by Julie Bihn
dedicated to Roy Neal Grissom
(Just to prove I have nothing against THIS couple!)
Dale burst into his best friend's (well, OK, his best *male* friend's) bedroom without even knocking at the door early that morning. "Happy birthday, Chip!" he yelled, his grin exposing the large gap between his two front teeth.
Chip groaned and turned over in his bed. "Leave me alone," he muttered, not fully awake.
Dale scurried over to Chip's bed (the top bunk had been removed by now) and forcibly dragged the Rangers' leader out. Chip yawned. "What are you doing up now, anyway, Dale? That case last night left us all wiped--"
"We have it all set up and everything! Come on! Hurry!" Dale yanked Chip's nightshirt off and pulled his fedora onto his head--backwards. Chip sleepily took it off and turned it around before putting it back on. He took the bomber jacket from Dale's hands and clumsily put his arms into the sleeves. Dale dragged Chip out of the bedroom and into the main room of Ranger headquarters.
Well, most of the way.
The whole room was filled with helium balloons which had floated to the ceiling. In a human's house, this would have produced a nice effect of having...well, a ceiling covered with balloons. But Ranger Headquarters is significantly smaller than a human's habitation, and the human-sized balloons stuck on the ceiling easily reached down all the way to a few inches off the floor, leaving little more than a crawl space underneath. Chip saw the other Rangers all crouched near the ground, since the balloons were too big to allow them to stand in their own room. Chip wasn't thrilled with the decorating, but the Rangers all smiled at him and said, "Happy birthday!" Their grins (and the site of Monty trying to stay crouched under so many balloons) were enough to keep him from losing his temper.
"No, really, you shouldn't have," he smiled good-naturedly.
"We underestimated the size of the balloons," Gadget noted.
"No problem," Chip said, deciding to take it easy today, and not worry about the little things.
Monty suggested that they go to the kitchen for some cake, and the others quickly agreed, eager to get somewhere where they could stand up straight.
Once in the kitchen, Chip eyed the cake suspiciously. "Who made this?"It was rather crooked, and the frosting was lumpy. The writing on the top (if you could call it that) looked more like a childish scrawl, and was equally illegible. The candle was in straight, though.
"Dale did!" Foxglove said proudly. "He didn't even break any dishes!"
"Aw, Foxy helped a lot," Dale blushed, gazing at his wife. Between the two of them, they had no culinary experience whatsoever, but they were determined to make this birthday special for their friend, and refused any help. They had been up all night making the thing (and used up a whole box of cake mix to come up with the equivalent of a cupcake). This cake was their best one.
Ordinarily, Chip would have been annoyed at his friend's pitiful attempt at cooking. But he was either too sleepy, in too good of a mood, or just plain too glad the kitchen was still intact, to complain. "Thanks, Dale," he said sincerely. "Thanks, Foxy."
Dale smiled widely at Foxglove, proud of their accomplishments. But Foxglove didn't look like her usual cheery self. Something was off...she was happy, but a bit...what? Dale scratched his head, unsure as to what was bothering her.
Gadget lit the candle in the cake, and the Rangers all sang. Chip looked around the room before he puffed out the flame. He looked especially long at the only eligible female Ranger, but when he blew out the candle, he wished for something else entirely.
The Rangers all clapped, then sat down around the table to eat their breakfast cake. Chip sat next to Gadget, and she didn't object--Chip attributed the behavior to this being his birthday and all. Dale looked over at Foxglove again. What was that look? He suddenly recognized it--he had seen Chip with that look in his eyes, when he seemed to be winning Gadget's affections.
'Does she like Chip better than me?' Dale wondered, even though, in reality, he knew her better than that. He frowned, then put his arm around Foxy's shoulder. The bat nuzzled him sincerely in return. Strike that theory.
Chip cut the first piece of cake--it seemed to be fully cooked. Much to Dale's horror, the black-nosed chipmunk made a face when he tasted it. Chip saw his friend's concern, and smiled, his teeth gritted. "It's just a little sweet," he noted.
How Dale and Foxglove had managed to make a 'just add egg, water, and oil' cake mix too sweet is beyond the realm of science. Still, the cake seemed to be edible (if not palatable), judging by the way the Rangers managed to swallow the sweet stuff. (And at least it didn't have any cheese in it--Monty's cooking always had too much!) Foxy and Dale actually enjoyed the cake; Dale because he loved sweets, and Foxglove because she and Dale had made it together.
Once the cake was gone, Gadget stood up and asked, "Chip, what would you like to do most for your birthday?" Foxy sighed slightly.
Chip glanced at the inventor and, I'm sorry to say, had a quick ungentlemanly thought. He was wise enough to ignore it, though, and replied (much to the surprise of the other Rangers), "I'd like to get another hour of sleep!"
Chip normally wasn't lazy, and usually, once he was up, he stayed up. But last night's case had been a tough one. Still, the Rangers looked a bit concerned for him.
"And then go to the station and look for cases!" Chip finished. The Rangers breathed a sigh of relief. Chip turned to go back to his bedroom, but turned back for a second.
