca tottered on her heels, trying to stay upright. She fell and found herself sitting on the floor. Again, Kitten ignored Rebecca and batted her baby blues at Baloo, the idiot.

†††††††††††††††††† "Just in time for a little lunchie," Kitten cooed,

Becky:Speak English, you tramp!

as she caught Balloonís hand again and led him outside to another waiting limousine. "Ciao!" she called gaily over her shoulder. Baloo followed like an obedient puppy.

Becky:And smelled like one too...he hadnít bothered with soap this time...

†††††††††††††††††† "Ya hear that, Becky? We're going to chow!"

†††††††††††††††††† Rebecca stood up. "Good! That'll give me time to tell you about the accidents that--!"

Baloo:are inevitably going to happen again and again...

†††††††††††††††††† "I'm sorry," Kitten poked her pretty blonde head out the back window and said with obvious regret, "but this is a private lunch." She rolled up the window, leaving Rebecca staring back at a square

Becky:and Kitten...

of opaque glass before the silver car roared off, leaving her choking on thick exhaust fumes.

†††††††††††††††††† My lungs are going to be black tomorrow.

Baloo:It wasnít my fault by the way...I thought you just werenít hungry...

Kit:Very smooth, Baloo...

†††††††††††††††††† "Hey, how do I look, Mize Cunningham?" A strange, very short gangster with Kit's voice approached her.

Baloo:Gee, ya think it could actually be Kit, Becky??

She stared. The glossy brown hair was obviously a wig and his handlebar mustache was much too big for his face. It was Kit, dressed to kill.

Kit:Yeah, ba-by...

He was bristling with a restless energy, eager to be somewhere else. Normally Rebecca would make a comment,

Becky:Like why in the world is he wearing a false mustache??It looked ridiculous!

Kit:I donít see you getting any parts...

but now wasn't the time.

†††††††††††††††††† "Listen, Kit. I've got to talk to you about---!"

TVíS JOE:(Becky) the birds and the bees...and Balooís a moron today, so it looks like Iíll have to do it alone...

Kit:Like I really donít know everything from the fanfics already...

†††††††††††††††††† "Gee, sorry, Miz Cunningham, but I'm on my way to an audition." Kit apologized, not listening. "Maybe Wildcat can help." He hurried away.

†††††††††††††††††† "Wait!" she shouted after him. "Where is Wildcat?"

†††††††††††††††††† "Stargazing!" he answered, before turning a corner and disappearing into a building.

†††††††††††††††††† Before she could digest this, Wildcat suddenly appeared in front of her, frantically waving a large butterfly net and weaving around passing celebrities

TVíS JOE:I can think of another place Wildcat might fit in with a butterfly net, but Iíll keep it to myself...hint, hintÖ

on their way to work. They easily eluded his net and he was getting frustrated, which was a rare thing. Usually so sweet-natured and unflappable, Wildcat now showed signs of breaking the pattern.

†††††††††††††††††† "I can't get one star to stay still long enough!" he complained.

TVíS JOE: (Becky)That's nice, Wildcat....did you take the nice pills I gave to you earlier??

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† .....

†††††††††††††††††† Outside stood a cityscape set. One-dimensional hollow buildings such as hotels, office buildings and restaurants dotted the lot. Near the animation studio, Rebecca sat at a concession stand, absently stirring her coffee. She was almost used to the insane pace around her. In yet another take, the Narx Brothers

TVíS JOE:were beaten up by a bunch of gang members...

chased that shrieking ninny all over the lot. A couple of thespians in Renaissance garb ran through their lines over sandwiches and coffee. Lack of tables and chairs forced them to improvise, using a large overturned crate as a

Baloo:horse and it wasnít working well...

makeshift table and two smaller boxes as chairs.

†††††††††††††††††† "Baloo's some friend," mumbled Rebecca. "Something fishy's going on and he won't even listen."

TVíS JOE:So she got some help from a bunch of kids in a van with some flowers on it and..

†††††††††††††††††† She felt hot, tired and depressed. All her friends had deserted her, leaving her alone in this strange place, surrounding by lunatics in Halloween costumes.

TVíS JOE:Sounds like that a Buffy, the Vampire Slayer episode.

†††††††††††††††††† Her self-pity was interrupted by a sudden scream from above.

†††††††††††††††††† Rebecca whipped her neck around and upwards to look: A broken railing, followed by a blur of gray suit and feathers descended from the top floor of one of the "office buildings" at heart-stopping speed.

†††††††††††††††††† The Renaissance couple glanced up from their sandwiches, unimpressed. The woman was exasperated. "Not another accident! We'd better move." They rose in concert, taking their lunch with them just before the falling man hit. Crash!

Kit:Way to be helpful.Sheesh...

†††††††††††††††††† Before she could register the sight, or even cover her eyes, he slammed

TVíS JOE:danced...

headfirst into the vacated crates, sending wooden slats and splinters flying in all directions. When the dust cleared, Rebecca looked around. No one seemed concerned.

Kit:No one is... Do you know how long ago this happened?

They continued on their business, as though this was a common occurrence. It was probably a stunt, like the rest of the antics around here.

†††††††††††††††††† She stood up and rushed to the scene. A meek-looking turkey lay in the ruins, stunned and moaning with pain. His cheap gray business suit was shredded, his toupee askew and black horn-rimmed glasses hanging on one ear. Other than that, he was alive and sore. Rebecca shook her head disapprovingly.

Baloo:(Becky) Everyone was beneath her...A HA HA HA HA!

Actors!

†††††† ††††††††††††"That was very dangerous!" she chided him. "Maybe you should think twice about being a stuntman."

†††††††††††††††††† The turkey stood up cautiously, balancing his weight. Adjusting his orange mop-like toupee on his head, he tried to straighten his spectacles. They made a sickening cracking sound,then hard little pebbles of glass sprinkled from the frames,

TVíS JOE:(dork turkey) I had all the time in the world!It isnít fair!! It isnít fair!! (this is a stupid Twilight Zone ref, btw...)

landing on the ground. He stared at her, incredulous at her apparent naivete.

†††††††††††††††††† "Stuntman? Lady, I'm just the accountant for the Kitten Kaboodle film," he exploded. "I'd be crazy to be a stuntman on this movie. Oh, I sure pity the poor bozo who's flying the big important, final stunt---he's sure to be a goner!"

Kit:(in mock suspense) Bum bum bum!

Rebecca could only stare after him as he limped away, trying in vain to fit the two halves of his glasses together.

†††††††††††††††††† Oh no! her mind screamed.

TVíS JOE: (Becky) Whatís Wildcat doing with that grappling net gun?!Nooooo!

That's the stunt Baloo's doing!

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† .....

†††††††††††††††††† After asking around, ten minutes later Rebecca managed to find out where Kitten Kaboodle had

Becky:slept around...that night....

taken Baloo. She scanned the names of the buildings, finally seeing the ornately scrolled La Rotune Restaurant. I've got to warn him, she thought.

Becky:What with diseases that can go around and all...

Oh, Baloo, trouble just follows you everywhere!

†††††††††††††††††† She watched and followed at a short distance; an actress, a voluptuous, heavy sow sauntered down the blossom-lined walk through the front doors, swinging a little parasol. It was Mae Chest,

TVíS JOE:insert your own thought here...

the controversially risque actress

TVíS JOE:Oh, what the hell... Yeah, having the last name ďchestĒ is bound to attract attention... Geez, why not have the last name ďBoobyĒ?

from "My Little Piggledee", and "I'm No Cherub". Next to Kitten Kaboodle, she was considered one of the most powerful actresses in Starrywood.

†††††††††††††††††† At the hat-check booth, the bored maitre d', an obese but well-tailored hippo, perked up and hurried from his post to greet her.