"Guys? Could you deflate those balloons?"
Zipper pulled out a straight pin and squeaked an affirmative response, then flew off. The other Rangers all wished Chip a happy birthday.
But Foxglove spoke her 'happy birthday' a little sadly.
And suddenly Dale knew what the problem was.
Dale pulled a piece of rubber off the couch of the newly-cleared main room of headquarters and invited Foxglove to sit next to him. She did so, and Dale took her wing.
"When's your birthday?" he asked with a lack of tactfulness.
Foxglove sighed. "I don't know," she said quietly. "I don't even know who my parents were..."
Dale frowned. "Hmm... I know! We can figure out which Zodiac sign you were born under by--"
"DALE!" Foxglove shouted at him. She still hated anything which reminded her of Winifred.
"Oh, sorry," Dale corrected himself. He paused. "Well...that's okay...I don't care if you don't know when your birthday is..."
Foxglove smiled at him a little. "You're right. It's no big deal, I guess..."
But Dale knew it was. "Don't worry," he reassured his wife. The two looked at each other for a few moments, lovingly, then instantly fell asleep on the couch, exhausted from their long night's work.
One sunny morning a little over a month later, Foxglove sleepily got out of bed, yawning all the way. Bats were, by nature, nocturnal--although she usually stuck to the Rangers' schedule, some days just got to her. This was one of them. She looked over at Dale's place in the bed--how could he have gotten up and not woke her as well? He knew how much trouble she had getting up! But, to her surprise, Dale was still sleeping.
"Dale," she shook him gently, concern in her voice. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine," he mumbled. "Chip said we could sleep in today, as long as we wanted."
"Dale," Foxglove said doubtfully. Not that she didn't trust him, but the chipmunk occasionally lied in his sleep--or when he was just tired.
"If you don't believe me, ask Chip." Dale was wide awake now. "Go back to sleep, Foxy, okay?"
The bat yawned and quickly obliged--she hadn't been blessed with the opportunity to sleep in the daytime for quite a while.
As soon as she was asleep, Dale crept out of bed and got to work.
Foxglove didn't get up until well past two PM. She went into the control room of headquarters, well-rested. The room was empty. Did they all go off on a case without her? She looked outside--the aerial Ranger vehicles were still on their runway. The bat was baffled, until her sensitive ears heard Dale nervously whisper, "Do you think this'll be okay?"
'Had something happened to the Rangers?' Foxglove worried. She walked carefully to the kitchen (almost apprehensively) and cautiously opened the door.
"Surprise!" she heard several shouts. Foxglove blinked; all the Rangers were there, smiling at her.
"What?" the bat asked, confused.
"Happy birthday!" exclaimed Dale, taking Foxglove by the wing and pulling her over to the kitchen table, which housed a cake twice as big as Chip's had been, although not much neater than his--it must have been another of Dale's 'masterpieces.'
"This isn't my birthday," Foxglove objected. She looked up at a banner near the ceiling of the kitchen. It read, "Happy Special Day, Foxglove!"
"This is the day you saved me from fallin' at that drive-in!" Dale grinned.
"You remember the date?" Foxglove asked. Though she now kept some track of months and days, back then, she had felt no need for it.
Dale nodded and blushed. "I was thinkin' of writin', "Happy Day You Met Dale Which Led To You Making Him the Happiest Chipmunk in the World," but I didn't think it'd fit."
Foxglove just looked at her husband, then threw her wings around him, tears forming in her beautiful eyes. "Dale..."
"Aw, don't cry!" Dale cried. "I know this is kind of OUR day since it's when we met, but I thought we should make it YOUR day, since we already have a day of our own (you know, since we're married and all), and I have a birthday but you don't have any special day--"
"I'm thrilled, Cutie!" Foxglove said, wiping her eyes and blinking a few times. Dale put his arm around her and took her to the table, where Chip lit the candle. (Despite how comparatively responsible Dale had become after his marriage, all agreed that it was probably best for him to stay away from matches.) Foxglove smiled at Dale, and blew out the candle. I think we all have an idea of what she wished for.
After the cake was eaten (it wasn't nearly as sweet as the last time), Foxglove thought her special day was finished--the Rangers usually didn't do much in the way of exchanging presents, since most gifts never get used and wind up as clutter in the house anyway. The Rangers did kind of lounge around for a few hours after the party (maybe because the cake was a bit heavy). But, once the sun went down, Dale presented Foxy with a wrist corsage.
"Gee, thanks, Dale," Foxglove said in a voice which showed she appreciated any gift at all, but couldn't exactly understand why he had chosen this one. "It's very pretty."
"No!" Dale said, putting the corsage on the necklace where Foxglove had her wedding ring. "That's not the present! We're going out on the town!"
Foxglove's eyes lit up. "You and me?"
"Yup!" said Dale. "I wanted it to be a surprise--just hang on a second!" The chipmunk rushed off and quickly returned wearing his favorite gaudy suit. He even had a brand new neon green tie for the occasion. Foxglove had taught Dale nothing of fashion, probably because she didn't care what he wore. In fact (for some reason) she thought he looked handsome. Maybe she was relying too much on echolocation and not enough on her eyes. Anyway, she seemed a bit embarrassed.
"Do I need to put on something nice?" she asked.
Dale shook his head. "Nah--you look gorgeous the way you are!" The shy bat blushed, but figured that, if Dale thought she looked good enough, she probably did. The two went out to the Ranger Wing and hopped inside--Dale could fly it fairly well. The first thing he did was turn on the flashlight which was the center of the plane's body. He piloted the craft to a dark area of the park, then set the plane to hover.
"What'cha doin', Cutie?" Foxglove asked.
"Hold that wheel steady, wouldja, please?" Dale asked his companion, who obliged. Dale stepped onto the front of the aircraft and straddled the flashlight, then pulled out a net. Foxglove watched, amazed, as he used it to catch all the bugs which were drawn to the light. When the net was fairly full, he handed it to Foxglove and landed the Wing. "I had to take you out for dinner, you know!"
Foxglove just laughed. "I'm gonna get fat if I don't hunt, Dale!"
"So?" Dale asked, much to his companion's delight.
Foxglove started her meal, then frowned. "What are you going to eat?"
The chipmunk reached into the back seat and pulled out a human-sized candy bar. "My favorite," he admitted, making Foxglove laugh again.
After their 'romantic' dinner, Dale took them to a *real* theater. "I would've taken you back to the drive-in," he said, "but I thought this'd be nicer." He paused. "Well, that, and the drive-in was showing films with v--er...those...caped things you hate so much..."
Foxglove cringed a bit, but smiled at Dale's attempt not to use the word she so despised. After all, it *was* awfully hard for him to stay away from that word, especially when he was so fond of monster movies.
When they got into the building, Foxglove was completely entranced with the stage's scenery. The play itself was more of the action type (starring none other than Clarence Dudley), and Dale had known it beforehand. (To his credit, Dale simply assumed that Foxglove had the same interests as him, since she so willingly watched bad late-night movies with him. The idea that she might prefer a more romantic play simply hadn't occurred to him.) The two were enthralled by the play for a while (Foxglove loved hearing about how Dale had once been part of a play and battled an alligator, even!), but Dale kissed Foxglove during a romantic interlude and, well, they were in a private overhang, and, after the kiss, neither of them wound up paying too much attention to the play.
After the trip to the theater, Dale flew out to a beautiful spot which overlooked the whole city. The sparkling lights of the town below and the bright stars above made for a spectacular view. The two simply enjoyed it together, leaning on each other, and occasionally telling stories or making small talk, for several hours. They saw the sunrise from that spot, and, though it didn't compare to the sunrise Foxglove had seen through the stained-glass window of her earlier roost, she enjoyed it much more, simply sharing it with Dale.
Dale and Foxglove both yawned at the same time, and Dale drove home quite sleepily. Foxglove was careful to talk to him the whole way, so he wouldn't fall asleep (Gadget would be less than thrilled if he crashed the Ranger Wing, Foxy was sure). They arrived back home without incident.
"Are we gonna go on a case now?" Foxglove yawned, dreading an affirmative answer.
Dale shook his head, helping Foxy out of the Ranger Wing. "Not 'til we've had a good long nap. Come on."
Foxglove thought it a bit strange that her husband deemed it necessary to lead the way back to their bedroom, but she followed him without comment. Dale slipped into his nightshirt, and Foxglove headed for the bed.
"No, don't," Dale said. Foxglove looked at him, confused. "I've still got one more present. Get upside-down on your bar." The bat got onto the horizontal pole Gadget had installed in the bedroom, for those times when Foxglove wanted to sleep in her natural position. "Now close your eyes," ordered Dale. Foxglove did so unquestioningly, but she heard Dale walk over to the closet...
"Close your ears, too!" Dale said, realizing she could use echolocation on him. Foxglove smiled and did so, although she still heard a couple funny--and unfamiliar--noises. "OK, you can open them!" Dale announced.
Foxglove opened her eyes wide in surprise. Dale was upside-down next to her! She looked up--his feet were in suction cup shoes which were stuck to the ceiling. "Dale!"
"Thought I'd let you sleep the way you're supposed to for once," he smiled.
Foxglove smiled through a yawn, and wrapped her wings around her mate. "Dale, I love you," she whispered sleepily.
"I love you, too," Dale smiled, returning the hug. Foxglove's breathing quickly slowed to that of a sleeping animal (though she didn't let go of Dale), but Dale took a little longer to drift into unconsciousness. He was upside-down, after all. But just looking at Foxglove, he realized that seeing her so happy for one day would be worth any headache he'd have after the nap from his unnatural sleeping position. With that thought in mind, he laid his head near Foxglove's and joined her in the realm of slumber.
Julie has her own Rescue Rangers FanFic page. Stop by for a visit at Julie's Web Page O' Fun!
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