†††††††††††††††††† "How nice to see you again!" Sweating and smiling so widely that his back teeth were visible, he was not merely hospitable, not downright unctuous, oozing good will.

TVíS JOE:How very ďI Love LucyĒ...I think I need a paper bag, picturing hippo sweat...

Rebecca grimaced with distaste, then smiled approvingly as Miss Chest ignored his chatter and tossed her white mink stole from her shoulders,

TVíS JOE:Hey, no one ever said the show was PC....

where it landed carelessly on his head.

†††††††††††††††††† Unfazed, the maitre d' took it off and hung it lovingly on one of the branches of an iron coat-rack

TVíS JOE:Heh heh...rack...heh heh...

next to the door. Apparently, this sort of treatment was acceptable and even cherished.

TVíS JOE:As long as Ed Wood didnít come in...

"and have a pleasant lunch!" he added.

†††††††††††††††††† My turn, Rebecca thought; she saw Baloo and Kitten sitting at a table several feet away, partially concealed by large ferns. He was seated with his back to her, eating a generous plate of spaghetti. A basket holding a long loaf of French bread sat in the middle. Kitten had a glass of white wine in

Becky:the middle of the day...the little whore...

front of her. They were talking but she couldn't hear a thing. She marched boldly forward, past the hippo but wasn't quick enough. He caught her shoulders, lifting her and planting her firmly in front of him.

Kit:Wait...he wasnít quick enough but he caught herÖ Heh?

††††††††††††††††† "Yyyessss?" Another horribly arch smile nearly split his face as he drew out the word for effect.

TVíS JOE:of copying ďI Love LucyĒ...

Rebecca shook him off, annoyed at the delay. Didn't he know she had to hurry?

Baloo:Yes, Rebecca, heís a mind reader..

Her next words were rushed: "I'vegottotellmyfriendaboutianaccidentthathasn'thappenedyetbutprobablywillifIdon'tget

tohimfirsttowarnhim!" She panted, barely finishing the sentence without passing out from lack of air.

†††††††††††††††††† The maitre d' waved his hand impatiently, dismissing her. "Fine, fine. Are you a movie star?"

†††††††††††††††††† "Movie star? What does that have to do with it?" she said indignantly, too disgusted by this idiot to bother justifying herself to him any longer. Baloo needed her!

Baloo:Needed, but only in a platonic sense...

She took two steps forward before his unpleasant singsongy voice assaulted her ears and a heavy hand clasped her shoulder.

†††††††††††††††††† "Brutus!"

TVíS JOE:(hippo) E tu??

†††††††††††††††††† A hulking, homely gorilla suddenly materialized before them.

TVíS JOE:in a Starfleet uniform with matching phaser...

He regarded her stolidly, with hard piggy eyes and,

Kit:I would think it would be monkey eyes, but whateverÖ

in a businesslike fashion, began to roll up his sleeves. His forearms bulged with fat, hair and muscle.

†††††††††††††††††† "We only serve movie stars," the hippo said primly. Before Rebecca could wonder why he didn't recognize a celebrity without asking, she saw the huge, hairy-knuckled paws of Brutus reach for her.

†††††††††††††††††† Too furious to be frightened, Rebecca jabbed his nose with her finger, startling him. He winced and rubbed his nose, staring at her with surprise.

TVíS JOE:There was a booger on her finger.

"Hold your bananas, buster!" she hissed at him, "I can find my own way out! Hmmph!" Then she pivoted and stalked out the door, slamming it.

†††††††††††††††††† She waited a moment, then cracked the door open, and carefully peeked through the sliver of space. Brutus was gone,

TVíS JOE: (in Ricki voice)Now Loocy, this is wat we are going ta doo... Dohnt be pulling any crazy stunts...

leaving the maitre d' alone, writing in the reservation book. She spotted Mae Chest's discarded fur stole, still hanging on the coat-rack.

TVíS JOE:Hey, if...naaah, already did that joke...

Plan B, she thought slyly. She tugged the garment free, wrapping it around herself, feeling a guilty pleasure as the cool softness caressed her face.

Baloo:and then she spit the gum out...

Show your stuff, she commanded herself.

TVíS JOE: (Baloo) Yeah, ba-by!

Becky: (laughs)

Baloo: (to Becky) You wish...

The hippo beamed at the graceful, haughty young starlet approaching. He wondered who she was.Her face seemed familiar, but he

TVíS JOE:wasnít really looking at her face so it didnít matter...

couldn't quite place it. There were so many celebrities who passed that very spot that he had trouble keeping these famous people straight. But it stood to reason: Anyone who dressed so elegantly and moved with such confidence had to be a movie star in this

town.

TVíS JOE:Oh, yeah.Thatís the mark of a good actor.. Walking...(rolls eyes)

Who else would dare to march past him with such poise and quiet arrogance? They ruled

Starrywood. and he was their faithful servant.

Baloo:What a weenie...

†††††††††††††††††† "How nice to see you again," he said automatically, as she carelessly tossed the fur stole to him. This time he caught it before it could land on his head.

†††††††††††††††††† Rebecca crouched and waddled, stealthily making her way toward Baloo and Kitten. Keeping her head low, she staked out a spot behind the thick foliage,

Baloo:Well, when nature calls, what are you gonna do??

Becky:Look for a new job, Baloo?

behind Baloo. Through the leaves, she could see Kitten smiling and nodding animatedly, apparently enjoying the big bear's company.Kitten wasn't eating

Becky:She had just coughed up the better part of her breakfast in the ladies room and didnít want to overdo it...

but she did take the occasional dainty sip of white wine.

Becky:That giant drunk...

Rebecca could hear Baloo noisily wolfing down his food,

Kit:Dang, Baloo has like, the metabolism of a Totoro in this thing!

Becky:When doesnít he?

Baloo:I donít know what that means and Iím glad...

and smirked. If she were sharing his table, she would have died of embarrassment at his bad table manners. Now, though, she was perversely glad that Kitten had to suffer. I wonder if he'll tackle someone in this restaurant. That'll show 'Kiki' for sure!

TVíS JOE:And Jiji, and Hiyao, and that baker woman...

She heard Kitten say, "So, darling...about this...Rebecca?" There was a hint of distaste, the way she spoke Rebecca's name, as though it smelled. Smug smile disappearing, the businesswoman strained to hear better, ignoring the leaves tickling her face.

†††††††††††††††††† "Rebecca? Rebecca who?" Baloo twirled some noodles around the tines of his fork with expertise, then they disappeared into his mouth

Kit:his enormous, gaping mouth..

with a satisfied slurp. Rebecca winced, mentally picturing it.

Kit:Weíre all wincing, believe me..

†††††††††††††††††† Kitten laughed softly, the sound of tinkling bells.

Baloo:Then Rebecca just realized that that was just someone coming in the door...

She leaned, one elbow on the table, genuinely amused. Her lips parted in a sweet smile, showing tiny, perfectly white teeth.

†††††††††††††††††† "Dahh-ling! Your humor is so...humorous,"

Becky:Somebody could use a thesaurus...

she said at last. "You know. Rebecca...your...girlfriend?"

†††††††††††††††††† Are you kidding? Her brain shrieked in outrage. Then: Well, I suppose it's a natural mistake. Her seeing us together and all.

†††††††††††††††††† Baloo stopped eating. "Girlfriend?" he said incredulously. "Oh no, she's just my boss."

TVíS JOE:And then he said: ďBrwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw!Ē

†††††††††††††††††† Rebecca head began to ring. Baloo's voice: Well, you'd better be careful. Or someone might mistake us for friends. Maybe we are, a little...Baloo. Rebecca remembered his arm slung around her shoulders, the pleasant weight of it, making her feel safe, protected...

Becky:Firstly, ewww, on the use of the words Ďpleasant weightí in referring to Balooís arm.Second, itís easy to feel protected when youíre around Baloo.Easy to hide behind, you get the drift...

We'd talk more...trust one another...help each other out...stick together through thick and thin...Then he ran to see Kitten, leaving her reeling on the sidewalk....

†††††††††††††††††† Besides, I'm not askin' my boss, I'm askin' my friend. She had felt a strange warmth then, when he had included her. Then: Just my boss. Just my boss. He didn't mean it, she thought bitterly,

Baloo:Awp!Beckyís losing it and hearing things....Run for cover!

he just wanted to go to Starrywood and got his way by sweet-talking me---as usual. He wanted to be with Kitten. Something exploded in Rebecca's brain,

TVíS JOE:Damn alien implants...

obliterating all reason. There was a stinging sensation behind her eyes, but she was too enraged to cry. She stood up, roughly knocking the ferns over, scattering dirt everywhere.

†††††††††††††††††† "Just your BOSS?! Why, you---!" Rebecca roared.

TVíS JOE:like a Totoro...

Grabbing Baloo's dinner plate, she viciously flipped it, dumping a warm mess of limp noodles and spaghetti sauce over his head!

Becky: (starts laughing) Sorry...I still think you deserved that.

Baloo:I want to go home...

Kitten blinked

Becky:Which for her was quite the mental achievement..

and watched the commotion with bright interest. Well, well---drama just seemed to follow her whenever she went.

Kit:Whenever she went where??

She leaned one elbow on the table, obviously entertained by Rebecca's outburst.

†† ††††††††††††††††Baloo sat stunned, dripping in oozing pasta. Where'd Becky come from? Why's she so all-fired steamed?

†††††††††††††††††† "Becky!" he protested, too surprised to be angry, or even to wipe his face. "What are ya doin'?"

TVíS JOE:My guess would be getting pretty damn mad...

†††††††††††††††††† She growled deep in her throat. He had no clue, no idea! She spotted the loaf of French bread and picked it up, hoisting it like a baseball bat over her head. Other diners watched the crazy woman, enjoying the show.

†††††††††††††††††† The words came rushing forth. "Friends are supposed to help each other, remember? So I'm helping you!" she snarled.

Becky:No, actually it was ďIím helping you eat

Swiftly, she swung it down hard, connecting with his skull. Too late, Baloo ducked and crossed his arms over his head, trying to shield it. It didn't hurt, but man, it sure didn't stop either!

Becky:Woohoo!I rule!

Crumbs flying, she rained blow and blow with relentless fury and kept whacking

TVíS JOE:all the snakes in Springfield..

†††††††††††††††††† until someone grabbed her roughly from behind. Powerful arms wrapped themselves around her in a steely grip, wrenching her off her feet.

Baloo:and took her to the looney bin where she belongs!

†††††††††††††††††† Brutus held her, stifling her struggles, turning so that she faced the officious maitre d'. The hippo looked down at her, his expression that of one who sees a worm in his salad. Brutus's piggy eyes

†††††††††††††††††

Kit:He is a gorilla, right?Thatís kind of confusing...

narrowed. Oh yes, he was going to enjoy this.

TVíS JOE:God, what a sick pervert...

†††††††††††††††††† "You again!" the maitre d' spat. He jerked his thumb at the gorilla, a definite signal to let the games begin.

All:(hum the Olympic instrumental theme)

"Get rid of her."

†††††††††††††††††† End of Part One

Baloo:YES!FREEDOM!!!

Kit:Iím not coming back.. The title has the word Ďstarí, yet Iím not in it... Buh-bye, now...

TVíS JOE:Well, at least itís sort of the end...

Becky:(smiling) This is the best fic Iíve ever read!

all exit

TVíS JOE:*bows*


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